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Ishigaki mayor protests against U.S. warships' entry

Okinawa's Ishigaki City Mayor Ohama Nagateru on April 5 lodged a strong protest against the entry of U.S. military vessels into its port.

In disregard of the mayor's repeated objections as well as residents' opposition, two U.S. minesweepers entered the port of Ishigaki on April 3 and left there on the noon of April 5.

The mayor criticized U.S. Naval officers for "arrogantly pushing aside protesting residents to enter a port gate."

Ohama said that military ships should not be allowed into civil ports. "It is a matter of course for a municipal head, who is responsible for residents' safety, to reject the entry of U.S. military vessels," he added.

Concerning a drastic revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement, the mayor said, "In order to guarantee the smooth operations of civilian vessels and their safety, I strongly request that U.S. forces' use of civilian ports be prohibited except in cases of emergency."

"We feel strong resentment at the U.S. consul general and U.S. forces' unilateral and authoritarian act, and strongly protest against the U.S. forces and concerned bodies which planned or supported the port call," he expressed.

- Akahata, April 6, 2009

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