SAD vojska.jpg
Photograph: army.mil

Forty-three per cent of Okinawans want the US military to withdraw from the southern Japanese island, a survey showed Friday, as public support sinks for the option of just downsizing the bases there amid recent alleged assaults.

Just 27 per cent would now be satisfied with a reduction in US troops, according to a poll by local newspaper Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Television, two weeks after the arrest of a former US marine in connection with the death of a 20-year-old Okinawa woman.

Back in 2007, a reduction in troop numbers was by supported by 70 per cent of locals, with just 15 per cent calling for the troops' removal, by the Okinawa Times newspaper reported at the time.

“Public opinion has shifted towards the complete withdrawal of the US military” on the island, said Minoru Morita, a Tokyo-based political analyst, saying the latest assault triggered some of the change.

The 32-year-old suspect, now an employee at US Kadena Air Base, was arrested last month on suspicion of dumping a woman's body found in the town of Uruma. He admitted to strangling her, Ryukyu Shimpo reported.

US President Barack Obama expressed his “sincerest condolences and deepest regrets” for the incident last week during a trip to Japan for a G7 summit.

“The United States will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation and ensure that justice is done under the Japanese legal system,” he said.

Around half of the 53,000 US military personnel stationed in Japan are on Okinawa, 1,600 kilometres south-west of Tokyo, which is less than 1 per cent of the country’s total land mass.

Most of those are at US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located in a residential area. The US and Japan agreed in 1996 to close it after a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped by three US servicemen.

But the building of a new facility on the island has stalled amid resistance from conservationists, and the increasing minority of residents who want the US troops removed from the island rather than relocated.

During Obama's visit, around 4,000 protesters urged Washington and Tokyo to abandon the new base, planned near Nago city in northern Okinawa.

Latest news

Two charged for racially insulting actor Jamie Foxx in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik police will bring misdemeanour charges against two men for disturbing the peace on Sunday night in a local restaurant when they racially insulted African American actor Jamie Foxx, who is currently in Dubrovnik filming "Robin Hood: Origins".

Opposition youth leader arrested in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean police on Monday arrested an opposition youth leader on charges of inciting public violence against the government of President Robert Mugabe, the youth leader’s lawyer said.

Turkey dismisses 227 judges and prosecutors

Turkey's top judicial body on Monday dismissed 227 judges and prosecutors who are accused of having links to a cleric blamed for last year's coup attempt, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Germany vows to do all it can to free journalist detained in Turkey

The German Foreign Ministry on Monday hailed German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel as a symbol of free speech as it vowed to treat his case with the "utmost importance" in order to secure his release.

Minister: State of education system not disastrous, Croatia leads in some indicators

Croatian Science and Education Minister Pavo Barisic has opposed assessments that the situation in the education system is disastrous, underlining that according to some indicators, Croatia is among the best European countries, as evidenced by the fact that as many as 97% of teachers attend seminars and lectures, a rate much above the European average.

Le Pen says al-Assad is better solution for Syria than Islamic State

France's far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said Monday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains the more reassuring solution for France than Islamic State.

Residents in northern Greece oppose refugee children attending school

There were renewed clashes between angry residents and police in the northern Greek town of Oreokastro on Monday, where some locals have for months opposed children from a nearby refugee centre being taught at the local school.

Germany, France slam Russia's acceptance of Ukrainian rebel passports

EU member states Germany and France, which have been seeking to mitigate the conflict between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, on Monday broadly condemned Russia's recognition of rebel-issued passports.

Stier says Croatia strongly supports Kosovo, calls for enhancing economic cooperation

The Croatian minister announced a closer economic cooperation with Kosovo.

Afghanistan demands Pakistan hand over militants, shut training camps

The Afghan government has demanded that Pakistan hand over terrorists operating on its soil and close tens of terrorist training camps, the Foreign Ministry in Kabul said Monday.

Four Russian servicemen in Syria killed in vehicle bombing

Four Russian servicemen were killed and two others injured when a remote-controlled bomb exploded under their vehicle in Syria's western Homs region, Russian state media reported Monday, citing the Defence Ministry.

Iraqi forces advance in Mosul as US Defence Secretary visits Baghdad

Iraqi forces pressed on with their offensive to dislodge the extremist Islamic State militia from their stronghold in northern Iraq, as US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis landed in Baghdad on an unannounced official visit.