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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 May 18 - 24  > Japan sought its control over US military drills outside US bases, but in vain
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2022 May 18 - 24 [POLITICS]

Japan sought its control over US military drills outside US bases, but in vain

May 23, 2022

A declassified Foreign Ministry document reveals that Japan at first sought authority to regulate U.S. military training exercises and their movements outside U.S. military bases in Japan.

The document the Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed last September is a draft Japan-U.S. administrative agreement, the predecessor of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which Japan prepared in December 1950.

The document required the U.S. military, before conducting training exercises outside designated areas, to discuss with the Japanese government regarding the area, location, and period of training. U.S. forces Japan, when traveling between bases or between bases and residences during the training period, had to follow the routes set under a bilateral agreement or, in normal times had to give prior notice each time to Japanese authorities as to which routes they will use, according to the document. As a reason for these regulations, the document said that it is because areas outside U.S. bases in Japan may come under indiscriminate attacks by a country at war with the United States, which would be a disadvantage for Japan.

At present, the SOFA does not have provisions on U.S. military drills outside designated areas or restrictions on the routes associated with the movement of U.S. personnel between bases.

Asked by reporters in the Diet building, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on May 19 presented his view on the draft Japan-U.S. administrative agreement.

He pointed out that the other defeated countries of Germany and Italy have gained relative equality with the United States under revised SOFAs, and that these countries have the authority to give or deny permission to off-base U.S. military training exercises. In contrast, Shii said, Japan tolerates the situation as if it is still under U.S. occupation.

He said that the document shows that the Japanese government at that time tried to put brakes on the free and unrestricted use of bases in Japan. However, he said, "The actual administrative agreement turned out to give full privileges to the U.S. military. It will be necessary to uncover the truth behind this turnabout."

He continued to say that even the government under U.S. occupation at first had intended to place restrictions on U.S. forces in Japan, and that the present government, however, says nothing about the U.S. forces' special privileges as if it abandoned its status as an independent country.

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