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Questions raised about MCCS buses stopping at bus stops

Date Posted: 2002-06-28

Some officials at Okinawa Prefecture offices are raising questions about the legality of the Marine Corps Community Services buses using public bus stops along the prefecture’s roads while on recreational tours.

The question raised is, does the practice confirm to the current rules and regulations of SOFA and SACO. Officials at the Okinawa Prefecture General Bureau say that they don’t know. “Of course the military can use public roads to their transportation needs. But to my knowledge, the rules say nothing about the right to use the bus stops,” an officials at the bureau says. “To be on the safe side, they should get a permission from the National Land and Traffic Agency in Tokyo.”

A representative of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs, Okinawa District, declined to comment. “We have not heard any details of this, and therefore cannot comment. Of course, they can use public roads as anybody else.”

A SACO and SOFA specialist at Suruga University, Professor Hiroshi Honma says that this seems to be something that has never been brought up before. “According to current agreements, military trucks, buses and private vehicles are authorized to use public roads. But nothing is mentioned about the right of military welfare buses using civilian bus stops while on recreational tours. Maybe that’s something that should be clarified.”

An official at Okinawa Prefecture who declined to be identified says that raising the question smacks of intentionally looking for anything that can stir controversy. “Some people seem to have nothing better to do that look for ways to stir controversy in any way that can be connected to the U.S. military in Okinawa. Common sense says that it is better that any bus stops at a bus stop that in the middle of a road."

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