Peace march held in Okinawa ahead of 50th anniversary

Peace march held in Okinawa ahead of 50th anniversary

A peace march calling for Okinawa from hosting U.S. forces to be reduced was held on Saturday in the southern island prefecture, a day before the 50th anniversary of its reversion to Japan.

The prefecture, which is geographically closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, has 70 percent of the total area used by U.S. military installations in Japan, despite accounting for only 0.6 percent of the country's total land area.

The 9 kilometer march, the first of its kind in three years due to the coronaviruses, started near U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the middle of a residential area in Ginowan.

The two countries have been trying to relocate the base to the less populated coastal area of Henoko in Nago, due to the S. agreement on returning the land occupied by the airfield, known as the most dangerous in the world because of its location.

The relocation plan has been met with fierce opposition from people in Okinawa, with many demanding that the Futenma base be moved out of the prefecture.

Okinawa remained under U.S. control until 1972, after Japan regained sovereignty in 1952 after defeating World War II.

There were about 1,000 people who took part in the march to an area near the U.S. Kadena Air Base. Since 1978, such events have been held around May 15 to mark the day of Okinawa's return to Japan, but peace marches were canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the spread of the virus.