Binding the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement

March 9, 2011 1:43 PM

Included within next year's budget is the cost of relocating the joint exercise of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and the U.S. Army in Guam.

If funding is approved, the JSDF can continue to go to Guam for the joint exercise with the U.S. army.

Because the JSDF personnel will be training and living in the U.S., it will become necessary to determine their legal status within U.S. territory, similar to how the legal status of the U.S. army soldiers stationed in Japan is determined.

For example, until now Japan has established a status of forces agreement (SOFA) with Djibouti where the JSDF are stationed and exerting control within the Indian Ocean.

Both the Japanese and the U.S. government should establish an U.S.-Japan SOFA that defines equal legal status for both countries, thereby granting the same legal status to the JSDF that is granted to the U.S. army.

The modification of the Japan-U.S. SOFA will also change the U.S-Japan SOFA to reflect these modifications. By balancing the legal status of both countries' soldiers, any inequalities within the SOFA will disappear and the treatment of the SOFA may begin to change.

The senior defense official agreed with me fully when I expressed these thoughts during his visit to Japan.

The problem is Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ministry has absolutely no intent to make use of such opportunities, and regrettably there seems to be no particular reason why they don't take action.

I ask for the new Minister to take action by all means.