YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — An open letter asking the Japanese people not to look at the U.S. Navy “through the lens” of the recent death of a Yokosuka woman has been issued by Vice Adm. Jonathan Greenert, commander U.S. Seventh Fleet and Rear Adm. James Kelly, commander, Naval Forces Japan (CNFJ).

The letter was posted on the CNFJ Web site and distributed to 10 major U.S. and Japanese media outlets Wednesday.

It comes in the wake of the Jan. 3 beating death of Yoshie Sato. The 56-year-old Yokosuka woman was found badly beaten near Yokosuka Chuo train station with 15,000 yen (about $130) missing from her wallet. She died from her injuries at a local hospital later that day. USS Kitty Hawk airman William Oliver Reese, 21, is in Japanese custody in connection with the crime.

“Given that the suspect is a member of the U.S. Navy, it is understandable to us that this tragedy may, to some degree, shake your confidence in the U.S. Navy,” reads the letter.

“… Therefore we will work relentlessly to ensure that your confidence is restored.”

The letter also pledges to reinvigorate the Navy’s cultural indoctrination programs and personal behavior instruction and asks the Japanese people for understanding.

“It is our hope that the fine citizens of Japan and Yokosuka understand that the men and women of the U.S. Navy here in Japan are good and caring people,” the letter says. “Each and every one of them are committed to our countries and willing to place themselves in harm’s way in support of the Japanese-American alliance.”

CNFJ has received about a dozen letters protesting the homicide from governmental organizations, civic groups and private people, a CNFJ official said.

To read the letter: letter.pdf.

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