In spite of a huge resistance movement, the Prime Minister of Japan has decided to maintain a marine corps base in Okinawa called Futenma.
On May 17, a huge protest took place where 17,000 protesters joined hands and circled Futenma. On April 25, 90,000 people gathered to protest the Futenma base and the military’s presence. In spite of this huge movement, the Prime Minister moved on May 27 to keep the base in Futenma, leading the Socialist Party of Japan to completely abandon the ruling coalition today.
There are 14 military bases on the small island of Okinawa, housing half of the US soldiers in Japan. Protesters have staged sit-ins and massive protests on an escalating campaign in order to shed light on the environmental impacts of the military’s presence. Many are concerned by the escalating animosity between South Korea and North Korea after the South Korean government officially blamed the North Korean government for sinking the ROKS Cheonan, a ship in the South Korean Navy. In spite of this somewhat dubious conclusion, tension is building with Japan right in the middle of it.
The ignorance of the issue of militarization and dissent has shed light on the US’s presence in the Pacific – particularly in Guam and Hawaii, as can be seen in an exclusive interview that activists from the region gave to Democracy Now! last week.