(AFP) – 1 hour ago
TOKYO — A majority of residents in Okinawa say they want the United States to move its controversial air base off the southern Japanese island, or even out of the country entirely, according to a poll on Tuesday.
A dispute over a planned relocation of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Base on Okinawa has clouded Japan's security ties with its most important ally ahead of a visit by US President Barack Obama to Japan on November 12-13.
Seventy percent of people polled in Okinawa said Tokyo should negotiate with Washington to have the air base moved off Okinawa or outside Japan, the Mainichi Shimbun and the Ryukyu Shimpo said in the joint survey.
The two dailies carried out the poll on Saturday and Sunday and received answers from 1,015 eligible voters.
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's government has said it will review a 2006 agreement to move the base from a crowded urban area to a coastal area by 2014, but has also suggested the facility may be moved off Okinawa entirely.
Washington has increased pressure on Japan over the issue, with Defense Secretary Robert Gates bluntly telling Tokyo last month to "move on" quickly with the agreed plan to move the base to a coastal area.
The United States, which occupied Japan after its defeat in World War II, has 47,000 troops stationed here, more than half of them on Okinawa.