Okinawa Prefectural Assembly requests revisions to Status of Forces Agreement

Okinawa Prefectural Assembly requests revisions to Status of Forces Agreement

Osprey that belongs to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma that was heavily damaged from crashing into the coast of Abu, Nago, taken on December 14, 2016.

October 16, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 15, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly held September’s final session. The assembly unanimously agreed on a memorandum requesting drastic revisions to the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement. This was in response to a U.S. Marine Corps vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft MV-22 Osprey crashing into Abu, Nago. The Nakagusuku Coast Guard’s Office sent the papers to the public prosecutor’s office and left the names of the suspects unknown. It also requests for domestic laws, such as aviation laws and environmental laws, to apply to actions by the U.S. military as well. A memorandum requesting measures to promote independence of underpopulated areas was also unanimously agreed upon.

The memorandum requesting the revision to the Status of Forces Agreement pointed out that the reason why Japan was unable to sufficiently investigate past U.S. military aircraft accidents is “due to an unfair Status of Forces Agreement that gives primary jurisdiction to the U.S military for accidents while on duty and does not obligate the U.S. to cooperate with the investigation.” The memorandum thereby explains the need for revision.

The memorandum for promoting independence of underpopulated areas reads, “The application of laws for depopulation countermeasures is 10 years behind compared to other prefectures, and it is difficult to provide broader-based local governmental services due to being a prefecture that is comprised of islands. The financial footing of Okinawa prefecture’s underpopulated municipalities is weak, and the government’s strong support is needed to eliminate disparities.”

Okinawa Prefecture Ordinance for the Protection of Rare Endangered Species was also unanimously agreed upon. The ordinance identifies species that are in grave danger of extinction, and prohibits capturing, harvesting, killing, and wounding such species. A violation will lead to imprisonment and/or fines. This ordinance has also now made it possible for the prefecture to restrict entry and/or development of select areas by designating sanctuaries for habitats of rare endangered species.

As a supplementary budget, the general account budget was increased by 11,165,000-yen making the total 1,235,636,000-yen. This additional budget was added to support the efforts to secure drivers for route bus companies and was also unanimously agreed upon.

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

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