Around 50,000 Japanese people showed up for the biggest rally in more than 20 years to protest the US military’s presence in Okinawa, and the planned move of the US military to the north of Okinawa on a pristine beach. It isn’t likely the Japanese government will go along with the 50,000 Japanese who turned out to protest the US military presence in Okinawa, but at least their collective voice has been heard: Please leave Okinawa.
Japanese rally in tens of thousands to protest US military presence
June 19, 2016
People hold placards as they protest against the presence of US bases, in front of the gate of the US Marine Corps Camp Schwab in Nago on the southern island of Okinawa Prefecture, June 17, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in Japan against the heavy US military presence and violent crimes by American personnel on the Island of Okinawa.
The protest rally, considered one of the largest anti-US demonstrations held in Japan in the past two decades, was held at an athletics park under scorching heat at 2:00 p.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Sunday in Okinawa’s prefectural capital, Naha.
The demonstrators, who organizers said numbered at more than 50,000, called for the scrapping of plans to relocate a major US Marine facility in the center of the island to pristine waters off its northern coast.
The US 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 II, want the base and the US military off their land altogether.