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GINOWAN, Okinawa — A recent poll by the Asahi Shimbun daily newspaper in Japan found that 51 percent of 2,083 respondents said Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama should step down if he fails to resolve the Futenma issue.

During a press conference in Tokyo on Monday, Hatoyama would not speak about resigning but said he was surprised at the reaction from residents of Tokunoshima to press reports that their tiny island, about 125 miles north of Okinawa, was being considered as a potential Futenma relocation site.

More than half of the island’s 26,000 residents turned out Sunday for a rally opposing any such move. Hatoyama has not publicly indicated which alternative sites he is considering.

Hatoyama has said he will strive to get the cooperation of any community selected to host the new base. But the mayor of one of the three small villages on Tokunoshima asked him to stay away.

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