YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Japanese police charged a 21-year-old airman Tuesday with attempted murder.

Airman 1st Class Adam Harshbarger is accused of stabbing a Fussa city man around 8 a.m. July 21 at a Fussa apartment, Fussa police said Tuesday.

Harshbarger, a member of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, admitted to stabbing the man but denies attempting to murder him, police said, noting the case is still under investigation.

The victim, a 34-year-old Thai national, was stabbed twice in the chest and back, police said.

Charges were filed three months after the incident, police said, in part because investigators did not immediately identify Harshbarger as a suspect, and because he is a U.S. servicemember.

Under the current U.S.-Japan status of forces agreement, U.S. servicemembers charged with a crime need not be handed over to Japanese custody until they’re indicted. But suspects charged with “heinous” crimes such as murder and rape can be turned over early.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police sent the case to Tokyo District Court on Monday. The court will determine whether to issue a formal indictment against Harshbarger.

In a statement released Tuesday, a base spokesperson said, “The charges against Airman Harshbarger are very serious, and Yokota law-enforcement officials continue to work with the Japanese National Police in their investigation.

“At the same time, we are working to ensure that Airman Harshbarger is afforded all of the rights he is entitled to under the status of forces agreement between the U.S. and Japan.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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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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