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Former US Marine sentenced to life in prison for murder and rape of Japanese woman

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato (YouTube)
December 04, 2017

On Friday, a Japanese court sentenced a former U.S. Marine to life in prison after convicting him of the rape and murder of an Okinawa woman, Kyodo News service reported.

Former Marine Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, confessed to raping and abandoning the body of Rina Shimabukuro in Uruma, Japan, Kyodo News service reported.

The New York Times (Twitter)

Shinzato, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2007 to 2014 and was working as a military contractor at Kadena Air Force Base during the time of the incident, was accused of hitting Shimabukuro in the head with a club with the intent of raping her. He stabbed her to death with a knife during the incident in April 2016. Shinzato denied intent of murder.

Kyodo News service reported that Judge Toshihiro Shibata upheld prosecutors’ demands for life in prison, saying that there was no room for leniency.

The incident caused widespread anger among Okinawa residents who have previously complained about the United States military presence there and its correlation to crime in Japan. Roughly 47,000 troops are stationed in Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe protested during then-President Barack Obama’s trip to Japan last May after Shimabukuro was murdered.

The residents have protested the relocation of a Marine Corps air station from a populated part of the island to a less populated part of the island, after a military aircraft accident near the base and the rape of a young girl by three American service members in 1995.