The government plans to conclude status of forces agreements with Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan, a senior official of the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Japan hopes to ink the accords before Air Self-Defense Force personnel are dispatched to these countries, from which they are expected to transport supplies to Iraq to help with the reconstruction process.
Japan is also planning to conclude a similar, though simpler, agreement with the Coalition Provisional Authority, a U.S. administrative body serving in Iraq, the official said on condition of anonymity.
It would be the first time for Japan to have a SOFA covering an overseas dispatch of SDF personnel. Such a pact governs the activities of military personnel when they are stationed overseas.
The House of Councilors is currently deliberating a bill that would allow the government to dispatch the SDF to Iraq. It is expected to clear the Diet by the end of the month.
The government is planning to dispatch the SDF in the fall.
The bilateral accords are expected to stipulate investigation and trial procedures if SDF personnel are accused of committing crimes or causing accidents in the host countries.
“Since a SOFA concerns extraterritorial rights in the host country, (bilateral) negotiations to conclude the agreements may take time,” the official said, adding that it may be several months before the accords are finalized.
The government is expected to map out simplified SOFA deals with the host countries, such as entering a bilateral “arrangement,” rather than full-blown treaties, which need to be approved by the Diet, the official said.
Officials at the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Agency are currently studying the measures necessary to conclude SOFA deals.
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