A lance corporal serving at Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan, has received a suspended sentence for punching a 76-year-old woman in November 2023.

A lance corporal serving at Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan, has received a suspended sentence for punching a 76-year-old woman in November 2023. (Pixabay)

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — A Japanese court on Friday sentenced a U.S. Marine to a suspended, two-year prison term for assaulting two Japanese people, one a 76-year-old woman, in November.

Lance Cpl. Manuel Joshua Gomez, 21, a motor vehicle operator with Wing Support Squadron 71 at MCAS Iwakuni, will be returned to the United States but until then is confined to the base south of Hiroshima, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing spokesman Maj. Rob Martins told Stars and Stripes by email Friday.

Judge Soshi Okada suspended Gomez’s sentence for four years, meaning he will serve no time unless he reoffends in Japan during that period.

“We respect the decision of the court, and we take this matter very seriously,” Martins said.

Gomez had been drinking when he encountered the woman around 4 a.m. on the street in the Marifu area of Iwakuni city, according to the verdict summary from Yamaguchi District Court. He pushed the woman to the ground, then punched her several times in the face with his right fist, the summary states.

The woman suffered a compression fracture of a vertebrae and bruises to her face, which required one month of treatment, according to the verdict read by Judge Soshi Okada in court.

Gomez pleaded guilty Jan. 23 in Yamaguchi District Court in Iwakuni, according to the Chugoku newspaper. Prosecutors had requested two years imprisonment with hard labor.

The woman fled and a man, 55, who witnessed the assault approached Gomez, who punched him in the face, leaving a bruise on the man’s right cheek, according to the verdict.

The assault on two victims was “dangerous and vicious,” with no extenuating circumstances, Okada said in court.

However, he suspended the sentence because Gomez admitted to the offenses, apologized to the victims, expressed intention to compensate the victims, and has no prior criminal record, according to the summary.

“The actions for which Lance Cpl. Gomez was convicted are contrary to 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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