Wow! It seems that fuzzy logic, new math, a broken calculator or maybe even smoke and mirrors are used to push a different agenda, and it has nothing to do with crime!

According to the data compiled by the ministry and its Defense Facilities Administration Agency, obtained by a group linked to victims of such incidents, 1,059 crimes and accidents involving U.S. service personnel in Okinawa, or 54 percent of the nationwide total linked to members of the U.S. military, were recorded in fiscal 2002, 1,159 cases, or about 55 percent, in fiscal 2003, 1,010 cases, or around 54 percent, in fiscal 2004 and 1,012 cases, or about 57 percent, in fiscal 2005.

Okay, 50 percent of USFJ crimes are committed on Okinawa. Really? What does 50 percent equate in real numbers when looking at ALL of the data?

US Force Japan personnel have an arrest rate of 0.174 percent, about half that of Japanese in Okinawa (0.342) and the entire country (0.351) of Japan!

For U.S. tourists and U.S. citizen residents of Japan not covered by the SOFA, the arrest rate would be 0.054 percent. And if we were to assume arrests of U.S. tourists to be negligible, the arrest rate for U.S. citizens not covered by the SOFA would increase to 0.575 percent. (See the Hassett statistics below for a detailed calculation.)

Let’s see, how is crime overall in Japan?:

According to the National Police Agency’s 2009 white paper on crime, the police recognized 1,818,374 crimes, excluding traffic accidents, in 2008. The figure is 4.8 percent less than in 2007, and has fallen six years in a row.

A total of 36,153 people were killed or injured in those crimes, about 3,000 less than in 2007. The police recognized 1,297 cases of murder in 2008 — an 8.2 percent rise from the previous year and the first rise in five years — and identified or arrested suspects in 95.4 percent of those cases.

Click here to read the rest of this opinion post.

If I understand the article correctly, over 50% of the crimes committed by USFJ occur in Okinawa based on data from 2002-2005. What about indictment and prosecution rate? What about afterwards? Here is an interesting fact not mentioned in the Mainichi article:

Jun Chisaka, chief of the Japan Peace Committee’s secretariat, noted: “The Justice Ministry explained that the indictment rate of crimes involving U.S. military personnel is higher than that of crimes in Japan. In fact, however, there are more dropped cases than those indicted.

Based on a Japan-U.S. accord, Japan cannot exercise its jurisdiction unless Japan informs the United States within 10-20 days of its intention to do so. “Traffic violations can be confirmed on the spot,” Chisaka said. He added: “But when it comes to negligence resulting in death or injury, it will take time to get circumstantial evidence and to find relevant facts. Prosecutors probably can no longer indict such cases after a certain period of time.”

Now, let’s look at some data from 2007:

Crimes and incidents involving U.S. military personnel

Indicted Dropped
Criminal cases Interference with police duties 1
Trespassing 1 4
Document forgery 1
Rape 1
Rape resulting in death or injury 1 2
Murder 1
Injury 7 3
Injury resulting in death 1
Violence 1 3
Negligence resulting in death or injury 2 1
Vehicular manslaughter 30 255
Other negligence resulting in death or injury 1 1
Duress 1
Theft 3 44
Robbery 5
Robbery resulting in injury 1 1
Fraud 2
Misappropriation 4
Destruction, secretion 4 9
Other crimes 1 6
Subtotal 53 345
Specific cases Traffic law violation 286 17
Narcotic & Psychotropic Drug Control Law violation, Opium Law violation 2
Stimulant Drugs Control Law violation 1
Cannabis Control Law violation 3 2
Customs Law Control violation 1
Swords & Firearms Control Law violation 4 6
Other crimes 2
Subtotal 298 26
Total 351 371

(Note) Dropped cases are those not indicted despite Japan’s primary jurisdiction. Click here for the rest of the story.

Well, it  seems that there could have been more meat to the story. The last blurb in the Mainichi article is very vague:

Some of the crimes recorded in Okinawa during the 10 years from fiscal 2000 were serious offenses including robbery, rape and hit-and-run incidents, according to the data.

Define some! I will do the reader a favor and provide some real data on the USFJ (approximate number as of October 2007) and the real numbers on crime in Japan.

U.S. DoD Personnel in Japan
Army 2,386
Marine Corps 15,433
Navy 5,991 (less US Navy 7th Fleet)
Air Force 12,483
Total Military (Ashore) 36,293

US Army:
U.S. civilian personnel 761
Family members 3,958

US Marine Corps:
U.S. civilian personnel 626
Family member 9,732

US Navy:
U.S. civilian personnel 1,142
Family member 7,488

US Navy 7th Fleet:
Military personnel 12,141
Family members 6,324

US Air Force:
U.S. civilian personnel 771
Family members 19,667

Department of Defense Facts:

  • 80% of military members are younger than 35
  • Just over half of military members are married
  • Almost half of military population is 25 years old or younger
  • Women comprise nearly 15% of the military force
  • More than 92% of enlisted members have a high school diploma and/or some college experience
  • Typical spouse age: 26-34 years
  • 70% of spouses are 35 years old or younger


Like MICHAEL HASSETT, I am also skeptical of the crime story on USFJ personnel. Is this an attempt to sway opinion on the base issue in Okinawa? Who knows! What is known, are the numbers (statistics) and what they really mean.

[Hassett] First, we need to know how many Japanese and non-Japanese we have in this country, and how many tourists are passing through. In 2006, Japan had a total population of 127.77 million people. Some 2.08 million of those were registered foreigners, and 51,321 of those registered foreigners were U.S. citizens not covered under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Japan and the U.S.

A SOFA clarifies the terms under which a foreign military is allowed to operate in another country, and covers service members, their dependents and certain civilian workers. In October 2006, the American military community in Japan consisted of 96,790 SOFA-covered individuals.

During the same year, Japan welcomed a little more than 4.98 million foreign tourists, and 490,472 of those were from the U.S.

Now let’s see how many arrests we had that year. The National Police Agency reports 384,250 for penal code offenses, such as murder, bodily injury, bicycle theft and the like. Of these arrests, 14,418 were of non-Japanese, 211 of which were U.S. citizens not covered by the SOFA and 120 of which were SOFA-covered individuals. Illegal immigrants were responsible for 13.2 percent of penal code offenses by non-Japanese.

In addition to penal code offenses, there were 83,147 arrests for special law violations. Non-Japanese accounted for 12,303 of these, 84 of which were U.S. citizens not covered by the SOFA and 25 of which were SOFA-covered individuals.

What’s a “special law violation”? Basically it’s a breach of a certain established law, such as the Stimulants Control Law, Firearms and Swords Control Law, or even the Horse Racing Law.

Now, before we continue, take note that here in Japan an arrest indicates that a person was taken into custody by police. It does not indicate whether the case was prosecuted in court or whether the suspect was convicted.

A little math gives us an arrest rate of 0.351 percent for Japanese in Japan. For non-Japanese here — tourists and registered residents, excluding illegal immigrants and SOFA-covered individuals — the arrest rate would be a little lower at 0.326 percent, assuming that illegal immigrants were also responsible for 13.2 percent of special law violations. And if we were to deem arrests of tourists to be negligible, the rate for registered non-Japanese residents would surge to around 1.115 percent.

For U.S. tourists and U.S. citizen residents of Japan not covered by the SOFA, the arrest rate would be 0.054 percent. And if we were to assume arrests of U.S. tourists to be negligible, the arrest rate for U.S. citizens not covered by the SOFA would increase to 0.575 percent.

A strong argument can be made against the inclusion of transgressions of the Immigration Control Law and the Alien Registration Law, which may inflate arrest numbers of non-Japanese. But Japanese can and do violate these laws. In 2006, of the 35 arrests for violations to the Alien Registration Law, eight of those arrests were of Japanese.

Moreover, once we move down this path of discounting particular transgressions, we open up a giant can of worms because certain other laws — the Public Elections Law, for instance — could be considered to be inherently biased against Japanese.

The rates we have calculated so far are for the entire Japanese archipelago. However, approximately 75 percent of the total land area exclusively used by U.S. forces in Japan is located in Okinawa. So let’s narrow our focus to Okinawa Prefecture.

In 2006, the Okinawan islands had a population of 1,368,000 people, 6,808 of which were registered foreign residents not covered by the SOFA. In 2006, there were 4,188 arrests for penal code offenses and 605 arrests for special law violations. Foreigners not covered by the SOFA were responsible for 44 of these penal code offenses, and we can use partially reported figures to estimate that this group committed around 22 special law violations.

Doing the math gives us an arrest rate of 0.342 percent for Japanese in Okinawa, a bit lower than the rate for the entire country.

Now let’s turn to the U.S. military in Okinawa. There are about 42,570 SOFA-covered Americans living in the prefecture. In 2006, 63 SOFA-covered individuals were arrested for penal code offenses. Eleven arrests for special law violations can be estimated. A little math using these numbers gives us an arrest rate of 0.174 percent, about half that of Japanese in Okinawa (0.342) and the entire country (0.351).

Shocked? I am! It’s particularly surprising when you consider that almost half the U.S. military population is 25 years old or younger. In fact, 80 percent of U.S. service members are younger than 35. And men comprise nearly 85 percent of the U.S. military force.

If we were to attribute 80 percent of arrests of Japanese in Okinawa to men and women aged 15 to 64, a group that makes up 65.1 percent of the prefecture, the arrest rate among Japanese in this age bracket in Okinawa would rise to 0.420 percent. In fact, we would have to attribute 67 percent of arrests in Okinawa to those under the age of 15 and over the age of 64 before the arrest rate of Japanese in the 15-to-64 age bracket would fall below that of SOFA-covered individuals in the area. Shocking indeed!

Let’s not pretend, though, that living among foreigners trained to kill is Disney in fatigues. On-base arrest data is not released. Environmental issues and land-use concerns abound. And noise has always been a problem.

However, there were no arrests in Japan of SOFA-covered individuals for rape or sexual assault in 2006, even though the NPA did arrest 1,094 Japanese for rape and another 4,733 for sexual offenses — that’s nearly 16 a day.

Many feel that society would be great if we had no need for military forces, but as long as governments don’t feel the same way the fact remains that we have to put them somewhere. All of which raises the question: Is it hypocritical to give such disproportionate media exposure to crimes committed by U.S. service members when the data shows that their adherence to our laws apparently exceeds our own? [Hassett]

It seems that some are not obviously aware of the detailed statistics or better yet, FACTS available. Is the data provided in the Mainichi story an attempt to purposely provide misleading information as a means to further other objectives? What objectives? I dunno, removing certain bases out of Okinawa, reducing the number of USFJ personnel, changing the SOFA, avoiding the story on Japan’s new base in Africa, the economy or Hatoyama fashion? I don’t think the Mainichi or the Defense Facilities Administration Agency would do such a thing but the math just doesn’t add up!

Click here for graphs.