Off-base drinking ban for US troops in Okinawa

US troops in Okinawa, southern Japan, have been banned from drinking off base, a US military statement said, following a spate of crimes including the alleged rape of a local woman.

The move is the latest clampdown by military commanders on their sometimes rowdy charges as they look to contain seething anger in their host community.

"Drinking alcohol in off-base establishments is prohibited for all service members on Okinawa," the US Forces in Japan said on Facebook over the weekend.

"On base alcohol sales will cease at (10:00pm) each night, which includes clubs" and shops.

The statement also said drivers departing base will be subject to breathalysers while passengers and pedestrians may also undergo "sobriety tests".

The US military in Japan imposed an 11:00pm to 5:00am curfew on all its servicemen in Japan after two sailors were arrested on charges of raping a woman on the main Okinawan island in October.

Despite the curfew, misconduct involving US servicemen has continued fuelling anti-US military sentiment in Okinawa, including trespassing incidents involving an airman and a marine under the influence of alcohol and drink-driving by another marine.

The US military command in Japan has also ordered all military personnel in the country not to go off base alone.

The order in principle requires all military personnel in Japan to be accompanied by someone -- such as a colleague or family member -- when they leave US bases outside the curfew hours.

Washington sees Okinawa as a vital strategic stronghold in the region, but islanders are fed up with shouldering what they say is a disproportionate burden for the Japan-US relationship.

The incidents also come amid swelling protests over the deployment of Osprey aircraft, with locals voicing concerns about the plane's perceived poor safety record.

In 1995, the gang rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by US servicemen sparked mass protests resulting in a US-Japan agreement to reduce the huge US military presence on the Okinawan chain.

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