Prosecutors, not police, decide charges under the Japanese justice system.

Prosecutors, not police, decide charges under the Japanese justice system. (Akifumi Ishikawa/Stars and Stripes)

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Japanese police have referred two unnamed Marines from this base south of Hiroshima to local prosecutors in connection with separate incidents last year.

One case involves a Marine suspected of trespassing and bodily injury; another involves a Marine suspected of theft, an Iwakuni police spokesman told Stars and Stripes by phone Tuesday.

Both cases were forwarded to the Yamaguchi Public Prosecutors Office, he said. Prosecutors, not police, decide charges under the Japanese justice system.

Police do not publicly identify suspects unless they are still in custody, the spokesman said without providing further details. Some government officials in Japan may speak to the media only on condition of anonymity.

No decision had been made on either case, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said by phone Tuesday.

“We are aware of the allegations and are fully cooperating with local Japanese authorities as appropriate,” Maj. Roberto Martins, spokesman for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, said by email Thursday. “We take all allegations of misconduct seriously.”

Martins would not identify the accused Marines.

Yamaguchi Broadcasting reported that a 67-year-old man scuffled with a U.S. service member following a break-in at a store in Iwakuni on Nov. 18.

The victim “sustained serious injuries, such as bruises to his body and a cut on his head,” the report said. The service member was taken away by other Americans.

The other Marine is accused of stealing items, including a bag, from a parked vehicle in Iwakuni city on Nov. 2, according to local TV station YAB.

“The alleged actions go against our values and we expect our service members to be upstanding members of the community,” Martins said.

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Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.
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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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