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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 May 29 - June 4  > Japan-US secret pact allows over 80% of crimes committed by US servicemen to be dropped
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2019 May 29 - June 4 [US FORCES]

Japan-US secret pact allows over 80% of crimes committed by US servicemen to be dropped

May 29, 2019
In 2018, only 14.5% of criminal non-traffic offenses caused by U.S. military personnel in Japan were prosecuted while more than 80% were dropped.

Given that 37.4% of similar domestic crimes came under indictment, the prosecution rate for U.S. military-related crimes was extremely low.

According to materials which the Japan Peace Committee obtained from the Judicial Ministry through an information disclosure request, in nine cases, U.S. servicemen were indicted on charges of committing non-traffic penal code offenses and in 53 cases, they avoided indictment.

Specifically, regarding violent crimes, sexual offenses, and fraud, all cases went unchallenged. As for robbery, only one case was brought to court and the other 27 cases were dismissed. Looking at traffic crimes involving reckless driving resulting in death and injury, the number of indicted cases and non-indicted cases stood at 16 and 205, respectively.

The reason why U.S. servicemen committing crimes can often escape from prosecution is that they are privileged by the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement and the SOFA-related secret pact.

Article 17 of the SOFA stipulates that U.S. authorities have the right to exercise primary jurisdiction over offenses committed by “on duty” U.S. servicemen. On the other hand, it recognizes that Japan has primary jurisdiction over crimes caused by off-duty servicemen. However, in the secret pact which the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee concluded in October 1953, Japan promised not to exercise its primary right over “off duty” U.S. military personnel’s crimes other than cases considered to be of special importance to Japan.

Past related articles:
> 1953 Japan-US secret deal condones 80% of crimes committed by US military personnel in Japan [August 9, 2018]
> More than 80% of crimes committed by US servicemen not indicted [June 1, 2017]
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