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TOKYO — Groups opposed to Thursday’s arrival of the USS George Washington to Yokosuka Naval Base say demonstrations will grow in size and number in upcoming days.

"We want to express our opposition to America," Masahiko Goto, a lawyer and leader of a Yokosuka citizen’s group, said Tuesday. "We want a withdrawal of the deployment."

On the day of the ship’s arrival to its new forward-deployed base, a rally will be held at 6 a.m. at Kannonzaki Park near Uraga station, where protesters can watch the carrier as it approaches, organizers said. Protesters also will embark on boats to follow the ship in.

Base officials said Carney Gate, or the main gate, will be closed to pedestrians and outbound vehicles from 7:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. All traffic will be routed through Womble Gate during that time, officials said.

Goto said throughout the day others will stay near the base, handing out English-language fliers citing safety concerns with the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and calling for peace. Another group will gather at Yokosuka Chuo station to urge opposition to the aircraft carrier’s arrival, he said.

The largest rally starts at 6:30 p.m. at Verny Park, next to Daiei Mall, organizers said. About 3,000 protesters are expected to march down Route 16 toward Yokosuka Chuo Station around 7:30 p.m., organizers said.

Other protests Thursday include a rally at Umikaze Park at 7:30 a.m. Opposition leaders said rallies will also be held at Yokosuka Chuo station on Friday and Oct. 3 from 7 to 8 p.m.; Sept. 29 from 11 a.m. to noon; and Sept. 30 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.
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