CAMP FOSTER — Traffic delays are expected this weekend on Okinawa’s main highways, where thousands of people plan to stage peace marches throughout the island with brief rallies at major U.S. military bases.
Local residents, peace activists and labor union members from Okinawa and mainland Japan are to join in an annual three-day peace march to mark the anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to Japan on May 15, 1972.
Marchers will take three different routes, starting Friday. People in the East Course group will start from Henoko at 9 a.m., walking south along Highway 329. Brief rallies are planned in front of Camp Hansen’s Gate 1 on Friday afternoon, at Camp Courtney’s main gate on Saturday morning and Kadena Air Base’s Gate 2 and Marine Corps headquarters gate on Camp Foster on Sunday morning.
People in the West Course group will walk down Highway 58 from Motobu, detouring to Highway 6, passing by Torii Station.
The group then is to walk down Highway 58 along Kadena Air Base, rallying briefly at the air base’s Gate 1 on Sunday morning.
The South Course group is to start from Itoman Peace Prayer Park and move north up Highway 58, with rallies in front of the U.S. Consulate in Urasoe on Sunday morning and at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s flightline gate on Sunday afternoon.
Before closing the annual event, organizers say, an expected 5,000 people are to gather for a larger rally at Beach Side Park near Okinawa Convention Center in Ginowan on Sunday.