Thousands protest against new US military base in Japan

According to a 2010, survey 71 per cent of Okinawans considered that U.S. Marines are not necessary on the Japanese island. 

Japanese protesters raise placards saying "Do not yield to authority" during a rally to protest against a controversial US airbase in Naha, Okinawa, May 17, 2015 | AFP

Japanese protesters raise placards saying “Do not yield to authority” during a rally to protest against a controversial US airbase in Naha, Okinawa, May 17, 2015 | AFP

teleSUR (May 18) – Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Okinawa’s capital, Naha, Sunday to protest against the building of a controversial U.S. marine airbase in the southern Japanese island. According to local police at least 35,000 people gathered in the massive rally.

Protesters were carrying placards saying “Do not yield to authority” and also chanted slogans aimed to pressure the government of Tokyo to halt building work for the military base that has continued despite the opposition from the local authority in Okinawa and its residents.

Local press reported that several protesters were arrested while they were trying to block the traffic, with the rally ending in with a massive meeting at a baseball stadium.

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The US has a total military deployment in Japan of about 50,000 personnel on 23 bases.

The US has a total military deployment in Japan of about 50,000 personnel on 23 bases.

However this is not a new problem. The row over the relocation of the Futenma airbase started in 1996 when Washington announced plans to move the site following a scandal over the gang-rape of a schoolgirl by U.S. soldiers that sparked mass protests across Japan.

Since the rape incident, the presence of U.S. forces in the island has become an outrageous fact for residents. According to a 2010 survey, 71 per cent of Okinawans considered that the presence of Marines on the island was not necessary.

The island of Okinawa, which makes up only 0.6 per cent of the Japan’s land area, is home to more than half – approximately 62 per cent – of the 47,000 U.S. service personnel stationed in the country as part of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the Washington and Tokyo.

Article 4 of the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement

Article 4 of the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement

Young Japanese women hold banners during a major rally against the US military at a park in Okinawa after a string of serious misconduct by its soldiers including alleged rapes in the Japan's southern island province on March 23, 2008. More than 6,000 people took part in the rally on the island, home of more than 40,000 US troops stations in Japan. (TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)

Young Japanese women hold banners during a major rally against the US military at a park in Okinawa after a string of serious misconduct by its soldiers including alleged rapes in the Japan’s southern island province on March 23, 2008. More than 6,000 people took part in the rally on the island, home of more than 40,000 US troops stations in Japan | TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images

www.reuters.com564 × 378Search by image Protesters shout slogans during a rally against the relocation of a U.S. military base, in front of the Okinawa prefectural government office building, in Naha on the Japanese southern islands of Okinawa, in this photo taken by Kyodo December 27, 2013.

Protesters shout slogans during a rally against the relocation of a U.S. military base, in front of the Okinawa prefectural government office building, in Naha on the Japanese southern islands of Okinawa, in this photo taken by Kyodo December 27, 2013 | Reuters

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