Thousands protest US military base in Japan’s Okinawa


TOKYO: Thousands of people rallied in Okinawa in southern Japan on Sunday in protest against a controversial US airbase on the island, as a two-decade-old bitter row over the relocation of the site drags on.
Okinawa is home to more than half of the 47,000 US service personnel stationed in Japan as part of a defense alliance, a proportion many islanders say is too high.
Futenma airbase has become emblematic of that ill-will since Washington announced plans to move it in 1996, hoping to ease tensions with the host community after the gang-rape of a schoolgirl by servicemen.
But locals have blocked the move to relocate the base, insisting the facility should go off-island instead, queering relations between Tokyo and Okinawa — a once independent kingdom that was annexed by Japan in the 19th century.



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