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8,000 residents assemble to oppose deployment of U.S. mid-air refueling squadron

About 8,000 residents of Kanoya City in the southern Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima on February 26 assembled at the local stadium to oppose the planned deployment of an aerial refueling squadron of the U.S. forces to the Maritime Self-Defense Force Kanoya Base.

The rally was called for by an organizing committee established by the local agricultural cooperative, the city's junior chamber of commerce, and neighborhood associations.

Participants adopted a resolution urging Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro to "review the Japan-U.S. agreement on the realignment of U.S. forces and negotiate with the U.S. government a reduction of the military base in the interest of residents as well as local governments near the base.

Dobashi Ai, a high school senior, took the podium to express opposition to the relocation. Referring to the U.S. military aircraft crash at Okinawa International University in 2004, she said': "There are child care facilities. kindergartens, elementary schools, and high schools near the Kanoya base. It is not difficult to imagine the disastrous consequences of a refueling aircraft crash in our town."

Uekubo Naomi, who spoke on behalf of livestock farmers, said, "Cattle will be frightened by noise from aircraft flying in. Noise that is not good for animals is not good for humans. We will join forces with all residents to stop the relocation.
- Akahata, February 27, 2006

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