TOKYO — American military personnel accused of crimes in Japan could be allowed to have an interpreter present during police interrogations, under a Status of Forces Agreement amendment being proposed.

Neither Japanese nor U.S. officials would comment on the proposal, which was reported Wednesday in the Daily Yomiuri, Japan Times and other Japanese newspapers.

The publications said Japanese leaders are expected to outline the proposal to U.S. officials Thursday during talks in Washington.

“We cannot make any comment on the detail because the talks are still under way,” Hatsuhisa Takashima, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs director-general for press and public relations, said Wednesday. “Presently, Japanese government is making its best effort to settle the talk.”

According to the Daily Yomiuri, Japanese officials would choose an interpreter from a list previously approved by the United States. Alternatively, U.S. officials could choose an interpreter from a list approved by the Japanese.

Currently, Japanese police use their own interpreters to conduct questioning.

SOFA governs the rights of U.S. servicemembers and civilian Department of Defense employees in Japan. It’s become a bone of contention for both governments.

U.S. officials have called on the Japanese to allow an attorney and interpreter to be present during police interrogations, a right not guaranteed in Japan or under SOFA.

And Japanese officials have called on the United States to expedite the process of turning American personnel accused of heinous crimes over to police.

SOFA allows U.S. personnel to be turned over to Japanese authorities upon indictment, but makes provisions for a case-by-case review of early turnover requests for heinous crimes like murder and rape.

Recent SOFA talks began July 2 following three cases in which U.S. personnel have been jailed on Okinawa after being accused of rape or attempted rape.

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