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Liquid cannabis is a concentrated extract made by soaking marijuana plants in a solvent like alcohol.

Liquid cannabis is a concentrated extract made by soaking marijuana plants in a solvent like alcohol. (Pexels)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Japanese court sentenced an American base worker on Okinawa to a 1 ½ year suspended prison sentence Friday after he pleaded guilty to importing liquid cannabis by mail.

Joseph Castro, 34, of Ginowan, was charged with violating the country’s Cannabis Control Act and Customs Law. The charge was based on a package intercepted Nov. 9 by Japanese customs officials at the Kawasaki Higashi post office in Kanagawa prefecture, a spokeswoman from Naha District Public Prosecutors Office told Stars and Stripes by phone Monday.

The package contained 1.26 grams, or about the weight of a jelly bean, of liquid cannabis, the spokeswoman said. The Naha District Public Prosecutors Office spokeswoman confirmed Castro is an employee of a U.S. base on Okinawa but declined to say which one.

Castro pleaded guilty Friday in Naha District Court, according to a report Sunday in the Okinawa Times newspaper.

Castro conspired with an unidentified individual to ship the cannabis on Nov. 2 through Los Angeles International Airport and then Narita International Airport near Tokyo, the spokeswoman said. Liquid cannabis is a concentrated extract made by soaking marijuana plants in a solvent like alcohol.

Police in Urasoe city forwarded the case against Castro to prosecutors without arresting him, the spokeswoman said. A Urasoe police spokesman declined comment on the case.

No further information on Castro was available from the Naha prosecutor’s office and Marine Corps Installations Pacific did not return an email seeking further information Monday.

Judge Tetsuro Sato suspended Castro’s sentence for three years, meaning Castro will likely not serve jail time unless convicted again in Japan, a spokeswoman from Naha District Court told Stars and Stripes by phone Monday.

Some government officials in Japan speak to the media on condition of anonymity as a requirement of their employment.

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Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.
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Keishi Koja is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in August 2022. He studied International Communication at the University of Okinawa and previously worked in education.

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