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Residents call for removal of U.S. air base from Tokyo

On April 19, as U.S. fighter jets caused a huge amount of noise pollution, 60 residents of a suburb of Tokyo carried out a sit-in at a park next to the U.S. Yokota Air Base, calling for the removal of the base from Tokyo.

Japanese Communist Party candidate for the House of Representatives Suzuki Osamu visited the site to encourage the protesters.

They recently founded the "Association of Nishitama" demanding that the U.S. base that stretches out over five cities and one town in western Tokyo be dismantled. It decided to conduct a regular sit-in protest on every third Sunday.

According to the military realignment plan of U.S. forces in Japan, the functions of the U.S. Yokota Air Base are being strengthened. The Air Self-Defense Force's Air Defense Command (ADC) will move to the base, and a coordination center for Japan-U.S. joint operations will also be established on the base.

A representative of the Association of Nishitama said, "We will constantly try to heighten public awareness regarding the need for the removal of the base."

Others in the association said, "It is absolutely unacceptable that the base is jointly used by the SDF and the U.S. forces," "Our tax money should be used to improve social welfare services instead of strengthening the functions of the base! We are really fed up with the excessive noise pollution, particularly at night."

- Akahata, April 21, 2009

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