Drinking Age Lowered for Marines in Japan

The minimum legal drinking age for US marines in Japan has been lowered to 20. This change makes the drinking age for Marines consistent with Japanese law which sets the minimum age for buying and consuming alcohol at 20, the age at which Japanese law recognizes individuals as adults.

Staff Sgt. Edwin Serenaduque, 28, a nondrinker, said that “It’s good to see because the other services [in Japan] can drink at 20 and it should be the same for us.”

Other marines expressed the view that if people are old enough to die for their country, they should be able to enjoy a drink.

Although the legal drinking age is 20 in South Korea, the minimum age for US forces stationed there is 21 and is not under review. According to Command Policy No 8, “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 of base in South Korea.” However, Sgt. Nick Drumm, 23, said he believes that US service members should be able to follow the host nation’s laws when they leave the gates.



  • Allen, David. Drinking age lowered to 20 for Marines in Japan. Stars and Stripes (Pacific edition), September 9, 2006; Flack, T. D. Alcohol rules to stay the same in South Korea. Stars and Stripes (Pacific edition), September 9, 2006.

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