Takae August 15, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
Washington special correspondent Sakae Toiyama reports
[Berkeley] At its annual national convention on August 15, Veterans for Peace, a peace organization made up of military veterans with 120 chapters across the United States, unanimously passed a resolution calling for cancellation of the plan to build a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago City, the planned relocation site for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. In addition, the group unanimously passed an emergency resolution calling for the cancellation of the construction of new helicopter landing pads (helipads) around Takae, Higashi Village, a condition for the return of a part of the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area. It was the first time for VFP to pass a resolution regarding Henoko or Takae since it was established in 1985.
The text of the resolution opposing the Henoko base construction emphasizes that the governor of Okinawa and the mayor of Nago City oppose the plan. It points out that the new base construction plan will be “a further humiliation of Okinawans” and will be “an environmental catastrophe.”
The resolution further calls on all chapters of VFP to encourage local assemblies to pass resolutions demanding (1) the withdrawal of the 1st Marine Air Wing at Futenma from Okinawa, (2) the abandonment of the construction of a new base in Henoko, and (3) the removal of Osprey aircraft from Okinawa.
The text of the resolution regarding Takae criticizes the Japanese government’s forceful methods used to push forward the construction, including sending in the riot police, as a “shameful, antidemocratic and discriminatory action” and urges the U.S. government to abandon the planned helipad construction and communicate that intent to the Japanese government.
At the national convention, applause filled the room when the resolutions regarding the Okinawa base issues were passed.
The resolution was submitted by Douglas Lummis, representative of the Ryukyu-Okinawa chapter of VFP (VFP-ROCK) and lecturer at Okinawa Christian University. Lummis said that he was surprised that the vote was unanimous, and that it made him realize that support for Okinawa is spreading. He said that he hopes the resolution will lead to more resolutions being passed by city councils throughout the United States, eventually forcing the governments to abandon the base construction plans. Yoshikazu Makishi, an associate member of VFP-ROCK, said he has high hopes for the support of VFP’s political clout.
VFP Executive Director Michael McPhearson emphasized the need to pay attention to how the resolutions are handled by each VFP chapter going forward.
A special Okinawa corner set up by VFP-ROCK at the convention garnered attention, and many attendees stopped by. Roughly 100 signatures in opposition to the new base construction were gathered as of August 13.
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)