Three clubs on Okinawa no longer off-limits to servicemembers
July 21, 2004
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Three Okinawa City bars the U.S. military placed off-limits in April are back in the business of serving servicemembers.
An off-limits restriction against Club Pyramid, Club Else and Club Manhattan, all owned by Noboru Inafuku, executive director of Piccadilly Planning, was lifted Monday after he complied with conditions set by the Armed Forces Disciplinary Board.
The establishments were placed off-limits to all U.S. servicemembers and SOFA-status personnel on April 9 for failing to correct potentially unsafe conditions. The disciplinary board’s recommendation was approved by Marine Lt. Gen. Robert R. Blackman, the Okinawa Area Coordinator and the senior U.S. general on the island.
The disciplinary board consists of members from each U.S. armed service. Board members have said that earlier this year, they became alarmed about fights inside and outside the bars, in Okinawa City’s popular Uechi district. The board stated it also was concerned about poor lighting inside and outside the clubs, employing SOFA personnel as hostesses, selling alcohol to minors and preventing military courtesy patrols from entering the clubs.
Marine Col. Bradley Turner, disciplinary board president, said Inafuku complied satisfactorily with the board’s requested changes.
“This was a very deliberate and fair process,” Turner stated in a news release issued by the Marines’ Consolidated Public Affairs Office. “We delivered a letter of warning stating our concerns and conditions. When these concerns were not satisfactorily addressed, the OAC placed the establishments off limits. Once changes were made, and in close cooperation with the proprietor, the board voted to recommend lifting of the restrictions.
“I hope this and other actions help reduce off-base incidents and provide a safe, yet enjoyable environment for our servicemembers and other SOFA personnel," he said.
“To reduce accidents and incidents is also our wish,” club owner Inafuku said Monday afternoon. “It is our desire to provide our patrons with safe environment. From this aspect, we will continue to maintain the improved environment of our clubs in the future as well.”
Inafuku continues to contend that some of the disciplinary board’s complaints were unfair. “But we did our best to comply with all the requirements,” he said.
He said the clubs did little business during the off-limits period, each losing almost 10 million yen (about $94,000) per month.
“The past three months and 10 days have been very long and hard for us,” he said. “But somehow we endured and survived. Starting this weekend, I hope servicemembers will start coming back to our clubs.”
The clubs will be reopening to a reduced pool of customers. A midnight curfew is in effect for all junior enlisted Marines and sailors attached to Marine units on Okinawa. The curfew is part of a new liberty card program aimed at reducing misbehavior by young servicemembers.
Inafuku says he supports the curfew.
“It is the way it should be,” he said. “If the policy is applied equally throughout Okinawa and Japan, we will be competitive.
“Having the off-limits restriction lifted has lifted a big burden off my shoulder,” he said.