U.S. troops in Okinawa face curfew, restrictions after homicide, rape

By Marilyn Malara  |  May 28, 2016 at 10:54 AM
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OKINAWA, Japan, May 28 (UPI) -- All U.S. military servicemembers stationed in Okinawa are subject to a midnight curfew and other restrictions after several Americans were arrested in the recent murder of one woman and the rape of another.

The restrictions, put in place Friday, will remain in effect through June 24, according to a news release. American civilians and the families of servicemembers have also been asked to abide by the restrictions due to the possibility of backlash from locals and in respect for the deceased.

On May 19, ex-Marine Kenneth Shinzato, also referred to in reports as Kenneth Franklin Gadson, was arrested under the suspicion he dumped the body of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro, who had been missing since March. Police said Shinzato provided authorities with the location of Shimabukuro's body. Shinzato has not been charged with the young woman's murder.

In March, a 24-year-old Navy sailor, Justin Castellans, was arrested in the alleged rape of a Japanese tourist in a hotel. The suspect allegedly said he found the woman asleep in the corridor of the hotel in which he was staying.

The U.S. military announced it will begin a month of solemn mourning for the deceased Shimabukuro following President Barack Obama's visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe reportedly told Obama the murder was an "unforgivable crime," according to Stars and Stripes.

Marine Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson said troops stationed in Japan must "consider their roles as ambassadors to Japan and good neighbors with the people of Okinawa, as reflected in their personal conduct during the period of mourning."

"Additionally, we honor and mourn the tragedies affecting the victims of two heinous crimes. These incidents do not accurately represent the behavior of the more than 50,000 [troops] living in Okinawa who lawfully, peacefully and positively engage with our Okinawan neighbors on a daily basis."

Additionally, Nicholson asked Okinawa residents not to allow "this terrible act of violence to drive a wedge between our two communities," BBC reported.

In addition to the curfew, U.S. troops are prohibited from frequenting off-base bars and clubs as well as the purchase of alcohol off of the base. No parties are to be held throughout the mourning period and no servicemember is allowed to spend the night off-base unless approved.

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