Thursday, November 12, 2009

"No" to construction of a new military base in Henoko

"No" to construction of a new military base in Henoko

21,000 people demand closure of Futenma air base
PM Hatoyama, President Obama should "Listen to voices of Okinawa"

21,000 people attended a rally in Ginowancity on November 8 to demonstrate against the building of a replacement for Marine Corps Air base Futenma within Okinawa prefecture. Protestors demanded the immediate closure of the base and agreed upon a resolution against construction of any new facility in Henoko or the relocation of the Futenma base within Okinawa Prefecture. Alongside the demand for the shelving of current proposals for the construction of a new facility in Henoko, protestors also called for the immediate closure of the Futenma base. The resolution states “now that the new DPJ led coalition has taken power, we would like to strengthen our resolve in communicating our opposition to any new base construction.” Also, it urges Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to convey Okinawan people’s voices and negotiate with U.S. President Barack Obama from a position of equality when he visits Japan.

21,000 people protested a construction of new U.S. military base in Okinawa (November 8, at the open-air theater of Ginowan Beach Park)Slogans at the rally demanded (1) the immediate closure and return of Futenma base, described as “the most dangerous in the world,” (2) They also demanded an environmental clean up of vacated facilities and economic stimulus measures after its return, as well as (3) compensation to land owners and securing employment for base employees and (4) the revision of the Japan Status of Forces Agreement.

On November 10 and 11, five representatives of the rally and members of the Okinawan prefectural assembly will make an appeal to the cabinet secretariat, defense and foreign ministries as well as the U.S. embassy in Tokyo.

On the behalf of the organizer, Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha said, “the majority of Okinawan people opposed the relocation of the Futenma base within Okinawa. We don’t need any more military bases. From now on, we can start a new Japan-U.S. relationship for our future.” Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, who took part on a non-party political basis said, “even though our policies differ, we agree on the need for the reduction and realignment of U.S. military bases. The new administration shouldn’t cause further conflict in Okinawa.”

Chiemi Yara who lives in Ginowan demanded the immediate closure of the Futenma. Members of the Toguchi family from Nago pointed out that the residents’ poll of Nago city in 1997 clearly showed citizens’ opposition to the construction of a new military base, and said “we want to leave beautiful nature in Oura bay for children.”

Yoshikazu Tamaki, one of the representatives, criticized the statements of Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa, who said on a trip to the U.S. with Okinawa Gov. Nakaima that Futenma should be moved to Henoko as agreed. He said “I cannot tolerate this insulting Okinawan people’s feeling.” The protestors agreed to object to Kanagawa Gov. Matsuzawa.

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