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Obama: U.S. to Cooperate in Okinawa Murder Investigation

Obama Comments on Arrest of Former Marine in Murder Probe 1:20

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday was deeply critical of a case involving the arrest of a retired Marine in connection with a Japanese woman's death.

"I feel profound resentment for this self-centered and despicable crime," Abe told reporters after meeting with President Barack Obama on the eve of a gathering of leaders from the Group of Seven advanced economies. "This case has shocked not just Okinawa but all of Japan."

Related: Okinawa-Based Retired Marine's Arrest Triggers Anger in Japan

Obama said the U.S. will cooperate fully with Japan's investigation into the recent case. Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 32, a civilian employee at the Kadena Air Base and a retired Marine, was arrested and charged with disposing of the body of Rina Shimabukuro, 20.

Image:
Protesters stage a rally outside Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, southwestern Japan, on May 20, the day after an American working on a U.S. military base in Okinawa was arrested in connection with a woman's death. Kyodo via AP

Her body was found in a forest in the northern part of the island late Thursday. Shimabukuro disappeared last month after texting her boyfriend about her plans to take an evening stroll.

Obama on Wednesday called the crime "appalling."

"I extended my sincerest condolences and deepest regrets. The United States will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation and ensure justice is done under the Japanese legal system," Obama told reporters.

Related: President Obama Arrives in Vietnam for Historic Asia Trip

Abe, who will accompany Obama to Hiroshima on Friday to lay a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, said the first visit to the site by an American president carries deep significance.

IMAGE: Secretary of State John Kerry in Hiroshima
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center left, puts his arm around Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, center right, after they and fellow G7 foreign ministers laid wreaths at the cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan Monday, April 11, 2016. JONATHAN ERNST / AP

"I welcome the decision by president Obama to visit Hiroshima," Abe said. "The upcoming visit will no doubt create further powerful momentum toward creating a world without nuclear weapons."

Related: Obama in Vietnam Announces End of Longstanding Arms Embargo

Obama visited the region, his tenth such visit during his presidency, as part of his administration's continued pivot to strengthening regional cooperation on economic, trade and security matters.Vietnam and Japan want reassurances about a sweeping multinational trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has met with congressional skepticism.

On Monday, Obama announced the lifting of a 50-year arms embargo on Vietnam and move that is expected to anger China in the increasingly tense dispute over regions in the South China Sea.