Yokosuka gate to close for GW protest
July 19, 2008
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — For the second straight weekend, a protest against the upcoming arrival of the USS George Washington will be held near Yokosuka Naval Base.
Last weekend’s rally drew 13,000 people, officials said. Saturday’s event is expected to draw 10,000, according to Izumi Kato, one of the event organizers and the director general of the Kanagawa Peace Activity Center.
According to Kato, safety is the main concern for the citizens’ groups and labor unions. The George Washington will be the Navy’s first nuclear-powered ship forward-deployed to Japan.
Navy officials have said the aircraft carrier will report to duty in Japan in the early fall. It is currently in San Diego undergoing repairs due to a May 22 fire aboard the ship.
The damage, mostly electrical, damaged 80 of the ship’s 3,800 spaces but did not affect the ship’s nuclear plant, Navy officials said.
"U.S. Navy says that the nuclear-powered USS George Washington is safe," Kato said Thursday. "But a recent fire already contradicts what they say."
A concert and speeches begin at 1 p.m. in Verny Park, next to the base. A 2 p.m. rally will culminate in a march past the base to a park near Yokosuka City Hall.
While protesters pass by, the base’s main Carney Gate will be closed to pedestrian and outbound vehicles, said assistant security officer Ens. Shawn Kline.
He recommended that people entering and leaving the base between 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. use Womble Gate near Mikasa Park.