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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 August 20 - 26  > National Diet Library classifies ministry documents concerning jurisdiction over U.S. military crimes
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2008 August 20 - 26 [US FORCES]

National Diet Library classifies ministry documents concerning jurisdiction over U.S. military crimes

August 11, 2008
The National Diet Library (NDL) in June suddenly classified the Justice Ministry’s document that confirms the existence of a secret Japan-U.S. agreement concerning treatment of members of U.S. military service members in Japan who committed crimes.

The document in question was produced in March 1972 by the Justice Ministry Criminal Affairs Bureau as a working paper concerning exercising the right of jurisdiction over offenses committed by the United States armed forces or their civilian component.

Late in May, the Japanese government notified the NDL of the decision to classify the document. Following the government decision, the NDL held a meeting of section chiefs on June 5 and decided to keep the document from the public on June 23. It also removed this document from the NDL Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) system.

The NDL role is based on "the firm conviction that truth makes us free and with the object of contributing to international peace and the democratization of Japan as promised in our Constitution" (Preamble of the National Diet Library Law).

What the government has done is contrary to the stated mission of the NDL and a serious violation of the people’s right to know.

The ministry materials that were withheld includes the 1953 directive pressing the prosecutors to unconditionally accept any U.S. request for a waiver of Japan’s primary right to exercise jurisdiction over U.S. military crimes.

This is how the Japanese government grants extraordinary privileges to the U.S. military, although it has not officially acknowledged the existence of such secret agreements.

The NDL obtained this document, which had been designated as classified, from a secondhand bookstore and registered it as part of its collection.

The Justice Ministry Criminal Affairs Bureau told Akahata that it cannot comment on this affair.

The NDL, however, added that the ban was part of a routine review.
- Akahata, August 11, 2008
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