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PM calls American’s traffic fatality conviction “too light”

Date Posted: 2011-08-12

A U.S. civilian working for the military in Japan was convicted of causing a fatal traffic accident early this year, and had his driver’s license suspended, but the Japanese Prime Minister says that’s not enough.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has weighed in on the U.S. military’s sentence of a five-year license suspension, calling the sentence too light. Under the Status of Forces Agreement, the military maintained jurisdiction following the accident, citing a clause that the accident occurred while the driver was performing official duties. In such cases, the SOFA gives the U.S. jurisdiction, but Kan told a Social Democratic Party lawmaker from the House of Representatives Budget Committee, Ryoichi Hattori, the American should have been penalized more heavily.

Hattori has asked the Prime Minister to review the bilateral Status of Forces Agreement to seek modifications granting Japan more rights. Kan promised his administration would continue to work the long-contentious issue.

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