- Title: JAPAN: Americans in Japan oppose U.S. base plan
- Date: 1st February 2010
- Summary: WOMAN PLAYING GUITAR "I'M 4 OKINAWA" SIGN
- Embargoed: 16th February 2010 12:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: International Relations,Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA1YO8H4V6XGXWKKLDNEOG0C1TD
- Story Text: Peace activists from the United States and six other countries gathered in a Tokyo park Sunday (January 31) to show their support for the Japanese island of Okinawa and oppose a controversial plan to build a new U.S. military base on the island.
About 30 people took part in the anti-U.S. base rally held in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park, trying to raise awareness among the international community regarding the issues of American military bases affecting Okinawa's residents and eco-system.
"Well, I'm from the U.S. and it bothers me that the primary way for Americans to interface with the world in many cases is through the military. And that's the case in Okinawa," said Kimberly Hughes, a 38-year-old English teacher who's been living in Japan for 9 years.
Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised to make a decision by May over the fate of the U.S. Marine Corp's controversial Futenma Air Station sitting in a crowded, residential neighborhood of Okinawa.
Hatoyama faces an increasingly tough decision on the airbase, which under a 2006 deal with Washington was to be relocated to another location within Okinawa.
Last week, a candidate who opposes an existing relocation plan won a local election.
Washington wants Japan to implement the 2006 plan. But Hatoyama is under pressure from his tiny coalition allies to stick to a pledge to move Futenma off the island, where many residents feel they shoulder an unfair share of U.S. forces.
"With elections, Okinawans are saying that 'we don't want the bases here and they are sending a pretty clear message that needs to be listened to by both those in Washington and those here in Tokyo," said 28-year-old American student Jay Gilliam, who studies international affairs at a graduate school in Tokyo.
Residents of Okinawa, 1,600 km (1,000 miles) south of Tokyo, are reluctant hosts to about half of the 47,000 U.S. military personnel in Japan. They have long resented what they see as an unfair burden in maintaining the U.S.-Japan security alliance.
Okinawa, which makes up some 6 percent of Japan's territory, hosts 75 percent of all U.S. military bases in Japan.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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