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Navy Updates Liberty Policy for Sailors in Japan

Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard man the rails in this file photo from February 21, 2012. (Frank Andrews/U.S. Navy)
Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard man the rails in this file photo from February 21, 2012. (Frank Andrews/U.S. Navy)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Navy officials in Japan have issued a new liberty policy with "several Okinawa-specific provisions."

The update, which essentially aligns Navy rules with those in effect for Marines on Okinawa, was announced Wednesday in a joint message from Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin and Rear Adm. Matthew Carter, commanders of the 7th Fleet and Naval Forces Japan respectively.

U.S. Forces Japan tightened liberty restrictions in July following a "negative trend" of alleged criminal activity and other liberty incidents. Individual services were allowed to impose other limitations, which briefly included Navy bans on all alcohol consumption and non-essential off-base travel.

Sailors stationed on Okinawa are now required to carry liberty cards, and those visiting there on leave or temporary assignment must carry a copy of their approved paperwork.

Sailors are also not allowed to stay overnight in the prefectural capital of Naha without command approval.

The update also clarifies guidance for those stationed in mainland Japan by switching to terminology that classifies a sailor's liberty status from Class A, B and C into liberty tiers used by the Okinawa-based Marines.

"This policy is part of our continued commitment to remind our Sailors that liberty is a mission, especially in Japan," Aucoin said in a Navy statement. "Everyone should understand our mission requires us to be good ambassadors and neighbors. If we fail at this mission, it negatively impacts our ability to ‘fight tonight' and carry out our nation's business."

A series of arrests earlier this year sparked one of the largest protests against the U.S. military in decades.

A Navy corpsman assigned to Camp Schwab was sentenced by a Japanese court to 2 1/2 years hard labor for the March 13 rape of Japanese woman at a Naha hotel. A civilian base contractor has been charged with murder and rape for the death of a young Okinawa woman.

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Navy Japan