National / Crime & Legal

U.S. Okinawa chief states shock at woman's death, explains restrictions


The U.S. military commander in Okinawa on Saturday expressed his shock and regret at the death of a local woman following the arrest of an American civilian worker suspected of dumping her body, and explained measures to tighten discipline among U.S. forces.

“There are no words in the English language that can adequately convey our level of shock, pain and grief at the loss of life of this innocent victim,” said Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson at a news conference at Camp Foster in Okinawa Prefecture.

The conference, which came the day after the base imposed a midnight curfew and alcohol ban off-base for a monthlong “period of unity and mourning,” was held to explain the measures.

Under the restrictions, which will last through June 24, those living off-base can drink alcohol only while they are on base or inside their homes, and all service members must be back in their residences by midnight.

Nicholson said the measures were not intended as punishment, but to demonstrate deep sympathy for the victim and her family.

“It is not just the Okinawan people who are grieving and hurt. Our American community of 50,000 men, women and children are also grieving and are deeply hurt by the alleged incomprehensible actions of this American citizen,” he said.

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a former Marine and a worker at the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena Air Base, was arrested last week in connection with the killing of the 20-year-old victim, who has been named as Rina Shimabukuro, after sexually assaulting her.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday made a direct protest to U.S. President Barack Obama over the crime at a meeting on the sidelines of the Group of Seven leaders’ summit in Mie Prefecture. Obama said the U.S. will make every effort to review procedures to prevent such crimes happening again.

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