Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato: Okinawa-Based Retired Marine's Arrest Triggers Anger in Japan

Protesters hold placards in front of the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Japan on May 20 Protesters hold placards in front of the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Japan on May 20
Melinda Barton | 24 May, 2016, 05:23

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday expressed "outrage" after the arrest of a US military base employee linked to the death of a woman on Okinawa, a week before a high-profile visit to Japan by US President Barack Obama.

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 32, was taken into custody Thursday after investigators found the body of Rina Shimabukuro, an office worker from Uruma, face up in a wooded area provided by the suspect, Japanese police said. "I want the Japanese government to realize that the presence of the bases has trampled on women's rights and caused this incident to occur", she said.

The island is home to more than half the 50,000 U.S. troops remaining in Japan since the war.

The southern island of Okinawa was the site of a brutal World War II battle but is now considered a strategic linchpin by hosting numerous USA military bases that support the two countries' decades-long security alliance.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Carter reassured the Japanese the USA military is cooperating fully with the local police investigation and wants to see the suspect held fully responsible for the crime under Japanese law. They also suspect he killed her but have not charged him with this.

Obama, who is due to attend a Group of Seven summit next week, will become the first USA president to visit the city of Hiroshima, destroyed by a United States atomic bomb 71 years ago.

The former Marine was subsequently questioned by the police, of his own volition, as he was potentially in the same area as Shimabukuro according to Global Positioning System data triangulated from her phone and based on traffic records.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reportedly summoned Caroline Kennedy, US ambassador to Japan, to lodge a protest about Shimabukuro's death.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida summoned U.S. ambassador Caroline Kennedy to the foreign ministry in Tokyo shortly after Okinawa police arrested the 32-year-old former United States marine. When she failed to return, he reported her missing the following day.

Nakatani on Saturday traveled to Okinawa to lodge a formal protest with the U.S. base commander.

The case is likely to fuel further opposition to the controversial relocation of the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, a repeatedly delayed project which the government has pushed for since the 1990s, despite local protests.

Three U.S. servicemen were convicted in 1995 of kidnapping and raping a 12-year-old girl on her way home from school.

However, local media quoted sources close to the investigation saying he had admitted strangling and stabbing the victim. Defense Minister Gen Nakatani also made a protest to Lt. Gen. John Dolan, the commander of the US forces in Japan, on the same day. "We're treating this situation with the utmost seriousness", Kirby said at a daily news briefing.