During his meetings with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and U.S. Embassy Tokyo Deputy Chief of Mission Joseph Young in Tokyo on Sept. 11, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga submitted a request from the prefecture for revisions to be made to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The request calls for Japan to be given the rights to investigate off-base accidents and incidents involving U.S. service personnel and to seize U.S. assets, such as military aircraft that caused the accidents.
“Public anger in Okinawa is beyond the tolerable level,” said Onaga as he handed the request to Onodera. “I would like to ask the government to review the SOFA and reduce the base-hosting burden on Okinawa through the realignment and downsizing of bases.” While noting that matters pertaining to the SOFA are handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Onodera said that “[the two ministries] should talk together and come up with ways to tackle the issues one by one.”
In addition to the right to investigate, the Okinawa proposal also demands that if the U.S. forces carry out missions that will have a significant impact on the lives of local residents, such as nighttime exercises, they should convene the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee and seek the opinions of local authorities. (Abridged)