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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
Japan jails US sailor for murder
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Tokyo

USS Kitty Hawk in Yokosuka. File photo
William Reese had been stationed on the USS Kitty Hawk
A court in Japan has sentenced a US Navy sailor to life in prison after he was convicted of robbing and killing a Japanese woman.

William Reese, 22, beat the 56-year-old woman to death near a US navy base in Yokosuka, near Tokyo, in January.

Relations between some 50,000 US troops based in Japan and the local communities are often strained.

Crimes related to the US forces in the past have caused large protests against the foreign military presence there.

However, tensions have cooled in recent years.

Redeployment plan

Reese had been in Japan two years stationed on the USS Kitty Hawk.

In January, he attacked Yoshie Sato near the railway station in Yokosuka city, south-west of Tokyo.

She was beaten so badly that she died later of a ruptured liver and kidney.

It is reported that the equivalent of about $130 (70) was missing from her purse.

Reese pleaded guilty but said he had not meant to kill the woman.

Prosecutors demanded though that he spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The local communities living around the US bases in the past have complained about crime, noise and environmental damage.

But the US bases also provide jobs for Japanese people and the service personnel spend much money here.

Japan and the US recently agreed a plan to redeploy some US forces in an attempt to relieve the pressure on the worst affected areas.

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