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Okinawa Police to Enforce Bar Curfew

Date Posted: 2000-02-20

Okinawa City Police is intent on cracking down on bars and discos that serve alcohol beyond the legal time limit of midnight. Japanese law states that establishments which have a license to sell alcohol, but that do not serve food, must stop sales at midnight. Only restaurants that have a food license can continue selling alcoholic drinks later.

In Okinawa, most bars and discos that have only a bar license routinely sell drinks well into wee hours in the morning, and the police has cracked down on them from time to time. But this time, police sources affirm that they are serious about their planned crackdown.

When the police raids a place, the blame is on the employees, but all customers can be booked as witnesses to an offense against the law. If the case goes to the court, the witnesses may be called to testify. This implies that any foreigners who find themselves under such circumstances can be put on legal hold, and cannot leave the country until the notoriously slow Japanese court proceedings are finished.

The police has asked for the cooperation of US military forces in informing service members about the law. Military commanders here emphasize that, should any of the military members be in a bar or disco that is raided, they should fully cooperate with the police. Resisting the police in any way will likely result in charges. They also strongly recommend that, if any service member in a bar or disco notices that the place closes its doors at midnight and continues to serve drinks, they should leave in order to avoid trouble.

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