Doors close on Sasebo's open-base nights
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The decision last month to open Sasebo base restaurants to Japanese civilians on Saturday nights has been rescinded due to concerns it violated the status of forces agreement, base officials say.
The open-base nights, designed to engage the local community, began Aug. 11 and opened the Galaxies complex, which includes a bar and nightclub, a Chili’s restaurant, and a bar and grill, to a steady stream of young Japanese diners.
“Following a review of the Status of Forces Agreement, it was determined that limitations in the SOFA exceeded our ability to host the weekly openings,” base spokesman Charles Howard wrote Wednesday in a statement provided to Stars and Stripes.
Sasebo’s traditional open-base events, held once or twice a year, will continue, the statement said.
Officials declined to get into specifics, but said the decision involved the SOFA’s Article 15.
It states that exchanges, messes, social clubs and theaters “shall not be subject to Japanese regulations, license, fees, taxes or similar controls” and are intended for the use of members of the U.S. military, “the civilian component and their dependents.” It also states that “goods which are sold by such organizations shall not be disposed of in Japan to persons not authorized to make purchases from such organizations.”
“Our intention in opening the Galaxies facilities on Saturday evenings was to offer more Japanese citizens the opportunity to experience the American culture and to meet and socialize with U.S. Navy sailors and civilians at the facility,” Howard wrote. “We hope our host population will take advantage of future open-base opportunities to visit.”