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Sex crimes up on Okinawa; American GI’s not involved

Date Posted: 2004-08-05

Tourism in Okinawa is up, with thousands of Japanese flocking south to the island beach mecca.

While tourism is good for the island ecoomy, it’s frustrating Okinawa Prefectural Police charged with protecting visitors and locals alike. They’re calling increases in sex crimes and juvenile misconduct a significant problem, although the Police are loath to label the visiting Japanese the problem.

Arrests are up 32.7% for 2003, and officials are quick to note the crimes are not being caused by American military forces stationed in Okinawa. Violent crimes are up 18.7%, with juvenile arrests up a whopping 85% for serious and criminal acts.

Police say young women attracted to Okinawa’s shimmering sands are the primary targets for criminals, particularly those bent on committing sex crimes. There were 103 cases of indecent assault last year, up nearly a quarter from the year before. The possibly frightening part of the statistic, police say, is that they believe many cases go unreported.

What is bothering police moreis the surge in juvenile misbehavior, where arrests are up 85%. Okinawa youngsters are being arrested at roughly double the rate of young teens in mainland Japan. Fully half of the juvenile crime is caused by junior high school students under the age of 15.

Naha, Okinawa’s capital city, is growing rapidly, largely due to a population influx of mainlanders. And that’s triggering dramatic increases in serious crime, including the assaults, robberies, aggravated criminal assaults, rapes and murder. Officials say they’re working on the problem, and are getting a handle on it.

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