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Marines, Sailors spend weekend on their bases

Date Posted: 2004-06-17

It was an unusual weekend for thousands of U.S. military personnel who found themselves restricted to their bases.

New rules imposed by the U.S. Marine Corps affect both Marines and U.S. Navy personnel under its command here in Japan. Sergeants and below had to be on their bases between midnight and five o’clock in the morning. It all began last Saturday at one minute after midnight.

It was different as service personnel hurried back to base or their homes, leaving Kin Town and Okinawa City quiet after midnight.

“I’m very upset for this regulation” said one Marine. Off base bar owners and restaurant owners were also upset. “We might go out of business” said one. “I hope this will go away shortly. If it takes a long time, I’m sure a lot of bars are going to close,” said another.

Yet another issued a plea of a different sort. “I hope Air Force men will come to my shop more. Please.”

The regulation came from Lt. Gen. Robert R. Blackman, the U.S. general commanding Marines and sailors in Japan, and not from the Okinawa side. A Marine Corps spokesman says “scandals and incidents happen after midnight. It is hoped that we will decrease the incidents.”

In July 2000, the Okinawa Summit led to everything being place off limits off-base after midnight, but that move was temporary and affected all service personnel.

This time, the Air For isn’t doing to off base, off limits moves. “We don’t think it is the proper way to decrease incidents,” a spokesman said. We believe there are other ways to keep servicemen behaving properly without causing incidents.”

The Air Force and Marine Corps have different approaches, and local residents prefer the Air Force tactics. They welcome the Air Force business, and are hoping that the Marines will come around soon.

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