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Chief of U.S. forces in Japan promises to get tough on crime


The new commander of U.S. forces in Japan on Monday promised to crack down on crimes by military personnel after a string of incidents that have sparked anger in local communities here. Speaking at the Japan National Press Club, Commander Edward Rice Jr said one of his priorities during his 10-year tenure was to "focus on unwavering professionalism."

"This means that we will continue to demand the highest standard of behavior from our servicemen and servicewomen and we will hold those accountable who cannot meet those standards," he said.

Rice, who assumed the top post in February, said he would "leave no stone unturned" when it came to misconduct.

"The vast majority of the tens of thousands of U.S. service-members and their families in Japan conduct themselves in a way that we are proud of," he said.

For those who do not, the military will "take very aggressive actions to identify those people and hold them accountable," he said.

But Rice rejected the idea of revising the treaty on the status of U.S. service-members and their families.

Under the Status-of-Forces Agreement (SOFA), the U.S. military is not obliged to hand over troops accused of wrongdoing to Japanese authorities until they are indicted.

After outrage in 1995 over the gang-rape of a 12-year-old girl by three U.S. servicemen, however, the military has adopted "operational flexibility" and has started to turn over troops accused of serious crimes on a case-by-case basis.

"I don't believe that the SOFA should be revised," Rice said. "I think that we can continue to improve it operationally as we move forward and have it continue to be relevant without changing the basic document itself."

Rice also called on the Diet to approve a pending bilateral accord to host U.S. military facilities in Japan, including those for recreation, while urging China to disclose more information on its defense policy to avoid mutual misunderstanding. Rice said that the money the Japanese government disburses to help maintain U.S. military installations should be regarded as ''a great investment in the future security of Japan.''

Rice, who took office in February, suggested he is aware that opposition lawmakers are opposed to a government plan to disburse money for entertainment facilities such as bars and bowling alleys in the bases for the coming three years from this April. But the commander said it is ''reasonable'' that the U.S. military provides ''a modest level of recreational activities'' in the bases so servicepersons far from home can ''enjoy off-duty time.''

© Wire reports

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to do his utmost to tighten discipline among U.S. service personnel by ensuring ‘‘unwavering professionalism’’.

The problem is not with most of the servicemembers here. It with some of those that have just arrived and those that will come in the future. I wish someone would put Gen. Rice on the spot and ask him what he's gonna do to get commands back in the states to take the Ocerseas screening seriously. Whats he going to do about revamping the OCOT policy. He and his predecessors have been BS-ing the Japanese Gov for 2 decades on this issue. We'll do more to tighten things up. What I learned my Navy experience is words are cheap and easily disemminated by the officers. But actions costs.... make it happen General. Stop lying!

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There's and Overseas Screening process? I don't recall getting screened, unless it has been adopted in the last 10 years or so.

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Once again I wish that the Japanese press would get a persons Military rank correct This officer has the rank of Lieutenant General (3 Stars) in the US Air Force

His title is Commander US Forces Japan

I also wonder if there is a screening for people who are assigned to any overseas locations and what would the criteria be besides Mental ?

I hope that Gen. Rice will advise all people assigned to Japan that if they screw up that they will be at the mercy of the UCMJ and that the Japanese will also be after them To me I think that the UCMJ is more harsh than Japanese law (Penalty Wise)

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I didn't know there was an overseas screening report either. But regardless, is such a screening process truly going to weed out the bad elements? It's unfortunate the small percentages of the servicemen that give the others a bad name, but there's absolutely no way to guarantee that no one will commit a crime.

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There is a simple way to prevent poor behavior by U.S. forces stationed in Japan. Threaten to send them to Iraq if they screw up. For a while, the quality of character of the U.S. troops was getting much better. They were screening for drug use and other poor behavior. I can't help but think that the lowering of standards to keep enlistment up in this era of Middle-East war is contributing to the increased crime rate against civilians. Still, I think the discipline of U.S. troops is much better than that of other armies.

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Yes, the US military only sends troops exactly where they desire and it also lets them choose what they'll do all day, as well. Club Med copied their business model.

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“I don’t believe that the SOFA should be revised,” Rice said. “I think that we can continue to improve it operationally as we move forward and have it continue to be relevant without changing the basic document itself.”

Revision unnecessary. Japan can hang a U.S. military member just as easily as they can an Engrish teacher, "entertainer" or illegal 3K day laborer.

after a string of incidents

Nice try, (Wire reports). Let's have a count from 1995.

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