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Ex-U.S. Marine is prime suspect in murder of Okinawa woman

TOKYO >> Japanese police say a U.S. military contractor, in custody for allegedly abandoning the body of a young woman on Okinawa, is now the prime suspect in the murder and rape of the 20-year-old.

The case has sparked outrage on the island in southern Japan, where residents have long complained about a heavy U.S. military presence and crime linked to them. The weekend arrest of a U.S. sailor for allegedly drunken driving has added to the anger.

Police said Thursday that Kenneth Shinzato, also a former Marine, is now formally a prime suspect in the murder and rape of the woman, whose body was found last month, three weeks after she disappeared.

Police arrested Shinzato in mid-May, and he is expected to be formally charged later Thursday with abandonment.

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  • Let’s set the record straight. The alleged killer IS NOT a member of the US military community on Okinawa as the media tries to portray him. He is a former Marine who was discharged and living as a legal resident of Japan with his Okinawan wife, whose maiden name is Shinzato. He is not a US military contractor. He was hired by a civilian contractor that provides services on US military installations. Such contractors routinely hire former US military personnel as well as Japanese nationals. He is no more a member of the US military community as are the Japanese nationals working for the same contractor. Since the alleged killer was not a member of the US military community, he is not subject to the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement and is instead subject 100% to Japanese laws as are all legal residents of Japan. Unfortunately, the Japanese anti-US base mob on Okinawa is trying to portray him as a member of the US military community and also unfortunate is the fact that the media, US military commanders in Japan and even President Obama are playing along with the charade.

    • Unless I’m mistaken, the guy is still a US citizen, married to an Okinawan and using her surname of Shinzato. Why, I don’t know. That is why this is causing such an uproar. The fact that he is also an ex Marine and of African American descent is adding more fuel. What are you suggesting, that he be tried as a Japanese National?

      • Yes, he should be and will be tried like a Japanese national. He is a US citizen, but since he is not a member of the US military community, he is not subject to the protections provided members of the US military community by the Status of Forces Agreement. It is akin to foreigners with Green Cards living in the US. When they break our laws, they are tried in US courts just like Americans citizens.

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