İlknur Şebnem Öztemel – TDO –There are 50,000American troops mostlyin the U.S. base on the Okinawa Island and additional 7,000 civilian contractors are working on several American bases, located on Japanese territory.According to Status of Forces Agreement that was signed in 1960, none of U.S. personnel are subjected to Japanese law while "on duty" or on base.
Japanese officials argue that this situation limits their ability to investigate crimes. In the last four decades Japanese and American officials had hard talks with each other regarding impunity of American personnel. Recently in May, a contractor at the Okinawa base was arrested on charges of raping and murdering a 20 year old woman.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a regular news conference that held on December 26 that the scope of immunity for some personnel will be narrowed and real meaning, power and duty of a "civilian contractor" at an American base will be re-determined. It has been said that Japan seeks to sign the new treaty before President Obama leaves the office. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that two governments had completed the negotiation for the new agreement and it would be finalized soon.