US Troops In Japan Can Drink Again

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

U.S. troops in Japan are allowed to drink again following a fatal November drunk driving accident involving a Marine and an elderly Okinawan resident, Navy Times reports.

During the accident, twenty-one-year-old U.S. Marine Nicholas James-McLean allegedly crashed a 2-ton truck into the resident’s vehicle while drunk. McLean’s blood alcohol level was reportedly three times the legal limit during the incident. Commanding General of U.S. Marine Forces Japan Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson lamented in a statement following the accident.

“As of noon today, normal liberty and alcohol consumption policies are back in effect for U.S. military members located or operating in Japan,” U.S. Forces Japan said in a Thursday statement, clarifying that a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew remained in effect for enlisted personnel.

The weeks long drinking ban is not the first in the history of U.S. forces Japan. The U.S. Navy instituted a drinking ban on all 18,600 personnel stationed in Japan and halted all off-base leave in June 2016 following a similar drunk driving accident.

Relations with the Japanese public over the large U.S. troop presence have been tenuous since the 1995 gang-rape of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. service members. Drunk driving incidents involving U.S. service members on Okinawa have been a further irritant to the debate, often inflaming domestic opposition to the U.S. presence.​

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