Japan court sentences U.S. base worker to life for rape, murder: NHK

Violet Powell
December 3, 2017

A Japanese court on Friday convicted a USA military contractor of murder and rape charges in the death of an Okinawa woman and sentenced him to life in prison.

The case sparked anger on the island, where locals have long protested the presence of USA military bases that they say imposes a heavy burden on Okinawa.

According to the broadcaster, former US Marine Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, was charged with assaulting a 20-year-old Japanese woman with the intent of raping then killing her.

According to the indictment, Shinzato clubbed the woman in the back of her head while she was walking in Uruma on the night of April 28, 2016. He pleaded guilty to rape resulting in death and abandoning of the body, but denied murder.

Shinzato was a former US Marine who worked as a civilian contractor at the Kadena air base in Okinawa. She was discovered in a forest, three weeks after disappearing while taking a walk.

Judge Toshihiro Shibata upheld prosecutors' demands for life imprisonment and said there was no room for leniency, the Kyodo News service reported.

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Rodriguez and the teen had been around each other "at sports events, but they've never been alone at all", Smith said. Scarlet Frisina, the teen's mother told CBS News on Friday, "I know that she to some degree left on her own".

"There should be no more incidents or accidents by the USA military".

A spate of crimes committed by USA servicemen against local citizens has worsened the tension.

The case also sparked outrage among government officials, who raised the case during a visit by then-President Barack Obama a year ago for a Group of 7 summit meeting.

Half of about 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan are on Okinawa. James-McLean's blood alcohol content was over the legal limit.

The US military base in the Okinawa Prefecture, which is located on a tiny island in the south of the Japanese archipelago, hosts the vast majority of US troops stationed in the country.

There has been a strong USA military presence in Japan since World War II, BBC said, and their presence has been met with increasing resentment from community members.

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