May 27, 2018

Ex-US base worker gets life in jail

03 December 2017, 01:01 | Rufus Hill

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

Former US base worker gets life in prison for murder of Okinawa woman

A USA army base worker has been jailed for life for rape and murder in Okinawa, in a case that sparked anti-US protests in Japan. The 20-year-old woman was found in the forest in May, three weeks after she disappeared while taking a walk.

Shinzato pleaded guilty to rape resulting in death and abandoning the body but did not plead guilty to murder.

Okinawa is home to the largest Marine base outside the U.S. Shinzato worked at Kadena Base, where more than 20,000 U.S. service members and their families, as well as Japanese civilians live and work.

Presiding Judge Toshihiro Shibata read out the guilty verdict and the sentence handed to Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, in the lay judge trial at the Naha District Court. The island's United States bases have been repeatedly criticized by local residents for driving up crime, including the rape of local women, for aircraft and vehicle crashes in and around the bases, and for the environmental degradation caused by the USA presence.

Crimes committed by American service members around the base at Okinawa have always been a source of tension between the two nations.

Last year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe protested to then-President Barack Obama after Shimabukuro's murder. James-McLean's blood alcohol content was over the legal limit.

Shinzato, born Kenneth Gadson but often referred to by his wife's name, was a U.S. Marine stationed in Japan before becoming a civilian contractor for the massive American military base there. Opponents want the air station completely removed from the island. In 1995, mass anti-U.S. protests erupted on the island after a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped by three US service members.

There has been a strong US 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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