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

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A US military contractor was found guilty of raping and murdering a Japanese woman on Okinawa and sentenced to life imprisonment Friday. The island's U.S. bases have been repeatedly criticized by local residents for driving up crime, including the rape of local women, for aircraft and vehicle crashes in and around the bases, and for the environmental degradation caused by the USA presence.

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a 33-year-old former US Marine employed at the US Air Force's sprawling Kadena Air Base, was arrested last year for disposing of the body of the victim and was later charged for murder and sexual assault leading to death.

Shinzato was accused of hitting the woman in the head with a club, intending to rape her and stabbing her to death in the neck with a knife.

Judge Toshihiro Shibata upheld prosecutors' demand for life imprisonment, saying there was no room for leniency, Kyodo News reported. The 20-year-old woman was found in the forest in May, three weeks after she disappeared while taking a walk.

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. He pleaded guilty to rape resulting in death and abandoning of the body, but denied murder.

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"There should be no more incidents or accidents by the U.S. military".

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

The southern Japanese island of Okinawa hosts about 25,000 USA troops. James-McLean's blood alcohol content was over the legal limit.

Friday's sentence capped the end of a public trial that enraged many on the island of Okinawa, where some 47,000 US troops are stationed. Opponents want the air station completely removed from the island. The U.S. military responded by imposing a drinking ban for personnel in Japan on or off base.

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