Anti-U.S. military protests attract thousands in Naha, Tokyo

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A protester holds up a sign demanding that U.S. military leave Okinawa during a rally June 19, 2016 in Naha, Japan, the capital city of Okinawa Prefecture.
From Stripes.com
A protester holds up a sign demanding that U.S. military leave Okinawa during a rally June 19, 2016 in Naha, Japan, the capital city of Okinawa Prefecture.

Anti-U.S. military protests attract thousands in Naha, Tokyo

by: Dave Ornauer and Chiyomi Sumida | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: June 19, 2016

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An overflow crowd of some 65,000 angry and frustrated people packed a sports stadium Sunday for a protest of anger and frustration to demand that U.S. forces leave Okinawa and drop a plan to move Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a more remote area on the island.

Similar demonstrations were also scheduled in 41 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. More than 7,000 people gathered outside the Japanese parliament building in Tokyo to join the demand for a U.S. pullout and to bash Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

A recent rash of crimes, including the slaying of a 20-year-old woman that has been linked to a U.S. civilian base worker, have tapped into Okinawa resentment over the disproportionate number of U.S. troops here, compared with the rest of Japan, and a sense of abandonment and betrayal by the central government even after it regained control of the island in 1972.

With U.S. servicemembers, family members and others with SOFA status strongly encouraged to avoid the protest area, Gov. Takeshi Onaga called for a total withdrawal of Marines.

“I will never forgive the inhumane and brutal act that trampled women’s human rights. I am indignant,” said Naga, who won election on an anti-base platform.

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