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11,000 people encircle U.S. Camp Zama to reject new U.S. command

About 11,000 people on November 26 encircled U.S. Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture in protest against the plan to establish a new U.S. Army command there.

Speaking at the rally that preceded the action on behalf of the organizing committee, Kikutani Setsuo said, "Let us make every effort to stop the planned transfer to Zama of the U.S. Army 1st Corps and deployment of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Yokosuka as well as defend Article 9."

In a speech at the rally, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo pointed out that "the new U.S. Army command functions will turn Zama into a foothold of U.S. interventionist war and a source of threats to peace in Asia and the world."

Shii called on the participants to fight with conviction that the struggle in Zama is a struggle in defense of peace in Asia and the rest of the world. He said that the key to victory is the unity of local governments struggling along with local residents as well as national solidarity. Referring to the 270,000 signatures collected in the two cities, Zama and Sagamihara, in opposition to the transfer of the U.S. Army command to Zama, Shii criticized the government for disregarding the local residents' wishes and imposing the realignment agreement with the United States on these cities.

Ogawa Isao, mayor of Sagamihara City hosting U.S. Camp Zama, sent the rally a message condemning the interim report on U.S. military realignment on the grounds that it will force residents to endure extra burdens of perpetuation of U.S. military presence.

Nagashima Kazuyoshi, mayor of Zushi City where the U.S. forces seek to construct military housing, also sent a message stating that the relocation of a new U.S. Army command in Zama will prompt the United States to request more military housing.
- Akahata, November 27, 2005

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