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Yukio Hatoyama, the Japanese prime minister, plans a visit to Okinawa to settle the row over the US airbase on the island.

On the one hand, he has to appease the residents of Okinawa and on the other, he cannot afford to strain relations with Washington.

The bone of contention is the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma or MCAS Futenma.

It is located in 'Ginowan' city on the island of Okinawa. As Okinawa's population grew, the airbase became a part of a crowded city.
For years, many residents have been concerned about flights over residential areas causing noise and air pollution and endangering public safety.

The issue gathered new momentum when at least 90,000 people, including the governour of Okinawa, gathered in a protest rally on Sunday.

They want the base to be relocated outside the island, as promised by the Japanese prime minister before being elected.

So, can both countries reach a compromise? Why is Okinawa important to the US? And how has a huge military presence worldwide served Washington?

Inside Story, with presenter Sohail Rahman, discusses with Satoko Norimatsu, the founder of the Peace Philosophy Centre and a member of the Network for Okinawa, Steve Rabson, a professor of East Asian studies at Brown University, and Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow on Northeast Asian affairs at Heritage Foundation, a Washington DC based think-tank.

This episode of Inside Story airs from Wednesday, April 28, at 1730GMT, with repeats at 2230GMT and on Thursday at 0430GMT and 1030GMT.

Source: Al Jazeera