he Yamaguchi Family Court Iwakuni Branch in Iwakuni, Japan, is pictured Feb. 14, 2024. 

he Yamaguchi Family Court Iwakuni Branch in Iwakuni, Japan, is pictured Feb. 14, 2024.  (Jonathan Snyder/Stars and Stripes)

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, JAPAN — Japanese prosecutors have made their decisions in two unrelated criminal cases involving Marines from this base south of Hiroshima.

The case of a Marine accused of trespassing and bodily injury was sent to Iwakuni city family court, which will decide how to proceed. The court may order a trial, place the Marine on probation or drop the case.

Meanwhile, the case was dropped for another Marine suspected of theft.

Both cases were referred to the Yamaguchi Public Prosecutors Office earlier this month, an Iwakuni police spokesman said by phone Feb. 6.

Prosecutors, not police, decide charges under the Japanese justice system. It’s customary in Japan for some government officials to speak to media on condition of anonymity.

Family court will handle the trespassing and bodily injury case because the Marine is 19 years old or younger and considered a minor in Japan, a spokesman for the prosecutors’ office said by phone Tuesday.

A family court spokesman confirmed by phone that day that it has received the case but said no decision has been made.

Both spokesmen declined to identify the Marines in both cases.

A 67-year-old man scuffled with a U.S. service member following a break-in at a store in Iwakuni on Nov. 18, according to a Yamaguchi Broadcasting report.

The victim “sustained serious injuries, such as bruises to his body and a cut on his head,” the report said. The service member was taken away by other Americans.

In the theft case, a Marine was accused of stealing items, including a bag, from a parked vehicle in Iwakuni on Nov. 2, according to local TV station YAB.

The prosecutors’ spokesman would not say why the case was dropped or provide further details.

A spokesman for 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Maj. Roberto Martins, said it is customary for the service to withhold comment on decisions made by local authorities.

“We respect their process and decision while being appreciative of the collaborative relationship we share,” he said in an email Tuesday.

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Jonathan Snyder is a reporter at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Most of his career was spent as an aerial combat photojournalist with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He is also a Syracuse Military Photojournalism Program and Eddie Adams Workshop alumnus.
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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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