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Shinzo Abe Faces Growing Wrath of Okinawans Over U.S. Base

Shinzo Abe Faces Growing Wrath of Okinawans Over U.S. Base

HENOKO, Japan — Orange buoys surround a wide swath of clear blue sea off the coast of Okinawa where the United States Marine Corps has long sought to build a new airfield on landfill. For more than two decades, plans for this base have gone nowhere, stymied by fierce local opposition and politicians in Tokyo without the clout or determination to overcome it.

But now Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing ahead with construction, seeking to establish his credentials as Washington’s most important ally in Asia and to take Japan — whether it is ready or not — another step toward his vision of a “normal country” no longer held back by pacifist restraint or haunted by its wartime past.

Daily demonstrations against the base by protesters encamped at its main gate, and the shouts of “Warmonger!” that greeted Mr. Abe on a visit to Okinawa last month, highlight what he is up against: a public that for decades has recoiled from anything resembling the militarism that led Japan into World War II.Among residents of Okinawa, that sentiment is magnified by concerns about the environmental impact of the new base on pristine coral reefs here, frustration over crime associated with the already sizable American military presence on this southern Japanese island, and a sense that Mr. Abe is using the base to make an offering to Washington that serves his interests at the expense of their own.

Source: Shinzo Abe Faces Growing Wrath of Okinawans Over U.S. Base – The New York Times

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