U.S. military does not confirm if personnel abide by curfew

November 9, 2012 Kenyu Uchima of Ryukyu Shimpo

On November 8, a spokesperson of the headquarters of the U.S. Forces Japan (UFJ) reported that the U.S. military does not currently confirm whether or not its personnel are abiding by a nighttime curfew. The UFJ has placed a curfew on all their military personnel in Japan following the alleged rape of a woman by two U.S. sailors in October. In response to the question from the Ryukyu Shimpo, a spokesperson of the headquarters replied that the military forces educate their personnel, but do not go any further than putting the curfew in place and instructing the personnel to abide by it.

On November 5, the Ryukyu Shimpo asked UFJ headquarters whether or not the personnel stay in the U.S. military facilities or their homes outside of the facilities during the curfew hours of 11:00pm to 5:00am, and about the effectiveness of putting such a curfew in place.

In response, a spokesperson of the UFJ Public Affairs Office stated that the curfew was initiated under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and those who violate it will be punished. Also the spokesperson said that headquarters try to make sure that the personnel will abide by the code of conduct, and strictly implement its policies, explaining they regularly educate personnel to abide by the curfew.

The spokesperson also explained that in addition to meetings and training sessions the headquarters provide their personnel with information on the curfew by means of printed publications in the U.S. military bases, and Social Networking Services, emphasizing that the UFJ seeks to make the curfew effective through education. However, they did not state how they ascertain whether or not the personnel abide by the curfew.

Following the alleged rape of a woman in the central region of the main island of Okinawa on October 16 by two U.S. military personnel, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, John Roos and the Commander of the UFJ, Salvatore Angelella announced on October 19 that the UFJ would implement preventive measures such as a nighttime curfew on all their military personnel in Japan. Those measures include retraining of personnel and civilian employees with regard to core values and a review of the liberty card policy that regulates activities by the personnel in Japan outside their hours of work.

Despite these measures, a member of the U.S. Air Force personnel trespassed and assaulted a teenage boy in Yomitan during the curfew hours on November 2. Okinawan people are critical of the effectiveness of the supposed preventive measures.

In response to an inquiry from a representative of the Okinawa branch of the Komeito on November 5, Kenichi Murata, the head of the Okinawa Liaison Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, said, “We are discussing how to check if personnel are not back in the U.S. military facilities or their homes during the period specified by the curfew.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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