Okinawan fishermen terrified to have guns pointed toward them by U.S. warships near White Beach

September 11, 2011 Kenyu Uchima of Ryukyu Shimpo

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in the waters provided for military use near White Beach in the Katsuren district, Uruma City, United States warships have pointed their deck guns toward local fishing vessels passing close by. The fishermen have been terrified to have U.S. Navy warships taking aim at them. The Katsuren Fishery Association, headed by Hiroyuki Akamine, recently requested that the Okinawa Defense Bureau bring an end to this intimidation by U.S. warships. On September 7, the Okinawa Defense Bureau reported to the Association that they had conveyed the request to the U.S. military.

According to the Association, following the 2001 terrorist attacks the U.S. military enhanced its security in the water areas and around White Beach. Ten years have passed since the 9/11 attacks, but the shadow cast by the activities of the U.S. military in their many facilities and in the large area they use in Okinawa is as pronounced as ever.

Around White Beach, there is a water area available for the U.S. military whenever they need it. According to the Association, local fishermen have to go through that area designated for military use to get out to their fishing grounds. Since the terrorist attacks a decade ago, whenever nuclear submarines and other warships call at the White Beach, U.S. patrol boats have menaced fishing boats, pointing their deck guns at them as they cross the stretch of water in question. In response to the request from the fishermen lodged in the middle of August, in September 7, a staff member of the Okinawa Defense Bureau visited the office of the Association and explained developments.

Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. government requested that the Japanese government take precautionary measures when nuclear submarines call in to port at White Beach, because such vessels “may be a terrorist target.”

On the request of the Foreign Ministry, in the past the Okinawa Prefectural Government gave the media information on visits to White Beach by U.S. nuclear submarines. However, in order to strengthen the security around White Beach, since the September 11 attacks the Foreign Ministry has withheld such information.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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