Indictment rate for US military in 2016 only 17%, less than half the overall indictment rate

June 1, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On May 31, a study by the Japan Peace Committee revealed that the indictment rate for general criminal offenses (criminal offenses excluding vehicular manslaughter due to negligence) by people associated with the U.S. military (military personnel, military contractors, and family members) during 2016 was 16.9%. The indictment rate in 2015 was 18.7%, less than half of the indictment rate of 39.1% in the same year for all crimes including those committed by Japanese citizens. This reveals that crimes by people associated with the U.S. military are still treated differently from those by the general populace. The indictment rate for people associated with the U.S. military in Okinawa in 2016 was 18.8%.

Of 83 general criminal offenses committed by people associated with the U.S. military in 2016, 69 did not lead to indictment, and of six rapes, five were not indicted. The indictment rate for the 16 years from 2001 to 2016 was a mere 17.6%.

Regarding the reasons for the low indictment rate, the Japan Peace Committee suggests that prosecutors are faithfully implementing a secret agreement with the United States regarding renunciation of jurisdiction, wherein the Japanese government promised it would not assert primary jurisdiction except for incidents judged to be highly significant for Japan, and also points to the barriers to investigation posed by the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The Japan Peace Committee emphasizes the need to revoke the secret agreement and revise the SOFA.

The Japan Peace Committee compiled these statistics on the basis of a document regarding crimes committed by U.S. forces, which it obtained through a disclosure request to the Ministry of Justice.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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