U.S. turns sailor over to Japan
American arrested on charges over killing of woman
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TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- The United States on Saturday handed over a U.S. Navy sailor suspected of killing a Japanese woman to local Japanese authorities, a Navy spokesman said.
The 21-year-old sailor, who holds the rank of airman, was confined earlier this week for his alleged involvement in the January 3 death of Yoshie Sato, 56.
Sato was found dead outside a building near the Yokosuka base, according to Yokosuka police. She had bled heavily from her head and face and died from excessive internal bleeding from a punctured liver. Her empty purse was found nearby.
Japanese news media reported a surveillance camera video captured Sato talking with a young man who resembled a member of the U.S. military before her slaying.
"I offer my most sincere apology to the family and friends of Ms. Sato, and I wish them strength and comfort during this very difficult time," said Rear Adm. James Kelly, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan, in a statement issued earlier this week by the U.S. Navy.
"I also offer my deepest apology to the citizens of Japan, especially those in our Yokosuka community. I reiterate my deep regret and sadness over this tragic incident, and my promise of complete support and cooperation with all Japanese authorities remains firmly in place."
About 47,000 troops from all U.S. military branches are in Japan, with most of those stationed on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
Local residents have held widespread protests periodically during the past decade in response to U.S. military personnel committing crimes there.
Protests boiled over in 1995 after three American servicemen were found guilty of raping an Okinawan schoolgirl.
In addition, the treatment of U.S. military personnel suspected of crimes has been under a spotlight since December, when Japanese police released a female sailor who was arrested for allegedly striking three children with a vehicle while on duty.
Under the U.S.-Japan military status agreement, the U.S. government has custody over service members suspected of crimes while on duty.
Yielding to the demands of residents, the Pentagon in October committed to cut the number of U.S. Marines in the country by nearly half.
CNN Producer Yoko Wakatsuki and Journalist Steve Herman contributed to this report.
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