Marine Corps considers liberty changes after uptick in off-base incidents in Japan
Stars and Stripes November 22, 2023
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — The commander of this base south of Hiroshima is ramping up off-base patrols as the Marine Corps considers liberty policy changes due to an uptick in off-base incidents in Japan.
Col. Richard Rusnok reached out to Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda by phone Nov. 18, a city official who deals with base policy told Stars and Stripes on Nov. 21. The commander outlined efforts to reduce the incidents, including uniformed patrols of the Kawashimo and Marifu nightlife areas, which began that weekend.
The Marines are also considering changes to the base’s liberty policy, said the official, who did not specify what those may entail. It’s customary in Japan for some government officials to speak to media on condition of anonymity.
“There are changes that are being considered, but we’re not the one’s doing anything as a reaction to what has happened out in town,” MCAS Iwakuni spokesman Maj. Gerard Farao told Stars and Stripes by phone Tuesday. “It’s bigger than that.”
A Marine was arrested by Iwakuni Police earlier this month on suspicion of assaulting an elderly woman in Marifu. Another was arrested in April on accusations of stealing a car parked in the same area.
A spokesman for 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Capt. Tyler King, said the Marines are aware of another recent alleged incident involving a Marine and a Japanese national.
“We continue to work closely with local authorities regarding this incident,” he said by email Nov. 21.
King did not provide details about the incident, and Iwakuni Police do not have record of any recent arrests involving a Marine.
Yamaguchi Broadcasting reported that a 67-year-old man got in a scuffle with a U.S. service member following a break-in at a store in Iwakuni on Nov. 18.
The victim “sustained serious injuries, such as bruises to his body and a cut on his head,” the report said. The service member was detained and taken away by other Americans.
Fukuda told Rusnok he wants to see a joint patrol by the city and MCAS Iwakuni by year’s end, the official said. Such patrols are common and typically take place several times per year.