August 19, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On the afternoon of August 19, about 400 people gathered in Takae Ward of Higashi Village to hold a protest rally against the construction of new helipads in the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area (NTA). The people taking part in the rally aimed to prevent the gravel used for the construction from being brought through the N1 zone gate to the NTA. After 5 p.m., those protesting assembled a line of about 180 cars and drove them at a reduced speed from near the Higashi village office in Taira to the main gate into the NTA. The protesting citizens parked the cars around the gate and staged a sit-in to completely block off the main gate.
As of 7 p.m., there had been no confirmation of a lockdown or roadblock of Prefectural road 70 by riot police, nor had there been confirmation that trucks had carried the gravel into the NTA.
Those protesting linked arms and sang songs such as “Let’s sit-in (Suwarikome Kokohe). Hiroji Yamashiro, the director of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, said, “It is predicted that the governments of Japan and the United States will fully start the construction. However, if the construction can be prolonged until next February, Okinawa woodpeckers start to build their nests then, which could postpone the construction for four months.” Yamashiro went on to say, “By holding extended protest rallies two times a week, we can fully prevent the gravel used for the construction from being brought into the NTA and make the Japanese government cancel the construction.”
(English translation by T&CT)