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Japan, U.S. to sign pact to limit base workers' immunity from prosecutionBy Mari Yamaguchi TOKYO
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They should go a step further a revoke SOFA for all US civilian employees/contractors unless they are on an LQA stateside hire package. Too many miscreants find love when they are stationed over there then get married and grasp at straws for any job that will hire them for little pay on the base. They end of being taken advantage of by being paid a low salary without COLA, Housing or any other benefits other than SOFA Status as their visa with BX rights. Years later, many end up in trouble for minor crimes such as black marketing, DUI, violating SOFA by working in a bar/club etc.. If the MWR's and other odds and ends jobs on the base can't afford to pay you properly with benefits then you shouldn't have SOFA.
I wonder how base privileges would work. Once upon a time I used to work for the MCX in Iwakuni. I had to leave the country and return in order to get a SOFA status. I then had full base privileges. I think I even had medical...not quite sure. Pay was cheap but the base privileges made up for that. At the time, gasoline was about 1/3 of out in town and being able to shop at the PX and commissary saved a lot of money.
I've heard that SOFA to Japan is the most unfair treaty in the world.
Stricter laws need to be introduced to enable Japanese authorities to arrest and prosecute all employees on US military outposts.
Better include dependent family members too. The military has no power to prosecute/punish family members, other than banning them from the base.
Any Civilian who marries and stays in Japan with a Japanese Spouse should be forced to accept Japanese residency if they stay and NOT be given SOFA Status and Exempt from Japanese taxes as they chose to stay and be a resident of Japan or Their Spouse should be forced to become an American resident and Green card holder. They also must have a USA Home address for proof of US Residence and Citizenship. They should also be liable for Japanese Income Taxes and get the same privileges as Japanese do on the bases, NONE and also retired who stay should be subject to the same rules. The only difference is that those who serve and retire with their 20 years of service do get to use the Base BX/PX, commissary and Medical care at the Military hospital as they are Guaranteed that by US laws and their commitment they gave for their service. The babies of these service members who stay should not be given any of that. They choose to be residents of Japan by staying and married to a Japanese citizen. Also why are not Japanese immigration officials not out there and verifying that the Americans working off base illegally have the right VISA to allow employment outside the bases. Also The bases need to give first right to American Spouses and dependents for jobs on base prior to any offerings to any Japanese nationals. The Japanese nationals should not expect jobs on bases or allowed unless it can be shown that there are no Americans spouses and children available to take the jobs. Its a 2 way street and should be that way. The way the bases work they play the dependents against the locals and drive wages lower. Also all Japanese workers on base should pay US Income taxes as the bases are considered Sovereign US territory and abide by US Laws. Any crimes committed on US bases by Japanese workers should also face the US Judicial system for any crime committed on bases and not turned over to Japan. there are plenty of prisons space on US bases in Japan to hold them. Americans who stay local and use their marriage as a way of staying should be barred from base employment unless they go thru the process as the Local Nationals do to get the positions. All civilians who stay should be under a US based contract and not a local base hire. This would curb that staying here and selling cars on base is not good. There are many US persons just like some I know who worked on base and did not pay or file US Taxes or Japanese taxes. I was using one as a subcontractor and when the company sent the Tax forms to them the IRS contacted the company and informed them that any money to be paid to them was suppose to go to the IRS as they were in a default of 560.000 US Dollars. That means Japan also was not paid taxes and they took advantage of 2 systems. Also Japan and the USA need to inform each other when US nationals work in Japan as residents that the IRS in the USA is notified and also the IRS notifies Japan of their income from US base work. Its time to clean a mess that both Japan and the USA turn their back on. Tax fraud is prevalent and should also be a concern.
I fail to see how they hope to prevent crime with such a pact,if an individual is determined to commit a crime they most likely will not be thinking about this pact. And there are several people who have both sofa and alien registration cards, So this change really doesn't mean much except that contractors or LESS important, what will happen if a servicemember commits a crime,or a HIGHLY Skilled INDIVIDUAL?
You heard wrong.
Just a little insight. As a contractor, I am 100% aware that if I break Japanese or US law my employment is done, SOFA status is revoked, and if the Japanese government wants to charge me the US government will not stand in their way. I've seen it happen quite a few times. Revoking SOFA for a contractor only requires one letter from the SJA to Japanese immigration, nothing more. Just last year I watched this happen the same day that allegations of impropriety were brought to light. Dude was fired, SOFA revoked, ID card confiscated, and he was escorted to the gate prior to the close of business that day. There were no charges even brought by either government in that case, but it made zero difference.
All Americans that file with the US IRS should be allowed base access to shop, use the postal system and medical facilities.
We do pay taxes. We pay but get nothing back from it. That money could be used for all the Recreation and Moral objectives for service men. They can make a fortune.
There is a Japanese national that supposedly designed the New Sanno in Tokyo that is given full privileges to the facility. That is wrong.
There are Japanese nationals that use the Atsugi and Zama golf courses with a special privilege card and full access to the base but I am not.
The SOFA agreement is good, as I worked for the State Department for a number of years. When I reported the two above incidents, I was told to basically shut up.
SOFA needs to be followed by the book, and not bent to satisfy the needs of the commander.
All full time workers and some part time get cola. If they couldn't work on base they would find jobs just as bad or worse off base. At least here you get a 40 hour work week and some job security. It's up the individual to negotiate the best salary for their work and not just take anything. Also I haven't heard of any incidents involving low paid civilian workers so I think your assumption is unfounded.
As USUAL; the " Media " twists a story to make it sound like someone with SOFA Status can get away with murder....nice work, you've done it again. Someone charged with ANY significant charge (something worth being hauled IN for) is NOT going to hide behind SOFA....you're gunna' get CHARGED.
Something else the people who want this won't be satisfied with.
Obviously darknuts you are uninformed about this topic. Only all APF or NAF stateside hires receiving LQA get this benefit unless you are one of the very rare old timers (hired before 2003) grandfathered in. According to the services MWR's NAF yearly report 98.8% of NAF local hires in Japan Do Not Get COLA.
Are you serious? Does Ken Franklin Shinzato ring a bell? Low paid SOFA Mediatti internet contractor on Kadena Air Base recently murdered a local a few months ago.
Which believe it or not is a huge problem for the member, as they can not get any visa status and are forced to return to the US.
Curious question here; do you use the base facilities in the US mainland? Why do you think that because you live in a foreign country you should be given access to facilities that you would otherwise not be able to utilize in your own country?
Have you even tried? You see things, but odds are you don't know the circumstances behind what you are looking at.
Pray tell, have you ever actually READ the SOFA to make a comment like this? How do you know it's not being followed by the book.
Typically off the wall comments made regarding the SOFA come from folks who only see or hear things and are totally unfamiliar with what they are talking about.
After the Murder by Shinzato the bases cracked down and went to the US Citizen Local Hires and verified that if they Had SOFA they would need to turn in their residency card, cancel the visa and get a sofa visa. I saw some quit as they were required to have sofa but need the Visa for residency from Japan as they are caregivers to their Children. It is a SOFA violation to have both residency and Sofa Visa. Its been enforced now on Okinawa since the murder by Shinzato. A lot of retired persons live in Japan and they have base privileges to use the BX/PX, Commissaries, Hospitals as a benefit of 20 years or more active duty with Japanese Resident Visa. They get no postal uses. as that requires SOFA. The local hires of Americans get no COLA unless they are a GS direct employee to the US Govt. They get no perdiem or any other extra money. as for Commissaries in the USA they are mostly all closed on the bases now. only military members and their immediate family can use base BX/PX. anybody that sees US personnel working off base that are SOFA should be reported to Japanese Immigration for resolve. Also US residents of Japan are also responsible for US Income taxes made on base or off base. There is 1 I know who has avoided taxes and formed his own company as a front and conned a US contractor to get him a SOFA CaC card with base privileges and I can vouch he is a TX evader as when I used him before and as required by US laws I needed his social security number for Form 1099 tax es. We issued a 1099 to him and was then informed that by the IRS he is a tax evader and owes over $ 560,000.00 dollars in back taxes. He also did not pay Japanese taxes on his wages as a Japanese resident. So he is in violation of 2 countries laws. The system is flawed as there are no checks and confirmation of these people in either country and they can get away with it for a time. Its only a matter of time before they will get caught.
$560,000 in back taxes? That is an absurd number. My federal taxes are substantial, and it would take a few decades to wrack up a bill like that.
DocCarlos Most of what you say is factual except the part about those with both alien registration cards and SOFA, they know who are local hires through cooperation with the sja and the US counsulate, but the local city offices don't enforce turning in your gaijin card even though they are aware that you have sofa, there are ways around it and even after the "INCIDENT"many contractors STILL have both.
Here you are wrong, the bases are not like a US warship or US Embassy, they are not US territory, they are bases with the land acquired from Japan. So the argument that you make regarding Japanese base workers, who are in fact paid by the Japanese government, should NOT be paying US taxes..
Again, please learn to use paragraphs, reading your posts is difficult at best. Walls of post on a web forum that does not allow editing, are tedious.
Any SOFA member working off base without permission of their command is doing so illegally, and any Japanese company or business that hires them is also doing so illegally, both should be in "trouble".
PLUS, now in Japan it is required for all employees to have a "My Number" for tax purposes, and SOFA status people can not get them, also employers are required by law to only hire people with the My Number as well.
It's about damn time, and it was BOTH the legal office and immigration offices responsibility to ensure this law was followed. Glad to hear it's finally happening.
Kenney Franklin was not under SOFA he is a Japanese resident he worked for a Japanese company that had a contract with the military.
Yes he was:
His sofa status was a big issue when he was arrested, and it started discussions on revising the agreement: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/01/reference/calls-revise-sofa-wake-okinawa-murder-unlikely-bear-fruit/
The US should pay for its own energy and water use and Y plates need to pay tolls on the highway.
Tommusr you are another misinformed poster posting false news. He is SOFA and is currently being held in the SOFA wing of the Naha Detention Center. He kept his alien registration card illegally like so many local hires currently do for the cheap medical and other Japanese gov't benefits. Kind of like have the best of both worlds.
“While living in Okinawa, he was hired by a company contracted to provide services to U.S. military installations on Okinawa,” Hoffman wrote. “He was granted SOFA status through his employment with the contracted company.”
You know, it's become rather obvious to me that folks have ZERO idea of what SOFA status means. Sad that so many just look at it as a free pass to the BX/PX and cheaper liquor and gasoline, but that is NOT what the SOFA is about.
One statement made here by DocCarlos
This is not true. Bases in the United States still have commissaries and the BX/Commissaries are not off limits to retirees. I travel there often from here and use them all the time. Only BX and Commissary in most European countries are off limits to non-SOFA retirees. Anyway, this is a little off topic, so to get back on topic...there are a few incorrect comments here but most have been corrected by those in the know. Very interesting indeed. Peace, everyone.
Where do you get the idea that "Y" plates dont pay tolls?
They have many feee hand outs and discounts like politicians. Some went to holdidays for many weeks or months. They even did not bother to turn off Air Conditioner before they left from accommodation. When they come back, energy bills have been sky rocketed.They do not care or blink about the bills because they do not have to pay. Life is so rosy for those free loaders.
Immunity was the cause of the problem for large scale riot back in late 1960s. Service man was not charged despite he hit and killed,Okinawa woman. Injustice for traffic accident victim!
Immunity added with privileges have been inflaming local resentments.
@Octagon....where to start, you have too many misconceptions about how things are today. Your comments would have been accurate, back around 40 to 50 years ago but not even close today.
You know, if you receive a benefit from your government, do you think about the people who do not receive it? Do you give the money back to the government because you think it's unfair that only you receive it and no one else does?
Late 60's you write....what year is it now? Immunity with privileges, they aren't diplomats, and your logic is so illogical for today. You are wrong.