By Emmett Berg
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A San Francisco-based Japanese diplomat has been charged with spousal abuse over accusations he subjected his 27-year-old wife to constant domestic violence, including stabbing her with a screwdriver and pushing her from a moving car, authorities said.
Yoshiaki Nagaya, a 32-year-old vice consul for the Consulate-General of Japan in San Francisco, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was not eligible for diplomatic immunity because of the severity of the allegations against him.
He was charged in San Mateo Superior Court with 13 counts of felony battery with intent to cause bodily injury and three counts of assault - one over accusations he stabbed his wife in the hand with a screwdriver.
He is also accused of hitting his Japanese wife of 18 months with a ceramic coffee mug, knocking out one of her teeth, stomping on her and shoving her from a moving car in a parking garage, a statement from the sheriff's investigators said.
That last instance, which left Nagaya's wife with cuts on her face and elbows, occurred on March 30 and led her to go to the police, according to investigators. She had photographed her injuries.
Nagaya, who was arrested in early May, for now fully retains his position as vice consul at the Japanese consulate, Deputy Consul General Michio Harada said.
"We are closely looking at developments at the judicial level," Harada told Reuters. "Yesterday he was charged and we begin the process toward a trial. Being charged is not a final judgment."
Harada said Nagaya was not eligible for diplomatic immunity under an agreement between Japan and the United States that stipulates immunity could not be invoked for crimes with punishments of over a year in jail.
Nagaya, who lives in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno, faces a maximum sentence of about 15 years in prison if convicted on all charges, said Tricia Povah, a deputy district attorney for San Mateo County.
Judge Leland Davis issued an order blocking Nagaya from directly seeing or contacting his wife, who remains in the United States, and set a preliminary hearing in the matter for June 14.
Nagaya was free after posting a $25,000 bail bond. Neither he nor his attorney Gerrick Lew were immediately available for comment.
(Editing By Cynthia Johnston and Todd Eastham)