Iwakuni asks bars to enforce U.S. drinking age
The commander of Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan, wants off-base bars to help the base enforce its standards for alcohol purchases.
Marine Col. David Darrah asked local bar owners not to sell alcohol to any servicemembers younger than 21. The request was made in hopes of reducing off-base alcohol-related criminal incidents involving younger Marines.
Although the legal drinking age in Japan is 20, the owners agreed, Darrah said.
“I met with them because we want to show the community we are proactive but we also need their help, especially in the area of young people and drinking,” he said in a telephone interview. “By doing this, we hope to help these younger people grow and mature … and prevent the younger Marines from getting into trouble.”
He said some bar owners agreed to post signs reminding U.S. military customers they must be 21 to enter, drink or buy alcohol in their establishments.
“The age limit on base is 21, and when they go off base in another country with an age limit that’s lower, they are still bound by the age limit of 21,” said base spokesman Capt. Stewart Upton.
The Iwakuni bar owners’ association was unable to be reached for comment by today’s publication deadline.
At least five Iwakuni servicemembers are in Japanese custody now in connection with crimes committed during an 11-month period. On Jan. 13, Darrah implemented a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew for all troops. Servicemembers who live off base are restricted to their quarters during the same seven-hour period.
The commander said Wednesday there is no estimated date for the curfew to end.
— Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.