02:34 GMT +317 June 2019
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    People hold banners as they listen to a speaker during a rally against a new US military base in Okinawa, Japan's nouthernmost prefecture (file)

    Okinawans Rallying as US National Allegedly Linked to Murder Case

    © AFP 2019 / Toru YAMANAKA
    Asia & Pacific
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    A rally is taking place outside of a US military base in Japan’s Okinawa after a US national was arrested in connection to a murder of a Japanese woman, local NHK broadcaster reported Friday.

    TOKYO (Sputnik) – Earlier this week, it was reported that Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a US national and a former marine who works at the US Air Force base in Okinawa, was arrested on suspicion of disposing of Rina Shimabukuro’s body. The local authorities reportedly believe that he has also killed the young woman who has been missing since April.

    ​According to the NHK broadcaster, the residents of the prefecture are currently standing outside the Kadena Air Base demanding its closure.

    On Thursday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida lodged a protest over the incident with US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, calling it extremely regrettable.

    Later that day, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter pledged his full cooperation to Japan over the incident.

    Okinawa is home to a large US military presence and there have been mass protests over the years by the island’s inhabitants over incidents of alleged rape by US armed forces personnel stationed there.

    ​The prefecture has also seen mass protest against the elocution of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma was agreed on in 2006. Current plans envision the base to be closed by February 2019 and relocated within the Okinawa prefecture. Over 1.5 million square meters of the coastal maritime belt are expected to be filled as part of the relocation.

    Following the incident, Tokyo demanded that Washington boost discipline at its military bases in Japan and assist in the investigation.

    Related:

    Japan Restricts Movements of US Military in Okinawa After Rape Allegations
    Another Outcry From Okinawans as US Troops Commit Sex Crimes With Impunity
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    rally, Japan, United States, Okinawa
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