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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 May 13 - 19  > Over 80 percent of U.S. servicemen committing crimes in Japan not prosecuted
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2009 May 13 - 19 [US FORCES]

Over 80 percent of U.S. servicemen committing crimes in Japan not prosecuted

May 16, 2009
In Japan, there were 3,829 crime cases involving off duty U.S. military personnel between 2001 and 2008, and 3,184 of them, or about 83 percent, were never prosecuted.

The Japan Peace Committee revealed this fact at a meeting in the Diet Building on May 15. It discovered this in a formerly classified document which it obtained based on the Freedom of Information Act.

In October 1953, the Justice Ministry made a secret agreement with the U.S. government to the effect that “[T]he Japanese authorities do not normally intend to exercise the primary right of jurisdiction over members” of the U.S. military and their dependents, “other than in cases considered to be of material importance to Japan.”

The Justice Ministry document shows that the Japanese authorities have long been subject to this secret agreement and thus left most U.S. soldiers’ crimes unpunished.

According to the Peace Committee, all the service members who committed crimes such as interfering with policemen in the execution of their duties, fraud, and embezzlement were not indicted, while about 70 percent of them who committed serious crimes, such as murder and robbery, were indicted.

As regards sexual assaults and rapes, including death or bodily injury cases committed by Japanese during the same 9 years, about 59 percent of them were indicted, while the percentage remains extraordinarily low for U.S. military personnel in Japan; about 11 percent for indecent assault, about 26 percent for rape, and about 18 percent for home-invasion.

The Japanese government argues that there is no difference between U.S. and Japanese in applying the law. However, the ministry documents covering the same period shows that while no U.S. military personnel was indicted, as regards Japanese, about 65 percent who interfered with policemen in the execution of their duties, about 76 percent fraud, and about 58 percent indecent assault were indicted.

* * *

Speaking at the meeting in the Diet Building on May 15, Sato Mitsuo, representative director of the Japan Peace Committee, stated that the committee is determined to increase the effort to get the Japan-U.S. Status of U.S. Forces Agreement and the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty abrogated.

Niihara Shoji, who discovered the secret promise in September 2008, in a video message stated that this secret promise is only a small part of the hidden deals involved in the Status of U.S. Forces Agreement.

Ms. Jane, who was raped by a U.S. warship crewmember in 2002, criticized the Japanese government for leaving victims of crimes without relief. Further Japanese will fall prey to their misconduct, she added.

Lawyer Nakamura Shinsuke, who is involved in a trial over the murder of a woman in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture in 2006, stated that even after the murder case, crimes continue around the U.S. naval base. This owes to the fact that the Japanese government has essentially renounced its primary right of jurisdiction in crimes committed by U.S. military personnel in Japan.
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