Photo/IllutrationProtesters rally in front of the White House against land reclamation work in Okinawa Prefecture for a new U.S. military base on Jan. 7. (Yuko Lanham)

  • Photo/Illustraion

WASHINGTON--Brian May, guitarist of the British rock group Queen, is the latest celebrity to join an online petition calling on U.S. President Donald Trump to stop land reclamation work for a new U.S. military base in Okinawa Prefecture.

May used his Twitter and Instagram accounts to attach his name to the more than 197,000 people who have signed.

Petitions require at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days to force federal authorities to issue a response, and Jan. 7 marked the deadline for this process.

Robert Kajiwara, a fourth generation of Japanese-American with roots in Okinawa who lives in Hawaii where he writes music, started the petition on Dec. 8 on the “We the People” section of the White House website. He called for a halt to the land reclamation work in the Henoko district of Nago for the relocated U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the Okinawan city of Ginowan until a referendum can be held in Okinawa.

The project has ignited vigorous protests across Okinawa, where 70 percent of all U.S. military facilities in Japan are located.

Kajiwara, 32, who was among 40 or so people who staged a protest in front of the White House on Jan. 7, pointed out the importance of a prefecture-wide referendum scheduled for Feb. 24 and said that ignoring the voices of the Okinawan people is tantamount to ignoring everything that the United States stands for.

In Japan, fashion model and TV personality Rola also signed the petition.

The total number of signatures has already far exceeded initial expectations, and Kajiwara has vowed to continue pressing on with the campaign despite the fact the deadline has passed.

After the protest rally in Washington, Kajiwara told reporters he couldn't believe that more than 190,000 signatures had been gathered.