all okinawa!! no more base, n i just hope the world peace:) pic.twitter.com/33Y9EvDIR5— chikichiki (@kochikichiki) 17 мая 2015
US military installations were once deemed essential for the local economy but for the last four decades their significance has been diminishing. They generated over 15 percent of prefecture income in 1972, when the United States returned Okinawa to Japan. In 2008, only 5 percent of local revenues came from the base.
Such success stories confirm what many Okinawans already know: "US military bases have become an impediment, rather than a benefit, to the growth of the prefecture's long-troubled economy," the Japan Times said.
Over 70 percent of US military bases in Japan and approximately half of the 47,000 US troops deployed to the country are located in Okinawa. The bases occupy approximately 20 percent of the island's territory.
Locals increasingly believe this territory could be put to better use – as a tourist destination and a major freight hub in Asia. Hence, Okinawa residents and local authorities have been against the relocation of one of the largest US bases in the prefecture to a remote area of the island. They want US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma gone completely.
Many Okinawa people are gathering to protest new US base in Henoko, Okinawa in Naha City now on 4.28… pic.twitter.com/pcTVf7TyAI— Shiro Nitta (@shironitta) 28 апреля 2015
Although the future of the base remains in limbo, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly said that it was the only solution and the construction at the Henoko district in Nago would continue. However, local authorities remain unconvinced.
Okinawa's governor Takeshi Onaga is scheduled to arrive in the United States on a 10-day visit on May 27, according to Ryukyu Shimpo, a local newspaper. He plans to discuss the issue with the assistant secretaries of the US Department of Defense and the Department of State.