Former US Marine convicted of killing, raping 20-year-old Japanese woman

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Former US Marine convicted of killing, raping 20-year-old Japanese woman

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

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.

He took her to a grass field where he suffocated her and repeatedly stabbed her around the neck, according to prosecutors, who demanded a life sentence.

The case sparked public anger and further strengthened anti-base sentiment in Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of USA military facilities in Japan and must deal with any crimes committed by their servicemen or related personnel.

These crimes, as well as safety concerns after a series of aircraft emergency landings and crashes, have intensified opposition to USA military presence on Okinawa, which hosts nearly 75 per cent of the land allotted for United States bases in Japan and where about 26,000 U.S. personnel are stationed.

The Okinawa parliament adopted a resolution and a letter addressed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty with the demand to withdraw US Marine Corps from Okinawa in light of a deadly vehicle accident caused by a drunken US marine.

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

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

The Marine, Nicholas James McLean, was arrested for the crash and for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The proposal was developed after a military aircraft accident near the current base and the 1995 rape of a girl by three American servicemen, but has made little progress due to protests.

The U.S. military says the crime rate among its ranks in Japan is lower than among the general public.

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