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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 2 - 8  > Japan spends nearly 600 million yen to fill gaps in compensation from US gov’t to victims of US crimes and accidents
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2020 September 2 - 8 [US FORCES]

Japan spends nearly 600 million yen to fill gaps in compensation from US gov’t to victims of US crimes and accidents

September 8, 2020

The Japanese government in the past 23 years paid a total of 589,770,000 yen as “consolation money” to victims of crimes and accidents committed by off duty U.S. servicemen stationed in Japan. This was shown in documents provided by the Defense Ministry to Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Akamine Seiken.

According to the documents, during the period between 1952 and 2019, military personnel of the U.S. forces in Japan caused 212,247 crimes and accidents, killing 1,097 Japanese people. Of the more than 210,000 cases, 76% were committed by off duty U.S. servicemen.

The Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement requires the U.S. government to compensate victims of crimes and accidents committed by U.S. servicemen. Regarding crimes and accidents which occurred during official duty hours of U.S forces personnel, the payment for damages will be made with 75% chargeable to the U.S. and 25% chargeable to Japan. In contrast, as for crimes and accidents committed by off duty servicemen, the SOFA allows the U.S. government to refuse to pay compensation. Even though victims can win compensation through legal battles against the U.S. government, they will receive compensation lower than the amount designated by the courts.

For that reason, in order to provide relief to U.S. crime victims, the 1996 Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) established a system under which the Japanese government will pay the “consolation money” to victims to make up for the difference when the U.S. pays compensation at an amount lower than the amount ordered by the courts.

Lawyer Arakaki Tsutomu, who works to support victims of U.S. military-related crimes and accidents, stressed the need to establish a government program that provides appropriate support to these victims, and said, “The payment of the ‘consolation money’ by the Japanese government is an extension of the ‘sympathy budget’ paid for stationing U.S. forces in Japan. If the Japanese government argues that the stationing of the U.S. military in Japan is accepted in relations with the U.S. on an equal footing, it should urge its U.S. counterpart to pay damages in full to victims of crimes committed by U.S. military personnel.”

Past related article:
> Over 210,000 incidents involving US soldiers occur since 1952 in Japan [November 19&20, 2017]
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