Japanese protesters disrupt construction of US base on Okinawa Wed Feb 8, 2017 6:57PM
Japanese protesters using kayaks have demonstrated against the relocation of a US military base on the southern island of Okinawa.
The protesters attempted to disrupt the ongoing construction and redevelopment of the US marine base of Camp Schwab near Nago City in Okinawa prefecture on Wednesday.
The angry demonstrators broke through cordoned-off areas in the waters where construction for the relocated US base is currently taking place.
They also vented their anger at the plan by the central Japanese government to relocate a contentious US military base in Okinawa.
On February 6, Japanese police scuffled for the second day in a row with anti-US protesters on the island.
Japan's government started the offshore construction work on February 6.
On Tuesday, authorities began dropping about 220 concrete blocks to create an underwater filter designed to prevent ocean contamination during the construction of the base.
The construction work related to the relocation is about to be carried out in the next five years.
Locals and environmentalists are furious, saying the new airbase will destroy reefs and harm marine life in a relatively untouched part of Okinawa, and add to noise and crime.
The United States and Japan agreed in 1996 to relocate the US Marines’ Futenma base, currently in a heavily populated area, to a new site on Okinawa.
The central government plans to move the base away from Futenma to a less populated part of the island called Henoko.
The Japanese and US governments have pursued the relocation of the base in the face of frequent protests by residents against noise problems, accident risks and serious crimes such as rape by American troops.
However, many residents whose prefecture was the only part of Japan to suffer a bloody land battle during World War II want the base and the US military off their land altogether.
The US military presence in Japan exceeds 100,000 people, with more than half of the troops deployed on Okinawa.