In what is shaping up to be the third consecutive month in Japan with at least two arrests of U.S. servicemen for committing crimes while intoxicated, police in Okinawa have arrested an airman for drunk driving and causing an accident. 41 year old Eric Simmons, who is stationed at the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena base, is accused of driving while under the influence late Sunday night and causing a pileup with other vehicles.
Thankfully there were no injuries in the incident, however, Simmons was in violation of the strict 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM curfew that is imposed on all U.S. servicemen stationed in Japan after two sailors were arrested for raping a local woman in Okinawa in mid-October. Exceptions are allowed for those who live off-base, such as Simmons, who have to travel when working very late or early hours. The airman said he was on his way to work at the time off the accident, and thus was excused from the curfew. But he didn’t provide an excuse for being drunk behind the wheel.
Among the stricter rules imposed on military personnel stationed in Okinawa include a ban on drinking any alcohol off-base, and the requirement of the buddy system for those who do leave U.S. facilities. Following the rape in October, a drunk soldier broke into an apartment and attacked the teenage boy who lived there in early November. While not all the incidents have taken place in Okinawa, each month after October has seen at least one crime committed by a serviceman involving alcohol, with December and January seeing two drunken trespassing cases each.
Tensions with the Okinawa community were already sky-high immediately after the rape, and although the actions of those being arrested aren’t the normal behavior of most, or even half, of the servicemen in Japan, these crimes are well beyond making the military, and the U.S. as a whole, look bad. Trying to solve the problem with something like banning all alcohol from soldiers is far easier said that done, and isn’t even a realistic solution. But something needs to change, either in the behavior of servicemen in Japan, or how the military enforces its rules.[via Global Post]