Thousands march in Okinawa to protest against U.S. bases

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Thousands march in Okinawa to protest against U.S. bases

Peace activists in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, cheered before the start of the May 14 peace march. Minako Yoshimoto NAHA Hundreds of peace activists from around Japan staged a march on May 14 to call for the reversal of U.S. military bases in Okinawa, a day before the 50th anniversary of the southernmost prefecture's reversion to Japan.

An estimated 1,000 people took part in the march organized by the Okinawa Heiwa Undo peace movement Center and labor unions.

It was the first to be held in three years and marked the 45th of its kind in the postwar period. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, marches were not held for the past two years.

The peace march continued along 9 kilometers from a civic hall in Ginowan, where the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is located, to Okinawa city.

Kyoko Higa, one of the organizers, said they wanted to develop a discussion about what should be done about national security with people from around Japan.

A 45-year-old man who works at an elementary school in Ginowan expressed concern that students will be accustomed to the helicopters and Osprey aircraft that fly above our school grounds. A 57-year-old woman who came from Kanagawa Prefecture, who hosts U.S. military bases in Yokosuka and Atsugi, said: We also live right next to danger because of the bases in the community. The people in Okinawa are worried about the greater danger they face, but I believe that they are more worried. A 35-year-old man from Ibaraki Prefecture said he joined the peace march out of concern about the Russian invasion of Ukraine amid the chorus of calls to scrap U.S. bases in Okinawa.