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Japanese hold demo against US military base in Okinawa

21 February 2016 14:49



Thousands of people have poured onto the streets of the Japanese capital, Tokyo, to denounce the government’s plans to relocate a contentious US military base on the southern island of Okinawa.

About 28,000 demonstrators ringed the parliament building in central Tokyo on Sunday, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

The protesters held their hands while shouting, “Don’t build the base.”

Hundreds more also took part in similar protests in several cities across the East Asian country.

The United States and Japan agreed in 1996 to relocate the US Marines’ Futenma base, currently in a heavily populated area, to a new site in Okinawa.

However, many residents – whose prefecture was the only part of Japan to suffer a bloody land battle during World War Two – want the base and the US military off their land altogether.

People hold banners as they listen to a speaker during a rally against a US military base in Okinawa, in front of the parliament in Tokyo, Japan, on February 21, 2016. ©AFP

Many locals have complained about base-related crimes, noise and the risk of accidents.

Okinawa, which is located closer to Taiwan than the Japanese mainland, hosts about half of US forces in Japan.

In October last year, Okinawa’s governor, Takeshi Onaga, revoked a permit allowing the controversial move of the US military base.

But, the Japanese government filed a law suit against the governor, demanding he reinstate a key work permit to relocate the US base.

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