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Moriyama nixes Okinawa demand to revise SOFA

Date Posted: 2002-01-17

Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama discussed issues critical to Okinawa with Governor Keiichi Inamine at the prefectural offices on Jan. 9 in the course of a three-day visit to the island. During their meeting Inamine urged Moriyama to amend the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Japan and the United States and made reference to the delayed handover to Japanese authorities of a U.S. serviceman suspected of rape in Chatan last June. The justice minister reacted negatively to the suggestion, saying that the current agreement was fair and that mutual trust should prevail between the two countries along with an understanding of their differing legal systems.

Inamine also requested a simplification of immigration procedures with an eye towards expanding tourism from China, Korea and Hong Kong. Moriyama, however, replied that immigration regulations would actually be tightened due to the 2002 World Cup soccer tournament scheduled to be held jointly in Japan and Korea this June. Local mayors and citizens reacted harshly to Moriyama’s comments regarding the SOFA, claiming that while the law itself may not be legally or procedurally problematic, it was in fact disrupting the lives of the people of Okinawa. They demanded that a more comprehensive protest be made to the national government, urging it to improve its inadequate understanding of the issue.

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