Book Review:U.S. Japan Status of Forces Agreement by Maedomari Hiromori / Sogensha / March 2013

 In 1952, as a result of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan was made to put an end to the war hostilities against the Allied countries and, to fulfill its obligations as a sovereign state, to establish friendly relations with the international community.
 At the same time, Japan concluded a mutual security treat with the USA that provided for the presence of American military forces within Japan, in order to guarantee the security of both countries. Thus, it signed the Japan-American Treaty, conceding maximum authority to American forces stationed in Japan. In 1960, when the Japan-American mutual security treaty was revised, it became the new “US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement.” Nevertheless, there is no substantial difference between this new agreement and the original “Japan-American Treaty.”   This book explains the contents of the “US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement.” It makes clear that the American forces can freely build military bases, not only in Okinawa, but in any location in Japan. In accordance with that provision, the American military can allocate the dangerous war plane Osprey at any American base on Japanese soil, and fly it in Japanese skies. They are also allowed all kinds of rights that today seem to many to be excessive. Among these are what are called extraterritorial” rights. This means that the American military in Japan is not subject to Japanese national laws or even to the Japanese Constitution itself. As a result, they can act freely in Japan, and the Japanese government cannot impose any restrictions on their activities. This helps us to understand why crimes committed by American soldiers off base continue to increase. In the light of the above, the author raises the question as to whether Japan can really be called an autonomous state.
 This book is a valuable document for learning the true facts concerning the servile diplomatic relations between postwar Japan and the United States. Reading the book made me feel sad, since I am Japanese. But for that very reason I recommend that you also read it. It is important that many Japanese get to know the facts, reflect thoroughly on them, and make correct judgments based on them. Only then will the situation change. (Yamamoto Keisuke, Jesuit Social Center Staff, Tokyo)

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