Government’s Okinawa safety patrols started
The first safety teams set up by the Japanese government began patrolling low-traffic areas in local communities close to U.S. Military installations on Jun. 15th.
The government initiated the project in order to prevent criminal activities after the rape and murder of a 20-year-old Okinawan woman by an American civilian working for a contractor on base.
Initially, the patrols temporarily consist of 40 staffers from the Okinawa General Bureau and Ministry of Defense, 20 members from each office, but officials are not yet decided how and from where to pick up members for the patrols after the temporary term expires. The teams are scheduled to patrol downtown low-traffic areas in civilian vehicles marked with blue flashlights between 19:00 and 20:00.
Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Aiko Shimajiri says, “I believe the project will have some effect, especially after the project expands to 100 cars and additional patrol members from police, self defense force, and their retired members, join the effort as part time staff.”
On the other hand, there are also local volunteer teams who patrol on their own, and some say this is confusing because there seems to be very little cooperation between the groups about the patrols. According to Okinawa Prefectural Police, there are 648 local patrol vehicles on the streets taking part. But while the government is announcing that the new official patrol teams will cooperate with Okinawan police, there’s no mention about local volunteer teams.