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While the recent conduct of a U.S. Marine with a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa is more than unacceptable, I find the reactions of officials and commentators rather peculiar. While one may wish that discipline and order would prevent such incidents from happening, it will never be quite possible to avoid them wherever there are large numbers of male soldiers around, whatever their nationality.

It seems quite cynical to me if Japanese government officials, who are responsible for the amassed presence of American troops on Okinawa, are unwilling to take co-responsibility for such incidents. I would have expected that a nation that invites soldiers of other countries into its own territory would want to improve on the policing of the affected areas.

As an Okinawa resident, I am familiar with the Chatan area and have always been struck by the lack of visibility of local police or military police. If politicians want to help improve the situation, they might consider increasing the visibility of police where single soldiers tend to seek entertainment.

As a European visitor to this island, I am indignant over the absence of simple policing measures, as it raises insecurity among law-abiding residents and may result in indiscriminate hostile sentiment against anyone who vaguely looks like a U.S. soldier. I too, at times, feel threatened by the few inebriated or unruly soldiers in town (most soldiers tend to behave perfectly acceptably, by the way!), but I think I would feel less so if I knew that I could call the police in English. One never knows whether the operator on the line or the police officers attending the scene are able to understand!

helmut kostreba