Japanese Sofa Agreement
While requests for revision have increased in Japan, the Japanese and American authorities have circumvented the problem by improving the functioning of SOFA or by concluding complementary agreements. They explained that this allowed them to respond to the problem more quickly than by redesigning SOFA, but the reality is probably that they have avoided discussing revisions. b) With regard to facilities and territories intended for use by the armed forces of states for a limited period, the Joint Committee sets out, in the agreements concerning these entities and territories, the extent to which the provisions of this agreement apply. In addition, certain features of the agreement create areas of perceived privilege for U.S. service members. For example, because SOFA excludes most U.S. military personnel from Japanese visa and passport laws, incidents have occurred in the past where U.S. military personnel were returned to the United States before being charged in Japanese courts. In addition, the agreement requires that U.S. authorities, when a U.S. service provider is suspected of a crime but are not captured by Japanese authorities off a base, must remain in custody until the service member is formally charged by the Japanese.
 Although the agreement also requires U.S. cooperation with Japanese authorities in investigations, Japanese authorities have often denounced the fact that they still do not have regular access to questions or interrogations of U.S. service providers, making it more difficult for Japanese prosecutors to prepare cases for indictment.  This situation is compounded by the singularity of the Japanese pre-charge hearings, which focus on access to confessions as a precondition for prosecution, often without a lawyer and can last up to 23 days.  Given the difference between this interrogation system and the U.S. system, the United States has argued that the extraterritoriality granted to its military under SOFA is necessary to grant them the same rights as those that exist under the U.S. criminal justice system. However, since the Okinawan rape case in 1995, the United States has agreed to consider putting suspects back in serious cases such as rape and murder before charge.  On January 16, 2017, Japan and the United States signed «an additional agreement to limit and clarify the definition of the civilian component protected by the Status of the Armed Forces Agreement.»   This agreement came after the rape and murder of an Okinawa woman in 2016, allegedly by a civilian contractor employed at the U.S.
air base in Kadena, Okinawa Prefecture. Given Japan`s security environment, the importance of Japan and the United States is important. The Alliance is unlikely to change in the future. But increased mistrust of SOFA risks undermining the relationship of trust on which the Alliance is based. The Japanese government is expected to discuss revisions to the agreement with the U.S. company 1. The United States may enter into contracts for supplies or work done or performed in Japan for the purposes of this agreement, without limitation on the choice of the supplier or person performing the work.