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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A wake, funeral and a crime-scene ceremony for Yoshie Sato were held this week to honor the 56-year old woman killed during a Jan. 3 robbery allegedly committed by a sailor.

Navy officials attended events, with about 100 sailors and officers going to Wednesday’s wake at the Oryo Kaikan funeral home in Yokosuka city.

“With the gracious consent of Ms. Sato’s family, many senior officers and sailors were permitted to attend the wake and the funeral to pay our respects and express our sorrow and regret,” said Commander, Naval Forces Japan spokesman Cmdr. John Wallach. “Our attendance allows us again to express how truly sorry we are over this terrible tragedy.”

CNFJ Rear Adm. James Kelly, U.S. 7th Fleet Vice Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Carrier Strike Group 5 Rear Adm. Doug McClain, Destroyer Squadron 15 Captain Robert P. Girrier, Command Fleet Activities Yokosuka Capt. Greg Cornish and USS Kitty Hawk Capt. Ed McNamee were among those who bowed to the Sato family, bowed to a photo of Sato and offered incense.

The suspect, Airman William Oliver Reese, an E-3, worked from 2004 aboard the USS Kitty Hawk until his arrest last week. The aircraft carrier’s crew was “well represented” at the wake, Wallach said.

Reese, a 21-year-old New Jersey native, was handed over to Japanese authorities last Saturday in connection with the beating death of the Yokosuka woman. Sato, an office employee, was on her way to work when Reese allegedly asked her to change money for a taxi ride.

She was found beaten and bleeding outside a building near Yokosuka Chuo train station in Yokosuka city.

According to police reports, Reese repeatedly punched and kicked Sato, then removed 15,000 yen (about $130) from her wallet. Sato died of internal injuries later that day in a local hospital.

A smaller group of Navy personnel attended Sato’s funeral Thursday morning, Wallach said. He couldn’t confirm whether any Navy personnel attended a memorial service at the crime scene Thursday.

Japanese politicians are also expressing their condolences to Sato’s family. Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa and Yokosuka city Mayor Ryoichi Kabaya attended the wake Wednesday, and Kanagawa Vice Gov. Terushige Odaka and Yokosuka city Deputy Mayor Yoriko Ueda attended the funeral Thursday.

Local Japanese, U.S. Navy officials meet

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Calling the Jan. 3 beating death “a heinous crime unheard of in the past,” Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa met with U.S. Navy officials Thursday requesting action to ensure the crime would not be repeated.

Matsuzawa, along with Yokosuka Mayor Ryoichi Kabaya, also on Thursday delivered a protest letter to Japan’s Defense Facilities Administration Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The letter urged DFAA and Foreign Ministry leaders to recognize how the Jan. 3 beating death of a Japanese woman might impact foreign relations and urge the U.S. Navy to “reflect seriously” on it, they said.

“The incident may badly affect the friendship between the U.S. and Japan that has long been established,” the letter said.

While the politicians commended the quick response taken by U.S. 7th Fleet and Commander, Naval Forces Japan, Kabaya asked that strict measures be taken to satisfy Yokosuka residents and to “sincerely” compensate Yoshie Sato’s family for their loss.

DFAA Director General Iwao Kitahara and Foreign Minister Taro Aso said they would deliver the message, according to a Yokosuka city spokesperson.

— Stars and Stripes

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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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