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Call for revising Japan-US military agreement

Updated: 2013-06-19 10:51
( Xinhua)

WASHINGTON - The US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement needs revision in order to better catch US military personnel who commit rape in Japan, a Japanese Diet member said Tuesday.

Tomoko Abe, a member of Japan's House of Representatives, made the remarks on the sidelines of an event in Washington co-hosted by the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations and the MIT Center for International Studies.

"If a US soldier did some crime, we couldn't arrest him if he goes in the base," under the current protocol, she said.

Indeed, if a member of the US military enters a US military base after allegedly committing a crime, the process of making an arrest becomes much more difficult, Abe said. While US military authorities may hand over the suspect to Japanese police, the process can be cumbersome, she said.

"In some cases, the soldiers might run away to the United States," Abe said.

She called for a "more equal" US-Japan agreement to better arrest US soldiers suspected of raping local women.

The statement came four months after the conviction of two US sailors for the October rape and robbery of a young Japanese woman in Okinawa, which hosts more than half of the nearly 50,000 US military personnel in Japan.

The two US Navy sailors were sentenced in early March, with Seaman Christopher Browning, 24, receiving 10 years for gang rape and robbery, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker, 23, sentenced to 9 years for gang rape.

Japanese authorities said the two followed a Japanese woman home to her apartment complex and repeatedly choked and raped her in the parking lot in the early morning. The sailors will serve their time in a Japanese prison, according to US and Asian media.

The incident came after another rape by US Okinawa-based Marine Cpl Iian Christopher Tarver, 21, the previous summer.

Both incidents sparked outrage in Okinawa and stoked anti-US sentiment in Japan.

Japanese living near US bases have for years complained that the facilities have brought disturbing noise and pollution, as well as crime. The infamous 1995 case whereby three US servicemen kidnapped and gang raped a 12-year-old Japanese girl is still fresh in the minds of locals.