6,000 gather for rally against Futemma relocation
TOKYO, Jan. 30
January 30 2010 18:41
Some 6,000 people gathered Saturday in Tokyo to rally against relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futemma Air Station within Okinawa, as debate on the issue intensifies following the local election victory of a relocation opponent.
Consumer affairs minister Mizuho Fukushima, who took part in the rally, reiterated her resolve to see the base moved out of Okinawa or Japan altogether. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has said all options remain open, including the current plan to relocate it within Okinawa, until a final decision is taken in May.
Photo: Demonstrators with balloons in the shape of dugong gather at a rally, protesting against relocation of a U.S. Marine base stationed on the southern island of Okinawa, in Tokyo Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Friday he would decide by the end of May on where to relocate the U.S. Marine Airfield Futenma in Okinawa that has strained ties between the nations.
''I hope to win the struggle in terms of having the land for the Futemma base returned and seeing that no more burdens are placed on Okinawa,'' Fukushima said in an address to the gathering, which was organized by civic groups such as Peace Forum and included more than 100 participants from Okinawa.
''We have several months to go before reaching a conclusion at the end of May, and we will definitely win with all our might,'' said the head of the small ruling coalition partner Social Democratic Party.
Nago Mayor-elect Susumu Inamine, who won last Sunday's election by opposing the relocation of the Futemma base to his city and is slated to take office Feb. 8, sought solidarity with participants in a message delivered for the gathering.
Photo: Demonstrators hold up anti-U.S. bases slogans as some 6,000 people gather at a rally protesting against a U.S. Marine base stationed on the southern island of Okinawa, in Tokyo Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010. Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Friday he would decide by the end of May on where to relocate the U.S. Marine Airfield Futenma in Okinawa that has strained ties between the nations. The slogans written in Japanese read: 'We don't need Futenma base,' in red, and 'We refuse new Henoko base,' in blue.
Hiroshi Ashitomi, a co-leader of a Nago-based civic group opposing the planned construction of an offshore heliport as part of the relocation process, said, ''Prime Minister Hatoyama has said he would take into account the result of the mayoral election, and we won. The will of the people could not be exhibited more clearly.''