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Curfew will stay for Okinawa GIís

Date Posted: 2008-06-20

A high level review by a team of U.S. military and Japanese officials has concluded the current curfew for soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in Okinawa should not be lifted.

The Cooperative Working Team, which is working to rein in serious crimes involving GIís in Okinawa and on mainland Japan, agrees the midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew is having an effect, and should remain for the foreseeable future. The team is comprised of both Okinawan and Japanese government officials, American military and State Department leaders, law enforcement officers and local business leaders.

With business levels down as a result of the curfew, but up a bit since lifting of an off-base alcohol ban, the Okinawa City Entertainment Association has been working closely with military officials to foster a better working relationship with military police. The association, which has many bar owners among its members, is encouraging clubs and bars to permit military police and courtesy patrols to enter, and to support the military restrictions on under-age drinking.

The U.S. Forces Japan / Okinawa Area Field Office chief is praising the businessesí approach to solving the problem. Colonel Mark Franklin, together with Hideaki Kuramitsu, his partner at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Okinawa Liaison Office, say their goal is the same as the communities, to curb crimes committed by military personnel. Franklin says he expects the collaboration between U.S. and Japanese officials, together with increased input from the business community, will lead to a reduction in incidents.

With sex offenses high on the list of crimes committed by service members, the military has established a sexual-assault response coordinator post, and is aggressively conducting awareness classes to GIís. The Foreign Affairs Ministry says it will boost the number of culture awareness and conduct seminars over the next few months.

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