NAHA, Japan, June 2 (UPI) — The women of Okinawa aren’t taking any chances after the slaying of a young woman involving a U.S. contractor.
Attendance has risen fivefold in 2016 for an annual seminar on self-defense, Kyodo News reported.
About 150 women attended the class, hosted by the local Uruma Police Station.
The seminar is typically held at the beginning of the summer when sex crimes increase, local media reported.
Obama had offered his “sincerest condolences and deepest regrets” and pledged full cooperation until “justice is done under the Japanese legal system.”
The crime has garnered mass media attention in Japan. Police said Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 32, abducted the woman near her apartment and confessed to raping her, then strangling and stabbing her and stuffing her body in a suitcase.
Shinzato has been charged with illegally dumping a body, a common first step in Japanese homicide investigations. Under Japanese law, suspects can be held for weeks before the formal charges are filed.
But the traumatic incident is having a lingering effect on the women of Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost island and home to a large U.S. military base.
“I could have been the one who was assaulted,” said Yumeka Nagamine, 21, a local resident.
Nagamine said she had heard reports that Shinzato was driving around for hours in search of a victim.
Nagamine said she once became “stiff and couldn’t move” when U.S. soldiers approached her near Kadena Air Base.
During the seminar, police officers taught participants how to defend themselves by grabbing the arm of an assailant.
Others expressed their sorrow for the woman who was killed.
“I feel deeply sorry for the victim who passed away. I can’t even start to think what if it were my daughters,” said a mother of two teenage girls.
About 30,000 of the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan are stationed on Okinawa.