by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 27, 2013
Political leaders from Okinawa and their supporters staged a protest Sunday in the Japanese capital Tokyo against the heavy US military presence in their southern prefecture.
Organisers said some 4,000 people marched through the glitzy Ginza shopping district holding banners reading "Firmly against Osprey", a tilt-rotor US military aircraft said by opponents to be prone to accidents.
The rally was among the biggest involving Okinawan mayors and politicians since the island chain was returned to Japan from US control in 1972, according to national broadcaster NHK.
Police declined to estimate the number of demonstrators.
Marchers protested that the rest of Japan discriminates against Okinawa by forcing it to host more than half of the 47,000 US military personnel in Japan.
Okinawan residents have long opposed the heavy US military presence due to accidents and crimes committed by American soldiers.
"Our anger has been boiled to its peak," Takeshi Onaga, mayor of Naha city which is the prefectural capital, told the rally.
Okinawan leaders hope to meet government ministers Monday to press their case.
It was the latest of a series of protests and rallies held by Okinawan leaders and their supporters, as Tokyo attempts to expand its military alliance with Washington in the face of a more confident China.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also pledged to strengthen his own country's military as Tokyo and Beijing intensify disputes over islands in East China Sea.
Protestors march against Hong Kong leader
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pledged, among other things, to increase housing supply in the densely populated city and tackle poverty in his January policy address widely seen as an attempt to halt mass protests against his leadership.
Protesters held up a colourful array of banners, some of which portrayed Leung as a vampire and Pinocchio.
"Leung Chun-ying does not have the heart or the ability to solve the problems for the Hong Kong people," Icarus Wong, vice-convener of one of the protest organisers, Civil Human Rights Front, told AFP.
People were showing their "disappointment and anger" because his speech offered no new ideas on solving the housing crisis and tackling poverty, Wong said.
Protestors also called for universal suffrage in the former British colony which returned to China in 1997.
Hong Kong maintains a semi-autonomous status but cannot choose its leader through the popular vote.
Beijing has said the chief executive could be directly elected in 2017 at the earliest, with the legislature following by 2020.
Leung, who was chosen by a 1,200-member election committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites, saw his approval rating plunge to a low of 31 percent, according to an opinion poll released in January by the University of Hong Kong.
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