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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 June 11 - 17  > Japan Peace Committee demands government reveal all SOFA-related secrets
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2008 June 11 - 17 [US FORCES]

Japan Peace Committee demands government reveal all SOFA-related secrets

June 17, 2008
On the recent revelations that Japan has surrendered to the United States its jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. servicemen, the Japan Peace Committee made representations to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) demanding that the government reveal all past secret agreements or arrangements related to the Japan-U.S. Status of U.S. Forces Agreement and that they be abrogated.

JPC Representative Director Sato Mitsuo and JPC Secretary General Chisaka Jun visited the MOFA on June 16, accompanied by Inoue Satoshi, Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors.

The petitioners urged the ministry to investigate fully into the recent revelations based on declassified U.S. government documents. These documents have revealed: (1) that almost all accidents, including those that occurred on U.S. military personnel’s way to or from U.S. bases or private houses, are treated as acts during their official duty; and (2) that Japan has relinquished its right to exercise jurisdiction over the overwhelming majority of crimes by U.S. servicemen who had been “off duty” (although Japan should have the primary jurisdiction over them).

Asserting that the government is not in a position to comment on declassified U.S. documents, a MOFA official in charge of the Japan-U.S. SOFA stressed that the government has never concluded secret agreements with the U.S.

Concerning the case of the 1974 shooting incident in Iejima in Okinawa, in which the Japanese government in the face of a U.S. pressure gave up the right to exercise its jurisdiction over the case, the official explained that the decision was made because the government wanted to settle the case as quickly as possible, and that this never meant abandoning its jurisdiction.

Citing U.S. government annual reports to Congress showing how the Japanese government has abandoned its right to exercise jurisdiction, the JPC representatives urged the ministry to unravel all the details of the secret arrangements with the U.S.

As regards the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington, which is to be deployed to Yokosuka this summer, the petitioners insisted that a thorough investigation must be made into a recent fire that broke out on the aircraft carrier and that the planned homeporting of the dangerous vessel must be cancelled.
- Akahata, June 17, 2008
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