September 2, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
Authorized NPO and human-rights body Human Rights Now issued statement criticizing the Japanese government for violently cracking down non-violent protesters in Okinawa. It came ahead of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) 33rd regular session, which will be held from September 13. The statement said the Japanese government is suppressing citizens protesting against construction of a new military base in Henoko and helipads in Takae with brute force. It urged the government to stop taking excessive security measures and violently removing the protesting citizens, stating, “The Japanese government should guarantee Okinawan people’s right of self-determination and end the excessive concentration of U.S. military bases on Okinawa.”
Japan will be evaluated by the Universal Periodic Review of HRC in 2017. It is possible the government’s forcible removal of the protesting citizens in Henoko and Takae will be exposed to international community as a serious breach of human rights.
Jun Shimabukuro, professor at the University of the Ryukyus who is acquainted with HRC, said the statement could raise questions with HRC, which is made up of 47 member nations. Shimabukuro said, “What the statement said will not be immediately discussed by HRC. However, it is possible that the human rights situation in Japan could be known to the international community, which could lead to the situation being improved in the future.”
In the statement, Human Rights Now pressed the Japanese government to guarantee freedom of assembly, freedom of the press and also admit Okinawans as indigenous people. The organization holds a general consultative status with the UN.
(English translation by T&CT)