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NAHA, Okinawa — An Okinawa member of Japan’s Diet wants police to file charges against Americans who own 27,075 cars on Okinawa.

The Americans, most of them servicemembers here under the U.S.-Japanese Status of Forces Agreement, all have failed to obtain certificates proving they have ample parking space for their vehicles, claims Kantoku Teruya, a House of Representatives member from the Social Democratic Party.

On Monday, Teruya filed a criminal complaint with the Okinawa Prefectural Police as a way to highlight what he called “inexcusable negligence on the part of the Japanese government.” Of 58,000 private vehicles owned by SOFA personnel in Japan, only 2,300 have parking certificates, which cost about $20 each. All of those are registered in Sasebo.

Teruya said it was clear other prefectures and municipalities are failing to enforce the law and laid the blame on a lackadaisical attitude displayed by the national government.

The 1962 law is supposed to ensure that all car owners have adequate off-street parking available for their vehicles. Six years ago, U.S. Forces Japan was informed that registration certificates would not be issued for SOFA “Y” plates without parking certificates.

However, the U.S. military was given an undefined grace period to comply, according to a Japanese government official. The two sides have been negotiating the issue ever since.

“Registering a privately owned vehicle without a certificate of parking is illegal,” said Teruya, a lawyer from Ginowan. “Japan’s domestic laws should be applied to each one of us, equally and impartially.

“The police should look into this and promptly correct the malpractice.”

Teruya said limited parking was not at issue, adding that he’s certain SOFA car owners have adequate parking inside the bases.

“What I am pointing out is that registration should be done in accordance with the laws,” he said. “Domestic laws should be respected and applied impartially.”

An Okinawa police spokesman said Tuesday police have not decided whether to act on Teruya’s complaint.

“We will study it, including assessing whether it is relevant, before determining how to handle it,” the spokesman said.

Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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