Published: Sun, December 03, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

Ex-US Marine gets life sentence for rape, murder in Okinawa

Ex-US Marine gets life sentence for rape, murder in Okinawa

A court sentenced a former US base worker to life in prison on Friday for the April 2016 rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman in Okinawa. The 20-year-old woman was found in the forest in May, three weeks after she disappeared while taking a walk.

Shinzato in November denied intending to kill the woman, identified as Rina Shimabukuro, but confessed that he had assaulted her.

Judge Toshihiro Shibata upheld prosecutors' demand for life imprisonment, saying there was no room for leniency, Kyodo News reported.

Shinzato was a civilian working for an Internet company at the Kadena Air Base at the time of the attack after serving as a Marine from 2007 to 2014.

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He admitted to charges of rape resulting in death and abandoning her body, but denied he had meant to murder her.

U.S, military newspaper Stars and Stripes named the killer as Kenneth Franklin Gadson and said he went by his Japanese wife's surname of Shinzato.

The incident prompted deep outrage among locals and renewed calls for USA bases to be removed entirely.

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

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The southern Japanese island of Okinawa hosts about 25,000 United States troops.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government wants Japan to play a greater military role internationally and in Japan-U.S. security alliance amid escalating missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.

Last month, the U.S. military imposed an alcohol ban on all its troops in Japan after an Okinawan man was killed when his vehicle was struck by a truck being driven by a U.S. Marine in Naha, the prefecture's capital. James-McLean's blood alcohol content was over the legal limit.

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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