FOLLOW-UP:Three U.S. teens cleared in Japan case(12-27-09)

TOKYO — The parents of four teens being held in connection with a motorcycle accident visited with the victim’s family on Saturday and offered apologies, according to an Air Force spokesman.

The teens were arrested Dec. 5, suspected of stringing a rope across a street near Yokota Air Base in August and causing a Japanese motorcyclist to crash. The teens, children of airmen with the 374th Airlift Wing, are being held in Japanese custody but have not been charged with any crime.

On Saturday, the parents of the teens and the teens’ defense attorneys visited for two hours with the father and brother of the victim, according to Maj. Christopher Watt. The meeting and apology is a common custom in Japanese society, even when prosecutors have not charged anyone in the case.

The victim, a 23-year-old woman, suffered a skull fracture and lay in a coma for weeks. More recently, she has been able to return to work part-time, Watt said last week. On Monday, Watt said it is common for the victim to send representatives to such meetings. Two military lawyers, members of the wing’s legal office, also sat in on the meeting, he said.

The teens — an 18-year-old, a 17-year-old and two 15-year-olds — could remain confined for several more weeks while a local prosecutor and then a Japanese family court judge decide how or whether to proceed in the case.

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