The U.S. Navy banned drinking for its personnel in Japan after a sailor was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving on Okinawa.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia, 21, assigned to Kadena base in Okinawa, was arrested on Sunday after driving on the wrong side of the road and crashing head-on into two vehicles, injuring two people. After Monday’s order, U.S. Navy personnel will not be allowed to drink on or off base, and cannot leave base grounds except for commuting from an off-base home to work, schools, gas stations, grocery stores, and gyms. This will remain until training progresses and authorities are sure everyone understands responsible behavior.
“These measures are not taken lightly. For decades, we have enjoyed a strong relationship with the people of Japan. It is imperative that each sailor understand how our actions affect that relationship, and the U.S.-Japan alliance as a whole,” said Read Adm. Matthew Carter.
Crimes by U.S. forces in Okinawa are looked down upon by residents, and U.S. personnel already had a midnight curfew with off-base drinking banned after the arrest in May of a civilian contractor involved in the disappearance of a Japanese woman later found dead. This is only one of the incidents which involve military personnel and alcohol, causing residents of Okinawa to experience further resentment towards the military, mirroring resentments from a 1995 incident.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga showed anger towards these incidents involving American soldiers, saying, “There needs to be a fundamental resolution.