YOKOHAMA, Japan — The fiance of Yoshie Sato — a Yokosuka woman who was beaten to death by a U.S. sailor last year — said Wednesday he hopes his lawsuit will alter the profile of U.S. forces in Japan.

Masanori Yamazaki and Sato’s two sons are seeking 200 million yen ($1.6 million) in compensation from Japan and William Oliver Reese, the USS Kitty Hawk sailor convicted of killing the 56-year-old woman.

Yamazaki spoke to peace activists, women’s rights groups and supporters following the third hearing of the lawsuit at Yokohama District Court on Wednesday, saying what he hopes the lawsuit will help accomplish.

“By seeking responsibility of the Japanese government and the U.S. Forces, I hope it will help solve base and U.S.-Japan security treaty issues,” said Yamazaki.

He also said he hopes his lawsuit can help prevent a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier from being based at Yokosuka Naval Base. The USS George Washington is to replace the USS Kitty Hawk at Yokosuka in 2008.

During the rally at a building next to the courthouse, other speakers applauded Yamazaki efforts and urged others to fight against the Japanese government’s move toward revising its war-renouncing constitution.

During the court hearing on the lawsuit, Japanese government officials submitted a written response to the plaintiffs’ claim that the U.S. Navy could have prevented Sato’s killing.

“The incident was committed by Reese” in a situation that was “irrelevant to his duties and is not normally subject to the supervision of his supervisor,” the response said.

It also stated that evidence to support the plaintiffs’ claims are consistently “abstract” and do not make sense.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed that the Japanese government also had responsibility in preventing the incident, saying it failed to instruct the local police to patrol the area after a rash of alcohol-related incidents by servicemembers. That claim will be addressed at the next hearing, slated for June 27 at 11 a.m.

The U.S. Navy isn’t involved in the case directly, but had observers at Wednesday’s session.

Stars and Stripes reporter Allison Batdorff contributed to this report.

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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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