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Japan's GSDF, US military conduct joint exercise in Hokkaido amid protests

Members of a citizens' group protest a Japan-U.S. joint exercise in front of Ground Self-Defense Force Camp Obihiro's main gate in the city of Obihiro, Hokkaido, on Dec. 5, 2021. (Mainichi/Hitoshi Suzuki)

OBIHIRO, Hokkaido -- Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) and the U.S. military commenced a joint exercise on Dec. 5 at the Yausubetsu training area in eastern Hokkaido, while citizens' groups protested the operation in front of GSDF Camp Obihiro's main gate here.

    Two aircraft participating in the exercise are being parked at Camp Obihiro at night. Some 80 protesters raised banners condemning the use of the camp and chanted slogans including, "We don't tolerate military drills ignoring residents," and, "Don't allow the U.S. military to act unchecked."

    The rally was organized by the Peace Forum activist group's Tokachi bloc council and others. The council's secretary-general Akihiko Yonezawa commented, "We strongly demand that they (the GSDF and U.S. military) stop the exercise to protect the lives and peaceful every day existence of citizens."

    (Japanese original by Hitoshi Suzuki, Obihiro Bureau)

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