Today, the Japanese government set out their "pre-survey" for a new U.S. military off-shore base in Henoko, Okinawa.
At 6:20 this morning, Japan Coast Guard patrol vessels and ships chartered by Defense Facilities Administration's Naha Bureau showed up off-shore at Henoko. Local base opposition groups confronted them with seven boats, one rubber raft and 12 canoes. The Coast Guard proceeded to conduct spot inspections against five of the protest boats, (while their own chartered ships remained un-inspected), and this delayed the protesters' departure from Henoko port for about an hour.
On the sea, the protesters attached themselves to the survey ships in an attempt to stop them. The people called for stoppage of the survey, imploring "do not build a base for killings." In spite of the resistance, survey materials such as iron pipes were placed on the sea bed at several survey spots where the protesters could not allocate enough people.
According to an Asahi news report today, the Japanese Minister of Defense Fumio Kyuma acknowledged the involvement of Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces divers in this activity. Some reports suggested the JMSDF did preparatory work in the middle of the night without being detected by protesters. Kyuma said, "the JMSDF's involvement is correct and the opposition's interruption of the private contractors' work is abnormal."
However, Hiroshi Nakachi, a professor at Ryuku University, warned in his interview with the Okinawa Times that "the fundamental role of the Self Defense Forces is to prevent aggression from overseas, not intervene in domestic confrontations. The people in Japan should be wary of this unchecked expansion of the SDF's activities."
Back on land, around 100 people kept their all-night vigil at the Henoko fish port, shouting encouragement to the protesters on the ocean.
The protesters are calling for more people to come immediately to Henoko to bolster opposition to the base "pre-survey."
Please take action for Henoko!
Hikaru Kasahara (Asian Peace Alliance[APA] Japan)