After a deadly crash on Sunday in which a US soldier smashed his truck into a Japanese mini-van and killed the local driver, the US military decided to ban the use of alcohol for all troops stationed in Japan. The accident happened near the Okinawa US base which houses 26,000 US soldiers.
The US military leadership responsible for the troops stationed overseas released a statement later, confirming that “alcohol may have been a factor” in the unfortunate accident which resulted in the death of a Japanese citizen.
Further to this, the military said it would organize “mandatory training to address responsible alcohol use, risk management and acceptable behavior” for all of its troops stationed in Japan.
The US base in Okinawa has been faced with protests just in 2016 already, when a marine was accused of killing a local woman and the base imposed a midnight curfew and a ban on alcohol for 2 months, so this accident could not come at a worse time.
Back in 2013, US troops all over Japan were placed under a night-time curfew after two US sailors pleaded guilty to the rape of a Japanese woman on Okinawa.
And the worst case happened in 1995 when the rape of a 12-year-old girl on Okinawa by US servicemen prompted mass protests all over Japan.
There have been plans for a long time to move the contested base to another part of the island, but the local Japanese population would like it moved altogether.
Certainly since the latest election victory of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his promise to strengthen the Japanese army to make it capable of defending the islands against the North Korean threat on its own, the resentment against the stationing of US troops on Japanese soil is at an all-time high in this area.
President Trump has not yet reacted to the news.