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Ishigaki residents stage protest against entry of U.S. warships

On Okinawa's Ishigaki Island, about 350 people took part in a rally on April 2 in protest against the U.S. warships' planned visit to a port on the island, scheduled for April 3.

The rally was jointly organized by labor unions, political parties, and peace organizations. A wide range of civic organizations, including tourist associations, fishermen's groups, and women's groups, also joined in the protest.

Ishigaki City Mayor Ohama Nagateru expressed his clear opposition to the port call, stating that the Ishigaki Port is not a military port but a major hub in the travel system that links many islands in the Yaeyama district.

Representatives of the Japanese Communist, Social Mass, Social Democratic, and Democratic parties expressed their solidarity.

JCP Prefectural Assembly member Maeda Masaaki criticized the Japanese and U.S. governments for using the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to urge Mayor Ohama to permit U.S. warships' entry into the port in disregard of his repeated rejections. "Their aim is to turn Okinawa into a useful tool for the U.S. forces and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces," he said.

- Akahata, April 3, 2009

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