TOKYO (AA) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed “very strong resentment” after an American working at a United States military base was arrested on suspicion of disposing the body of a woman in southern Okinawa Prefecture.
“We will demand that the U.S. side take strict measures to thoroughly prevent a recurrence," he told reporters Friday.
Local news agency Kyodo reported Thursday that the 32-year-old former U.S. marine who works at the Kadena Air Base, Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, admitted to the charge of disposing of the body in Okinawa.
The agency also cited investigative sources saying that he told police he had strangled and stabbed the 20-year-old Japanese victim.
An autopsy is due to be conducted to determine what led to the death of the woman, whose body was found in a forested area of the village of Onna.
The arrest comes ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to Japan next week to attend a Group of Seven summit, after which he is due to become the first incumbent American leader to visit Hiroshima.
The U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the southern city during World War II, resulting in the death of an estimated 140,000 people.
Kyodo also cited a senior Japanese government official who requested anonymity as saying that premier Abe would address the murder case during planned talks with Obama during the G-7 gathering held in central Mie Prefecture.
The people of Okinawa have long felt oppressed by hosting around two-thirds of the entire U.S. military establishment in Japan since the end of WWII, and Governor Takeshi Onaga won the gubernatorial election in 2014 with a pledge to oppose the relocation of the Futenma Air Station within the prefecture.
"This incident has occurred precisely because the [Kadena] base is there," Onaga told reporters Thursday. "I don't know what to do with this anger.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described the murder as "brutal, heinous, unacceptable and outrageous" during a press conference Friday.
"We will make the utmost effort to alleviate the burden [on Okinawa] under a policy to do all we can by being considerate to the feeling of the people on Okinawa," he responded when asked if the case could impact the planned relocation.
U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy was summoned Thursday night and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida lodged a protest while calling on her to assist with the investigation.
She vowed to "cooperate fully with the Okinawa police and Japanese government and redouble our efforts to make sure that this never happens again."