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Fighting on military curfews goes back 30 years

Date Posted: 2000-12-22

Nothing is new. December 21, 1970 was the day when the U.S. Military first declared a bar area off limits to military personnel, and the bar and restaurant owners’ organizations have scratched their heads ever since, trying to decide whether to appeal the bases for lifting the restrictions, or join the chorus of voices opposing the bases.

Those days, the bar area outside Kadena Air Base Gate 2 was booming, and there were well over 300 bars and restaurants in the area, practically all of them catering to the U.S. military. The bars raked in three times the amount of money that was the total budget of the city, and when the military decreed some areas off limits, the water trade people went on a riot, demonstrating, burning cars and throwing stones. At the same time, many local residents welcomed the move as the first step towards pacifying their town.

The 300 bars are largely gone now, and the area is very quiet after midnight. The bar and restaurant owner’s association is still appealing to military authorities and city officials to get the current curfew rules lifted. And the dilemma still remains: to be for or against the bases.

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