Okinawa governor calls for amending Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-02 22:24:44|Editor: Yurou
Video PlayerClose

TOKYO, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga on Saturday called for revising the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) during his meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Naha, Okinawa.

"People in Okinawa are enduring significant anxiety," Onaga told Kono, citing the repeated criminal cases involving U.S. servicemen and military-linked personnel.

He added that the SOFA, a bilateral pact that gives U.S. servicemen and civilian workers in Japan privileged legal status, has been widely criticized as being overly protective of U.S. base workers.

Under the 1960 bilateral agreement, the U.S. justice system, instead of Japanese courts, has the primary right of jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S base service members and their "civilian component" if the accused was "acting on official duty."

Onaga, who was elected governor of Okinawa in 2014, also reiterated to Kono his opposition to the plan of relocating Futenma base within the prefecture.

The Japanese and U.S. governments have been seeking to move the Futenma base from Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko coastal area of Nago. The people of Okinawa, however, demand that the Futenma base be relocated outside the prefecture.

Kono, who was on his first visit to Okinawa since assuming the current portfolio, only said that the central government will try to reduce the burdens of Okinawa for hosting the U.S. bases.

Earlier in the day, Kono has met with Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, the highest-ranking U.S. serviceman in Okinawa prefecture.

During the meeting, he asked the U.S. side to take measures to prevent crimes and accidents involving the U.S. military personnel from happening again, while stressing that the Japanese government will make every possible effort to maintain the deterrence capability of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

Okinawa hosts the vast majority of the U.S. military bases in Japan and has seen criminal cases involving U.S. military men repeatedly happen.

According to earlier reports by the Kyodo News, citing data from the local police and the Okinawa prefectural government, a total of 576 heinous crimes, including murders, robberies and rapes, have been committed by U.S. military-related personnel between May 1972, when the prefecture reverted to Japanese control following postwar U.S. occupation, and last December.