Restaurants, bars hurting outside US bases on Okinawa
OKINAWA CITY, Okinawa — Gate 2 Street is the heart of Okinawa City’s nightlife, and it’s normally teeming with troops on Friday nights as restaurant staffers hawk the day’s specials and mini-skirted women from the nearby gentlemen’s clubs head outside to line the district’s bright lights.
But the street looked more like a sedate Tuesday afternoon as the men and women from nearby Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster, their wallets stuffed on a payday weekend, never left the gates, leaving a small collection of curious Japanese tourists and regulars getting accustomed to the strange new silence.
For almost a month now, Lt. Gen. John Nicholson’s “period of unity and mourning” has been in effect. It restricts all military personnel on the island, regardless of rank, from purchasing alcohol off base and puts the military community on Cinderella Liberty as the fallout from the alleged rape and slaying of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro and other crimes by troops.
A week after Nicholson’s order came a wrong-way crash involving a Navy sailor with a high blood-alcohol level. The Navy then prohibited all alcohol-consumption for its 18,600 Japan-based sailors and restricted sailors to their bases for four days. Though Navy officials eased other restrictions 11 days later, sailors are still indefinitely prohibited from purchasing alcohol off base.