【PART 1】 Mystery of Okinawa: Military Bases and the Constitution
【14】 Any area throughout Japan can instantly become extraterritorial
Moreover, though this is not very well known, the land is also potentially 100% controlled by U.S. Forces. Let me explain with an example: If a U.S. aircraft crashes, U.S. Forces have the legal rights to seal off the area around the crash site and deny access to Japanese police and any parties involved. Some may have trouble believing this, but it is the undebatable truth. The reason for it is that the following agreement ratified by the governments of both Japan and the U.S. in 1953 is still in effect today. (See Introduction to the “Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement,” Which Is Actually More Important than the Constitution, published by Sogensha).
The Japanese authorities will normally not exercise the right of search, seizure, or inspection with respect to any persons or property within facilities and areas in use by and guarded under the authority of the U.S. armed forces or with respect to property of the U.S. armed forces wherever situated. (Agreed minutes regarding the protocol for the revision of Clause 17 in the Japan-U.S. Administrative Agreement. September 29, 1995, Tokyo)
At first glance it may not seem like a big deal. However, in truth, this is an outrageous agreement. The “wherever situated [= anywhere]” part is especially unjust. It means that not only U.S. military bases, but any place “where U.S. armed forces’ property exists” can instantly become an extraterritorial area. Thus, the crashed U.S. aircraft and even any scattered fragments can be regarded as “U.S. armed forces’ property,” which allows U.S. Forces to take various measures to ensure the location’s security. At the same time, it disables Japanese police and fire departments from doing anything.