NAHA (Japan): US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday received a blunt request to downscale US bases in Okinawa during talks with the chief of the southern island.
Several hundred demonstrators staged rallies near US bases to protest Rumsfeld's first visit to the strategically important island since he was appointed the US defence chief.
Okinawa governor Keiishi Inamine handed a petition calling for the reduction of US bases in Okinawa to Rumsfeld, who was to fly to South Korea as he concluded a three-day visit to Japan.
“People of Okinawa, who have been shouldering the excessive burden of US bases over long years, have been firmly calling for resolution of base-related issues,” Inamine said in a statement.
Following the meeting at Inamine's office here, Rumsfeld told reporters: “US commanders here and throughout the world assure that they can minimise their impact on the local community.” But he stopped short of mentioning any details of future reviews of US bases on the island. – AFP
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