Japan asks to be kept in the loop on desertions
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — When it comes to American military deserters in Japan, the Japanese government wants more information and more involvement, a Japanese ministry official said last week.
An agreement was reached — in principle — that U.S. forces will notify Japanese authorities about military deserters and will allow Japanese police to take them into custody, said Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura during a press conference.
U.S. Forces Japan confirmed the agreement Monday but said details were still being worked through the joint committee process.
The agreement comes in the days after U.S. Navy seaman Olatunbosun Ugbogu allegedly confessed to killing a Japanese taxi driver after he deserted from the Yokosuka-based guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens.
Ugbogu, a 22-year-old Nigerian national, went missing from the Cowpens on March 1 and was declared a “deserter” on March 10.
He allegedly stabbed 61- year-old Masaaki Takahashi to death in his cab nine days later in an alley in Yokosuka’s Shioiri neighborhood, according to police reports.
Police had not been notified about the Ugbogu’s disappearance because it was not a requirement under the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement.