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Okinawa governor calls for US troops to leave and for abolition of nuclear weapons on anniversary of brutal battle for the island

OKINAWA Governor Denny Tamaki called for Japan’s government to block construction of a new US military base and for the abolition of nuclear weapons as he marked the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa today.

The US amphibious assault on Okinawa lasted from April 1 to June 23 1945 and was among the second world war’s bloodiest battles, killing around 300,000 people including 150,000 civilians, around half the island’s population at the time.

Mr Tamaki said Okinawans’ thoughts turned to the suffering of Ukrainians facing Russian invasion as they remembered the victims of the huge ground battle, saying Japan should work to abolish nuclear weapons worldwide and renounce war so it would “never again become a battlefield.”

The pointed remarks were aimed at Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who attended the official ceremony, placing chrysanthemums for the war dead. 

Mr Tamaki opposes the central government’s attempts to revise the Peace Constitution which prohibits the deployment of Japanese troops abroad.

He was elected on a pledge to prevent the relocation of a US military base to Henoko Bay, where environmentalists say it will cause the local extinction of rare marine life including dugongs. Mr Tamaki wants the current Futenma base shut down rather than moved.

A majority of the 50,000 US soldiers stationed in Japan are on Okinawa, where their presence is widely resented. 

Mr Tamaki stressed today that the US military caused “noise pollution, accidents and crime” on the island and ultimately placed it in danger of being embroiled in wider US wars.

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