Tens of thousands rally against US military base in Japan

Almost 100,000 protesters have gathered in Okinawa, Japan, demanding the closure of a US military base. The Okinawa governor and heads of the local administrations are among the protesters.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has been accused of failing to deliver on an election pledge to close the facility last year.

According to Brian Becker of the US anti-war protest group Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, the Americans won't want to budge.


Japan, Yomitan: Up to 100,000 demonstrators on the Japanese island of Okinawa are set to protest against a US airbase. (AFP Photo / Toshifumi Kitamura)
“The people in Okinawa feel like they are just pawns in the US military game. This is one of 730 US military bases around the world, 30 [of which] in Japan. Fifty thousand US troops still occupy this island without the attending social problems. The US is like the 700-pound guerilla, it sits where it wants to sit and it dictates to the political leaders what is going to happen. There is no accountability,” Brian Becker said.

“In 2006 the old Japanese government, the one that lost power, signed this deal with the Pentagon. But Prime Minister Hatoyama in his campaign said that he would move that base, that he would free the people of Okinawa from this base. Now he is being pressured by the US, but the people of Okinawa and all over Japan are ready to bring down their government because they think he is reneging on his promise to remove the base,” Becker noted, adding, “Any country that has US military bases on their soil, wherever they are, they live under US military pressure, US political pressure. Japan is not really sovereign as long as a US military base has occupied Okinawa or any part of Japan.”