Yokosuka Municipal Assembly voted unanimously Wednesday against plans to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the city, citing the feelings of people in a country where the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs.
The 45-member assembly unanimously adopted a statement urging the central government to nullify the agreement with Washington to base a Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier in the city starting in 2008, replacing an older conventional carrier, city spokesman Takahide Kurabayashi said.
Yokosuka hosts the U.S. Seventh Fleet, the only U.S. fleet based overseas.
American troops have been stationed in Japan since the end of World War II in 1945, but the Japanese public has long been wary of any U.S. nuclear presence because of opposition to nuclear weapons and a fear of radiation leaks.
The decision to deploy the nuclear-powered carrier comes 60 years after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of the war.
“Fully taking into account the feelings toward nuclear (issues) of local citizens and the Japanese people in the only country that suffered atomic bombings … we request that the government nullify the deployment agreement, and that the U.S. government continue deploying a conventional aircraft carrier,” the city assembly said.
Kurabayashi said the statement would be sent to Japanese government officials, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. He said the city had no power to block the decision.
Last week, the U.S. and Japanese governments announced plans for the U.S. Navy to station a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Japan for the first time. The U.S. Navy said it would have greater capabilities than the diesel-powered USS Kitty Hawk currently based at Yokosuka.
On Saturday, about 80 people — many of them victims of the U.S. atomic bombings — rallied in Hiroshima against the plans to deploy the nuclear-powered carrier.
“It makes me angry that America can even consider basing a nuclear carrier in Japan, the only country in the world to have suffered a nuclear attack,” said Kazutoshi Kajikawa, who heads the Hiroshima Peace Movement Center.