11:50 GMT +323 October 2019
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    Japanese Authorities Crack Down on Okinawa Protests Near US Military Base

    © AFP 2019 / Toru YAMANAKA
    Asia & Pacific
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    Japanese authorities are cracking down on protestors, outraged by the construction of the new US military base in Okinawa, urging them to clear sidewalks in front of US Marine Corps Camp in Nago.

    Ekaterina Blinova — Japanese authorities have issued written orders urging demonstrators protesting against the relocation of a US military base in Okinawa to clear sites in front of the US Marine Corps Camp Schwab in Nago.

    According to Japanese media sources, the government had already given oral orders to protestors who pitched their tents on the sidewalks in front of the US military base.

    However, the demonstrators refuse to obey the orders, insisting that their action does not contradict the law. In response, the Cabinet Office's Okinawa General Bureau has warned that it is "ready to take appropriate measures based on the road act and other related laws" if the demonstrators reject to clear the site by February 26.

    According to the agreement signed by Japan and the United States new military facilities should be constructed in the Henoko coastal area of Okinawa island. The Pentagon is planning to relocate its Marine Corps Air Station Futenma base from the city of Ginowan to the new site in Okinawa prefecture.

    Initially established in July 1957, the US Forces Japan (USFJ) comprises of approximately 38,000 military personnel, 43,000 dependents, 5,000 civilian employees of the US Department of Defense, as well as 25,000 Japanese workers in accordance with the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security concluded in 1960.

    Japanese Okinawa residents and activists have long protested against the expansion of US military facilities, citing environmental and security concerns. They also express their deep dissatisfaction with violation of Okinawans' democratic rights, slamming the US leadership and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who turns a deaf ear to their pleas.


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