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US contractor's dependent suspected of setting fire, in Japanese custody

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The 15-year-old dependent of a contractor supporting U.S. Army Japan was in Japanese police custody Friday after confessing to arson, officials said.

A Kanagawa Prefectural Police spokesman said the ninth-grader was arrested on suspicion of setting fire to a shed at a 90-year-old Japanese man’s residence in Zama City at around 1 a.m. Thursday.

There were no injuries but the shed was destroyed, the spokesman said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported that a witness saw a suspicious person leaving the scene and that police found the teen during a search of the area. The youngster admitted to setting the fire during police questioning, the newspaper reported.

The police spokesman said investigators are looking at whether the teen was involved in another suspicious fire in the area Thursday morning. That fire started in a shrine, burned down a building and a house next door and damaged another house, the spokesman said.

The teen was in Japanese police custody Friday and police planned to send the case to prosecutors on Saturday, the spokesman said.

U.S. Army Japan spokesman Maj. Randall Baucom confirmed Friday that the dependent of a contractor supporting U.S. forces was suspected of involvement in the fires.

Baucom said U.S. Army Japan is cooperating with the investigation.

Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

robsons@stripes.com

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