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Under heavy pressure from the Japanese government, the USMC has taken strong measures on its military forces. the Okinawa Area Coordinator and senior U.S. military commander on Okinawa, Lt. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer has, with the agreement of U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force commanders on Okinawa, ordered that all military members on Okinawa be limited aboard U.S. military facilities or their off-base residence indefinitely starting at 7:30 a.m. February 20.
U.S. orders total lockdown of troops
Date Posted: 2008-02-20
The actions, which went into effect Wednesday morning, restricting all SOFA status personnel, civilians and active duty alike, to the bases or off base quarters. The ban on off-base activity is indefinite, a spokesman says, and applies to personnel residing off base as well as those living on the military bases. During this “period of reflection,” active duty service members on Okinawa will be limited to their place of duty or employment, worship, education, or medical or dental treatment.
The military action came in the aftermath of a series of incidents involving Marines on Okinawa. The military advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of its lockdown action. The Ministry acknowledged the move as positive, calling it a “very special case that the American military has put communities off limits in the daytime, and not only nighttime.”
Friday has been declared “A Day of Reflection” by the military, and all military training will stop while service members undergo additional special sensitivity and disciplinary training. The strong measures are necessary, officials say, because of the rash of incidents that have transpired in recent days.
Within the past two weeks, Marines have been arrested on charges of trespassing into a private citizen’s home in Nago City, drunk driving in Okinawa City, counterfeiting and suspicion of raping a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa City.