SOFA-related crime on Okinawa was up in 2008
February 17, 2009
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Crime attributed to people connected with the U.S. military on Okinawa increased by 11.1 percent in 2008.
According to figures recently released by the Okinawa Prefectural Police, 70 major crimes were linked to people who fall under the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement — seven more than in 2007.
And the number of SOFA-status personnel arrested jumped from 46 in 2007 to 63 last year, a 37 percent increase.
Okinawa and military officials declined to talk about the increase.
“We are not in a position to analyze or make a comment on it,” said a spokesman at prefectural police headquarters.
The year got off to a poor start, with two rape cases in February that drew international attention and protests on Okinawa.
Restrictive measures were put into effect for a time by military leaders on the island, including new curfews and restrictions on drinking alcohol off base.
Most of those restrictions have been lifted.
“During 2008, the Marine Corps made several changes to help prevent misconduct among its servicemembers,” Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Adrian Rankine-Galloway said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
“Some of the changes made were an expansion of uniformed courtesy patrols, a new liberty card policy, checks of outgoing vehicles at U.S. Marine Corps installations and additions to the orientation and education seminar that all newcomers must attend.”
According to the police report, 13 Americans were arrested in seven cases classified as “heinous,” which includes rape, robbery and arson. That was an increase of one case and seven arrests for such serious felonies over 2007.
Besides the rape cases, there was a robbery case in March that involved an Air Force military policeman and four sons of servicemembers who robbed a cab driver in Okinawa City.
In other crime categories, authorities arrested six people in five violent crimes, three more arrests than in 2007; police arrested five in 20 cases categorized as "intellectual crimes," an increase of two people and six cases; and 23 people were arrested in 23 cases in the "other" felony category, an increase of 14 people and nine cases.
The only category that saw a decrease in 2008 was thefts. Police arrested 15 people in 14 thefts, compared with 25 individuals and 27 such cases in 2007.
Of the people arrested, 40 were active-duty, 19 were dependents, and four were civilians. Minors accounted for 23 of the 63 arrested.
"The U.S. military and its commanders take very seriously all incidents and allegations involving misconduct by service members, especially those that impact the host nation community," Rankine-Galloway said. "We are committed to being a cooperative and a responsible member of the Okinawan community."
SOFA-status people accounted for 1.62 percent of all arrests on Okinawa during the year, while they make up 3.28 percent of the island’s population.
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this story.
Yearly breakdown of SOFA-status arrests on Okinawa
2008Total: 63 individuals; 70 casesHeinous: 13 individuals; 7 casesViolent: 6 individuals; 5 casesThefts: 15 individuals; 14 casesIntellectual: 5 individuals; 20 casesOther: 23 individuals; 23 cases
2007Total: 46 individuals; 63 casesHeinous: 6 individuals; 6 casesViolent: 3 individuals; 2 casesThefts: 25 individuals; 27 casesIntellectual: 3 individuals; 14 casesOther: 9 individuals; 14 cases
2006Total: 63 individuals; 57 casesHeinous: 5 individuals; 3 casesViolent: 12 individuals; 10 casesThefts: 27 individuals; 21 casesIntellectual: 5 individuals; 9 casesOther: 14 individuals; 14 cases
2005Total: 65 individuals; 66 casesHeinous: 4 individuals; 2 casesViolent: 7 individuals; 7 casesThefts: 28 individuals; 28 casesIntellectual: 5 individuals; 7 casesMoral offenses: 1 individual; 1 caseOther: 20 individuals; 21 cases
2004Total: 72 individuals; 59 casesHeinous: 1 individual; 1 caseViolent: 11 individuals; 12 casesThefts: 29 individuals; 23 casesIntellectual: 5 individuals; 3 casesMoral offenses: 3 individuals; 4 casesOther: 23 individuals; 16 cases
2003Total: 133 individuals; 112 casesHeinous: 12 individuals; 7 casesViolent: 13 individuals; 11 casesThefts: 62 individuals; 48 casesIntellectual: 8 individuals; 11 casesMoral offenses: 4 individuals; 4 casesOther: 34 individuals; 31 cases
Note: Okinawa police define a heinous crime as murder, robbery, rape, arson or sexual assault
Source: Okinawa Prefectural Police