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Two Americans, one the civilian husband of a Yokota Air Base servicemember, remained in Japanese custody Thursday, accused of taking part in a pair of May robberies in the Yokohama area, a Kanagawa Prefectural Police spokesman said.

The two were arrested Tuesday. Additionally, an airman first class assigned to Camp Zama was picked up, questioned and then released by Japanese National Police, according to a U.S. Forces Japan news release issued Wednesday.

USFJ officials did not name the individuals. The Kanagawa police spokesman Thursday identified the two in custody as Moses Richard Emmanuel, 21, a dependent living at Yokota, and Mewe-Pira Oritsejolomi Oretemi Alize, a 25-year-old American living in Fujisawa city with no ties to the U.S. military.

USFJ officials confirmed all three were questioned but said only two were taken into police custody. The suspects are accused of robbing several people in the Yokohama area on May 13, according to the release.

Emmanuel and Alize are accused of knocking down a 37-year-old woman at a building entrance in Yokohama City, then stealing her handbag, which contained 50,000 yen (about $457), the Kanagawa police spokesman said.

Later that day, they attempted to steal a 32-year-old woman’s handbag, the spokesman added. They’re accused of slamming her head into a glass door, causing head and facial bruises, when she resisted, the police official said.

The case was referred to the Yokohama Public Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday for formal charges, according to the spokesman.

The Japan National Police Agency, U.S. law-enforcement officials and local authorities apprehended the three suspects following a joint investigation. USFJ officials said they are sharing information with Japanese counterparts as the investigation proceeds.

In the release, Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, USFJ commander, stated that the incident is regrettable and does not represent the “overwhelming majority” of “world-class” U.S. servicemembers here.

“Working in support of our security alliance, we consider ourselves ambassadors to [Japan] … The USFJ leadership takes very seriously any allegation of misconduct by a military member,” he stated.

“We are committed to taking all appropriate steps to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of members of the U.S. military community in Japan who show by their words or deeds that they either will not or cannot adhere to the highest standards of personal conduct, behavior and responsibility.”

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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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