Protesters call for shut down US Futenma base

Updated: 2015-05-17 17:08


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NAHA - About 35,000 protesters across Japan gathered together on Sunday in Naha, the capital city of Japan's southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa, urging the Japanese central government to abort a plan to set up a new military base for the United States in Henoko area and to immediately shut down the controversial US Futenma airbase in the prefecture's Ginowan city.

The rally came after two-day peaceful march in Henoko and Ginowan area and it passed a resolution which demands the Japanese and US government dropping their plan to move the US Futenma airbase that located in the crowded Ginowan city to less populated Henoko area within Okinawa.

The resolution said that the Japanese and US governments turned blind eye to Okinawa people's strong willingness of moving the Futenma outside the island prefecture and their move of ramming to carry out construction of the replacement for the Futenma in Henoko destroyed Japan's democratic system.

It said that the Okinawan people never allowed the construction of the US military base and the shutdown of the Futenma airbase is the only way to resolve the issue.

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga addressed during the gathering, saying that he strongly resented agaisnt Prime Minister Shinzo Abe' s remarks on the issue during a joint press conference after his meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington.

Abe told Obama that he hoped the new base in Henoko would help resolve the relocation issue of the Futenma, although Onaga expressed Okinawan public opinion to Abe before the Abe-Obama summit last month.

"Under the 'proactive pacifism' endorsed by the Abe's administration, how long should Okinawa continue to sacrifice itself for the Japan-US defense alliance as the two governments now put the Middle East region under their defense cooperation," Onaga questioned.

Meanwhile, Morimasa Goya, a co-head of the Henoko Fund which was established recently aiming at supporting Okinawa's opposition against the new military base in Henoko, told the rally that the fund has collected 211 million yen (about $1.77 million) so far and 70 percent of the collection was from mainland Japan.

It shows that "Okinawa's opinion gains supports across the country," said Goya, adding that Okinawa is not alone on the fight against the new base in Henoko.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Tadatomo Yoshida, also attended Sunday's gathering.