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Okinawa residents demand Futenma MCAS be removed

Date Posted: 2010-08-09

Okinawans marched through the streets of Tokyo Monday, heading to the Foreign and Defense Ministries to demand Futenma Marine Corps Air Station be kicked out of Okinawa.

The Okinawan residents, most of them plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Japanese government over noise pollution caused by Futenma, staged a sit-in demonstration near the parliament building to make their points. “The government and many indifferent Japanese who think it is better to inflict the burden of hosting the U.S. bases on Okinawa are largely responsible for Okinawa’s current situation,” says the group leader, Zenji Shimada. “Is it fair that only Okinawa bears a heavy burden?”, he asks.

Ginowan City Mayor Yoichi Iha joined the protesters in Tokyo, pointing out that noise restrictions agreed upon by Japan and the United States are largely ignored at Futenma, where he says flights continue after 10 p.m. “The U.S. Forces don’t follow the rules,” Iha said, “and the Japanese government is unwilling to make them do so.

The plaintiffs, who a few days ago won some elements of their case in a decision by the Fukuoka High Court, say they’re not satisfied, because the flights were not ordered stop by the judges. The plaintiffs were awarded ¥369 million in damages, but the court refused to order a stop to nighttime and early morning flights at the base.

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