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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Prosecutors will consider bodily injury charges against a 28-year-old Yokosuka sailor and assault charges against a Japanese man who fought with him, Japanese police said Thursday.

The sailor, whose name was not released, faces the more serious charges after allegedly striking Kenta Kawazoe, 32, with his car at the Daikoku parking area along the Bay Shore route of Shuto highway Oct. 3.

The Tsurumi police department referred the charges to prosecutors Tuesday.

Kawazoe suffered a spinal injury and was hospitalized, a police spokesman said. The sailor’s car also allegedly struck a woman who was not seriously injured, the spokesman said.

The Daikoku parking area is well known among car enthusiasts and police say the two had met before.

They said they believe Kawazoe assaulted the sailor while trying to drag him out of his car after an argument over money for car tires.

Kawazoe then stood in front of the car to keep him from leaving, but the sailor tried to drive away.

The sailor remains in Navy custody, military officials said Thursday.

"Early on in the investigation, Japanese authorities made the decision not to request custody of the sailor, as it quickly became apparent that the case was not one of attempted murder, but of mutual assault," said Lt. Jonathan Flynn, Yokosuka legal services officer, in a statement Thursday.

If charged with bodily injury, the sailor faces up to 15 years in prison and up to a 500,000 yen ($5,600) fine. The assault charge carries a sentence of up to two years in prison and a fine of 300,000 ($3,360) yen.

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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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