Thousands of people have protested in Okinawa against a controversial US marine airbase in the southern Japanese island, as a two-decade-long row over the relocation of the site deepens.
The massive demonstrations on Sunday aimed to pressure Tokyo to halt building work for the military base that has continued despite vehement opposition from the local government in Okinawa.
Okinawa is home to more than half of the 47,000 US service personnel stationed in Japan as part of a defence alliance, a proportion many of the island’s residents say is too high.
Washington announced plans to move the Futenma airbase in 1996, hoping to ease tensions with the host community after the gang-rape of a schoolgirl by servicemen.
But locals have pushed to block the relocation of the base within the island, insisting the facility should be fully removed instead. The demonstrations have soured relations between Tokyo and Okinawa – a once independent kingdom that was annexed by Japan in the 19th century. More…