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

03 December 2017
Former US Marine convicted of killing, raping 20-year-old Japanese woman

Former U.S. Marine Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, was sentenced to life in prison Friday by a Japanese court for raping and murdering a 20-year-old woman in April 2016, The New York Times reports.

The remains of the woman, who was taking a walk at the time, were found on May 19 that year in a wooded area in the village of Onna, north of Uruma.

In recent weeks those who want the USA base to leave Okinawa have been inflamed again by the death of a truck driver killed when an American Marine crashed into him.

The case sparked outrage on the southern Japanese island where residents have long complained about heavy USA military presence and crimes linked to them.

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

Last year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe protested to then-President Barack Obama after Shimabukuro's murder.

Last month, USA marine Nicholas James-McLean, 21, was arrested after his truck collided with a vehicle driven by 61-year-old Hidemasa Taira.

These crimes, as well as safety concerns after a series of aircraft emergency landings and crashes, have intensified opposition to United States military presence on Okinawa, which hosts nearly 75 per cent of the land allotted for USA bases in Japan and where about 26,000 U.S. personnel are stationed. James-McLean's blood alcohol content was over the legal limit. Opponents want the air station completely removed from the island.

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.

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.