1953 records on handling U.S. forces released


Staff Writer

The Foreign Ministry on Friday released previously classified records dating from 1953, including a section stating that Japan didn’t intend to exercise its primary right of jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel involved in crimes unless cases were deemed of “material importance.”

While the existence of such records was previously confirmed by archives in the United States in 2008, it is the first time they have been recognized by Japan. The records were provided to Tokyo by Washington earlier this year.

The documents record negotiations held by the criminal panel of a bilateral commission tasked with revising Article 17 of the Japan-U.S. Administrative Agreement, the predecessor to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.

The Administrative Agreement was initially concluded in 1952 under the former Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. Japan at the time did not have right of jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel.

A revision that granted Japan such rights came into effect in late 1953, immediately following the deliberations recorded in the newly revealed documents.

Records show that while the U.S. had initially demanded that Japan abandon its primary right of jurisdiction over criminal cases involving the U.S. military, Japan refused.

After a series of deliberations, the two sides confirmed on Oct. 28, 1953, that Japan would have the right to exercise jurisdiction.

A Justice Ministry official stated at the time, however, that Japan by policy would not exercise such rights unless criminal cases were considered important.

“I can state that as a matter of policy the Japanese authorities do not normally intend to exercise the primary right of jurisdiction over members of the United States armed forces, the civilian component, or their dependents subject to the military law of the United States, other than in cases considered to be of material importance to Japan,” reads a statement signed Oct. 28, 1953, by Minoru Tsuda, chairman of the criminal panel.

A joint Japan-U.S. committee meeting held Thursday in Tokyo agreed that Tsuda’s statement was a unilateral policy statement and never constituted an agreement between the two governments.

Japan stressed at the meeting that it has maintained the right to primary jurisdiction over members of the U.S. forces suspected of crimes since 1953, and that decisions on whether to indict suspects have been made in accordance with Japanese law.

Envoys appointed


Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Satoru Sato, 58, was appointed Friday as ambassador to Spain and Shiro Sadoshima, 57, director general of the International Cooperation Bureau, was named envoy to Bangladesh, effective next Thursday.

The Cabinet endorsed the appointments of 24 other new ambassadors to countries including Algeria, Chile, Israel, Nepal, Mongolia and Poland, and to Japan’s delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

Tsukasa Kawada, 56, director general of the Consular Affairs Bureau, will be ambassador to Algeria, while Hidenori Murakami, 60, an adviser to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, will become envoy to Chile.

Ambassador to Bahrain Hideo Sato, 62, was named envoy to Israel, and Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Kunio Takahashi, 62, was appointed envoy to Nepal.

Takenori Shimizu, 59, director of the Foreign Ministry’s multilateral cultural cooperation division, will be ambassador to Mongolia and Makoto Yamanaka, 59, ambassador in charge of science and technology cooperation, will be envoy to Poland.

Mari Amano, 61, former deputy secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, was named envoy to the delegation to the Conference on Disarmament.

New envoys to Paraguay, Tanzania, Gabon, Ukraine, Slovakia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Oman, Ivory Coast and Togo, Bahrain, East Timor, Cameroon, Botswana, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were also appointed.