All U.S. Navy sailors are banned from drinking alcohol and are prohibited from leaving U.S. military bases in Japan due to a string of alcohol-related incidents that military officials claim are harming U.S.-Japan relations. The ban was effective immediately after being announced and will remain in place for an indefinite amount of time.
A statement from the 7th Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Japan on Monday broke the news to the approximately 19,000 sailors stationed at the four major U.S. military bases across Japan. Sailors are prohibited from consuming alcohol, both on and off base, and are not allowed to travel off base for any reason, unless ordered to do so by a commanding officer. The statement issued by the Navy stated:
“Effective immediately, sailors are prohibited from drinking alcohol, on and off base. Additionally, all off-base liberty will be curtailed,”
U.S. Naval officials, such as Rear Adm. Matthew Carter, commander of Naval Forces Japan, states that these orders are not to be taken lightly. He reported that the ban on alcohol and non-essential travel will remain in effect until all unit commanders and their sailors have face-to-face meetings regarding the matter.
The Navy is pointing to several alcohol-related incidents they feel are damaging relations between the two countries. A traffic accident on Saturday seems to have been the final straw for Navy officials. The traffic accident occured when a U.S. Navy petty officer was accused of driving on the wrong side of the road, hitting two cars and injuring two people while under the influence according to The Stars And Stripes. The Navy did not cite this incident as the cause for the ban but many analysts and reporters are pointing to it as the final incident before the ban was enacted.
Family members and civilian personnel are not subject to the ban but are being encouraged to participate as a sign of unity among U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan. The ban will allegedly be lifted when “all personnel understand the impact of responsible behavior on the U.S.-Japan alliance,” according to U.S. Navy Officials.
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