The United States Navy has eased a temporary drinking ban imposed on its personnel in Japan after two people employed at its bases in Okinawa prefecture were recently arrested.
The navy released a statement Friday saying that personnel in Okinawa, however, "will continue to follow the provisions of the period of unity and mourning in effect there".
Sailors in other parts of Japan are allowed to consume alcohol on bases and in their private off-base homes, but not in off-base restaurants or bars, according to the statement cited by Japanese news agency Kyodo.
"The temporary restriction on alcohol was not intended to be a punishment, nor was it ever intended to be permanent," the commander of the U.S. Navy in Japan, Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter, was quoted as saying.
"We took this pause to train and reflect on the dangers of alcohol abuse," he added.
The people of Okinawa have long felt oppressed by hosting around two-thirds of the entire U.S. military establishment in Japan since the end of World War II.Criticism of the U.S. presence has mounted in recent weeks, after an American navy officer suspected of drunk driving and injuring two people in a collision was arrested earlier this month -- just weeks after a U.S. contractor reportedly admitted to raping and murdering a Japanese woman.