YOKOSUKA, KANAGAWA PREF. – The U.S. 7th Fleet has partially lifted its late-night drinking ban imposed last month on sailors to reduce instances of misconduct by U.S. military personnel in Japan, according to U.S. Navy sources.
The fleet’s sailors are now allowed to drink when at home, but other members of the U.S. Navy stationed in Japan remain subject to the ban, the sources said Monday.
On Oct. 19, the U.S. military imposed an 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on all service members in Japan following the alleged rape of a local woman in Okinawa Prefecture by two U.S. sailors.
Because criminal incidents involving U.S. military personnel continued despite the curfew, the headquarters of U.S. Naval Forces in Japan and the U.S. 7th Fleet issued an order in late November for members not to drink from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Members of the fleet, whose area of responsibility stretches from the Western Pacific to the Indian Ocean, live in Japan. The fleet’s command ship, the USS Blue Ridge, is stationed at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka.
The fleet has decided to partially lift the ban because it has experienced few problems stemming from drinking, the sources said.
One of the sources said drinking by members of the fleet “at home would be no problem,” suggesting the decision in part took into account the Christmas holiday season.
Japan-U.S. nuclear drill
Japan and the United States held a joint nuclear disaster drill at the U.S. Navy’s Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture on Tuesday.
The drill was conducted on the assumption that radiation monitoring posts had stopped functioning following a major earthquake in the southern Kanto region whose focus was beneath the nearby Miura Peninsula.
During the drill, a team from the science and education ministry measured radiation levels and conveyed the data to the Yokosuka Municipal Government.
Firefighters transported people injured by collapsing buildings to hospitals, while U.S. sailors and their relatives exited the naval base to a temporary evacuation center.
The drill was the sixth in a series that began in 2007.
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington has been forward-deployed at Yokosuka since 2008. The U.S. 7th Fleet’s flagship, the USS Blue Ridge, is also deployed there.