Thousands Protest US Presence on Okinawa

More than 60,000 people gathered in Okinawa, Japan, Sunday to protest the US military’s presence there. The protesters called for the closure of US bases on the island after an American was arrested for the murder of a 20-year-old Japanese woman last month, CNN reported. The suspect, Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, was stationed at Kadena AB, Japan. On Sunday, Okinawa’s governor, Takeshi Onaga, said he would ask the Japanese government to move all US bases off the island, according to CNN. Fifty thousand US nationals, including 30,000 military personnel and contractors, inhabit the island, Reuters reported. The rally was one of the largest demonstrations against US bases on the island in two decades. Mass demonstrations erupted in the 1990s after three Americans raped a 12-year-old Japanese girl. In 1996, the US and Japanese government agreed to close MCAS Futenma and relocate the Marines’ air base, but protests from residents near the proposed location have stalled the move. (See also: Protesters Form Human Chain Outside Ramstein.)