Japan-based Marines and sailors are now prohibited from staying overnight in the Okinawan capital city of Naha following the alleged rape of a Japanese woman by a U.S. sailor.
Members of III Marine Expeditionary Force “will not be allowed ‘special liberty’ to remain overnight south of Camp Kinser until further notice,” 1st Lt. Martin Harris, a Marine spokesman, told Marine Corps Times.
The ban was put in place after Japanese police arrested Justin Castellanos, a 24-year-old sailor, on March 13. Castellanos, who is assigned to Camp Schwab, is accused of taking a woman to his hotel room in Naha and raping her after she fell asleep.
All III MEF service members are also required to undergo mandatory training this week on “the importance of making good decisions, respecting our Okinawan neighbors, and being responsible for their fellow service members while on liberty,” Harris said.
Harris said the training will remind III MEF personnel to “Protect What You’ve Earned,” a program started by Commandant Gen. Robert Neller to consider what they stand to lose if they abuse alcohol.
“We know statistically when you look at things like accidents, sexual assault, suicide, drug use or domestic abuse that alcohol is a significant player in a lot of this,” Neller told Marine Corps Times in a Jan. 20 interview. “My hypothesis is if I can get Marines to be more responsible with alcohol, then these other things will go down.”
Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, III MEF commander, has apologized to Okinawa’s governor for the alleged rape, according to Stars and Stripes.
“Today, I came here to represent 27,000 uniformed members, 17,000 families, 4,000 civilians, 50,000 Americans,” the newspaper reported Nicholson as telling the governor. “The allegation against the specific individual is a great shame and dishonor of us all.”