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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A Sasebo-based sailor — possibly breaking a curfew for U.S. servicemembers in Japan — was found dead Sunday morning at a train station, according to Japanese police.

A worker found Petty Officer 2nd Class Samuel Lewis Stiles, 25, lying face down on a platform at Japan Railways’ Haiki station in Sasebo city about 5 a.m., a Haiki police spokesman said Monday, adding that cause of death was under investigation. Japanese media reported he fell and hit his head after climbing atop a train, where he was electrocuted by an overhead power line.

Five or six empty cans of a Japanese cocktail were found nearby, but police have to conduct a blood test to determine if he had been drinking, the spokesman said. Stiles lived off base and did not have identification on him, so police queried various places, including Sasebo Naval Base.

Officials from Commander Naval Forces Japan would not confirm Stiles’ name until his family had been notified but said a sailor on shore duty at Sasebo had died. They declined to comment if he was breaking curfew.

“There will be an investigation obviously,” Commander Naval Forces Japan spokesman Jon Nylander said.

Police said that when Stiles was found, his forehead had been bleeding and part of his windbreaker was burnt. There were no signs of violence.

Workers last checked the train station before it closed Saturday night and Stiles was not there at the time, the police spokesman said. Police could not comment on the time of the check, but Japanese media reported it occurred around 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

The 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for all U.S. servicemembers in Japan was imposed Oct. 19 in response to the alleged assault and rape of an Okinawan woman by two U.S. Navy sailors.

burkem@pstripes.osd.milkusumotoh@pstripes.od.mil

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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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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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