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Okinawa-Futenma rally draws 3,000 protesters

Date Posted: 2004-10-07

A weekend rally targeting the Marine Corps Futenma Air Station attracted some 3,000 demonstrators still angry about a helicopter crash nearly two months ago.

The protesters complained that there’s a lot of talk going on, but very little action. "We're not looking for lip service, but concrete action,” rally organizer Tokushin Yamauchi said, “ and that is the return of Futenma to Okinawa." Yamauchi was referring to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's remarks last week that he has a plan to relocate U.S. military bases from Okinawa to other parts of Japan.

Koizumi, speaking in Tokyo, said the central government will initiate dialogue aimed at restructuring the American presence in Japan, shifting forces to other areas. At the same time, Koizumi said he remains committed to government plans to relocate the Futenma Air Station functions to a military-civilian airport to be built off the coast of Nago.

Protesters demanded officials suspend a seabed drilling survey off Nago that began Sept. 9 in preparation for the offshore facility.

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