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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 January 24 - 30  > Japanese bereaved family resents imprisoned US military personnel’s parole in US
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2024 January 24 - 30 [US FORCES]

Japanese bereaved family resents imprisoned US military personnel’s parole in US

January 28, 2024

A controversy is arising in Japan over the fact that a U.S. serviceperson who had been sentenced to a prison term in Japan was released on parole after being transferred to the United States. Reportedly, a family of the Japanese victims is upset by the prisoner’s early release in the U.S.

A lawyer who works to support victims of crimes committed by U.S. military personnel in Japan, Nakamura Shinsuke, said, “They are leaving the victims’ family out of the loop in line with the wishes of the U.S. government.”

The U.S. Navy officer, Lt. Ridge Alkonis in May 2021 while off-duty caused a car accident resulting in the death of two Japanese citizens and the injury of another. Sentenced to three years in prison, he was being imprisoned in Japan. However, some U.S. lawmakers claimed that the detention is not legitimate and made a demand on the Japanese government for the transfer of Alkonis to the United States. As a result, he was transferred to the U.S. late last year and granted parole on January 12.

The U.S. congresspersons used Japanese legal precedents as a basis for their “not legitimate” argument. In a written request submitted in August 2022 to Japanese Prime Minister Kishida by 20 Republican lawmakers, they claimed that 95% of Japanese defendants in similar cases are given a suspended prison term. However, lawyer Nakamura counter-argued, “Given that prison sentences were delivered in previous cases which caused the death of more than two persons, the 3-year prison term was not too heavy and not regarded as ‘not legitimate’.”

Nakamura said, “Their erroneous claim is unjustifiable interference in the Japanese criminal justice system. Japan’s Justice Ministry should have denied their claim in the first place.”

The U.S. government had made a request twice before for Japan to transfer U.S. military personnel in prison, but the Japanese authorities refused the request. Nakamura is concerned, “This was the first transfer of an inmate U.S. serviceperson and has become a precedent for the future. It may result in more crimes involving U.S. military personnel in Japan.”

Past related article:
> US sailor, while serving prison term in Japan for fatal car accident, transferred to US and released on parole [January 20, 2024]
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