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U.S. military to limit legal protection to some contractors in Japan

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"limit...to" can mean two opposite things.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Do Japanese civilians who work on US bases fall under SOFA protection? If so, how many Japanese civilians are there, and how many American civilians? I tried to look this up but didn't have too much success.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This really is not fair to the many US military contractors to be punished because on one individual. What the US has failed to protect it's US citizens abroad is simply to request that the Japanese government not punish those who constantly have to start all over with their Visa's because of the Japanese practices and the US contractor trying to get their permanent status to support their families. It is understood for those who are not married and live in Japan to not get such preferential treatment as they leave the country, but to punish those who live here by not making it fair for them to get and hold permanent status because of SOFA and having to restart the clock each and every time, that needs to be addressed and fixed by the Japanese government to make things fair for all not just one sided.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I am confused by the use of the words US Civilian Contractors. Are they talking only about on US Civilians that work for companies that provide on-base services like the company that Shinzato worked for or are they also talking about Local Hire US Civilians who work on base for AAFES, MWR or MCCS and are not really contractors but are employees of those on-base organizations? Are they going to make all SOFA status civilians show their passports to make sure they don`t also have a Japanese Visa?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I found the answer to my question. SOFA only covers American citizens. But I find that a bit strange since Japanese or other nationalities could be essential in many cases.

But interestingly, SOFA already seems to exclude civilians who are 'ordinarily resident' in Japan. Wouldn't an ordinary resident be someone like Kenneth Shinzato who had a Japanese visa? If not, what else does 'ordinarily resident' mean? This whole excercise seems a bit pointless since it's not as if he has escaped facing justice because of SOFA.

SOFA says:

"civilian component" means the civilian persons of United States nationality who are in the employ of, serving with, or accompanying the United States armed forces in Japan, but excludes persons who are ordinarily resident in Japan

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was always under the impression that you could not be covered under SOFA if you held permanent residence.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

First of all SOFA status and a Japanese Visa together is a SOFA Violation and its the Japanese Govt. fault for issuing a visa to him while having SOFA status. There should be a register in Japan of all persons with SOFA Status. Another thing that I find atrocious is that American SOFA status persons work off base in Clubs and bars with no legal visa and work permit to be working off base. That is taking Japanese Jobs away. and also no taxes being paid to either Japan or the USA. In Korea non-military are not given SOFA status and have to have a VISA there. So now Japans turn. Also Japan must then make it legal to get a Japanese Drivers License since SOFA licenses will not ne available for contractors or a Change in teh LAW that allows American Contractors who are on year long or more projects who can only use a International DL for only 3 months.

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The United States and Japan said on Tuesday that U.S. contractors with Japanese visas will no longer qualify and that talks will continue to define which contractors will still be included under SOFA in future.

Huh? Until now they shouldn't have qualified in the first place and I know from personal experience, having being told once during an interview for a base position, that if I had a Japanese visa I could not keep it and carry SOFA as well. I was also informed that if I went under the SOFA the time I had accrued living in Japan, that would count towards living here "in Japan" would zero out and if I ever moved off of SOFA I would have to start from zero.

US has failed to protect it's US citizens abroad is simply to request that the Japanese government not punish those who constantly have to start all over with their Visa's because of the Japanese practices and the US contractor trying to get their permanent status to support their families

Why should a locally hired contractor be allowed to maintain a visa status in Japan and be covered under the SOFA? That makes zero sense.

The military folks and their families live here in Japan under NO visa status, if you as a locally hired contractor want the benefits of the base, drop your Japanese status and take SOFA. You should not be allowed both.

Notice I wrote LOCAL hires, people who are contracted from overseas locations are a different story, they should have the SOFA status and deserve it, as they do not take nor receive a Japanese visa status, and by rights shouldn not either.

It is understood for those who are not married and live in Japan to not get such preferential treatment as they leave the country, but to punish those who live here by not making it fair for them to get and hold permanent status because of SOFA and having to restart the clock each and every time, that needs to be addressed and fixed by the Japanese government to make things fair for all not just one sided.

You think this it's one-sided? Why do you need permanent status in Japan if you have SOFA? If you lose your job, go through the visa process like everyone else, why should you or anyone get special treatment?

Let's be fair here, it isn't about the SOFA.....it's all about the base ID card that gives the holder the privileges of using the BX/PX and commissary and other base facilities. Buying gasoline on base for what...1/3 the price compared to off base. It gives you status with your Japanese friends so you can buy stuff they can't and that is all you want.

All the SOFA is is an agreement to protect the rights of individuals while in Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We have to remember that even though Japan has turned out to be a relatively decent country that (for the most part) respects most human rights and the rule of law, this wasn't a foregone conclusion in 1960 when SOFA was signed, nor is it guaranteed in the future.

Japan can change it's criminal procedure laws in the future to something that the US finds entirely unacceptable. SOFA isn't just about protection from today's reasonable Japanese laws, but more importantly protection from tommorrow's unreasonable laws. I'm not American but I think the US should be very careful before amending the agreement.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

First of all SOFA status and a Japanese Visa together is a SOFA Violation and its the Japanese Govt. fault for issuing a visa to him while having SOFA status.

No it's the other way around, he was living here in Japan prior to gaining the SOFA status position and had his Japanese status first.

The people on base who authorized his SOFA are at fault. He did NOT come to Japan on SOFA and was a locally hired contractor for Mediatti cable.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

yubaru,

Both of your posts are excellent and spot on.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is excuse by Okinawans just like China to put more strain and weaken the alliance between Japan and US. That is factual and reality.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

That they're finally getting around to defining this is a good thing - vagueness and law don't match. On the other hand, I've lived here for well over 20 years, and my lack of SOFA status has never been an issue because I've never been so afoul of the law that it would. Confine your legal transgressions to minor traffic infractions as I've done (many, many times) and you'll be fine.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wish we'd stop nit picking over little details and crimes which will always happen. Okinawa is always gunna get a raw deal from mainland Japan, so they do deserve to have the load shared and the laws should be made more fair. I want the USA here and closer to Japan! It's safer that way for my future.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I wish we'd stop nit picking over little details and crimes which will always happen. Okinawa is always gunna get a raw deal from mainland Japan, so they do deserve to have the load shared and the laws should be made more fair. I want the USA here and closer to Japan! It's safer that way for my future.

Yet you do one thing here, with all the good intentions that you are trying to get across, that misses the point. Okinawa is a part of Japan. There is no problem with the law, the problem is with the agreement between Japan and the US, which is balanced in favor to the US side. But it isn't just about Okinawa, it's about ALL US military in Japan.

Believe me when I tell you that these crimes committed by military members and being tried in the Japanese courts, gives the military member a much better chance of getting a lighter sentence BY FAR than if tried under the UCMJ or in a US court.

As a civilian, Shinzato could face the death penalty in a US court, for assault, kidnapping, 1st degree murder, and any other assorted felonies. At the minimum odds are he would be looking at what, 25 to life, closer to life.

In Japan he is going to get lucky and only see at the most 20 years maybe 25, unless the courts get it right and make an example of him.

Because he is a civilian, after the case is finished and the sentence over, he will be deported, and face ZERO court or time in the US.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When convicted in Japan and the USA agrees to accept deportation he will serve his crime in a federal Max security prison for the term of the crime he receives in Japan. If they get it right as in many countries it will be a death penalty. He deserves no less as he planned it all. We do not want him back in the states either. He chose to live in Japan and became a permanent resident and as such agreed to live by the laws of Japan and now must pay the price of the Japanese laws and system. Also a lot of local hires even if American unless they have SOFA can NOT use the Post office, BX and Commissary and gasoline. They have to have those privileges assigned and programmed and stated on your ID Card. Only Retirees have that privilege without the Post Office Box. Local civilian hires do not get housing assistance either. They are also responsible for Japanese Taxes and also American taxes unless they give up their US Citizenship. I think that all Americans that want this as their homeland here in Japan and raise their family go to the US Embassy and renounce your citizenship in person and become Japanese Citizens also.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When convicted in Japan and the USA agrees to accept deportation he will serve his crime in a federal Max security prison for the term of the crime he receives in Japan.

Where do you get the idea that he will be deported prior to serving time here? There are too many cases ahead of this that prove you incorrect in your thinking, military and civilian alike,

He is a civilian, he will do the time here, then be deported. In the US he is not guilty of any crime, as he has committed no crime by the laws of the US.

Also a lot of local hires even if American unless they have SOFA can NOT use the Post office, BX and Commissary and gasoline.

Do you happen to read other posts before making your comments? No local hires can use the PX/BX etc etc etc UNLESS they have SOFA..The way you wrote that makes it sound like there are local hires who are not under SOFA but have base privileges....right....WHO.

Retirees are a different ball game, not an issue with this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Naive old me again, military serviceman/advisors/contractors choose or are assignment operational overseas deployments.

Respect for and behaving in manner that you act in accordance, complying with the local and nation laws when off the base. Behaving in such a way that you refrain from actions that will bring your country and the US armed forces into disrepute. If one cannot behave accordingly then one has to face the consequences.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yubaru

No it's the other way around, he was living here in Japan prior to gaining the SOFA status position and had his Japanese status first. The people on base who authorized his SOFA are at fault. He did NOT come to Japan on SOFA and was a locally hired contractor for Mediatti cable.

No the legal office and HR are not at fault for anything. A contractor like Shinzato is hired by the company (Mediatti you say?) the company registers him as a new hire to the HR and legal offices on base who process him as a newly acquired SOFA. Between HR and legal they are responsible for reporting him to the GOJ as an new/additional employee with SOFA status and are also responsible for placing the SOFA stamp in his passport, but are NOT responsible for rendering null and void any visas or reentry permits issued by the Japanese Immigration Bureau that may already be in his passport. They simply do not have the legal authority to do so. Technically, the employee should report this change of immigration status to his nearest immigration office, but because Japanese Immigration will not actively seek him out upon receiving the report of his new SOFA status to cancel his visa, the visa will remain in his passport and remain valid until they expire. Immigration will not permit him to renew them while he is a SOFA member but will even advise him that he take no action to cancel his visa since it is a long and difficult process to reapply for one and cannot be done from within the country but must be processed by a embassy or consulate somewhere abroad. They will even advise him that it is best for him to keep the visa as long as it is valid because there is always the possibility that his USFJ related job and SOFA status may end before the visa expires and he will need a visa again if he wishes to remain in Japan longer. It is definitely a loophole, but one that Japanese Immigration, and not USFJ, allows to exist.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No the legal office and HR are not at fault for anything. A contractor like Shinzato is hired by the company (Mediatti you say?) the company registers him as a new hire to the HR and legal offices on base who process him as a newly acquired SOFA.

Which means that the hiring company, Mediatti, already has a copy or should have a copy of his passport, and when filing the paperwork for SOFA status with HR and Legal, they are submitting his passport copy. The hiring contractor knows that it is illegal to carry both SOFA and Japanese status but they go through the process anyway, and since Mediatti is a local contractor the legal office has the responsibility to ensure that the applicant is qualified to receive SOFA status.

So in effect, Mediatti and HR and legal have dropped the ball.

Between HR and legal they are responsible for reporting him to the GOJ as an new/additional employee with SOFA status and are also responsible for placing the SOFA stamp in his passport, but are NOT responsible for rendering null and void any visas or reentry permits issued by the Japanese Immigration Bureau that may already be in his passport.

Before they even get to the point of putting the SOFA status stamp in his or anyone's passport they are either blind or are choosing to overlook the Japanese visa status that is already in his passport. Legal knows they can not carry both, but give the stamp anyway. The Japanese status should be removed prior to getting the SOFA stamp.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Another thing that I find atrocious is that American SOFA status persons work off base in Clubs and bars with no legal visa and work permit to be working off base.

SOFA status personnel are not allowed to work off base in establishments that have a majority of their revenue from alcohol sales. If found out, they can lose SOFA status and barred from base. Case in point back in 2008 when a SOFA status bar owner, who happened to be very high in the CNFJ Human Resources department, killed a Japanese man who was drunk when he threw him out of his bar (right across the street from CFAY main gate) and the hit is head and died. This civilian, spent the full time before being charged (21 days) in jail and his case was handled by the Japanese courts. He was in clear violation of the SOFA rules, but sad to say that they are not really enforced unless they come up in cases. They don't go out looking for violators, but if caught you are in trouble.

The Japanese status should be removed prior to getting the SOFA stamp.

I have had to go through this process when hiring Local Hire personnel for GS jobs. If done right, it is a pain and slows the hiring process down, but it does get done.

Local civilian hires do not get housing assistance either. They are also responsible for Japanese Taxes and also American taxes unless they give up their US Citizenship.

Not all true. I was a Local Hire GS at one time, and with the SOFA stamp I paid US Federal and State taxes. I owed no Japanese taxes at all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have had to go through this process when hiring Local Hire personnel for GS jobs. If done right, it is a pain and slows the hiring process down, but it does get done.

Thank you for posting this, getting visa status in Japan can be a time consuming process and it's a lot of hurry up and wait, but the wheels eventually turn.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's easy, leave Japan to the Chinese and move US assets to Guam. Make Guam and other West Pacific US territory into a US state and then dare China to cross the line. Let Japan worry about Japan. The Japanese hate us, they use these rare base events as a perpetual rally cry, so let them have it....leave Oki and let the JSD move in.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It's easy, leave Japan to the Chinese and move US assets to Guam.

America does not want to do that, because Japan pays for the American bases in Japan. If the Americans went to Guam, they'd have to find new funding to replace the money the Japanese pay them now.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

American does not want to do that. And neither does Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thank goodness there are commenters here who have experienced SOFA Status themselves and know what they are talking about. Others just blabber for their point of view - no matter how baseless. Like this:

notasapJUL. 06, 2016 - 08:18AM JST It's easy, leave Japan to the Chinese and move US assets to Guam. Make Guam and other West Pacific US territory into a US state and then dare China to cross the line. Let Japan worry about Japan. The Japanese hate us, they use these rare base events as a perpetual rally cry, so let them have it....leave Oki and let the JSD move in.

No, The Japanese in general do not hate Americans . It's the Okinawans that want the bases out - take note: "Bases" not "Americans".

They use these rare base events used as a perpetual rally cry

The crimes committed by US Base personnel are not rare events, it happens all the time at a current average of 28 per month (per Naha Police records).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just a little clarification for everyone's info.

The process for contractors to apply for SOFA status begins with the base Contracting Office. They receive the request from the respective company - the Contracting office then determines if the company falls under Art IB or Art XIIII of the SOFA - if they do not, then SOFA is not authorized.

The HR or Civilian personnel office does not deal with contractors - only GS employees. There is also a NAF HR that deals with Non Appropriated Fund employees.

Legal offices review contracts but typically not individual contractor SOFA requests unless they have a SOFA attorney for that purpose.

So the real key link in the chain is the Contracting Office - they have to ensure all due diligence is taken on any SOFA requests. Based on the Shinzato case, USFJ updated its Contracting regulation - making it very clear that these offices must validate an individual's status before making any decision on SOFA. USFJ also directed a 100% validation of all contractors status - with a hands-on review of their passports.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the Contracting office then determines if the company falls under Art IB or Art XIIII of the SOFA - if they do not, then SOFA is not authorized.

One chief reason that many want SOFA status for jobs is the provisions that fall under State Dept. Rules for people working in foreign countries as contractors and the benefits one can get if you have a Government contract job. If you are an American citizen and obtain a Japanese visa, you fall under the Japanese labor laws and your compensation is determined by the company you work for.

If you get a contractor job working on the bases as a government contractor, then you would fall under the provision of the DSSR (Dept. of State Standardized Regulations) which are the controlling regulations for allowances and benefits available to all U.S. Government civilians assigned to foreign areas. Contractor civilians assigned to foreign areas shall not exceed the allowances and benefits in the DSSR. So you would get by design of your contract certain types of extra money like some housing allowances and Post Differential (PD) that one wouldn't get if they were working for a Japanese company with a Japanese visa. Working for an American company in Japan, you may get incentives that may match the rates of the DSSR or even go better, but you would still be under the Japanese laws, so if you break one, you will get dealt with by the Japanese authorities and not the US Embassy. They will come and visit and offer assistance but that is about all.

Getting SOFA status means getting more money in your pocket. That's why the big push for some to gain that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The new measure will only limit legal protections and benefits to U.S. civilian employees working on base in Japan. In other words, U.S. personnel who commit crimes off base continue to be protected by the SOFA the same as before. How to "protect" its military personnel from arbitrary prosecution under the Japanese legal system is more important for Washington than victims' suffering and trampled human rights.

Does anyone on this thread know about the William Board rape incident that occurred on June 12, 1884? Board was a sailor boarding one of the ships in the fleet commanded by Commodore Matthew C. Perry, who made port calls to Ryukyu Kingdom three times before and after he had forced the reclusive Japan to open its doors.

On that day, the drunken Board raped a local woman. Finding out the incident, angry neighbors chased Board, pelting stones, to a cliff by the seashore. He slipped and fell off the cliff and was drowned.

Perry was very angry about the shipmate's death and demanded the Ryukyu authorities to punish a perpetrator severely, with which the Ryukyu authorities complied, sentencing the man to banishment to a remote island (equal to life imprisonment at the time, I think).

Did Perry, who represented the U.S. government pay any compensation, or express any sympathy, to the victim? Not that I know of. Perry's concern was only with the death of the shipmate and never did he care about the victim's predicament.

SOFA is imbued with this high-handed spirit of a colonial master.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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