NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – About 3,000 people staged a rally here Saturday to call for the closure of the nearby U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station following the crash of a helicopter at a university in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, in August.
“We’re not looking for lip service, but concrete action — that is, the return of (the land of) Futenma,” said Tokushin Yamauchi, head of the rally organizers, in reference to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s remarks Friday over a plan to relocate U.S. military bases from Okinawa to other parts of Japan.
Koizumi said in a speech in Tokyo that the national government will start efforts to relocate U.S. military bases from heavily burdened Okinawa to other locations in Japan.
Regarding Futenma, Koizumi told reporters after his speech he will continue with the government’s plan to relocate the air station’s functions to a military-civilian airport to be built off Nago, also in Okinawa.
Participants at the gathering called for the suspension of a seabed drilling survey off Nago that began Sept. 9 in preparation for the offshore facility.
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