Alcohol has been banned in Japan for all American military members on and off base. The ban comes after a military serviceman, Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia stationed in Okinawa, allegedly drove under the influence and hit two people. This incident followed after an American contractor employed at Kadena was arrested after the body of a 20-year-old Japanese woman was found on a roadside in the prefecture.
According to Japan Times, “Commanders are additionally urging civilian contractors and family members to observe it voluntarily.” The sailors and other members are also confined to base for the foreseeable future.
People who live off base can “travel to and from work, schools, gas stations, grocery stores and gyms.” However, all other activities “are prohibited by the order and subject to military law.” The grocery stores on base have wrapped up and refuse to allow purchase of any alcoholic products.
Cmdr. Ronald Flanders, spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Japan reported that the alcohol ban is indefinite.
“There is no timetable in place…The alcohol restriction will remain in effect until the commander of the 7th Fleet and the commander of Naval Forces Japan determine that all personnel have fully embraced their responsibilities of being a U.S. ambassador at all times.”
Okinawa and the American Military base stationed there have had tense relations since the 1990’s. In 1995, a Japanese schoolgirl was raped by three U.S. servicemen, which incited protests across the country. To this day, protests can be seen outside of the military base demanding that the military leave Okinawa.
It should be noted that many American servicemen and there employers don’t support these criminal actions in the slightest. RocketNews reported that when “a civilian employee of the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa was arrested after allegedly admitting to raping and stabbing to death a 20-year-old Okinawan woman” many American people came out to show their support for Okinawa and that they stand with the Okinawan people instead of the attacker.
At the same time, complaints against the mass punishment have been widespread on social media.
Many people both military and otherwise wonder how the strict ban will be enforced. It would be near impossible to keep track of the thousands of military personnel across the country. At the same time, Flanders and other commanders are taking these charges seriously, so perhaps it would be best for the sailors and other military men and women to abstain for the foreseeable future.