U.S. offers promises to victims of military crimes

Category: [ Military ]

Some new rules on how victims of crimes purportedly committed by American service personnel in Japan are informed, are coming to light through the Japanese Foreign Minister.

Tokyo and Washington say they’ll now disclose details of U.S. court proceedings to victims of crimes.  That word was given by Fumio Kishida, who says under the new rules agreed to by the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee, the U.S. will inform Japan of details in court rulings before they’re finalized.

Disciplinary action taken by the American military against its personnel will also be shared with Japanese authorities, and then relayed on to victims and families who’ve asked for the information.  Until now, only the final results of court rulings were given to the Japanese government.  More complicated, the U.S. had to agree before those results could be passed to families and victims who’d asked for the details.

The new system isn’t everything everyone wants, as there will still be limitations, says Kishida.  What details of disciplinary action being taken will be determined by the service members and what they agree to release to the victims.  The information, says the Foreign Ministry, will be provided to Japan by U.S. authorities each month.

Under the Status of Forces Agreement, Japan has no authority to try U.S. military personnel who have allegedly committed crimes in Japan while on duty.  Kishida says the newly agreed-to revisions will go into effect January 1st.  He points out this is the first time the two countries have ever revised the disclosure system under the SOFA.

The revision will go into effect on Jan. 1, Kishida said. This is the first time the U.S. and Japan have revised the disclosure system under the SOFA.

Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera have already visited Okinawa to explain the revisions to Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, as well as other agreements reached at last week’s “two-plus-two” meeting between the Japanese and U.S. defense and foreign affairs chiefs to reduce Okinawa’s burden from hosting U.S. military bases.

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