The U.S. military in Okinawa Prefecture announced on Monday that it has imposed an indefinite late-night curfew and a ban on after-midnight drinking by its personnel.
The announcement by the U.S. Marine Corps follows last week’s arrest of a marine who allegedly molested a 14-year-old girl and the arrest Sunday of a U.S. airman in connection with a hit-and-run case in Okinawa.
The incidents sparked an uproar in Japan, especially in Okinawa, where antipathy to the U.S. military presence is strong.
Alcohol will not be sold within U.S. bases until at least the end of the Group of Eight summit in Okinawa Prefecture, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told reporters on Monday.
In the evening, Foreign Minister Yohei Kono met with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Foley at Kono’s office and asked the U.S. military to take steps to prevent crimes by its servicemen in Okinawa after a hit-and-run that occurred there Sunday, allegedly committed by a U.S. airman, Japanese officials said.
Foley expressed regrets over the incident and briefed Kono on the curfew and the alcohol limit announced by the U.S. military, they also said.
Police on Sunday arrested a 21-year-old staff sergeant stationed at the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena base on suspicion of driving through a red light and hitting a 27-year-old company worker in the city of Okinawa in the early hours of the day.
The incident followed last week’s suspected molestation of a 14-year-old girl by a 19-year-old U.S. Marine based at the Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.
The alleged molestation triggered a wave of protests by the prefectural assembly, local municipalities, political parties and civic groups, ahead of the July 21-23 G8 summit.
The U.S. Marine Corps said Friday it will impose a ban on alcohol for Marines in Okinawa for a five-day period from July 20 and require them to be in uniform at all times from July 20 to July 24.
On Monday, seven Diet members elected from the prefecture visited Lt. Gen. Earl Hailston, chief of the U.S. forces in Okinawa Prefecture, at Camp Zukeran in the village of Kitanakagusuku to protest the alleged molestation.
The lawmakers, including Seiken Akamine, a House of Representatives member from the Japanese Communist Party, said they expressed their “astonishment at the low moral discipline of U.S. servicemen.”
Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine said Monday he is considering ways to “convey the feelings of the prefectural residents” to Clinton during his stay in the prefecture.