Japan, US sign pact limiting legal protection of US base workers

Japan, US sign pact limiting legal protection of US base workers

TOKYO, Jan. 16 (PNA/Kyodo) — Japan and the United States signed Monday a pact to effectively remove legal protection over some US military base workers, hoping the move would deter base-linked crimes in Okinawa where the bulk of US military facilities in Japan are hosted.

The signing of the pact, which follows the arrest last year of a US base contractor over the death of an Okinawa woman, supplements a bilateral status of forces agreement (SOFA) that has been criticized by locals, who see it as overly protective of US service members and civilian base workers if they are implicated in crimes.

Based on the supplementary pact, the two countries clarified the scope of base workers classified as the “civilian component” in SOFA, who are among those entitled to US primary jurisdiction, or extended protections, if accused of a crime while on duty. They have also crafted criteria for contractors qualified for SOFA coverage. (PNA/Kyodo)

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