Japanese city demands removal of US base

Okinawa governor will travel to US to request removal of the military base on the island

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

After thousands of Okinawa residents took the streets to protest against the US military base on the island, the governor of the Japanese city prepares for a visit to the United States to request the removal of the base.

The southern island has been hosting thousands of US troops in a large military base that occupies 18 percent of the island’s total land area, and people have been campaigning against the base relocation plans.

On Sunday, thousands of people protested in Okinawa against the government’s plan, with the island’s governor Takeshi Onaga - who was elected in November after campaigning against the plan - said he will travel to Washington with a message from the Okinawan people.

"Unless we make the alliance something with dignity and pride, with both Japan and America deserving of respect, I don't believe that the economy in Asia will grow more stable," he said, criticising Japanese PM Shinzo Abe for ignoring residents' demands.

Okinawa residents want the base to be removed completely from the island, instead of relocated to another area. They complain about the noise, pollution and crime caused by the thousands of troops located in there.

Okinawa was an independent kingdom before being annexed by Japan in the 19th century.

TRTWorld and agencies