Peace Boat and Korean environmental foundation co-host a tour concerning U.S. military base issues in Okinawa

Peace Boat and Korean environmental foundation co-host a tour concerning U.S. military base issues in Okinawa

On December 4, at Kakazu Takadai Park in Ginowan, participants looked out over Futenma Air Station, which is located in a densely populated area.


December 13, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Japan-based international non-governmental and non-profit organization the Peace Boat and a Korean environmental foundation co-hosted a tour designed to consider the burden on Okinawa of hosting U.S. forces in the prefecture. About 300 participants from outside of Okinawa, and from Korea, separated into six groups and looked at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and the Henoko district of Nago where the U.S. and Japanese governments plan to construct an alternative facility to Futenma Air Station.

The group that visited the observation tower at Kakazu Takadai Park to look at Futenma Air Station experienced military aircraft noise first hand. Kim Minjee from Seoul said, “I was surprised by the visit. Seoul has a U.S. army base, but we are not exposed to the dangers of potential crashes of military aircraft or noise. I do not understand why Japanese politicians do nothing about the base-related issues. Futenma Air Station is located in a densely populated area and this could result in great damage to the local community.” A participant from Osaka said, “I used to have just a vague idea of the U.S. military base issue, but actually coming here and seeing them frightens me. It is unfair that Okinawan people have to shoulder the heavy burden of U.S. bases. I will certainly tell people about this when I get back to Osaka.”

The group that visited the Henoko district of Nago went on a boat to look at the sea off Henoko. One of the participants said, “I completely oppose the plan to build a military base so close to such a beautiful place.” The participants in the group agreed to regularly visit Henoko and to conduct tours promoting opposition to the bases.

The co-leader of the Peace Boat, Shinsaku Nohira, said, “It is wrong for the Japanese government to expose the people of Okinawa to the risks that come with military bases. One of those risks is the flight operation of the MV-22 Osprey, which the government claims is safe. I think that the people who have visited Okinawa on this occasion will sense the reality that Okinawa that faces with the U.S. military base issues. Actually visiting the prefecture and hearing what Okinawan people have to say has made me understand the difference between the feelings of the Okinawan people and the people living in the main islands of Japan towards the base issue.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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