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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The number of crimes committed by Americans on Okinawa under the status of forces agreement continued its slight downward trend in 2006, Okinawa police reported.

The number of arrests of people linked to the U.S. military held steady at 1.5 percent of all arrests on the island.

According to 2006 crime statistics released Thursday, 6,798 major crimes (felonies and “serious” misdemeanors) resulted in the arrests of 4,188 people in the prefecture. Fifty-seven of the cases involved U.S. servicemembers, their dependents or civilian workers. Those cases resulted in the arrest of 63 SOFA individuals.

The percentage of crimes involving SOFA personnel “remains unchanged for the past three years after it rose to a high in 2003,” said Masato Oshiro, chief of the prefectural police’s International Crime Investigation office.

In 2003, 112 known crimes were connected to SOFA-status personnel, resulting in the arrest of 133 individuals. In 2004, the numbers dropped to 59 crimes and 72 arrests. In 2005, there were 66 crimes and 65 arrests.

The population of Okinawa is about 1.4 million; about 42,570 — or about 3 percent — are Americans connected with the U.S. military. The statistics show that 0.83 percent of the total serious crimes in 2006 resulting in arrests on Okinawa were linked to Americans and 1.5 percent of the people arrested were SOFA-status personnel.

In 2005, SOFA-status personnel committed 0.98 percent of the total serious crimes. Again, 1.5 percent of the people arrested were linked to the U.S. military.

Of those people arrested last year, 34 crimes were linked to 38 active-duty servicemembers, eight of whom were younger than 20 and thus considered minors in Japan. Military dependents accounted for 20 serious crimes, with 22 individuals arrested. Of that number, 18 cases resulted in the arrest of 20 minors.

Civilian employees with SOFA status were held responsible for three felonies, resulting in three arrests.

U.S. military officials on Okinawa had no comment on the report Friday.

Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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