Published: Sat, December 02, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

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

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

Kenneth Shinzato (pictured in 2016) was convicted on Friday in Okinawa.

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A former USA military base employee was sentenced to life in prison on Friday for the rape and murder of a local woman on the southern island of Okinawa, according to local media.

Shinzato, a former Marine from 2007 to 2014, was on the base working as a civilian contractor when he allegedly raped and murdered Rina Shimabukuro and abandoned her body in a village.

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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.

Shinzato's defense team argued that his goal was to render the woman unconscious so that he could rape her, and there was the possibility that she died when she hit her head as she fell on the field.

Shinzato, who worked at Kadena Air Base at the time, admitted to raping the 20-year-old Okinawa woman, which led to her death, and to abandoning her body that was discovered three weeks later in a forest near Onna, USA Today said.

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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.

The killing, which drew the attention of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, overshadowed Barack Obama's trip to the country past year, during which he visited Hiroshima. In 1995, mass anti-U.S. protests erupted on the island after a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped by three US service members.

Alcohol was banned for all servicemembers in Japan after the November 19 death, though those restrictions were loosened Thursday to allow soldiers to drink in their homes.

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