U.S. extra-territorial rights over Japan must end -- Akahata editorial, December 12 (excerpts)

The Okinawa prefectural police sent the papers of the case of a U.S. serviceman for the attempted rape of a woman to the district prosecutor's office.

Using a provision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that the U.S. military is not required to hand over criminal suspects to Japanese authorities unless they are indicted, the U.S. Forces have continued to reject handing over the suspect to Japan.

The government made a request for the suspect to be handed over, but met with U.S. rejection and decided not to push the matter further.

Anger is increasing among Okinawans and throughout the country at the trampling of Japan's sovereignty by the U.S. forces and at the Japanese government's deep-rooted subordination to the United States.

'Improved operations' does no good

The U.S. refusal to hand over the suspect shows that improved operations is pointless, a process on which the Japanese and U.S. governments agreed to serve as a substitute for a review of the SOFA (which the Japanese people demanded as a consequence of the rape of a girl in 1995).

The improved operation scheme helps the U.S. forces continue to enjoy extra-territorial rights because it allows the U.S. to decide whether or not suspects should be handed over to Japanese authorities.

The problem is that the Koizumi Cabinet sees nothing wrong with this status of Japan under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the SOFA.

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro has decided that Japan won't make further requests for the hand-over, rejected the need for the SOFA to be revised, and declared that the matter be dealt with by improved operation of the SOFA.

The U.S. forces have held in contempt Japanese governments represented by such timid prime ministers, with the result of U.S. soldiers committing crime without fear of penalty.

Crimes by U.S. soldiers occur not only in Okinawa but in many places in Japan. The U.S. forces promise to enforce official discipline whenever crimes take place. If an officer who is responsible for discipline is not served with an arrest warrant and avoids detention, it will be a great encouragement for more crimes to take place.

The U.S. does not specify the reason for rejecting the hand-over, and the Japanese government dares not ask for the reason.

The reason is plain. What the U.S. forces are duty-bound to protect is not the human rights of the Japanese people, but the U.S. servicemen who committed crimes.
Revise SOFA

Will the Koizumi Cabinet insist on continuing to give the U.S. extra-territorial rights over Japan?

The South Korean government demanded the United States that its SOFA with the United States be revised to give South Korea the right to try U.S. servicemen if their crimes are committed on duty. This provides a sharp contrast between the stances of two U.S. allies.

We demand that the Koizumi Cabinet immediately begin negotiations with the United States to get the SOFA fundamentally revised. (end)