January 3, 2011 by kyle from DMZhawaii.org
U.S. military helicopters buzzed the peace encampment near the Yambaru forest in Takae, at the northern end of Okinawa. Construction of the jungle warfare training area has begun. This is another site of community resistance to U.S. military base expansion in Okinawa, but it has gotten far less media attention than Futenma and Henoko. Groups in Japan are mobilizing to protest the U.S. expansion of training in the rainforest of Yambaru. They requested international groups to send messages of solidarity:
Email your message/request to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include in your email the following information:
*** Name (for an individual) or name of your organization
*** Your message/request (length is up to you)
Both Japanese and English messages will be accepted.
However, the U.S. Marine Corps has been using the Yambaru Forest for combat training. In 1957, th US military started using the area as “Northern Training Area” (Jungle Warfare Training Center), and currently there are 15 U.S. helicopter takeoff and landing zones (helipads) in Higashi Village. Residents of Takae have constantly suffered from the noise and the risk of helicopter crashes. To make matters worse, the Japanese and US governments decided to build 6 new helipads, surrounding the residential neighborhood of Takae.
Construction of new helipads will not only further endanger the livelihood and lives themselves of Takae residents, but also further destroy the precious environment with its wealth of species, forest and rivers. New military facilities also pave the way to the possibility of a new war. Residents of Takae have protested against the helipads construction for the above reasons. In 2006, we passed a resolution against the new helipads, and demanded of the relevant authorities that they review the construction plan. Takae residents and their supporters from across Japan and from around the world have continued to sit-in, monitoring the site and trying to persuade the government against the construction.
The Japanese and US governments, however, have not listened to the voices of opposition by the residents, and have not provided sincere explanation or proper opportunities for public hearing. The Japanese government even decided, all of a sudden, to prosecute some of the local protesters for obstructing traffic.
Just before dawn on December 22, 2010, at 6:30 AM, some 100 members of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, ignoring the ongoing court proceedings, barged into the site without warning to restart the helipad construction. On the next night, December 23rd, a US helicopter hovered only 15 meters above the sit-in tent, causing the tent to blow down. Such military exercise over a public road threatenｓ the safety of local residents. The Japanese and US governments are harming the people of Takae by forcing through the construction work without sufficient explanation or consent by local residents. Such an approach by the two governments is unacceptable.
Residents of the Henoko district in Nago City, where the Japanese and US governments plan to build a replacement base for MCAS Futenma, have also been sitting-in for over 2,400 days, in order to preserve their life and the beautiful ocean. We urge you also to say “NO” to the new base plan in Henoko.
Following our protest to the Ministry of Defense on December 22 and the December 26 demonstration in Shinjuku, “Save Takae/Okinawa – an urgent appeal and demonstration against construction of helipads,” we will go to the US Embassy in Tokyo and the Japanese Ministry of Defense on January 10 (Mon.), 2011, to protest. We would like to collect as many requests/demands as possible and deliver them to the US government. We accept both individual and organizational messages. Just one sentence message, such as “We do not need US helipads in the pristine forest” will suffice, or a longer message is welcome too. The Takae and Henoko issues are not just about war and military bases, but they are also about environmental preservation, biological diversity, and an alternative, “slow-life” lifestyle. Please express your message in your own words. Please follow the below instruction and send your message by January 8, 2011.
With our voices and with our actions, let us stop the helipad construction in Takae, and the base construction in Henoko. Let us bring a peaceful and fulfilling life to Takae and Henoko!
(The original document in Japanese is at: http://takae.ti-da.net/e3296164.html. Translated by Norimatsu Satoko and Gavan McCormack)