The Japan Times underscores that the new ruling still prohibits the US military personnel from consuming alcohol from midnight to 5 a.m.
It is worth mentioning that the US military authorities had restricted off-base nighttime movements for the service members after two American soldiers raped a Japanese woman in Okinawa Prefecture in October 2012. However, in February 2013, high-ranking officers were allowed to leave the base at nighttime, but were still banned from drinking alcohol. Currently, US military personnel are officially permitted to drink up to two bottles of beer at off-base bars between 6 pm and 10 pm. Unfortunately the ban has not prevented US soldiers from committing crimes linked to drinking.
Although the US military authorities claim they "will continue our utmost efforts to prevent incidents and accidents," the Okinawa residents are likely to protest against the ban easing, notes the Japanese media source.
On Monday, December 9, Okinawa Mayor Sachio Kuwae met with the US Marine Corps' Camp Forster officials and asked to postpone the decision to ease the ban, referring to ongoing incidents involving drunk US military servicemen.