Thousands have been marching in Okinawa and across Japan in protest against the planned relocation of a US military base in Okinawa. The protesters criticized the Japanese government, who appear to be turning a deaf ear to the locals. The protests began on Friday with about 1,200 people in Okinawa, as the island marked the 43rd anniversary of its reversion to Japanese sovereignty, and continued into Sunday gathering thousands of people.

“Even after our reversion, the problems of the bases remain unchanged,” Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga said at the protest, adding reversion of sovereignty had failed to bring Okinawans what they wanted.

“We’ve long suffered from the bases, and I’m angered by the outrageousness of both the US and Japanese governments in insisting a new base be built in Henoko,” Fujiko Matsuda, who heads a local citizens’ group, told the Japan Times. “It is wrong to proceed with the Henoko relocation without listening to the voices of the Okinawans,” said another Okinawa resident, Atsuko Ikeda. “If we don’t prevent it, there is no future for Japan as a democratic nation.” MORE