Home News US, Japan limit legal immunity for some civilian staff in US base

US, Japan limit legal immunity for some civilian staff in US base

Japanese prosecutors charged a U.S. military contractor Thursday with the murder and rape of a 20-year-old woman on Okinawa, a high-profile case that has renewed anti-American base sentiment on the southern Japanese island.

Washington and Tokyo Monday signed an agreement to limit legal immunity for certain categories of civil workers at American military bases in Japan, following some incidents that led to strong protests by locals.

The agreement will compliment the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States and Japan, giving the former jurisdiction over military and civil personnel accused of committing crimes while on duty at their bases in Japan.

Washington and Tokyo clarified the definition of “civil component” with this pact by agreeing to mark eight categories of civil personnel at the bases and exclude those who do not fall under any category from enjoying protection under SOFA.

The agreement was signed by Japanese foreign minister Fumio Kishida and US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.

Kishida said in a statement the progressive implementation of this agreement along with its supervision and management will help prevent recurrences of untoward incidents and accidents, reported Kyodo news agency.

He also said it is not yet known how many of the 7,300 civilian workers at US bases in Japan will be excluded from SOFA’s protection.

On May 20, a US ex-military working as a civilian employee at Kadena base in Okinawa (southern Japan) was detained for raping and a 20-year-old local girl.

A was also detained in March for raping a Japanese tourist in Naha (Okinawa) and a US military person was arrested in June in the same area for drunken driving that caused a crash.

Crimes committed by US military base workers have been a constant cause of protests by the local population, who has long urged amending the SOFA. EFE

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