Asia-Pacific

Okinawa locals rally to demand relocation of US base

(Xinhua)
Updated: 2010-04-25 16:37
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Okinawa locals rally to demand relocation of US base
Military aircraft are seen at the US Futenma air base in Ginowan on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa February 12, 2007. [Xinhua]

YOMITAN, Japan -- Tens of thousands of Okinawa residents staged a mass rally Sunday in the village of Yomitan on the western coast of the Okinawa Island, demanding the central government relocate a US marine base outside of the southernmost prefecture.  

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The rally came after the United States rejected Thursday the idea proposed by the Japanese government of relocating its current air facility in Futenma, Okinawa Prefecture, to Tokunoshima of Kagoshima Prefecture.

Local population in Okinawa and Tokunoshima have been angered by the DPJ-led government, seeing their actions as both indecisive and not in the interests of their communities.

On Wednesday Prime Minster Yukio Hatoyama said the government would make all-out efforts to meet with the Tokunoshima officials, despite a mass protest on the island on April 18 that saw some 15, 000 residents mobilize to show their defiance to the plan.  

The central government has until the end of May to decide where to relocate the Futemma Air Station.

Under an existing agreement with Washington inked in 2006 the U. S. military instillation would be moved from the highly populated area of Ginowan in Okinawa to the Marines' Camp Schwab in Nago, also in Okinawa.

The existing agreement, estimated to cost some 10.3 billion US dollars, would also see 8,000 of the 20,000 US troops currently stationed in Japan's southernmost prefecture relocated from Okinawa to the US island of Guam, by 2014.