Thousands in Japan rally against U.S. base on Okinawa

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Japanese Tug-of-War Over the Fate of Okinawa US Air Base

Thousands of people surrounded Japan's parliament on Sunday to protest against government plans to relocate a U.S. military base on Okinawa island, local media reported.

Kyodo news agency said some 28,000 protesters had ringed parliament house in central Tokyo, holding hands and shouting: "Don't build the base". Hundreds more held similar protests across the country, it also reported.

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Okinawa was the site of Japan's only land battles in World War Two and many residents there resent the fact that it hosts tens of thousands of U.S. troops and military.

The United States and Japan agreed in 1996 to relocate the base, currently in a heavily populated area, to a new site in Henoko, but many residents of the island have rejected the proposal and want the base moved altogether.

Many residents of Okinawa say they associate U.S. bases with noise, pollution and crime.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

See photos from the anniversary of the Okinawa battle during World War II:

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Thousands in Japan rally against U.S. base on Okinawa
A woman prays after playing the sanshin, a local traditional stringed instrument, in front of a monument commemorating those who died in the battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Japan's southern islands prefecture of Okinawa, on June 23, 2015. Japan on June 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walks past a national flag made of flowers at an altar upon his arrival for a memorial service for those who died in the battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Japan's southern islands prefecture of Okinawa, on June 23, 2015. Japan on June 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
An elderly woman (L) pours water on a monument commemorating those who died in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Japan's southern island of Okinawa prefecture, on June 23, 2015. Japan on June 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
People offer silent prayers during a memorial service for those who died in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, in Japan's southern island of Okinawa prefecture, on June 23, 2015. Japan on June 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy (C) arrives to attend a memorial service for those who died in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, in Japan's southern island of Okinawa prefecture, on June 23, 2015. Japan on June 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga makes a speech during a memorial service for those who died in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, in Japan's southern island of Okinawa prefecture, on June 23, 2015. Japan on June 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman wipes tears in front of a monument commemorating those who died in the battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Japan's southern islands prefecture of Okinawa, on June 23, 2015. Japan on June 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
People pray for victims in front of a monument commemorating those who died in the battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Japan's southern islands prefecture of Okinawa, on June 23, 2015. Japan on June 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman plays the sanshin, a local traditional stringed instrument, in front of a monument commemorating those who died in the battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Japan's southern islands prefecture of Okinawa, on June 23, 2015. Japan on June 23 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest episode in the Pacific War, which killed 200,000 people. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Japan-US-WWII-Okinawa-anniversary by Alastair HIMMER War survivor Toroku Oshiro tells his experiences beside a monument commemorating more than 240,000 people including US soldiers who died in the battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Okinawa prefecture, on June 19, 2015. The battle claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Okinawan civilians and 80,000 Japanese troops, whose grim resistance only ended after Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, the senior officer on the island, committed ritual suicide on a cliff. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Japan-US-WWII-Okinawa-anniversary by Alastair HIMMER An elderly couple walks beside a monument commemorating more than 240,000 people including US soldiers who died in the battle of Okinawa during World War II at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, Okinawa prefecture, on June 19, 2015. The battle claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Okinawan civilians and 80,000 Japanese troops, whose grim resistance only ended after Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, the senior officer on the island, committed ritual suicide on a cliff. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Japan-US-WWII-Okinawa-anniversary by Alastair HIMMER Tomiko Uehara (2nd R), survivor among 222 students and 18 teachers of the 'Himeyuri students corps' battlefield nursing unit formed for the Japanese Imperial Army, recalls her wartime experience to high school students at the Himeyuri Peace Museum in Itoman, Okinawa prefecture, on June 19, 2015. Fewer than half of the girls in the nursing unit survived the 82-day battle for Okinawa, which claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Okinawan civilians and 80,000 Japanese troops during World War II. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Japan-US-WWII-Okinawa-anniversary by Alastair HIMMER Yoshiko Shimabukuro, survivor among some 222 students and 18 teachers of the 'Himeyuri students corps' battlefield nursing unit formed for the Japanese Imperial Army, looks at exhibited photographs of fallen members of the unit at the Himeyuri Peace Museum in Itoman, Okinawa prefecture, on June 19, 2015. Seventy years after the Battle of Okinawa, Yoshiko Shimabukuro still has terrifying nightmares of watching friends and Japanese soldiers die as they hid in caves to escape fierce American shelling. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Japan-US-WWII-Okinawa-anniversary by Alastair HIMMER Yoshiko Shimabukuro, survivor among some 222 students and 18 teachers of the 'Himeyuri students corps' battlefield nursing unit formed for the Japanese Imperial Army, gestures as she recalls her wartime experience during an exclusive interview with AFP at the Himeyuri Peace Museum in Itoman, Okinawa prefecture, on June 19, 2015. Seventy years after the Battle of Okinawa, Yoshiko Shimabukuro still has terrifying nightmares of watching friends and Japanese soldiers die as they hid in caves to escape fierce American shelling. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
To go with Japan-US-WWII-Okinawa-anniversary by Alastair HIMMER Tomiko Uehara, survivor among 222 students and 18 teachers of the 'Himeyuri students corps' battlefield nursing unit formed for the Japanese Imperial Army, recalls her wartime experience to high school students at the Himeyuri Peace Museum in Itoman, Okinawa prefecture, on June 19, 2015. Fewer than half of the girls in the nursing unit survived the 82-day battle for Okinawa, which claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Okinawan civilians and 80,000 Japanese troops during World War II. AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA (Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative prays at a stone monument before a memorial service to mark the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman on Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa on June 23, 2014. Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe will atend the Battle of Okinawa anniversary ceremony. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
A relative prays at a stone monument before a memorial service to mark the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman on Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa on June 23, 2014. Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe will atend the Battle of Okinawa anniversary ceremony. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives pray at a stone monument before a memorial service to mark the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman on Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa on June 23, 2014. Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe will atend the Battle of Okinawa anniversary ceremony. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives look at victim's names on a stone monument before a memorial service to mark the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman on Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa on June 23, 2014. Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe will atend the Battle of Okinawa anniversary ceremony. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives look at victim's names on a stone monument before a memorial service to mark the 69th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman on Japan's southernmost island of Okinawa on June 23, 2014. Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe will atend the Battle of Okinawa anniversary ceremony. AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS JAPAN OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pfc. Paul Ison from the 6th Marine Division dashes forward through Japanese machine-gun fire while crossing a draw on Okinawa, May 10, 1945. After the Marines sustained more than 125 casualties in eight hours in the attempt to cross this draw, the men named the location "Death Valley." (AP Photo)
A man prays in front of one of the "Cornerstone of Peace" monument walls on which the names of all those who lost their lives, both civilians and military of all nationalities in the Battle of Okinawa are engraved at the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa Sunday, March 22, 2015. On June 23, Okinawa will mark the 70th anniversary of the nearly three-month battle, said to be one of the bloodiest and costliest of the World War II in the Pacific, conducted by the U.S. forces before Japan's surrender. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
A Japanese suicide bomber goes down next to a U.S. Navy destroyer, during the Battle of Okinawa, on May 16, 1945. (AP Photo)
The Pacific War: American troops during the attack of Okinawa, 1945, Japan- World War II, U.S. marines corps photograph. (Photo by: Photo12/UIG via Getty Images)
The Pacific War in Okinawa: American Marine throwing a grenade towards the Japanese lines, May 6, 1945, Japan - World War II, U.S. marines corps photograph. (Photo by: Photo12/UIG via Getty Images)
The Pacific War: nuclear explosion in Okinawa, 1945, Japan - World War II, Washington. National archives. (Photo by: Photo12/UIG via Getty Images)
An unknown U.S. Navy carrier in the background is attacked by salvos from a Japanese warship, while the flight deck crew aboard the U.S. carrier in the foreground rushes to launch their fighter planes, during a battle off Okinawa island, on May 16, 1945. (AP Photo)
U.S. Marines of the 1st Division head for the front lines on Okinawa, on May 21, 1945, during the U.S. invasion of the island in southwestern Japan. ( AP Photo)
A Japanese suicide bomber blows up next to a British aircraft carrier, in the waters off Ryukyu Islands, on May 4, 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa. (AP Photo)
While waiting to be pulled out of five feet of water, the commander of this tank looks on as his driver uses his helmet to empty out the interior of the vehicle, on Okinawa, in May 1945. (AP Photo)
T/5 Joseph Lewandowski of St. Paul, Minn., left, and Pvt. William Thomason of Filmore, Calif. bake doughnuts on Okinawa Island on May 1, 1945 for U.S. fighting men battling to win the island from the Japanese. (AP Photo)
Wounded U.S. Marines are being given plasma transfusions by their fellow corpsmen at a forward station, on May 29, 1945, during the invasion of Okinawa. (AP Photo)
A U.S. Marine comforts a comrade, who witnessed the death of his buddy, hillside in the Vincinity of Shuri, in May 1945, during the invasion of Okinawa, Japan. (AP Photo)
After the ear-shattering pre-landing barrage, and the commotion of the landing, a strange peace descended on Okinawa. Anomalous as it was be speaking an absence of Japanese resistance to the invasion of the doorstep to their homeland, the hush was in a sense fitting, since the opening day of the operation was on April 1 Easter of 1945. Behind the forward thrusts of the spearheads, marines and soldiers first warily, then with delight took advantage of the pastoral calm. Their foxholes dug, and the primary installations set up, they broke open chow rations, chose pets from among the goats roaming about, strolled around the rolling littoral, or just stretched out for forty winks. The battle was not won, or even joined. But to these hardened Veterans of Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tarawa, Palau and Leyte, this was the oddest invasion of them all one which was truly symbolized by the designation for the opening day of the assault: ‘Love-Day’. Halting for a moment during his jeep-tour of the beachhead, War correspondent Ernie Pyle chats with his ‘Chauffeur’, Pfc. J. P. Murray of the marines, who hails from Winthrop, Mass., in Japan on April 11, 1945. (AP Photo)
A U.S. Marine looks back at the body of a dead Japanese soldier while his platoon passes a small village on Okinawa, in April 1945. (AP Photo)
Sitting on a tank, these U.S. infantrymen are seen on their way to take the town of Ghuta on Okinawa, on April 1, 1945. (AP Photo)
Battle conditions permitting, a two minute period of silent prayer was observed by troops on Okinawa, Japan on April 24, 1945. American flag is lowered to half staff upon receipt of word of President Roosevelt’s death. (AP Photo/Charles P. Gorry)
This undated photograph shows a U.S. Marine operating a water-cooled .30 caliber machine gun in protection of his comrades advancing, during the invasion of Okinawa island in 1945. (AP Photo)
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