Officials opt to keep curfew on Okinawa
Stars and Stripes June 14, 2007
NAHA, Okinawa — U.S. military and Japanese officials said the midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew for active-duty servicemembers on Okinawa will remain in effect, at least for the time being.
About 30 board members of the Cooperative Working Team — made up of Okinawa and Tokyo officials, local business owners, police and U.S. military and State Department officials — met Wednesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Okinawa Liaison Office in Naha to assess crime prevention programs that are under way following a series of high-profile crimes involving servicemembers on Okinawa and mainland Japan.
As part of the effort to reduce crimes by servicemembers, particularly sex offenses, U.S. military officials on Okinawa have set up a sexual-assault response coordinator position and have held sexual-assault workshops. The military also has vowed to continue to work closely with owners of local entertainment businesses to reduce off-base incidents by servicemembers.
In an effort to ease the Cinderella Liberty policy, the Okinawa City Entertainment Association formed a network of bar owners who allow U.S. military courtesy patrols into their establishments. Participating bars and clubs post signs saying they will not provide alcohol to minors or intoxicated patrons and welcome the patrols.
U.S. Army Col. Mark R. Franklin, chief of the Okinawa Area Field Office of U.S. Forces Japan and co-chairman of the working team, said he welcomed the efforts made by the businesses.
"We have seen a great cooperation between our service patrols and local entertainment establishments," he said.
His Japanese counterpart, Hideaki Kuramitsu, deputy chief of the ministry’s Okinawa liaison office, said the joint efforts by the military and Japanese officials and local communities continue to achieve a common goal of reducing crimes by servicemembers.
Following the meeting, Kuramitsu told reporters the military courtesy patrols have been expanded from Gate 2 Street, near Kadena Air Base, to Kin, which hosts Camp Hansen, and Chatan, which hosts Camp Foster. They are also active in parts of the city of Ginowan adjacent to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministry will increase the number of seminars it offers to servicemembers to promote understanding of Okinawa, Kuramitsu said.
"We had three such seminars last year," he said. "However, we will offer more than 10 seminars this year for all four branches of the service."
Kuramitsu said the ministry also plans to offer the seminars to U.S. civilians and family members.