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

by Frankie Norman May 22, 2016, 14:31
Kenneth Franklin Shinzato: Okinawa-Based Retired Marine's Arrest Triggers Anger in Japan

Anti-US sentiment was stoked earlier this year after a US sailor was arrested on suspicion of raping a woman at a hotel in Naha in the south of Okinawa.

The incident, which has garnered mass media attention in Japan, occurred Thursday when police said the suspect, Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 32, abducted the woman near her apartment.

They also suspect he killed her, but have not charged him with this.

The Japanese defense chief also met with Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, the top commander of USA military forces in Okinawa, and demanded that the US military in Okinawa enhance discipline and take measures to prevent similar incidents.

Coupled with the heavy USA military presence, crimes committed by US service members and nonmilitary personnel in Okinawa have become a constant source of grievances among local people. The island's residents have been very sensitive to such incidents, particularly after the infamous gang rape of a 12-year-old child in 1995.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the USA military was cooperating fully with local authorities in their investigation.

In Washington, Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook said the man arrested was a US military contractor.

"I expressed a strong regret to Ambassador Kennedy and lodged a stern protest".

The case is the latest in a series of lurid crimes that have generated ill will among many Okinawans towards US forces.

Japan's Jiji Press reported that about 250 people protested outside the Kadena Air Base gates on Friday, chanting "Get out of Okinawa" and other slogans.

Japan's ambassador to the United States, Kenichiro Sasae, said he hoped the latest incidents would not affect the mood towards Obama's visit to Hiroshima, as the Japan-U.S. alliance had made "tremendous progress" under the current U.S. president.

The agreement stipulates that Japan can not prosecute people affiliated with the United States for crimes committed during the course of their work.

The continued presence of USA forces in Okinawa is already hugely controversial, with the governor, Takeshi Onaga, leading the charge to stop the construction of a new Marine air station on the island and force the current one to close down. "This is an awful tragedy and it's obviously an outrage", he told reporters in Washington.

Dawson said that the reason why the United States soldiers based in Okinawa are so ruthless is because, "they are 18 and 19-year-old military personnel who are getting sent to these cultures that they do not understand and there is a lot of drinking involved and they have access to a lot of weapons".



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