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Crimes by U.S. military personnel in Okinawa hit record low in 2013

The number of crimes committed by U.S. military personnel in Okinawa Prefecture totaled 32 last year, falling about 40 percent from 2012 to the lowest level since the island prefecture's return to Japan from U.S. control in 1972, it was reported at a bilateral governmental meeting Tuesday. The meeting was held at the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Okinawa office, attended by working-level officials from both governments.

Crimes by U.S. military personnel in Okinawa hit record low in 2013

The number of crimes committed by U.S. military personnel in Okinawa Prefecture totaled 32 last year, falling about 40 percent from 2012 to the lowest level since the island prefecture's return to Japan from U.S. control in 1972, it was reported at a bilateral governmental meeting Tuesday. The meeting was held at the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Okinawa office, attended by working-level officials from both governments.

Japan mascot shows bear necessities for marketing success

A clumsy bear mascot for a remote Japanese farming region has rocketed to superstar fame and notched up an unlikely marketing triumph in a nation obsessed with all things cute. The life-sized Kumamon and his now nationally ubiquitous image -- red cheeks and doughy physique -- are found on everything from pastries and keychains to airplanes and purses.

Mute bear caricature gives Japanese press conference

A life-size bear mascot with red cheeks and no voice held a press conference in Tokyo on Friday, the latest public relations coup for the rural Japanese region he represents. "Kumamon", whose name means "Bear-person" in the dialect of Kumamoto, southern Japan, answered questions from among the ranks of international journalists, as the domestic media looked on. Since debuting in 2010 to mark a new bullet train service, the red-cheeked bear with a giant head and short limbs has decorated literally everything from bread to cars.

U.S. envoy Kennedy visits Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on Wednesday visited the Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa and laid a wreath at a cemetery of war dead killed in a devastating battle near the end of World War II. Kennedy, who is on an Okinawa visit from Tuesday, also visited Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum and the Cornerstone of Peace in the park in Itoman, where the names of about 240,000 people who lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa, including civilians and U.S. troops, are inscribed.

U.S. envoy Kennedy visits Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa

U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy on Wednesday visited the Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa and laid a wreath at a cemetery of war dead killed in a devastating battle near the end of World War II. Kennedy, who is on an Okinawa visit from Tuesday, also visited Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum and the Cornerstone of Peace in the park in Itoman, where the names of about 240,000 people who lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa, including civilians and U.S. troops, are inscribed.

Defense chief urges U.S. military head to ease Okinawa's burden

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Monday urged the United States to take more steps to reduce the burden on Okinawa Prefecture in hosting military bases when he met with the U.S. military's top commander in the Pacific. "Okinawa approved our permit (for landfill to relocate a military base) in late December, and we'd like to ask the U.S. side for more steps to mitigate the impact on Okinawa," Onodera told Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the Pacific Command, at the Defense Ministry.

Vatican trove shows Catholic persecution in samurai-era Japan

A trove of ancient documents unearthed at the Vatican could shed light on the brutal crackdown on Christianity in isolationist Japan under its samurai rulers, scholars say. The hoard contains about 10,000 pieces of paper, collected by an Italian priest who lived in Japan last century, mostly dating from the "Edo" period (1603-1867), when the country shut itself off from the outside world and declared Western religion illegal.

U.S. chopper crash in Okinawa last August caused by "human error"

The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday attributed the crash of one of its helicopters in Okinawa last August to "human error," according to a local mayor who was briefed on the accident. The Air Force's 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base said the HH-60 helicopter was flying over Camp Hansen with a second chopper but a miscommunication between the pilots led the aircraft to nosedive and crash, said Mayor Atsushi Toma of Ginoza village, which hosts part of the camp.

Okinawa residents sue to cancel governor okay of reclamation for base

Some 190 residents of Okinawa Prefecture sued Wednesday to cancel Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima's approval of land reclamation work for a new U.S. military base. In a suit filed with the Naha District Court, the residents charge the approval is illegal because the land reclamation plan fails to include sufficient environmental conservation measures. They also asked the court to suspend the approval to prevent the reclamation work from beginning.
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