The Moment

2 minute read
Krista Mahr

Perhaps because local soccer team FC Ryukyu’s poor performance last season earned them a yellow card from fans, 90,000 protesters on Okinawa also decided to borrow from the sport. By adopting yellow as its color, the largest rally on the island in years sent a warning to Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama for his inertia over the U.S.’s Futenma airbase. The huge area taken up by Futenma and other bases in Okinawa — home to some 25,000 U.S. troops — has made them unpopular, as have crimes such as rapes and robberies committed by service members against locals. In the run-up to his 2009 election landslide, Hatoyama promised to move Futenma off the island. But with China spending freely on its military, he may not now want to push his closest ally beyond the terms of a 2006 deal that merely calls for the Futenma base to be shifted to a more remote locality on Okinawa itself. He’d better decide fast, because it isn’t just Okinawans who are upset. A Nikkei newspaper poll found that 57% of voters want Hatoyama out if the issue isn’t resolved by the end of May. He could be getting a red card next.

See pictures of Japan’s relationship with the international community.

Read “Japan Protests U.S. Military Ahead of Obama Visit.”

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