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Yokosuka groups Thursday submitted more than 140,000 signatures to the city’s mayor from people opposed to the deployment of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.

The count brings the total to more than 470,000 signatures submitted since April 2004.

The U.S. Navy announced in October that a nuclear carrier will replace the aging USS Kitty Hawk after it is decommissioned in 2008. In December, the Navy announced the USS George Washington as the replacement.

Yokosuka city has pushed for deployment of another conventionally powered carrier, of which the Navy has only one — the 38-year-old USS John F. Kennedy.

Leaders of the groups against deployment of a nuclear carrier handed the signatures to Yokosuka Mayor Ryoichi Kabaya, urging him to take action toward calling off the plan.

“We believe the city’s lead in taking every possible action more aggressively will open up developments,” the petition stated. It requested the mayor urge the prime minister to call off the plan and work with other surrounding communities — including Kanagawa Prefecture — which are against the plan, and to hold council meetings with them.

Kabaya told the leaders Thursday that he will “take it very seriously,” and that he has “exerted [his] utmost effort for deployment of conventionally powered carrier and [he] will continue to do so,” city officials said.

The groups say they are against the deployment of a nuclear-powered carrier due to safety concerns, such as an accident in a highly populated area.

“The response within the city has been large after the announcement” a nuclear carrier would replace the Kitty Hawk, said attorney Masahiko Goto, a leader of one of the groups.

Groups plan to hold a rally Sunday at Mikasa Park that will feature food, music and presentations about nuclear carriers and military bases.

Allison Batdorff contributed to this report.

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