• Kyodo

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The U.S. government has agreed to pay compensation to the family of a slain Okinawan woman in place of the former U.S. base worker convicted of murdering her in 2016, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Friday.

“In case the payment from the U.S. side falls short (of the reparations awarded by the court), the Japanese government will pay the rest as condolence money,” Onodera said after talks with his U.S. counterpart Jim Mattis in Tokyo.

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato has appealed his conviction by the Naha District Court for the murder of the 20-year-old woman. He did not appeal the court’s Jan. 31 order to pay compensation to the family, which became finalized. The amount ordered has not been disclosed.

After his defense team claimed Shinzato lacks the ability to pay, the woman’s family sought compensation from the U.S. government under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. The defendant was a civilian working for an internet company on U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture at the time of the crime.

The district court sentenced Shinzato to life in prison in December 2017, saying he struck the woman on the head with a bar and stabbed her in the neck with a knife while attempting to rape her in the city of Uruma on April 28, 2016, killing her as a result.

The case sparked public uproar and strengthened sentiment against U.S. bases in Okinawa, which hosts most of the U.S. military’s facilities in Japan and has seen a series of crimes committed by American service members or military-linked personnel.

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