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Off-base drinking ban, midnight curfew lifted for US troops in Japan

U.S. Forces Japan's liberty policy is displayed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017.

LEON COOK/STARS AND STRIPES

By LEON COOK | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 13, 2017

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The U.S. military has lifted alcohol restrictions and a midnight curfew for Japan-based servicemembers imposed last month after a fatal vehicle accident on Okinawa.

“As of noon today, normal liberty and alcohol consumption policies are back in effect for U.S. military members located or operating in Japan,” said an Air Force statement issued Wednesday.

The order reversed restrictions put in place Nov. 19 after Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas James-McLean, 21, was involved in a head-on collision that killed a 61-year-old Okinawan man. The Marine was operating a government vehicle while off-duty and reportedly had a blood-alcohol content of 0.09 — three times Japan’s legal limit.

All 50 U.S. states have set 0.08 as the legal limit for driving under the influence or driving while impaired.

The military responded by ordering a total booze ban and restricting off-duty Okinawa-based personnel to their quarters. The order was later amended to include a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew for all Japan-based servicemembers.

Troops have been allowed to buy and consume alcohol on base or in their off-base homes since Nov. 30; however, the curfew and off-base drinking ban remained in place.

The return to normal liberty and alcohol policies means a 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for lower enlisted troops and a ban on off-installation drinking during those hours for all ranks.

On Monday, James-McLean was charged with negligent driving causing death and driving under the influence of alcohol, a spokesman from the Naha District Public Prosecutors Office said. He faces substantial fines and up to 10 years in prison with hard labor if convicted on both charges.

cook.leon@stripes.com

Twitter: @LeonCook12

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