TOKYO (AA) - Japanese police have arrested an American working at a United States military base suspected of disposing the body of a woman in Okinawa, where plans to relocate another base within the southern prefecture have been met with opposition.
Kyodo news agency reported Thursday night 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 a body.
Comments made by the suspect reportedly suggested he killed the victim, who went missing last month.
The arrest comes ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to Japan next week to attend a Group of Seven leader summit, after which he is due to become the first American leader to visit Hiroshima, the city where atomic bombs were dropped during World War II.
According to Kyodo, investigative sources said police discovered DNA matching that of the victim's in a car belonging to Shinzato, who reportedly claimed to have left the victim in a forested area after she showed no movement.
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.
The commander of the U.S. forces in Japan, Lt. Gen. John Dolan, was also summoned to the defense ministry, where Minister Gen Nakatani expressed "outrage" over the case.
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 World War II, and Governor Takeshi Onaga won the gubernatorial election in November 2014 with a pledge to oppose the relocation of the Futenma Air Station.
"This incident has occurred precisely because the base is there," Kyodo quoted Onaga as telling reporters Thursday. "I don't know what to do with this anger.”