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SOFA revisions demanded

Date Posted: 2001-07-13

Calls for revising the SOFA agreement are raised both from Okinawan local political circles and at the national level in the wake of an alleged rape incident involving a U.S. serviceman.

In Tokyo, The House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a revision of the Japan - U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, Tuesday. "We urge the government to consider the revision of SOFA as soon as possible and fundamentally improve the (security) situation in Okinawa," said Muneo Suzuki of the Liberal Democratic Party, representing the committee members.

Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka said the government will first work on improving the implementation of the SOFA, including seeking ways to make swift handovers of crime suspects possible.

Nago and Okinawa municipal assemblies have adopted resolutions demanding SOFA be revised. Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine has also repeatedly stressed the need for a revision of the Japan-U.S. agreement.

In the incident that sparked the latest calls for SOFA revision, Okinawa prefectural police arrested the U.S. airman suspected of rape after he was handed over by U.S. Friday night.

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