Japanese Seek Changes to U.S. Troop Agreement


Japanese officials, seeking to quell public anger over the alleged rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl, asked U.S. officials Thursday to modify the accord governing U.S. troops based in Japan, a Tokyo official said.

The Japanese are seeking changes in the Status of Forces Agreement to allow Japanese police to take custody prior to indictment of U.S. servicemen accused of crimes, the official said.

Provisions of the accord, which protect U.S. troops from arrest by Japanese police and allow U.S. authorities to detain suspects until their indictment by Japan, have been the target of fierce protest after allegations that three U.S. serviceman raped the 12-year-old schoolgirl on Sept. 4.

"There are two undercurrents to the Japanese response to these events," said Takashi Inoguchi, a political science professor at the United Nations University in Tokyo.

"One is the general resentment over the way the United States deals with the Japanese government in trade and economic matters--its 'hegemonic unilateralism.'

"The second is more peculiar to Okinawa. Because it was sacrificed during the war as well as thereafter, there is latent resentment against the central Tokyo government as well as the U.S., and the event fuels that resentment," he said.

Both sides hope to reach agreement on any revisions of the accord before President Clinton holds summit talks with Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama next month.

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