updated 4/3/2008 6:19:59 AM ET 2008-04-03T10:19:59

Japanese police arrested a U.S. sailor Thursday in the stabbing death of a taxi driver near an American naval base outside Tokyo last month, officials said.

A 22-year-old crew member of the Yokosuka-based ship USS Cowpens was arrested on a murder charge after Japan and the U.S. agreed on his handover under a bilateral security pact, a local police official said on condition of anonymity, saying he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The seaman is suspected in the stabbing death of 61-year-old taxi driver Masaaki Takahashi last month in Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo and the site of a U.S. naval base.

The suspect, whose name has not been released by the military, had been in U.S. custody since Navy authorities apprehended him on a desertion charge last month. Kyodo News agency and public broadcaster NHK said police identified him as a Nigerian national serving in the U.S. Navy.

He was handed over to Japanese authorities just before the arrest, Japanese Foreign Ministry official Takashi Ariyoshi said.

Credit card link?
U.S. Navy and Japanese authorities have questioned the sailor about the killing because a credit card in his name was allegedly found in the victim's car.

Public concern is running high in Japan over America's 50,000 military based in the country, with troops facing a series of criminal allegations from rapes to alcohol-related incidents.

In an apparent move to quell the anger, the U.S. Navy imposed limits Wednesday on travel and alcohol consumption by personnel at the Yokosuka base.

The limits started immediately and were to last at least through Monday when they will be reviewed, said Cmdr. David Waterman, a Navy spokesman.

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