80% of Tokunoshima residents oppose hosting U.S. base

TOKUNOSHIMA, Kagoshima Pref. (Kyodo) A group rallying against the idea of relocating some of the U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa to Tokunoshima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture, said Wednesday it has collected the signatures of about 20,000 residents of the island, about 80 percent of its population, who oppose such a transfer.

The group collected about 24,400 signatures in total, of which 20,000 were those of island residents, the group said.

The collected signatures will be handed to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on Friday when mayors of the three towns on Tokunoshima Island meet with Hatoyama in Tokyo to convey their opposition.

“The opinion of the islanders has been decided already. We will never accept the military base,” said Koei Kabayama, head of the antimilitary base group.

The group has been collecting signatures against the relocation of U.S. Marines or some of the drills at Futemma airbase since April 16, just before a major protest at which some 15,000 people gathered.