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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 November, 2003, 12:18 GMT
US urged to reduce Japan bases
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with Okinawa Governor Keiishi Inamine
Mr Rumsfeld came face-to-face with Japanese irritation over the bases
The governor of the Japanese island of Okinawa has handed a petition to the US defence secretary, urging him to scale down American military bases there.

Donald Rumsfeld, who is on an East Asia tour, said the US was reviewing its worldwide military presence.

Governor Keiishi Inamine said Okinawa had been "shouldering the excessive burden of US bases over long years".

Opposition to the US military in Okinawa stems from 1995, when three US Marines raped a schoolgirl.

Grievances

Mr Rumsfeld visited the Kadena US Air Force Base on the island, which houses more than two-thirds of the estimated 47,000 US troops based in Japan.

US forces in Okinawa include more than 17,000 Marines who are in a position, if necessary, to bolster the US military presence in South Korea.

The demands presented by Mr Inamine included a call for a reduction in aircraft noise and for a ban on the low-frequency sonar used by the US Navy in the seas around Japan.

But the governor also said the US bases played "a crucial role" in maintaining regional peace and security.

Several hundred protesters held a rally outside Camp Foster in southern Okinawa on Sunday, shouting: "We protest the author of the war" - a reference to the conflict in Iraq.

Mr Rumsfeld did not disclose any specific proposals, but he told reporters that "US commanders here and throughout the world assure that they can minimise their impact on the local community".




SEE ALSO:
Japan gets custody of US marine
18 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Okinawa welcomes rape verdict
28 Mar 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Tense atmosphere in Okinawa
02 Jul 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Okinawa: Island of resentment
06 Feb 01  |  Asia-Pacific


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