YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — As summer begins to wind down, U.S. Forces Japan wants everyone to know that safety is still top priority.

In a new guidance letter released Tuesday by USFJ, the component commanders of Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps forces in Japan stressed the value of safety in all activities, especially while driving and when consuming alcohol.

“Time to enjoy recreational activities is important for our morale and mental well-being,” the letter states.

“While we are enjoying some well-deserved down time, it is essential that we keep in mind the importance of safety and risk management.”

The largest portion of the letter addresses upcoming changes — projected to take effect in September at the earliest — to Japanese laws that target not only intoxicated drivers but also people who provide alcohol to potential drivers and vehicles to drunken drivers.

“In Japan, even one drink can put a driver over the minimum .03 blood alcohol content level for driving under the influence,” the letter said.

“This is much lower than the U.S. standard.”

Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright, the USFJ commanding general, put the message in even clearer words during an interview Tuesday: “There can be NO drinking and driving in Japan.”

The letter also advises to buckle up and watch your speed while driving — and to pass that habit along to those around you.

“We have a responsibility to take care of others,” the letter states. “Both on and off duty.”

Statistics show that in any military community, the risk of accidents is increased from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the “101 Critical Days of Summer,” Wright said.

The new letter is the result of a component commanders’ conference in May, and is designed to reiterate the importance of safety not only to new arrivals, but to everyone stationed in Japan, Wright said.

He added that May was an especially tragic time: A USS Kitty Hawk sailor who had been drinking was killed after crashing his motorcycle into a guard rail, and two soldiers from Okinawa died from injuries suffered in an early morning car crash.

“We are constantly concerned about ensuring that we are good neighbors while we are here in Japan,” Wright said. “Being safe is part of that.”

Wright said people are adhering to safety standards in the workplace, but they need to remember to make it part of their everyday lives, no matter where they are.

“Every member of USFJ is a national treasure,” he said. “Everyone is important, everyone is a leader, and we need to work to keep everyone alive.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up