2012: Year in review
Bad behavior forces USFJ to issue curfew for troops
By WYATT OLSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 27, 2012
The commander of U.S. Forces Japan issued the first-ever countrywide curfew for servicemembers shortly before Halloween after two U.S. sailors were charged with raping an Okinawan woman.
The pair had reportedly been drinking before the incident in mid-October.
The curfew required active-duty military personnel to be on base or in hotel rooms from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless on official business, but other restrictions would follow.
The rape rekindled bitter memories of the 1995 kidnapping and rape of a 12-year-old girl by three Marines on Okinawa.
USFJ commander Lt. Gen. Sam Angelella and U.S. ambassador John Roos quickly issued apologies to a Japanese public already on edge with the arrival of the Osprey aircraft in Okinawa, which opponents claim poses a safety risk.
Public frustration had also grown over delays in the promised reduction of the number of U.S. Marines on Okinawa.
A spate of alcohol-fueled incidents by servicemembers followed the curfew’s institution.
In early November, police were called to an Okinawa home where an intoxicated American airman broke in, punched a Japanese teenager and then fell from the third floor.
He was charged with inflicting bodily injury and vandalism for the incident, but a charge of trespassing was dropped because prosecutors determined he was too intoxicated to know he was in a stranger’s home.
The day after Thanksgiving a USS George Washington sailor was arrested for indecent exposure after he stripped naked in a café and urinated.
A week later Okinawa police arrested a Marine on suspicion of drunken driving after he crashed his car into three other cars, injuring two people.
Military brass responded with further restrictions. Angelella instituted a buddy program that required servicemembers to pair up with approved partners when visiting off-base establishments that serve alcohol.
Subordinate commanders went much further. Navy Rear Adm. Dan Cloyd banned sailors from drinking alcohol after 10 p.m., regardless of leave or liberty status.
Members of a logistics squadron at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan were barred entirely from leaving base and were briefly ordered to work 12-hour shifts after an airman’s car was found rammed into the side of a Japanese home.