CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — New statistics show the number of U.S. servicemembers, family members and civilian workers accused of committing crimes on Okinawa dropped last year to the lowest level since the reversion of the tiny island prefecture back to Japan in 1972.
Out of 3,410 total arrests prefecture-wide in 2014, only 27 involved Status of Forces Agreement personnel, down from 38 in 2013, according to statistics released Feb. 12 by Okinawa Prefectural Police. Of those, only 10 were servicemembers on active duty, the same as the previous year.
The overall number of crimes allegedly perpetrated by SOFA personnel dropped from 32 to 29.
The number of what are referred to in Japan as “heinous” crimes, including rape, murder, robbery and arson, went up in 2014 — to a single arrest for rape. However, the number of arrests for violent crimes such as assault and extortion dropped from seven to four.
Okinawan police officials declined to comment on the statistics by phone. U.S. Forces Japan said good conduct by servicemembers is “key” to fostering a relationship with the communities that host them.
The fall in the numbers was likely impacted by a curfew and restrictions on alcohol consumption that began in 2012 following the rape of an Okinawan woman by two visiting U.S. Navy sailors. The restrictions lasted in some form until Dec. 9.