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Peace march held prior to 45th anniversary of Okinawa's return to Japan

Participants taking part in the 'Peace Action 2017' march are seen here in Yomitan, Okinawa Prefecture, on May 12, 2017. (Mainichi)

NAHA -- To coincide with the 45th anniversary of the return of Okinawa to Japan, which will fall on May 15, 2017, a peace march got underway on the prefecture's main island on May 12.

Titled "Peace Action 2017," the march consisted of approximately 800 participants from across the country, and wound its way around Okinawa Prefecture -- known partly for its U.S. military base presence.

During the procession, the marchers voiced their opposition to the commencement of construction work related to the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the Okinawa prefectural city of Ginowan to Nago city's Henoko district, also in Okinawa Prefecture. Chants such as, "We don't forgive the fact that Okinawan voices are being ignored" were shouted out by protesters.

This is the 40th time that the peace march has taken place. Each year, around mid-May, the march is organized by a planning committee that consists of organizations such as the Okinawa Peace Action Center.

"Peace Action 2017" will continue until May 14 -- which is when protesters also plan to hold a "residents' meeting designed to maintain peace and support peoples' lives" on the coast near to where the new U.S. military base at Henoko will be constructed.

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