Okinawa Governor Wants Unrealistic SOFA Changes for US Military Servicemembers

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    So much of what is going on currently on Okinawa with their Governor reminds me so much of the Roh Moo-hyun years in South Korea.  Here is the latest example, wanting completely unrealistic SOFA revisions:

    Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga

    Officials on the southern island prefecture of Okinawa have requested sweeping changes to the status of forces agreement governing U.S. personnel in Japan.

    A proposal by anti-base Gov. Takeshi Onaga seeks, among other things, to grant Japanese officials greater authority to investigate SOFA-related crimes, allow more local input for on-base decision making, require advance and public reporting on U.S. military training and allow greater access to U.S. military installations.

    Onaga presented the proposal to Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera during a meeting Monday at Tokyo’s Ministry of Defense. It requests dozens of changes to SOFA’s 11 articles, encompassing almost every aspect of the U.S. presence in Japan.

    An introduction to the petition written by the governor cites the following reasons as the driving force behind the request: the excessive burden placed on Okinawa by hosting approximately half of the U.S. forces in Japan; crimes committed by U.S. personnel, including the brutal killing of a Japanese woman last year in which a civilian base worker and former Marine is accused; the crash-landing of an MV-22 Osprey off Camp Schwab in December; and other “incidents, accidents, and environmental problems derived from the bases.”

    “Every time incidents and accidents caused by U.S. service members and civilian components take place, we, the Okinawa Prefectural Government, have repeatedly urged both the Government of Japan and the U.S. to implement preventive measures, enforce stricter discipline and enhance education programs,” Onaga wrote. “However … the situations remain totally unchanged.”  [Stars & Stripes]

    Totally unchanged?  What facts does he have to substantiate that claim?  If his definition of change is zero accidents and zero incidents then of course it will be unchanged.  It is not realistic to expect a force as big as the one on Okinawa to have zero accidents and incidents.  Does the local Japanese population have zero accidents and incidents?  Of course not, so why should US forces in Okinawa be expected have zero accidents and incidents.

    I am more interested in seeing how accidents and incidents with US forces compares to the local Japanese population:

    The resolution, citing figures that Onaga also has used, also said SOFA-status personnel had committed 5,896 crimes since 1972. What it didn’t point out is that government figures show the rest of Okinawa’s populace has a crime rate more than twice as high over the same period — 69.7 crimes per 10,000 people, compared with 27.4 by SOFA members.

    The SOFA crime rate also has been dropping, police figures show. In 2014, the prefecture saw the lowest level of crime committed by SOFA-status personnel since the reversion. Out of 3,410 arrests prefecture-wide that year, only 27 involved SOFA personnel. There also was just one charge of a heinous felony, a rape, which was later dropped by prosecutors.  [Stars & Stripes]

    As I have said before facts don’t matter when the ultimate goal is to get US forces removed from Okinawa.

    Anyway here is my favorite part of the article:

    A copy of the proposal — which also seeks to bar Japanese locals from playing golf at U.S. bases and end friendship port visits by Navy vessels — was also submitted to new U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty, prefectural officials said. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo is aware of the request, a spokesman told Stars and Stripes in an email on Wednesday.

    What does this guy have against locals using US military golf courses?

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