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Your Dec. 20 article regarding the military dependents currently in Japanese custody gave an incorrect impression of the Air Force involvement in the cases. Far from leaving the dependents and their families on their own, commanders and judge advocates at the installation, service component and joint command levels are engaged heavily in their support.

Yokota commanders, law enforcement and judge advocates have met personally with Japanese officials, including the police, the prosecutor and the mayor of the city in which the incident occurred. The wing did arrange and host a meeting Saturday between the dependents’ parents, their attorneys and the victim’s family, but this meeting had not yet occurred and was therefore not reported when the military spokesman was interviewed by Stars and Stripes on Friday. Military personnel have also visited the facilities holding the dependents.

Air Force judge advocates, while licensed attorneys with additional specialized training, do not have the background, credentials or authority to defend individuals in Japanese court. Instead, separate local attorneys represent each dependent in this case, and those attorneys are either paid by the Air Force or appointed by the court.

Air Force personnel are in daily communication with the local attorneys to share information and provide assistance. They do not interfere with the attorney-client relationships or the legal advice given by the local lawyers.

Commanders and judge advocates have and will continue to work on behalf of these dependents and to communicate with their families, their counsel and the Japanese authorities. U.S. military members, Department of Defense civilians and their dependents are all supported by a robust system that engages on many levels to insure their rights are protected.

Maj. Chris Watt374 Airlift Wing, Public AffairsYokota Air Base, Japan


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