The U.S. has had troops in Japan since the end of the second world war. In fact it has more troops in Japan than any other country. The U.S. has 85 military bases and over 50,000 troops stationed there. The majority of those bases are located on Okinawa. The U.S. military presence on the island is the source of some controversy which has been exacerbated by the recent criminal activities of some U.S. military members.
One member of the military members in trouble with the local law in Okinawa is 21-year old Aimee Mejia, a 21-year old stationed at Kadena Air Base. The petty officer second class was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after she had a drink at a friend's house in nearby Yomitan. Mejia allegedly crossed the center line while driving through Kadena and hit two cars, injuring two people. One of the injured had a broken breast bone and the other a bruised arm. According to Japan Today, the police stated that "Mejia's alcohol reading in a breath test was six times the level allowed by law." She is currently in the custody of the Japanese police.
The incident prompted U.S. officials to strengthen restrictions that had already been imposed due to criminal activities by U.S. citizens. The Japan Times reported that beginning on Monday, all U.S. sailors throughout Japan are now "confined to their bases and banned from drinking alcohol." In addition, "[c]ommanders are additionally urging civilian contractors and family members to observe it [the ban] voluntarily." Military members are "confined to their bases unless they are billeted to in-town accommodations." In addition, "[t]hose who live off base will be allowed to travel to and from work, schools, gas stations, grocery stores and gyms. Other activities are prohibited by the order and subject to military law." The alcohol restriction does not have an end date as of yet, but the restriction on where soldiers can travel will lift after they go through new training.
The U.S. had previously imposed restrictions on military members in Okinawa, including a midnight curfew and a ban from drinking off base, after a 20-year old Japanese woman was found murdered by an American civilian military contractor. 32-year old Kenneth Franklin Gadson has been charged in the death of Rina Shimabukuro. Gadson admitted to the killing and told authorities where to find her body. She disappeared after going for a walk on April 28th and was missing for a month. The police picked up Gadson's trail after reviewing "security footage of the area in which Shimabukuro's cellphone was last known to have been used." On the footage "they spotted a car, which they then traced to Gadson." Authorities also have DNA evidence linking Gadson to the murder. The news of the arrest sparked outrage across Japan and protests outside the Kadena military base.
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