Thousands of Japanese have protested over a controversial US military base on the island of Okinawa.
The location of the military base has long been a contentious issue, with both Washington and Tokyo disagreeing and locals who live on the island voicing concerns over the noise and pollution caused by the stationing of troops there.
The US has had a heavy military presence in Japan since the end of the second world war.
Almost 100,000 people attended a rally demanding the base be moved off Okinawa, which Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama pledged to do as part of his election campaign.
Over a thousand Okinawa residents and lawmakers gathered Sunday in Yomitan, Okinawa Prefecture, urging the U.S. military to hand over the custody of a U.S. serviceman who is suspected of involvement in a fatal hit-and-run accident in the village last month but refuses questioning by the Japanese police.
The staff sergeant of the U.S. Army, who has allegedly admitted to his involvement in the Nov. 7 accident that left a 66-year-old man dead, has been detained by the U.S. military and will remain so until a possible indictment by the Japanese authorities as stated under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.
But the gathering of some 1,500 people, including senior officials of the village government and lawmakers of the ruling coalition, called for the sergeant to be handed over even before indictment and adopted a resolution to review the agreement that has “allowed the suspect to run away into the (U.S. military) base.”
For More: Okinawans call for handover of U.S. serviceman over hit-and-run
Source: Japan Times