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Okinawa commemorates island’s Japan reversion

Date Posted: 2006-05-22

A peaceful march to Ginowan Monday marked the 34th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan.
Okinawa was returned to Japanese control after being administered by the United States government from the end of World War II until May 15, 1972.

More than 3,500 people converged on Ginowan’s Kuihan Park to express concerns about Japan’s intentions for Okinawa Prefecture, keying on the plans to move Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to the northern reaches of the island. “We’ll never accept Futenma being rebuilt on the Henoko coast,” they chanted while issuing demands against the changes in Japanese law and an agreement with the U.S. to radically restructure the military landscape here.

Workers unions, university students, school teachers and activists from mainland Japan also repeatedly expressed concerns that Japan is moving toward a pro-war country. They cited increased military activities and talks of changing the constitution to allow Japanese military forces a wider defense role, including offensive activities and increased missions on foreign soil.

Demonstrators spared no one in their criticism, including Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine, who most citizens view as a proponent of a reduced military presence in the prefecture. “We are against the Japanese government and Inamine’s agreement,” they said. “”We must never make any new bases in Okinawa, including Henoko.” Henoko is scheduled to be the new home for Futenma by 2014.

The peace activists, the Peacekeeping Life Meeting Committee, vowed to band together with mainland Japan cities of Yokota, Yokusuka, Zama, Iwakuni and Misawa to protest the military realignments agreed to by the United States and Japan a few weeks ago. Their demand is that the bases be eliminated, instead of realigned.

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