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Japan, U.S. negotiating return of detained Navy officer: sources

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If expressing remorse is good enough for Japanese it should be good enough for American military personnel too I suppose. All or none for both groups either way.

-6 ( +16 / -22 )

In October 2021, Alkonis was sentenced to three years in prison for killing two Japanese citizens and injuring another in a car accident in May of that year in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Apparently this fellow has already served half his sentence. Comparing prison system violence in the U.S. and Japan, I might prefer to spend my final 18 months in Japan.

10 ( +16 / -6 )

Apparently this fellow has already served half his sentence. Comparing prison system violence in the U.S. and Japan, I might prefer to spend my final 18 months in Japan.

In the begining of February Alkonis' wife able to meet in person to Biden and talk about Alkonis issue, otherwise he may need to serve his full sentence.

https://www.stripes.com/branches/navy/2023-02-08/alkonis-biden-japan-prison-sentence-9073557.html

The government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has claimed there were no flaws in the criminal proceedings against U.S. Navy Lt Ridge Alkonis, 34, but criticism has been growing over his long detention in Japan, with some members of the U.S. Congress also showing their support.

https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%BA%BA%E8%B3%AA%E5%8F%B8%E6%B3%95

Please don't try to deny Japan hostage justice system.

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

Have some ball and let Alkonis serve full term.

-2 ( +15 / -17 )

Show a spine, Japan.

-4 ( +12 / -16 )

Including his detention period before the sentencing, he’s already served two thirds of his prison term. Just one more year to go. Take your time, Mr Alkonis.

11 ( +16 / -5 )

acute mountain sickness and lost consciousness while driving, although Japanese courts determined that he fell asleep at the wheel and lost control of his vehicle.

Looks like he suffered delayed acute mountain sickness, which he suffered when he driving home. This case is not rare, many people not aware this condition at all during their hike.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430716/

5 ( +11 / -6 )

given that he has shown remorse and reached an out-of-court settlement with the bereaved family of the victims, the sources said.

$$$$$ is what it's all about in the system here. By paying any compensation, he is also admitting he is at fault for their deaths.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Clarification. Stars and Stripes reports the following in an article last month (at link provided above by @sakurasuki):

*Ridge Alkonis, 34, of Claremont, Calif., is seven months into a three-year sentence handed down by the Shizuoka District Court in October 2021. *

8 ( +8 / -0 )

$$$ is what it's all about in the system here. By paying any compensation, he is also admitting he is at fault for their deaths.

The compensation paid was probably exorbitant, and more than what a Japanese national would be expected to pay. Japan's hostage justice system likes to rip off foreigners, especially Westerners. I sometimes wonder why the USA bothers defending such a country.

-14 ( +11 / -25 )

$$$ is what it's all about in the system here.

It's mostly about retribution. If people die, then someone must pay, regardless of culpability. This isn't merely "the system," but the sense of revenge and retribution is ingrained in the Japanese consciousness.

-5 ( +13 / -18 )

@Olrik spot on!!!

7 ( +16 / -9 )

Let him rot in jail in Japan.

-7 ( +10 / -17 )

Mt. Sickness or fell asleep, it was an accident. Not every accident is the result of criminal negligence.

This is ridiculous and he should be freed forthwith.

-2 ( +12 / -14 )

America seems to feel its nationals are above local laws around the world... 

If that were true, then this serving US Navy officer would not be in a Japanese jail right now.

The issue is that family contends that the Japanese prosecutors' argument that he dozed off while driving in the middle of the day and talking to his daughter is ridiculous.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

is the evidence that Japanese justice is ruled by politicians!

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

Only 3years for killing 2 people? should be at least 20yrs? and now he wants to transfer to his country such a coward.

7 ( +16 / -9 )

Let's not forget that Utah Senator Mike Lee threatened Japan and Prime Minister Kishida directly on Twitter about this.

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Commit the crime, do the time.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

3 years for causing the death of two citizens is a cake walk. man up serve your sentence then walk free.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

America seems to feel its nationals are above local laws around the world but has no problem shoving its “rules based order” down everybody else’s throats…

Local law or Japanese law in this case not in favor of any defendant, by the time they deal with the law they just being assumed guilty and will get guilty verdict, however some people can fight back, like Alkonis who got US government in their back or Ghosn who got influence and financial resource, can contest this backward law but for ordinary foreigner, their live in Japan as they know is over.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Among U.S. Congress members, Republican Sen Mike Lee of Utah said he met with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in August last year and demanded an early transfer of Alkonis to the United States.

.

Demanded !

With talk like that, it is more likely not to get the transfer done.

Not very diplomatic of him.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

@Blacklce

 And what does that say about the US

In the US, unintentional auto accidents are usually not criminally prosecuted unless an illegality is involved, like the driver on drugs, DUI, texting, high speed reckless driving, running away after the accident, etc. Any trial otherwise would strictly be financial, ie how much damages to pay even if fatality is involved.

US officials defending Alkonis may have felt that this was an unintentional accident not deserving of a criminal prosecution.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Many posters here seems to be self proclaimed judges without even knowing the details of this case,yes the loss of life of these innocent people is a tragedy but acute mountain sickness is real,myself a suffered one years ago but fortunately I was not driving,and I assure it comes unexpectedly and it can effect you and the people around you.

Now this officer was extremely unfortunate to suffer this sickness during driving his vehicle and the worst happened.

This is by no mean a total justification but it’s from vital importance in such case.

Japanese “justice” system work totally against non Japanese even more than locals.

I’m sure they will compensate this “humiliation” abusing some other regular foreigner that won’t have the same privilege to come from a country with strong ties like Mr.Alkonis.

And let’s face it,we all know that Japan doesn’t have a proper developed legal system like in most advanced democracies.

-10 ( +5 / -15 )

I do not know of anybody who kills two and injures one person in a car accident and walks away only with 3 years in prison.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Asiaman7Today 07:10 am JST

In October 2021, Alkonis was sentenced to three years in prison for killing two Japanese citizens and injuring another in a car accident in May of that year in Shizuoka Prefecture.

> Apparently this fellow has already served half his sentence. Comparing prison system violence in the U.S. and Japan, I might prefer to spend my final 18 months in Japan

I doubt that he will be going to Sing Sing, Attica or Alcatraz. Before anyone states the fact, I know some are not in use anymore. My point is the will probably not go to a federal facility but more likely a military correctional facility like the one at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They are not the same.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yes the super short sentence seems to have taken into account the unintentional/accident part of this tragedy.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Japan, U.S. negotiating return of detained Navy officer: sources

Japan is negotiating with the United States the possibility of transferring a U.S. Navy officer, convicted of a fatal car crash in 2021, to his home country at the request of his family and U.S. lawmakers, diplomatic sources said Sunday.

This is a Kyodo article and Japan Today should not be held totally responsible for the article. I find the article poorly written. I suggest that the title should probably read "US diplomatic sources state that the U.S. is again raising the issue of detained Navy officer" and that the first paragraph should say that "the United States is trying to discuss the possibility of transferring ... " There is no reporting here to establish that Japan is "negotiating with" or even considering anything other than politely listening to US requests to negotiate.

"Diplomatic sources" what does this mean? US diplomats continually raise the issue as part of the talking points whenever a high-level delegation or individual, like US Ambassador Emanuel, US Secretary of State Blinken, or President Biden meet with their Japanese counterparts? Or, is Japan really negotiating with the United States rather than the US guys rattling their diplomatic sabres with the Japanese press because there is no movement in the bilateral talks?

I suspect that there is no movement here. Senator Mike Lee might even be bringing the issue up in the press to see if he can push some movement. The US-Japan bilateral relationship is too important to be affected by the unfortunate incident of Alkonis falling asleep at the wheel and accidently hitting the innocent victims. I don't really agree with the sentence, but I do think that someone is stimulating the press to again bring up this relative unimportant, except to the Alkonis family and the Japanese victims' families, incident to keep it on the minds of readers and pressure both governments to consider, again, doing something about the issue.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Many posters here seems to be self proclaimed judges without even knowing the details of this case,yes the loss of life of these innocent people is a tragedy but acute mountain sickness is real

I can only assume this issue of mountain sickness was raised at trial with medical experts testifying on both sides. It was obviously rejected. If it were plausible, you would expect to see many similar cases along this popular stretch of road. I'm guessing they found none.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Amazing!!.

As an American expat, had the situation been reversed, I'd have to do my time. Then get deported. He did the crime on Japanese streets then he should do Japanese time. The Embassy will not intervene when one of us gets in trouble, why should he get special treatment. Sick or not , I'd be put in jail and would have to spend my entire sentance in jail here, he should do the same. Funny how these things happen close to re-election bids.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japan has agreements that allow prisoners to serve out part of their sentence in their home country but the law requires at least one third be served in Japan (or at least 10 years in the case of a life sentence). In 5 months Alkonis will be free to apply for a transfer and will likely be approved. Why are US politicians souring diplomatic relations over something so trivial?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

He is, for all intents and purposes, also A.W.O.L as well. He is an active duty military officer, and should be facing charges after he gets out of Japanese prison.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

The compensation paid was probably exorbitant, 

For killing two people, the amount paid is hardly "exorbitant"!

Separate from his three-year prison term, the Alkonis family paid $1.65 million, "the largest private settlement by a U.S. service member in Japan's history",[2] in extrajudicial restitution to the victims' families.[5]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ridge_Alkonis

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

You won’t get very high up and back down with three little children.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Senator Lee has been acting like a world class buttinsky using social (anti-social ?) media to issue demads to the Japanese gov with time limits of mere hours. He’s an embarrassment

2 ( +4 / -2 )

*Ridge Alkonis, 34, of Claremont, Calif.,

Just checked Claremont, California on google. It's in LA County but the town itself is surrounded by mountains. I believe he probably did a lot of mountain hiking/ sightseeing there.

I doubt his story of altitude sickness. He fell asleep at the wheel.

Besides, three year sentence isn't very long for killing two people.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

The American military and GS employees seem to get “special treatment” in Japan. A few years ago the head of the HR department at IWAKUNI hit and killed a Japanese national. The rumor was that she was drunk. No one knew because she left the scene and went to the base. She paid compensation but within a week, the military flew her back to America. This really seems to be the norm?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Yes, US forces are subject to the special rules listed here:

https://www.mofa.go.jp/region/n-america/us/q&a/ref/2.html

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@masterblaster

*Ridge Alkonis, 34, of Claremont, Calif.,

Just checked Claremont, California on google. It's in LA County but the town itself is surrounded by mountains. I believe he probably did a lot of mountain hiking/ sightseeing there.

I doubt his story of altitude sickness. He fell asleep at the wheel.

Besides, three year sentence isn't very long for killing two people.

Checked again in details about Claremont , that if he really hike while he's not in deployment, also highest point in Claremont is Potato Mountain which only 3,422 ft (1,043 m) while Mount Fuji is more than four times that, 12,389 ft (3,776.24 m).

He might still fine at Potato Mountain but not necessarily after climbing at Mount Fuji. Also most of his time he stay at sea level.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The victims seems to be relatives of the prosecutor assigned to this case.

I doubt that there was a fair trial.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

The victims seems to be relatives of the prosecutor assigned to this case.

And the earth is flat too right? Links or it's just like anything else around here, a baseless "conspiracy" theory.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yay I knew it! Sorry Japanese but it's been already too long for just two... The American hero will be greeted with applause coming home!

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

This explains everything.

“One of the deceased is a family member of a prosecutor in the Tokyo high court who has a lot of influence,”

https://nypost.com/2022/08/03/wife-of-navy-lieutenant-imprisoned-in-japan-reveals-toll-its-taken-on-their-children/

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@lunatic

“One of the deceased is a family member of a prosecutor in the Tokyo high court who has a lot of influence,”

There are around 1,800 public prosecutors in Japan and around 12,000 staff working under them. Their family members are sometimes going to be victims of crime.

What actual evidence is there that Alkonis received an unfair trial or an unduly harsh sentence? Prosecutors asked for 4.5 years but the judge only gave him 3.

Even if we accept that Alkonis was suffering from some form of acute mountain sickness, his own testimony is an admission of guilt:

“I felt my body get weak, and my car drifted out of the lane, but I was able to quickly correct it,” he said in court. Five minutes later, Alkonis said, he began to talk with one of his children when he “lost his memory,”

If he felt his body get weak and had time to correct his lane position and keep driving for another 5 minutes, he also had time to press the brake pedal and pull over to the side of the road as a reasonable driver in his position would be expected to do. Unfortunately, he did not.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

...while Mount Fuji is more than four times that, 12,389 ft (3,776.24 m).

They did not go to the summit.

The trails are closed that time of year and people can only go to the 5th station. All 5th stations are below the altitude where people have "acute" mountain sickness (altitude sickness).

So, he had acute mountain sickness, but no one else does at that altitude?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The doctors that declared on the trial did confirm that the cause of the accident was most likely Mountain Sickness.

The Judge decided to ignore the doctors declaration, to make his own baseless assumption of what happened.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@lunatic

The doctors that declared on the trial did confirm that the cause of the accident was most likely Mountain Sickness.

This mountain sickness issue becomes completely irrelevant when you consider his own testimony.

These are the facts according to Alkonis himself:

He became unwell.

He realised that he had become unwell.

He continued to operate a motor vehicle while feeling unwell despite having sufficient time to pull over and stop.

It's a clear cut case of negligence. You cannot be driving if you feel unwell. The precise medical cause for why he was unwell is a moot point if he admits to realising that he was unwell. He could have been suffering from mountain sickness, had a heart attack and an aneurysm all at the same time and it would make no difference because he had the time and opportunity to stop but decided to continue driving.

Establishing the precise medical cause would only be relevant if he claimed to feel perfectly fine and then just suddenly passed out within a few seconds. In that case, he would have a reasonable excuse for why he was unable to stop the vehicle safely.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Reminds me the similar case.

A Japanese that killed 2 people with his car, because "the brake didn't function".

The judges decided that the defendant was innocent and were going to let him go

...but Toyota stepped in rendering the brake malfunctioning assumption useless.

As opposite to the Alkonis case, the Japanese guy got a suspended sentence for the same crime.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@lunatic

Reminds me the similar case.

A Japanese that killed 2 people with his car, because "the brake didn't function".

As opposite to the Alkonis case, the Japanese guy got a suspended sentence for the same crime.

It sounds like you're referring to the case of the 90 year-old bureaucrat who killed 2 people in 2021 and claimed it was a brake malfunction. He recieved 5 years unsuspended.

https://www.asahi.com/sp/ajw/articles/14440827

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The guy never got arrested, and never stepped in prison.

As the article in your link says:

A Criminal Procedure Law provision allows for the suspension of a prison sentence for convicts 70 and older if the punishment could have a negative effect on the individual’s health.

As I said before, he got suspended sentence.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@lunatic

Yes, there are provisions allowing elderly prisoners early release if their health deteriorates. Most countries do. Has that actually happened yet? I don't know and I suspect you don't either. The fact remains that he was given a 5 year unsuspended sentence. If Alkonis were an elderly man, he would also be eligible for this if his health deteriorated.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Bubonam Justin KayceMar. 6  10:12 pm JST

YubaruToday  12:48 pm JST

He is, for all intents and purposes, also A.W.O.L as well. He is an active duty military officer, and should be facing charges after he gets out of Japanese prison.

The US military hasn’t used the term AWOL in over 30 years. The correct term is U.A. Due to this oversight on your part, I can’t take anything you say in regards to anything to do with the military with even a shred of validity.

Some people got out over 50 years ago. Due to this oversight on your part…

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The fact that the prosecutor made up the story of the faulty brake, and the judges believed that baseless story.

Toyota itself had to step in to change the curse of the trial.

Now the medical specialists that support Alkonis story are being ignored in favor to a baseless story.

Who do we need to call to convince the judges this time?

Alkonis case is the typical - guilty until proven guilty - kind of trial.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

He would paste two Japanese flags on his car side back in the US!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

A killing is a killing..

He must pay the full term..

0 ( +3 / -3 )

But be careful Japan, US like a good spoiled kid, could start to warning with its classic pathetic sanctions..

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The US military hasn’t used the term AWOL in over 30 years. The correct term is U.A. Due to this oversight on your part, I can’t take anything you say in regards to anything to do with the military with even a shred of validity.

You gotta be a young puppy, when I was in it was AWOL, and just because the term may have changed, doesnt change the fact that he is an active duty officer, who is absent without any authorization.

Once returned to military custody, he can be charged as being absent, and he can be charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, and probably faces the proverbial "big chicken dinner" as well. Which all are minor in comparison to the fact he was responsible for killing two innocent people and injuring another, all due to his negligence.

“I felt my body get weak, and my car drifted out of the lane, but I was able to quickly correct it,” he said in court. Five minutes later, Alkonis said, he began to talk with one of his children when he “lost his memory,”

He admits to his negligence, and he also put his family in danger as well!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Article says it was accident. I suppose there is a bit of negligence for micro sleep, but it’s still an accident. He wouldn’t have wishing to take a nap while driving. 3 years sentence is too heavy.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

3 years sentence is too heavy.

For killing 2 people and injuring another? Wow, I am surprised that anyone would take "life" so lightly

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Article 86 of the UCMJ is titled:

“§886. Art. 86. Absence without leave”

The colloquial term AWOL is still valid today as it was when I was an MP, just like the term jailhouse lawyers.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Then I guess it’s safe to say that any opinions they have on the current matter are outdated and invalid due to the fact that they are basing it on obsolete information.

I apologize for my ignorance of "current terminology". Oh wait, maybe I should have said "My bad!"

“§886. Art. 86. Absence without leave”

The colloquial term AWOL is still valid today as it was when I was an MP, just like the term jailhouse lawyers.

Thank you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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