Peace march held ahead of 50th anniversary of Okinawa's return to Japan rule

People have taken part in a peace march in Okinawa and called for a reduction of US military facilities in the southern prefecture, ahead of the 50th anniversary of its return to Japan from US rule.

About 1,000 people including citizens from elsewhere in Japan gathered near the Ginowan city hall on Saturday, one day before the anniversary.

The demonstrators walked for about nine kilometers toward the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and the US Kadena Air Base, wearing headbands that read "Okinawa without bases."

About 70 percent of all US military installations in Japan are located in Okinawa.

The march was the first in three years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A participant in his 80s said the US bases shouldn't be concentrated in Okinawa because local residents have had to put up with airplane noise and other problems arising from the military facilities.

A man in his 60s from Itoman City said he wants people across the country to think about the unchanged reality of the bases in Okinawa 50 years after the reversion.