Nearly three quarters of US military resources in Japan are located on the small archipelago to the south of most of Japan’s islands, and residents say they have long been inconvenienced by the base, which was constructed following the country’s defeat in World War II.
Construction started in 2007, and two helipads were completed by 2014. But work to build the four other helipads was suspended after opponents blockaded the path. On July 11, the day after Upper House election, the defense bureau started preparations to resume the project.
Seongju residents criticized the government for unilaterally deciding on the deployment without consulting them. About 200 Seongju residents made a protest visit to Seoul's Defense Ministry on Wednesday, and some wrote letters of complaint in blood. A group of 13 local leaders went on a hunger strike.
The maximum penalty for driving while disqualified is 12 months in prison.
More than half of nearly 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan under the Japan-U.S. security treaty are on Okinawa. In terms of space, more than 70 percent of Japan-based U.S. military facilities are on the small island. In 1995, three U.S. servicemen on Okinawa abducted and raped a 12-year-old girl in a case that triggered mass protests and led to an agreement to relocate a key air station to another area of the island. The plan has since stalled because residents want the base removed completely from the island.