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Consul General: U.S. will ‘improve’ SOFA

Date Posted: 2008-03-09

The American Consul General on Okinawa is assuring Japan “we definitely intend to improve the operation of the (Status of Forces) agreement”, but says the agreement will not be modified.
Kevin Maher says there’s a need to clearly define current Status of Forces Agreement, but tells reporters “It will not be a revision.” Both Okinawa and mainland Japanese political leaders have called for the SOFA to be revamped in the wake of a string of incidents involving servicemen, one of them rape allegations levied against a Marine non-commissioned officer for molesting a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
At issue is the extent of powers available to Okinawa police working joint patrols with Americans, in investigations of GI’s off base. Local police contend the SOFA, as now written, limits their powers for apprehending and questioning SOFA-status personnel, even within their jurisdictions.
Maher says the U.S. is willing to meet with Japanese authorities in a joint committee setting to review and clarify which country has authority when they’re operating joint patrols with U.S. personnel. The issue surfaced after Japanese called for joint patrols last month, particularly in entertainment areas often frequented by American servicemen and women.

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