Former Marine gets life in prison for rape

Former Marine gets life in prison for rape

A U.S. army base worker has been jailed for life for rape and murder in Okinawa, in a case that sparked anti-US protests in Japan.

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.

Shinzato admitted to the charges of rape resulting in death and abandoning the victim's body, but he denied intent to murder.

District Judge Toshihiro Shibata, in finding Shinzato guilty of murder, said yesterday: "The immeasurable viciousness of the accused led to the senseless killing of a young woman, who only just came of age".

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

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 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. The plan developed after a military aircraft accident near the current base and the 1995 rape of a girl by three American servicemen enraged Okinawans, but has since made little progress due to protests. In 1995, mass anti-U.S. protests erupted on the island after a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped by three US service members. Opponents want the air station completely removed from the island.

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

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

The case also sparked outrage among government officials, who raised the case during a visit by then-President Barack Obama a year ago for a Group of 7 summit meeting.