Xinhuanet & Mainichi Shinbun – 2006-03-06 07:47:47
People in Japan Protest against US Military Relocation plan
TOKYO (March 5, 2006) — Tens of thousands of people protested against a US military realignment plan on Sunday in Okinawa of southern Japan, Kyodo News reported.
According to organizers, an estimated 35,000 protesters joined the two-hour rally in Ginowan, Okinawa prefecture, urging the immediate closure the US Marine Corps Futemma Air Station in the city and its relocation outside Okinawa.
“The city of Ginowan strongly demands that Futemma, the world’s most dangerous base, be shut down immediately and relocated outside of Japan,” Kyodo quoted Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha as saying.
In October, Tokyo and Washington approved a realignment plan of US troops in Japan, under which the Futemma Air Station’s function is to be moved from Ginowan to Camp Schwab in Nago, which is also in Okinawa.
Okinawa hosts a large part of the 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan. Local residents have long complained about noise, social problems and crimes associated with the bases.
The participants adopted a resolution at the end of the gathering, demanding that the Japanese government respect local opinions against the relocation and realignment plans.
Last Sunday, an estimated 8,000 people in Kanoya, southern prefecture of Kagoshima protested against a possible military transfer plan, under which the Futemma Air Station in Okinawa might be moved to Kanoya.
35,000 Rally against US Base Relocation Plan
More than 30,000 people rallied in Japan’s southern Okinawa island Sunday against plans to relocate a US air base to another area on the island, demanding that the facility be moved outside the country, a news report said.
Organizers said an estimated 35,000 people participated in the two-hour rally in the city of Ginowan, site of the US Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station, Kyodo News agency said.
“The city of Ginowan strongly demands that Futenma … be shut down immediately and relocated outside of Japan,” Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha was quoted by Kyodo as saying.
The air station is expected to be moved to the Okinawan city of Nago under a joint US-Japan plan to realign American forces in Japan.
Sunday’s rally was organized by opposition parties from the Okinawa prefectural assembly, labor unions and grassroots groups, Kyodo said. Ginowan city officials were unavailable for comment Sunday.
The plan to move the base — agreed to by Tokyo and Washington in October — also calls for the transfer of 7,000 Marines from Okinawa over six years to the US territory Guam and the shifting of some operations to other cities on Japan’s main islands.
Okinawa hosts about half of the 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan and residents have long protested crowding, noise and crime associated with the bases.
In late February, some 8,000 people in the southern city of Kanoya, in Kagoshima prefecture (state), protested against the possible transfer of a US air tanker fleet from Okinawa to the city. (AP)
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