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Okinawans March Against U.S. Base

Tens of thousands of Okinawans joined a rally on Sunday, demanding that a U.S. Marine air base be moved off Okinawa. The protest comes amid speculation that the U.S. government is ready to accept an alternative plan to relocate the base to another part of the Japanese island.

The Washington Post:

Okinawans have long complained of the burden of hosting most of 47,000 American troops in Japan under a security pact. Okinawa was under U.S. occupation until 1972 and many residents resent the U.S. military presence as legacy of Japan’s World War II defeat.

Tokyo and Washington agreed in 2006 to move sprawling Futenma Marine Corps air field to a less crowded part of Okinawa and to move 8,000 of its Marines to Guam. But when Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama took power last September he said he would not honor the deal struck by his political rivals and promised to find a site off Okinawa for the troops.

“We will not allow the base to stay here,” Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima told the cheering crowd. “We want the Hatoyama government to keep its promise.”

Hatoyama has delayed a decision in the face of rejection by potential relocation sites.

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