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Regarding Barbara Cavolick’s March 20 letter, “Media’s tendency to sensationalize“: Let me point out some statistical facts. Japan-based U.S. servicemen and their dependents have committed a total of 28 crimes since 1995. Of these, felonies such as rape, arson and armed robbery account for 16 percent. Most (or 88 percent) of the crimes occurred in Okinawa Prefecture, where 75 percent of all U.S. bases in Japan concentrate.

One cannot simply call these offenders the exception as Cavolick suggests. Rather, they are strong indicators of what many U.S. servicemen feel in their heart about their tours of duty in Japan. However hard their commanders may try to teach otherwise during their orientation, these soldiers soon come to realize that U.S. forces are based in Japan primarily to defend America’s security and interests, not Japan’s. In addition, these soldiers instinctively sense that the U.S. is the suzerain and Japan its colony. No doubt this realization ends up being reflected in “the actions of a few” that make Cavolick feel “sickened and saddened.”

No one in Okinawa blames any particular individual or offender. Rather, they blame the very presence of the U.S. military, here under the pretext of safeguarding Japan.

So what should Washington do? Reduce the area occupied by the U.S. bases or, as some people suggest, withdraw them outright. Under this context, then, it is nonsense and off the mark to claim that “the Japanese media has the tendency to sensationalize stories regarding foreign perpetrators.”

yoshio shimoji