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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 June 1 - 7  > More than 80% of US servicemen committing crimes in Japan unindicted
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2016 June 1 - 7 [US FORCES]

More than 80% of US servicemen committing crimes in Japan unindicted

June 4, 2016
The prosecution rate for U.S. servicemen committing crimes in Japan in 2015 stands at only 18.7%. This was revealed by documents that the Japan Peace Committee had obtained from the Justice Ministry through an information disclosure request.

The rate for U.S. military personnel in Japan is less than half of that for Japanese citizens, 38.5% (2014). Japan’s prosecutor dropped charges against U.S. servicemen in five rape cases and in ten assault cases.

The prosecution rate for U.S. military-related crimes is low because of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which provides privileged treatment to the U.S. military. Article 17 of the SOFA stipulates that the U.S. has primary jurisdiction over U.S. servicemen committing crimes in Japan if they are on duty. On the other hand, Japan has the judiciary right over those committing crimes while off duty. However, Japan at the 1953 meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee made a secret agreement that Japan will exercise that right only in cases that are considered to have exceptional significance.

This privilege has played a role in the amount of serious crimes committed by the U.S. military personnel, including the recent case where an ex-U.S. marine was arrested for killing a Japanese woman and abandoning her body in Okinawa. The need now is to drastically revise the SOFA and cancel the secret agreement.

Past related articles:
> Serious crimes by US personnel occur more than once a month in Okinawa [May 26, 2016]
> 210,000 crimes and accidents committed by US servicemen in Japan [September 8, 2011]
> Bilateral ‘secret agreement’ is preventing U.S. servicemen committing crimes in Japan from being prosecuted [May 23, 2009]
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