Japan, US agree to narrow definition of ‘civilian component’ protected by SOFA

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TOKYO: The Japanese and United States governments officially agreed Tuesday to limit the extent to which US military workers are protected under the Status of Forces Agreement, which gives the US jurisdiction over American civilian workers who commit crimes while on duty. The change in the implementation of SOFA was announced amid mounting protests among the people of Okinawa against the US military presence in the prefecture, sparked most recently by the rape and murder of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro, allegedly by Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a 32-year-old civilian employee at Kadena Air Base and a former US Marine. “Today’s agreement is a further indication of the commitment of the US government,” Ambassador Caroline Kennedy said when she announced the agreement at the start of a meeting with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani and Lt. Gen. John Dolan.

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TNS (Japan Times)

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