A former United States marine based in Japan's south-western island of Okinawa was yesterday sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of a local woman.
Shinzato, a former Marine from 2007 to 2014, was on the base working as a civilian contractor when he allegedly raped and murdered Rina Shimabukuro and abandoned her body in a village.
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.
He admitted to charges of rape resulting in death and abandoning her body, but denied he had meant to murder her.
The court on Friday handed down the life imprisonment sentence as requested by the prosecutors, according to public broadcaster NHK and the Asahi Shimbun daily.
The incident prompted deep outrage among locals and renewed calls for USA bases to be removed entirely.
A spate of crimes committed by U.S. servicemen against local citizens has worsened the tension.
Roughly half of the 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan are in Okinawa.
According to The New York Times, the incident ignited widespread anger among people on Okinawa, shaking an already volatile situation surrounding the stationing of about 47,000 American troops on the island.
The southern Japanese island of Okinawa hosts about 25,000 U.S. troops.
Shimabukuro's death sparked outrage on Okinawa and throughout Japan, where there is the lingering memory of a girl raped by three American servicemembers in 1995. The U.S. military responded by imposing a drinking ban for personnel in Japan on or off base.
The case also sparked outrage among government officials, who raised the case during a visit by then-President Barack Obama a year ago for a Group of 7 summit meeting.