Tags: Okinawa | troops | decades | US

Okinawa Opposition to U.S. Troops Escalating

Wednesday, 11 November 2009 09:11 AM

For years Michiru Sakai, a Japanese kayak guide, has shown tourists around coral reefs off Okinawa island - and impressed on them why locals oppose plans for a new US military base here.

The two runways that the US military wants to build here by 2014 would cut a giant 'V' through the turquoise waters off Henoko, harming a marine ecosystem that is home to tropical fish and a rare sea mammal, the dugong, she says.

Sakai, 36 - known as "Skipper" to fellow activists who have camped out on this picturesque beach for over 2,000 days - says she does not care what sweeteners the distant superpower throws at the people of Japan.

"The United States has said it would accept a concession and move the runways a bit offshore, but we oppose the entire plan," said Sakai during a recent visit. "I'm sick of these pointless arguments. Japan doesn't have the capacity to accept another base."

Many Okinawans feel the same way.

Opposition to the US military presence has simmered for decades, with locals complaining about aircraft noise, pollution, the risk of accidents and crimes committed by servicemen, especially a high-profile 2005 gang rape.

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Wednesday, 11 November 2009 09:11 AM
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