Ex-U.S. Navy employee to pay kin ¥14 million for causing man’s death

Kyodo

The Yokohama District Court on Thursday ordered a former U.S. Navy civilian employee to pay ¥13.7 million in damages to relatives of a Japanese man who died after being pushed over by the defendant outside a bar near the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 2006.

Presiding Judge Toshihiko Tsuruoka, meanwhile, exempted the Japanese government from paying compensation on the grounds that the acts committed by Robert Burns Nolan, 59, were not related to his official duty.

The next of kin of Katsumi Nakagawa, 70, had demanded that Nolan and the Japanese government jointly pay ¥26 million as the special civil law, based on the Japan-U.S. status of forces agreement, stipulates Japan is responsible for paying compensation over damages incurred by U.S. service members or civilian employees in Japan while on duty.

Nolan was convicted of pushing Nakagawa down outside the bar on Nov. 2, 2006, and causing him to die of brain damage, according to the court.

The focus of the damages suit was on whether the Japanese government is responsible for the acts of off-duty U.S. forces-related personnel.

The plaintiffs had argued that such personnel are under supervision of the military even if they are off duty, while the Japanese government sought the rejection of their argument.