Residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa protest ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's arrival to the United States Marine Corps' Camp Schwab in Okinawa. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Protests in Japan Over US Base
May 4, 2010

Angry residents of Okinawa today rejected a plan by Japan’s prime minister to keep at least part of a controversial US base on the island, in what could prove a new blow to support ahead of an election.

The feud over relocating the Futenma US Marine base has shaken ties with Washington and contributed to Yukio Hatoyama’s tumbling support rates in the run-up to an upper house election his ruling Democratic Party must win to avoid policy deadlock.

Trailed by anti-base demonstrators on his first visit to subtropical Okinawa since taking office last year, Mr Hatoyama told local people in a series of meetings he wanted them to accept a plan that would keep some of Futenma’s facilities on the island.

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