U.S. military crime’s low indictment rates appear affected by secret



December 11, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Ryota Shimabukuro



In the decade spanning 2007 through 2016, the average indictment rate for people associated with the U.S. military (including military personnel, military contractors, and family members) who committed general criminal offenses (criminal offenses excluding vehicular manslaughter due to negligence) in Japan was 17.5 percent.

Calculating from all domestic crime of this type in Japan over the same period including Japanese persons, the results showed that the average indictment rate was still under half at 41.17 percent.

Ryukyu Shimpo compiled statistics from Ministry of Justice documents obtained through freedom of information requests.


It has been confirmed that in 1953 the U.S. and Japanese governments made a secret agreement in which Japan established it will not exercise its right to primary jurisdiction over cases of criminal activity by people associated with the U.S. military, with the exception of incidents judged to be highly significant for Japan.

Over more than 60 years to the present day the effects of this secret agreement continue, brought to light by the fact that most U.S. military-related offenses are processed without the culprits facing any criminal liability.


Out of 33 incidents of rape by people associated with the U.S. military between 2007 and 2016, only one case led to indictment, meaning the indictment rate of rape incidents was only 3 percent.

In comparison with the most recent official report of all domestic rape cases between 2005 and 2014, the average indictment rate was much higher at 46.92 percent.


The Ministry of Justice is compiling a report on criminal incidents caused by U.S. servicemen and other associated persons in addition to its annual official white paper on crime.

Numbers for the 2017 version of the white paper, announced at the cabinet meeting on November 17, have undergone initial calculations.


According to the white paper on crime, between 2007 and 2016 the indictment rate on cases of rape or attempted rape resulting in death or injury were only 30 percent.

Seven cases did not lead to indictment, while three did. The indictment rate for robbery was 23 percent; ten cases did not result in indictment, and three did.


However, between 2007 and 2016 robberies resulting in fatalities had a high indictment rate of 77 percent; ten cases lead to indictment and 3 did not.

Murders committed over the same period had a high indictment rate at 75 percent; three cases were indicted and one was not.


The U.S.-Japan Joint Committee’s Criminal Jurisdiction Subcommittee verified the secret agreement of October 28, 1953.

In 2008 the existence of the record of these proceedings became public.


(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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