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Local Navy and Japanese officials did a safety walk-through of the Honch nightclub district in Yokosuka, Japan, on Monday.

Local Navy and Japanese officials did a safety walk-through of the Honch nightclub district in Yokosuka, Japan, on Monday. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

Local Navy and Japanese officials did a safety walk-through of the Honch nightclub district in Yokosuka, Japan, on Monday.

Local Navy and Japanese officials did a safety walk-through of the Honch nightclub district in Yokosuka, Japan, on Monday. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

Yokosuka Vice Mayor Shunichi Sugimoto, right, introduces Yokosuka base commander Capt. Greg Cornish at Yokosuka Chuo Station Monday. Base military liaison and civil affairs director Yuko Kobayashi translates.

Yokosuka Vice Mayor Shunichi Sugimoto, right, introduces Yokosuka base commander Capt. Greg Cornish at Yokosuka Chuo Station Monday. Base military liaison and civil affairs director Yuko Kobayashi translates. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Scattered salutes, calls of greeting and plenty of wide eyes followed an unlikely assembly through Yokosuka’s bar district Monday night.

It was the first joint “Honch Patrol” — an hourlong walk-through with top local officials, community leaders, policemen and media Monday.

Commander, Naval Forces Japan Rear Adm. James Kelly and Yokosuka Mayor Ryoichi Kabaya headed up the tour, and were joined by Yokosuka base commander Capt. Greg Cornish, police and a bevy of community members.

The patrol grew out of a joint safety meeting between the Navy and city after a series of Navy-related crimes in the beginning of the year.

“We’ve done walk-throughs and so have the Japanese, but this is the first time we’ve walked together,” Cornish said Monday.

The group toured the Yokosuka Chuo area through the Honch to Shioiri Station. They paused at the spot where Yokosuka woman Yoshie Sato was found after suffering a fatal beating by a USS Kitty Hawk airman on Jan. 3. Navy and Japanese officials removed their hats and bowed.

Other crime scene locations were noted along the trip, including the corner where a street fight took place in 1994 and the newly named location of the Shalltown Bar, which was formerly off-limits to U.S. military personnel. Future problem areas were cited, like bars that serve past the alcohol curfew and places where garbage accumulates.

Recent security improvements also were part of the tour, as police pointed out security cameras and new streetlights.

One thing the patrol didn’t see was “Americans causing problems,” joked Kabaya at the tour’s completion, saying that the Honch was very quiet as all of the Navy ships — except one — are out at sea.

“The most important thing we can do is to build a trusting relationship between Yokosuka and the Navy,” Kabaya said. “We need to show people that Yokosuka is not a bad place. It’s not a bad city.”

“We want to be the best citizens we can be,” Kelly told Kabaya. “It’s your city but it’s ours too.”

Cornish pointed out proactive steps the Navy has taken in the last year, including levying an alcohol consumption curfew for active-duty military, heightened behavior discussion during newcomer indoctrination and increased numbers of shore patrol.

“We’ve been working hard in the base community for the last year,” Cornish said. “We know how important it is to be a good neighbor.”

But while Honch bartender James Petrovich has noticed the increased number of shore patrol, Honch safety still feels “low,” he said.

“There has been a lot of trouble down here, and the action always seems too little, too late,” Petrovich said. But the walk-through is a good sign, he said.

“I hope they can figure out how to solve these problems,” Petrovich said. “Crime hurts — it hurts the businesses and the customers.”


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