U.S. to quickly identify deserters, provide info to Japanese police

Kyodo News

The U.S. military will quickly provide information on deserters to Japanese authorities and ask Japanese police to arrest them, according to a formal agreement between Tokyo and Washington last week.

The military will also shorten the time needed to determine whether personnel have deserted or are simply missing.

The agreement, reached by the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee, came in the wake of the arrest and indictment of a sailor who deserted and then allegedly robbed and killed a Tokyo-area taxi driver in March.

Once the military determines someone has deserted, a request will immediately be sent to prefectural police forces to arrest the suspect. The U.S. side will provide as much information as possible, including the person’s name, birth date, nationality, rank and photo, the Foreign Ministry said.

Until now, military personnel were automatically considered as deserters 30 days after going missing, although U.S. authorities could make a determination faster depending on the circumstances.

To prevent crimes like the March robbery-murder, the military will now shorten the time required and designate missing personnel as deserters if their whereabouts are not confirmed within one to two days, Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera said.