YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Yokosuka sailor sought for information about a slain taxi driver was found by U.S. Navy authorities Saturday and taken into U.S. custody.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents picked up the sailor around 3:40 a.m. in the Tokyo area of Gotanda and he is currently being held at Yokosuka Naval Base, said Commander U.S. Forces Japan spokesman Cmdr. David Waterman.

The Navy would not identify the sailor but sources have said he is a seaman apprentice off the Yokosuka-based guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens.

Currently, the only charge against the sailor is desertion. Waterman said the sailor had been missing for some time and his command officially declared him a deserter March 10 after he missed the ship’s movement.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Police believe the sailor has some information on the stabbing since a credit card in his name was found in the taxi, a police spokesman said Saturday. However, he said the sailor was not a suspect and that he did not know if police would question the sailor, only that they planned to coordinate with the Navy on the investigation.

As of Saturday afternoon, there had been no request from Japanese authorities to interview the sailor, but the Navy will cooperate if asked, Waterman said.

“No matter what, there will be full cooperation between Japanese and the Navy on this,” Waterman said.

Masaaki Takahashi was found in his Tokyo-based taxi near Yokosuka’s Shioiri area Wednesday evening with the motor running, his seatbelt on and a kitchen knife stabbed into his neck, according to police reports.

An autopsy later determined Takahashi, 61, died at about 9:30 p.m. due to bleeding caused by the blade cutting his thoracic aorta.

Police said his fare reader showed about 17,000 yen, about $170. Japanese media outlets estimated it would cost that much to ride the taxi from Tokyo’s hub of Shinagawa. Several tens of thousands in yen were also found in Takahashi’s pocket, the police spokesman said.

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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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