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NAHA, Okinawa — Okinawa police have rejected a criminal complaint filed by an Okinawa lawmaker against every American on Okinawa who owns a car with a Y-license plate.

The decision was made Monday, according to an Okinawa Prefectural Police spokesman.

On May 31, Kantoku Teruya, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives from the Social Democratic Party, filed a complaint against the 27,075 Americans on Okinawa under the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement who own cars with the special SOFA “Y” license plates. He claimed they all failed to obtain necessary certificates proving they have ample parking space for their vehicles.

He said the complaint was aimed at highlighting the “inexcusable negligence on the part of the Japanese government” from enforcing a 1962 law that makes possessing the certificates, which cost about $20 each, mandatory for car owners. Of some 58,000 private vehicles owned by SOFA personnel in Japan, only 2,300 of them — all in Sasebo — have obtained the certificates.

A police spokesman said Teruya’s charges were rejected on technical grounds. His complaint lacked specifics, such as names of the offenders, dates and places, the spokesman said.

Although individual municipalities issue the certificates, Teruya said he might consider suing the national government for ignoring the issue. He claims it is the government’s responsibility to ensure the law, enacted to ensure all car owners in Japan have adequate off-street parking for their vehicles, is enforced.

“Although the complaint was not accepted by police, the illegal practice should not be left unattended,” Teruya said. He pledged to press the issue.

“Without a parking certificate, the registration of a vehicle is not valid,” he said. “It violates the Road Traffic Law to operate vehicles on public roads without the proper registration.”

Six years ago, U.S. Forces Japan was informed vehicle registrations for cars owned by SOFA personnel would not be issued without the parking certificates. However, an undefined grace period was extended while the two sides negotiated the issue.

— Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.


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