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Tougher curfews, bans set for US troops in Japan

Posted December. 06, 2012 05:49,   


U.S. troops in Japan have been ordered to refrain from drinking alcohol outside military bases and travel in groups when leaving their barracks in the wake of a string of rapes and other crimes committed by American servicemen.

According to the Wall Street Journal and Japanese media Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, commander of the U.S. Forces Japan, ordered Friday the immediate implementation of the “Buddy program" that included a number of toughened restrictions for U.S. servicemen in Japan.

The order applies to all 38,000 soldiers stationed at 85 military facilities in Japan and 11,000 troops on battleships operating in waters around the archipelago. Since U.S. forces in Japan had previously used a flurry of ineffective measures whenever their soldiers caused trouble there, more extreme measures were adopted this time.

American soldiers in Japan must now observe a nighttime curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., a move promoted after two U.S. sailors in Okinawa raped a 20-something woman who was on her way home in the early morning of Oct. 16.

On Nov. 18, a drunken Marine first lieutenant was arrested for entering an apartment unit with the door ajar and falling asleep there. Five days later, a private first class Marine from the Yokosuka base of Kawakawa Prefecture walked naked after drinking at a comic book cafe in Yokohama City and urinated on the floor.

In the wake of these incidents, the U.S. Naval Command in Japan placed last week a nighttime drinking ban from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. the next day to servicemen at all naval bases in Japan. On Friday, the commander of the U.S. Forces Japan beefed up restrictions by placing in person a ban blocking all American soldiers stationed in Japan from drinking even at their friends’ homes outside the barracks around the clock.

Such stronger action proved ineffective for even a single day, however. At around 7 p.m. Friday after the ban had been placed, another Marine was arrested for drunk driving and hitting three vehicles, causing minor injuries.

Japanese fury over the U.S. military presence hit a peak in 1995, when a public campaign to drive out the U.S. base began in Okinawa after three soldiers were charged in the kidnap and rape of a 12-year-old girl there.