Japan curfew doesn't affect on-base Halloween parties
Club Alliance on Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, is all but empty minutes before curfew on Oct. 22, 2012.
Stars and Stripes
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Let the ghoulish good times roll. On base, that is.
Military-sponsored Halloween events planned for this weekend at bases across Japan are still on, officials say, despite the recently imposed curfew for all U.S. servicemembers in the country.
Troops might be spooked out of plans to party in Tokyo or other Japanese cities, but they need not fear haunting military bases during the witching hours — or going home after the military parties die.
From the midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at Camp Zama to the late-night “Good vs. Evil” Halloween party at Yokosuka Naval Base, troops are permitted to attend such events even though many end during restricted hours, military officials say.
“Travel during curfew hours directly to and from a military installation is authorized for official duty, attendance at an on-installation activity or to attend an installation-sponsored MWR/recreation event or activity,” U.S. Forces Japan told Stars and Stripes by email Tuesday.
Troops who live on one base but want to attend military-sponsored event at another base have two choices: reserve a room at the on-base hotel or get approval from an O-6 in their chain of command to return to their base after curfew, USFJ spokesman Capt. George Tobias said Wednesday.
“If you plan ahead and contact your leadership it should be easily resolved,” he said.
The curfew — imposed by USFJ last Friday after two American sailors were arrested for allegedly assaulting and raping a Japanese woman on Okinawa — requires troops to either be on a U.S. military base or inside a private residence or hotel off-base between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
“The point of the curfew is that (U.S. troops) are out of the streets,” with violators to be punished under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, USFJ spokesman Master Sgt. Arsenio Cortez said. “We take this very seriously.”
The curfew does not cover civilian personnel and dependents, but they are “encouraged to abide by this policy,” Cortez said.
As of Tuesday, no servicemember had been busted for a curfew violation, he said.
Asked whether servicemembers who live off-base need to get a receipt or other proof they attended military-sponsored events to ensure they are not arrested for violating curfew, Cortez said: “Each installation will have their own procedures. It’s not going to be a USFJ mandate.”
Troops are allowed to attend private parties on U.S. bases but cannot return to their off-base homes until after the curfew expires, Cortez said. Conversely, troops who live on U.S. military bases can attend off-base parties at private residences so long as they stay put there until 5 a.m.
On-base bars, nightclubs and other establishments such as bowling alleys have seen a spike in business since the curfew went into effect.
“It’s definitely impacted us in a positive way,” said a worker from Club Alliance at Yokosuka who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to speak to the media. “I hate to say that. I’m not a big fan of it.”
The enlisted club at Yokota has extended its weekend hours to 3 a.m. Fridays and 2 a.m. Saturdays.
Many servicemembers have bemoaned the curfew as unfair, although those planning on-base costume parties and other Halloween extravaganzas this weekend said it could boost attendance.
“I think more people will show up because they can’t go off base,” said one Yokota airman, who asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution. “It’s definitely going to hurt a lot of people who usually like to go to Roppongi the weekends.”