Protests against relocation of US air base in Japan

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-Student group at center of protests against recently passed security legislation now demonstrating against new site of Okinawa military base

TOKYO – This weekend saw student protests across Japan against the relocation of a United States air base against the wishes of local authorities.

The Asahi Shimbun reported Sunday that a student group at the center of protests against recently passed legislation allowing Japan to begin rearming is now holding demonstrations against the Okinawa military base being moved to a new site.

It quoted Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy-s (SEALDs) member Nobukazu Honma as saying the move was “a denial of regionalism and democracy.”

“This is an issue that involves all of us,” he added.

An Okinawa member of parliament, Keiko Itokazu, told Saturday’s rally in Tokyo that the government “ignores the voices of the Okinawan people” in allowing the move.

The proposed new airbase is to replace an existing Marine Corps airfield that now sits in the middle of the densely populated city of Ginowan.

In 1995, following a gruesome rape case involving a marine, Washington and Tokyo agreed in principle to reduce the military presence on the island of Okinawa.

The deal, however, has never been implemented as it has proved impossible to satisfy all three parties: Okinawa, Japan and the U.S.

During December’s general election, all four of Okinawa’s single-seat constituencies were won by candidates opposed to plans to build the base.

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