Okinawa base petitioners rally at White House

Okinawa base petitioners rally at White House

Activists have staged a rally in front of the White House in protest against the relocation of a US military base in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture.

Japanese-American Robert Kajiwara was among around 40 people who gathered on Monday, after creating a petition with more than 190,000 signatures in a month. The number exceeds the 100,000 threshold that requires the White House to respond.

Organizers of the petition, which calls for a halt to reclamation work, say they want President Donald Trump to immediately state his response.

The reclamation work in Henoko, Nago City, is part of plans to build an airfield to accommodate the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, which is currently located in a heavily populated part of Okinawa.

Kajiwara, who has maternal roots in Okinawa, said the landfill work should be halted at least until the prefecture holds a referendum to gauge residents' opinions. Voting is planned on February 24th.

Guitarist Brian May of the British rock band Queen is supporting the petition, along with some Japanese celebrities.

The system of petitioning the White House through its website was launched by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.