Japan apologizes for Marine liberty guide singling out local group
OITA, Japan — The Fukuoka Defense Facilities Administration Bureau has apologized for “poor phrasing” in a liberty guide singling out one group as being “devoted to publicizing scandals” about U.S. servicemembers.
The description of Local Net Oita Hijudai was removed in a subsequent edition of the guide, which was compiled and distributed to Marines from Okinawa training at the Japan Self-Defense Force’s Hijudai Training Area in late January through early February, said Hiroto Furukawa, a Fukuoka bureau planning section chief.
The Marines requested the guide, he said, and used it while on liberty during artillery training.
The guide contains maps and information about the area, including the prices for food and drinks in restaurants and bars. It also warns about women who work the streets, luring servicemembers into local bars.
In an effort to remind Marines to enforce discipline when on liberty, the guide listed Local Net Oita Hijudai as a group “looking for scandals by the Marines.”
“In the sense that the Marines need to enforce discipline, since liberty activities attract attention, a particular watch group was named,” Furukawa said. “It was inappropriate phrasing.”
After consulting Marine officials, the bureau removed the phrase in the guide handed out at the next liberty cycle.
Local Net Oita Hijudai members were outraged at being singled out after they heard about the guide in an article in a recent Nagasaki Shimbun report.
“If they are asking for discipline, they could have explained how residents are concerned [about liberty] based on prior incidents that happened,” said Ryuji Urata, secretary general of Local Net Oita Hijudai. “I don’t know what their intentions were.”
The bureau official said Local Net was named in the guide because they’re active and well known for observing Marines on liberty.
The group issued a letter to the bureau protesting its inclusion in the guide.
“We cannot help being worried and confused with such public organization like Defense Facilities Administration Bureau to name our group in the document,” Urata said in the letter. “We are merely a citizen’s group.”