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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 December 14 - 20  > Japan can prosecute ‘on duty’ drunk-driving US servicemen
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2011 December 14 - 20 [US FORCES]

Japan can prosecute ‘on duty’ drunk-driving US servicemen

December 17, 2011
Repeated grilling in the Diet by the Japanese Communist Party and victims’ complaints on December 16 finally forced the United States to return jurisdiction to Japan over cases involving U.S. servicemen or U.S. military attached civilian employees who caused drunk-driving accidents in Japan while “on duty”.

Up to the present, based on a 1956 Japan-U.S. agreement, Japan had not had the legal right to prosecute U.S. military-related personnel even though they killed someone in car accidents in Japan after drinking alcohol at U.S. forces “official” events.

The 1956 agreement had been concealed from the general public, but Japanese Communist Party representative Akamine Seiken uncovered the bilateral deals in internal documents of the Justice Ministry. He first took up this issue in June 2009 in the Diet. The Foreign Ministry at that time was claiming that Japan was negotiating on that issue with the United States.

However, since nothing had been accomplished on this issue, JCP Akamine again grilled the government on the matter this April. Another JCP Dietman, Inoue Satoshi in November also urged the government to obtain primary jurisdiction. The Foreign Ministry responded by saying that discussions were still going on between the two governments.
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