Ex-U.S. Marine gets life in prison for rape, murder of woman in Japan

A former U.S. military contractor was sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of a Japanese woman in Okinawa.

Former U.S. Marine Kenneth Franklin Shinzato is escorted by police officers from Uruma Police Station in Okinawa in 2016. Photo by Hitoshi Maeshiro/EPA
Former U.S. Marine Kenneth Franklin Shinzato is escorted by police officers from Uruma Police Station in Okinawa in 2016. Photo by Hitoshi Maeshiro/EPA

A Japanese panel of judges and jurors sentenced Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, a former U.S. Marine, for raping and killing Rina Shimabukuro, 20, and abandoning her body in a forest.

According to the indictment, Shinzato attacked Shimabukuro on a road in Uruma at around 10 p.m. on April 28, 2016. Her body was found three weeks later.

Shinzato pleaded guilty to rape resulting in death and abandoning the body but did not plead guilty to murder. He was later convicted of all three crimes.

A panel in Naha District Court handed down the sentence to Shinzato, with Judge Toshihiro Shibata saying there was no room for leniency.

“The life of the victim — who had just celebrated her adulthood — was suddenly taken and her body was abandoned in the bushes,” Shibata said.

“There is no reason to find a lighter sentence than life imprisonment.”

Although Shinzato said he “did not intend to cause such a result,” prosecutors said the victim was stabbed in the neck with a knife three or four times and was later struck her a bar on the back of her head between five and 10 times.

“Had the defendant had the respect and caring thoughts for another person’s life, he could have stopped assaulting her … the defendant attempted to rape a total stranger and then murdered her,” Shibata said.

Shinzato was a civilian working for an Internet company at the Kadena Air Base at the time of the attack after serving as a Marine from 2007 to 2014.

Okinawa is the island home to nearly half of the 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan,

By Sara Shayanian