Anti-war protest briefly shuts Yokosuka main gate
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Anti-war protesters staged a peaceful demonstration Thursday outside the U.S. Navy’s largest base in Japan.
Yokosuka Naval Base closed its main gate to traffic as a security measure during the one-hour evening protest organized by the Kanagawa Peace Activity Center.
A spokesman for the center said Friday that 1,700 people from 20 different civic organizations attended, though local police declined to confirm any attendance figures.
The group held the rally to mark the 41st anniversary of the first U.S. aircraft carrier to Yokosuka and the sixth anniversary of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to the base. It called for the carrier’s removal, as well as cancellation of plans for the USS Ronald Reagan to replace it in 2015.
The George Washington is currently deployed on a patrol of the western Pacific Ocean. Later next year, it will transit to Virginia, where it is scheduled to undergo a mid-life overhaul that would take three to four years.
Despite the protest, support for the U.S.-Japan alliance is generally considered to be high among Japanese. During the last poll taken by the Japanese government in 2012 on the U.S.-Japan security alliance, 81.2 percent of respondents said the pact “contributes to the peace and security of Japan.”
A Pew Research Center poll released in July gave the U.S. a 66 percent overall favorable rating among Japanese.
The U.S. military faces more opposition on the island of Okinawa, where high-profile crimes and plans for a replacement Marine air base have spurred protests.
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.