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The 19-year-old USS Gary sailor accused of stabbing a Japanese woman and teenager earlier this month remains in Japanese custody, and his case was transferred to family court on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Yokosuka confirmed that the case was sent to Yokohama Family Court in Yokosuka, the normal procedure in the Japanese judicial system when a case involves a minor. Individuals under age 20 are considered minors in Japan.

Family court can decide to send the case back to the prosecutor’s office, dismiss the case, or send the sailor to juvenile training school, the prosecutor’s office spokesman said.

The court has two weeks to make a decision, though Japanese law allows it to extend that deadline by up to six more weeks, according to a family court spokesman.

The sailor will stay in the family court’s juvenile classification center until a decision is made, the spokesman said.

The sailor is accused of stabbing a 16-year-old girl in the stomach and a 26-year-old woman in the back after arguing at an apartment near Mabori Kaigan train station the morning of July 5, according to Uraga police.

The assailant fled and was later found by police near Yokosuka Chuo station. The sailor was arrested at 5:22 p.m. that day after admitting to the stabbings, the police said.

Both the teenager and the woman are expected to recover from their injuries.

“We have great faith in Japanese jurisprudence and support it,” Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan spokesman Jon Nylander said of Wednesday’s transfer. “We expect sailors to behave. And when they don’t, they will be held fully responsible.”

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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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