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article imageThousands in Tokyo, Japan protest U.S. presence for noise, crime

By Andrew Moran     Jan 30, 2010 in World
Thousands of protesters from across Japan are demonstrating against the United States military presence in the country as a Cabinet minister and a Mayor are calling for the tens of thousands of troops to be removed from Japan.
When Cabinet minister Mizuho Fukushima and a new Mayor for the city of Nago called for the closure of a United States military base for marines in Okinawa, it sparked a lot of controversy in the Japan-US relations but also support among Japanese citizens across the country.
On Saturday, thousands of supporters from across Japan rallied in central Tokyo to protest the military presence in Okinawa where approximately 47,000 troops are stationed, according to the Associated Press. Residents in the area have long complained for the last four years over the noise, pollution and crime that has occurred since the troops were re-aligned to the region.
However, now the Japanese government is re-examining the pact but are quite hesitant due to the nature of public opposition and a critical alliance with Washington. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has consistently postponed his decision on the agreement as even members of his own party are divided on the issue but the Prime Minister promised to resolve the issue by May of this year.
Under a banner that read “Change! Japan-U.S. relations,” thousands of labor unionists, pacifists, students and environmentalists rallied in a park while public officials and civil leaders delivered speeches on the issue, notes the Daily Mail.
“The Cabinet is saying that it will announce its conclusion in May. For this reason, over the next few months we must put all of our energy into achieving victory,” said Fukushima. The head of a small political party and a member of the Cabinet wants the Marine base completely out of Japan.
Fox News reports that the new deal with Washington calls for the Marine base to be moved out of Okinawa but into Nago. Nago residents and the new Mayor are opposed of such a measure. However, American officials are asking Tokyo to follow the agreement and US Ambassador John Ross called the initiative the “front-line forces” if an emergency or security threats occur.
Nevertheless, the Prime Minister must appease members of his political party in order to maintain a majority coalition in Parliament. The public’s support of removing the base out of Japan is growing daily.
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