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NAHA, Okinawa — A Japanese prosecutor Monday recommended a two-year prison term for a 20-year-old soldier who admitted striking a Japanese woman in Okinawa City in January and running away with her purse.

Private 1st Class Jonathan Johnson, assigned to Headquarters Company of 1-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion on Kadena Air Base, pleaded guilty to charges of injury and theft in Naha District Court.

Prosecutor Daisuke Tabuchi said Johnson punched a 20-year-old woman in the face, knocking her to the ground, and ran off with her shoulder bag — worth more than $600 and containing $190 in cash — on Park Avenue near Kadena Air Base. The woman sustained minor bruises on her jaw.

Tabuchi said the soldier and the woman were in the same bar around 11:30 p.m. Jan. 14. When the woman, who was heavily intoxicated, left the bar about midnight, Johnson followed her and hit her when she stumbled against him, the prosecutor said.

When she fell, he dragged her into an alley and took the shoulder bag from her, he said.

He fled the scene but soon was spotted by police officers, who found some of the woman’s belongings in his pockets, Tabuchi said.

Johnson has been in Japanese custody since his arrest Jan. 15.

During Monday’s hearing, he told the court that he wanted the court and the victim to know how sorry he was.

“I feel terrible for what happened,” he testified. “It embarrassed myself, my family, the Army and U.S. Forces Japan.”

Asked why he committed the crime, he said that he did not know why or how it happened, but said that he would accept the responsibility for his actions.

Judge Hiroyuki Yoshii admonished Johnson for his actions.

“You are here not as a tourist, but as a member of U.S. military, (you are) representing your country,” he said.

Defense attorney Miyatomi Harushima asked for a suspended sentence, arguing that his client was heavily intoxicated on that evening.

The sentencing is scheduled for April 23.


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