Japan, U.S. Agree on Civilian SOFA Coverage

The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), July 6, 2016 | Go to article overview

Japan, U.S. Agree on Civilian SOFA Coverage


Senior officials of the Japanese and U.S. governments agreed on Tuesday to effectively narrow the range of personnel who make up the civilian component of the U.S. military under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

The agreement was reached at the meeting at the Iikura Guest House in Tokyo of Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and Lt. Gen. John Dolan, the commander of the U.S. Forces in Japan.

The agreement is part of the measures that have been discussed by the two governments to prevent the recurrence of incidents like a murder case in which a member of the U.S. civilian component has been indicted for killing a woman in Okinawa Prefecture.

The SOFA stipulates the status of the military and other personnel of the U.S. forces stationed in Japan and the handling of criminal cases involving them. Narrowing the range of the civilian component would expand the jurisdiction of Japan's judicial authorities.

According to the latest agreement, the civilian component will be divided into four categories. Employees of private companies will be granted the SOFA status when they fulfill such criteria as having high-level technical skills. The two governments reconfirmed that U.S. citizens who have resident status in Japan will be excluded from the civilian component. They also confirmed that they would regularly reexamine the qualifications of members of the civilian component and to reinforce an education and training system for U. …

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