YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Yokosuka-based sailor is being sought for questioning in connection with the Wednesday night stabbing death of a Japanese taxi driver in Yokosuka.
The sailor is not a suspect, Commander U.S. Naval Forces spokesman Cmdr. David Waterman said Thursday, but “he may have information related to the crime.”
The sailor’s name and command were not given, only that he has been in unauthorized absence status for an undisclosed amount of time, Waterman said.
Security personnel searched vehicles leaving and entering the base Thursday, Waterman said.
“We’re looking for a sailor on the base who may have information related to the crime last night,” Waterman said. “Because he was UA, we were already looking for him.”
According to police officials, Masaaki Takahashi, 61, was stabbed in the neck in Yokosuka city. The incident occurred about 9:20 p.m. while he was seated in his taxi near Shioiri train station, a Kanagawa Prefectural Police official said.
Takahashi was from the Shinagawa area of Tokyo, the spokesman said.
Police had not identified a suspect as of Thursday afternoon, a Yokosuka police spokesman said.
CNFJ released a statement condemning “the horrific crime in the strongest possible terms.”
“Our condolences and heartfelt wishes go out to the honorable family of the victim,” the statement said. “We are confident that Japanese authorities will conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation and the U.S. Navy is standing by to help with Japanese police in whatever manner is needed.”
No liberty restrictions have been issued to Yokosuka-based personnel in the wake of the crime, Waterman said, and “nothing like that” is in the works.
Defense Department personnel throughout Japan recently observed a mandated reflection period after a string of incidents in Iwakuni and Okinawa, including two alleged rapes by servicemembers in February and several alcohol-related incidents.
Unauthorized off-base travel was prohibited on all bases on Okinawa and Marine installations at Camp Fuji and Iwakuni in mainland Japan.
While Japanese authorities did not bring charges in the alleged rapes — the U.S. military is continuing its investigations in the cases — the incidents provoked several anti-American rallies.
Restrictions on Defense Department civilians were lifted in early March, but all active-duty troops on Okinawa and at Marine bases in mainland Japan are still under a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. off-base curfew and are not allowed to consume alcohol at off-base establishments.
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.