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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japanese police arrested a Marine early Saturday on suspicion of assault after he allegedly choked a man outside a bar, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Cpl. Christopher Flores, 22, assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, was taken into custody at 5:22 a.m., an Okinawa Police spokesman told Stars and Stripes by phone. Flores is assigned to Marine Air Support Squadron 2, according to email to Stars and Stripes on Wednesday from Capt. Tess M. LaBossiere, spokeswoman for 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.

A witness called police at 4:54 a.m. to report that Flores “strangled” a Japanese man from behind with both hands on a street in Chuo, Okinawa city, the spokesman said. He said the man was not injured.

The two were in an altercation in a bar prior to the incident, the spokesman said. Some government officials in Japan customarily speak to the media on condition of anonymity.

Flores denied the allegations and called his arrest a mistake, the spokesman said. He said Flores was released from custody on Sunday.

“Our command is fully cooperating with Japanese authorities as they conduct the investigation, therefore, no further details are available at this time,” LaBossiere said. The vast majority of the wing’s Marines and sailors “uphold our core values in an exemplary manner and those who do not will be held accountable, as we take all incidents and allegations involving misconduct or illegal behavior seriously.”

Flores’ case was forwarded to the prosecutor’s office in Naha on Sunday, the spokesman said. A prosecutors’ spokeswoman said Wednesday the office has yet to make a charging decision.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.
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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.
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