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Japan, US pay condolence money to family of slain Okinawan woman

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato in 2016 (Kyodo)

NAHA, Japan (Kyodo) -- The Japanese and U.S. governments have paid condolence money to the family of a slain Okinawan woman in place of the former U.S. base worker convicted of murdering her in 2016, the family's lawyer said Thursday.

    The amount, as well as the proportion paid by each government, were not disclosed, but the sum was nearly equal to the amount sought by the family, the lawyer said, adding the payment was made Wednesday.

    Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, who has appealed his conviction by the Naha District Court for the murder of the 20-year-old woman, was ordered in January to pay compensation to the family.

    After his lawyers claimed Shinzato lacked the means to pay, the woman's family sought compensation from the U.S. government in March under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.

    The Japanese government had said it would pay condolence money if the payment from the U.S. side was insufficient.

    Washington had asserted that Shinzato was not an employee of the U.S. armed forces as defined by the agreement, thus the payment would be made on a "voluntary and humanitarian" basis, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry.

    Shinzato was a civilian working for an internet company on the 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 her on the head with a bar and stabbed her in the neck with a knife while attempting to rape her in the Okinawa city of Uruma in April 2016, killing her as a result.

    The Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court is scheduled to begin hearing Shinzato's appeal against the conviction on July 24.

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