23 servicemen desert from U.S.military bases in Japan: one still at large among four deserters from bases in Okinawa

October 8, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

An inquiry has revealed that from July 2011 to August 2014, 23 servicemen deserted from U.S.military bases in Japan nationwide. Among them, four deserted from the bases in Okinawa. One of the four deserters from the bases in Okinawa gave themselves up to the military and two were arrested, while one is still at large. Kantoku Teruya, a member of the House of Representatives, received an answer from the National Police Agency to his inquiry regarding deserters on October 7.

Since the 2008 fiscal year, 19 soldiers deserted from bases in Okinawa. Three of them remain at large. Two marines and one army soldier have still not yet been located. At the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee in May 2008, the governments of Japan and the United States reached an agreement on deserters from the U.S. bases in Japan. If soldiers desert, U.S. military officials will immediately ask the Japanese police to secure their arrest, and to report the situation to local governments.

Although a marine deserted from one of the bases in Okinawa in March 2013, the U.S.military notified and asked the Okinawa Prefectural Police to arrest the solder about three months after the desertion. The U.S. military failed to comply with the agreement.

Following a taxi driver murder-robbery committed by a U.S. soldier in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture in March 2008, the governments of Japan and the United States have agreed to notify each other regarding deserters from U.S. bases. Based on a special criminal law clause in the U.S-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, Japanese authorities are required to hand over deserters to the United States if the Japanese investigative organizations apprehend the soldiers.

(English translation by T&CT)

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