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SECURITY > U.S. Bases

90% of crimes committed by U.S. forces personnel not prosecuted

The prosecution rate for general criminal offenses (excluding negligent driving resulting in death and injury) committed by U.S. military personnel (U.S. service members, civilian base workers, and family members) stationed in Japan during 2021 was approximately 11.3% and about 90% of these cases were not prosecuted, Akahata learned from a document obtained by the Japan Peace Committee.

 

Compared with the national prosecution rate for general criminal offenses, this rate [for U.S. military personnel] is less than one-third, highlighting the reality that U.S. military personnel are given “preferential treatment.”

 

The document is a “survey of criminal cases committed by U.S. forces personnel,” which is released by the Ministry of Justice. According to the document, 9 cases of general criminal offenses committed by U.S. military personnel were prosecuted, whereas 71 such cases were not.

 

The cases not prosecuted include homicide (1 case), injury (9 cases), and embezzlement (2 cases). Nine (9) out of 11 cases of forcible sexual intercourse were not prosecuted. Only one case of the 33 cases of theft was prosecuted. Two out of 9 cases of breaking into a residence were prosecuted.

 

As for negligent driving resulting in death and injury, which is not included among general criminal offenses, 138 of the 164 cases were not prosecuted, for a prosecution rate of only about 16%.

 

On the other hand, the national prosecution rate for general criminal offenses in recent years has remained in the upper 30% range.

 

The reasons for the low prosecution rate are the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and a secret agreement between Japan and the U.S.

 

Article 17 of SOFA stipulates that U.S. military authorities have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over their service members and civilian workers in relation to offenses arising out of any act or omission done in the performance of official duties, and the authorities of Japan shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over any other offense.

 

However, the Japanese government promised in a secret agreement signed at the Japan-U.S. Joint Commission in 1953 that it [Japan] would not exercise jurisdiction over cases other than those “regarded as of substantial importance.” The low prosecution rate apparently confirms that the secret agreement remains in force.

 

Prosecution status of criminal offenses committed by the U.S. military personnel during 2021 (nationwide)

Crime

Cases prosecuted

Cases not prosecuted

Prosecution rate

Obstructing the performance of public duty

1

1

50.0%

Breaking into a residence

2

7

22.2%

Indecency through Compulsion

1

1

50.0%

Forcible sexual intercourse

2

9

18.2%

Homicide

0

1

0.0%

Injury

0

9

0.0%

Assault

0

3

0.0%

Theft

1

32

3.0%

Embezzlement

0

2

0.0%

Destruction and Concealment

1

4

20.0%

Other crimes

1

2

33.3%

(Total)

9

71

11.3%

Negligent driving resulting in death or injury

26

138

15.9%

Note: Compiled by the Japan Peace Committee

 

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