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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 November 11 - 17  > Kokuta emphasizes need to review SOFA and remove U.S. bases
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2009 November 11 - 17 [US FORCES]

Kokuta emphasizes need to review SOFA and remove U.S. bases

November 11, 2009
Asked by reporters for a comment on a fatal hit-and-run incident in Okinawa Prefecture allegedly committed by a U.S. soldier, Japanese Communist Party Diet Policy Commission Chair Kokuta Keiji on November 10 emphasized the need to review the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and remove U.S. bases from Japan.

On November 7, a U.S. army sergeant allegedly caused a car accident killing a Japanese man in Yomitan Village in Okinawa Prefecture. On November 10, the U.S. military announced that they detained the sergeant on suspicion of the hit-and-run accident.

Kokuta said, “It is an unforgivable crime. The need now is the early extradition of the suspect to Japanese police and an impartial investigation.”

Kokuta also stated, “The basic cause of such incidents is the SOFA which grants the U.S. forces extraterritorial privilege. We can’t sit still without doing anything for Okinawa people’s hardships. Now is the time for the government to decide to embark on a review of the SOFA accord.”

Hatoyama: We will not propose revising SOFA

The U.S. personnel, who reportedly drove away after hitting a man, is being held by the U.S. military.

The SOFA states that the U.S. military is not required to turn criminal suspects over to the Japanese police unless they are indicted.

On the same day at a House of Councilors’ Budget Committee meeting, a Social Democratic Party representative asked Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio if the government is willing to revise the SOFA agreement concerning the handover of U.S. suspects to Japanese authorities.

Indicating his reluctance to call for review of the SOFA, Hatoyama said, “In order to handle the situation under the current SOFA, I want to make my best effort.”

The Democratic Party of Japan in its election Manifest, however, clearly states that it will propose revising the SOFA.
- Akahata, November 11, 2009
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