View Full Version : Drinking age lowered to 20 for Marines in Japan

09-08-06, 07:36 PM
Drinking age lowered to 20 for Marines in Japan
All other liberty policies remain in effect

By David Allen, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, September 9, 2006

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Starting Monday, the drinking age for Marines in Japan will be lowered to 20 years of age.

The policy memorandum signed Wednesday by Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Weber, commander of Marine Corps Bases Japan, aligns the drinking age of Marines with Japanese law, which sets the legal age for buying and consuming alcohol at 20 — the age a person is officially recognized as an adult.

“Marines will now be afforded the same privileges already afforded to members of the other U.S. military services on Okinawa, and the Japanese public,” Marine spokesman Gunnery Sgt. Chuck Albrecht said Thursday.

A group of junior enlisted Marines gathered for a late lunch Thursday at the Camp Foster Taco Bell erupted into whoops when told of the news. Exclamations of “alright,” “sweet,” and “right on” were sounded all around by the Marines — except for one who shrugged his shoulders and said rather nonchalantly that he was 21.

Other Marines interviewed Thursday expressed the timeworn sentiment that those old enough for war are old enough to drink.

“If you can die for your country, you should be able to have a beer,” said Staff Sgt. Maxwell Askins of Camp Courtney, who added that he thinks the new policy shows faith and confidence that Marines will “do the right thing.”

Staff Sgt. Edwin Serenaduque, 28, a nondrinker, said it was a good move.

“It’s good to see, because the other services can drink at 20 and it should be the same for us,” he said.

The new policy reverses a change in the drinking age put into effect in January 1999 in the wake of a series of alcohol-related incidents, including the death of a 19-year-old Marine who was beaten by another Marine with a lead pipe during a fight outside a bar near Camp Foster.

The age was changed from 20 to 21 and other liberty restrictions, such as a ban on “typhoon parties” and a limit on how much alcohol a Marine could possess in the barracks or buy at base shopettes, were put into effect.

In 1995, following the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by two Marines and a sailor who had been drinking heavily, the drinking age in base clubs was raised from 18 to 20, mirroring Japanese law.

The new policy affects the drinking age only, Albrecht said. All other liberty policies remain in effect.

Albrecht said a decrease in alcohol-related incidents over the past couple of years has shown the liberty policies have been effective. He said he didn’t expect an increase in such incidents with the lowering of the drinking age.

“Marines are taught from their very first moments of indoctrination into our ranks to be responsible and to exhibit our core values of ‘Honor, Courage and Commitment,’” he said.

“Those who don’t are by far the rare exception, and they are held accountable in an appropriate manner by local unit commanders in accordance with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and provision under the Status of Forces Agreement.”

Megan McCloskey contributed to this report.


;) :D :beer:

09-08-06, 08:17 PM
Alcohol rules to stay the same in South Korea

By T.D. Flack, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Saturday, September 9, 2006

SEOUL — U.S. Forces Korea officials said Thursday that the drinking age for its personnel is 21 — and it’s going to stay that way.

“USFK is not considering a revision of the current policy,” spokesman Dave Oten replied via e-mail when asked whether the command planned to mirror a new U.S. Marine Corps policy announced Thursday for Okinawa and Japan.

Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Weber, commander of Marine Corps Bases Japan, lowered the drinking age for his troops from 21 to 20 effective this coming Monday. Marine officials said the change ensures the Corps’ policy is consistent with Japanese law and that the Marines will be treated like other U.S. servicemembers and the Japanese public.

U.S. military officials in South Korea raised the drinking age from 20 to 21 on Nov. 1, 2004, with the stated goal of reducing the number of alcohol-related incidents involving younger troops.

That change caused controversy with the off-base bars and restaurants that cater to the U.S. military crowd in South Korea, where the legal drinking age is 20.

South Koreans opposed to the higher drinking age say the U.S. military forces them to follow American rules with the threat of killing their business. If an establishment doesn’t enforce the U.S. military drinking age, the U.S. military deems it “off-limits” to its troops.

The issue flared up earlier this summer when Area III commander Col. Michael J. Taliento Jr., placed two bars off-limits after an undercover investigation showed they were serving troops that were underage — at least by U.S. rules.

A new memorandum of understanding was signed among Area III and local entertainment associations following a weeklong protest by bar owners outside Camp Humphreys. Some bars decided to ban troops under 21 while other owners considered creating an “underage club” for the 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds who still want to dance and socialize off base.

Yi Hun-hui, president of the Korea Special Tourist Association, Pyeongtaek Chapter, said Thursday that he’d like to address the issue with USFK when the time is right.

He said he wants to wait until U.S.-South Korean discussions on the future of the alliance are finished before complaining.

“I mean, why only in Korea?” he asked about stricter drinking age.

Soldiers who talked to Stars and Stripes on Thursday contended that individual responsibility is the key to behavior, not necessarily a stricter drinking age.

Pfc. Cristin Baughman, 21, was 19 when she first arrived in South Korea.

“It’s all about personal responsibility,” said Baughman, of Area I headquarters company. “There are plenty of people over 21 who can’t handle their alcohol, just like people under 21 … is a year really going to make that much of a difference?”

Sgt. Nick Drumm, 23, said he understands keeping the on-base rules in line with U.S. laws. But he said he believes U.S. servicemembers should follow the host nation’s laws when they leave the gates.

Several soldiers said they didn’t believe lowering the drinking age in South Korea would result in any further illegal or violent incidents. People seeking trouble will find a way, whatever the legal drinking age, they said.

Hwang Hae-rym and Erik Slavin contributed to this report.

The rules ...

U.S. Forces Korea officials referred Thursday to Command Policy No. 8, signed by commander Gen. B.B. Bell on May 28.

That letter states that all military and civilians under age 21 — to include contractors, technical representatives and family members — cannot buy, drink or be served alcohol beverages on or off base in South Korea.

Troops who fail to follow the rules can be punished by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to the letter. And civilians can face administrative sanctions, including the loss of a base pass and other privileges.

— Stars and Stripes