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Okinawa-Hawaiian activist to hold rally at White House over US base

Robert Kajiwara is pictured in Honolulu, on Dec. 18, 2018. (Kyodo)

LOS ANGELES (Kyodo) -- An Okinawan-Hawaiian activist said Friday he plans to hold a rally in front of the White House next month to put pressure on President Donald Trump's administration to intervene in the controversial relocation of a U.S. military base in Okinawa.

Earlier this month, Robert Kajiwara, 32, started a petition, titled "Stop the landfill of Henoko/Oura Bay until a referendum can be held in Okinawa," on the White House's "We the People" petition website.

Within 10 days of creating his petition on Dec. 8, it garnered the support of Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki and various Japanese celebrities and reached 100,000 signatures, surpassing the requirement for a response by the White House.

Japan and the United States have been seeking to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps air station from a crowded residential area of Ginowan to the less populated coastal district of Henoko in Nago.

The Japanese government recently began full-fledged landfill work for the relocation plan despite persistent local opposition.

"We want to send a message to Washington D.C.," Kajiwara said. "We are hoping President Trump will take the issue at Henoko seriously and hope he will order at least a temporary halt on the landfill until the referendum."

An Okinawa prefectural referendum on the base transfer plan will be held Feb. 24, with Tamaki hoping it will be a chance to further demonstrate Okinawa's opposition.

In addition to the Jan. 7 rally, there are also plans for a press conference. Kajiwara also said solidarity events will take place at various locations worldwide leading up to the rally.

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