Four thousand people at rally in Tokyo ask U.S. and Japanese governments to rescind Osprey deployment
January 28, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo
On January 27, the mayors or representatives of all 41 municipalities in Okinawa, the head of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly and representatives of the rally executive committee went to Tokyo to participate in the rally held at the Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall. The objective of the rally was to request to the U.S. and Japanese governments that the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft to U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station be rescinded. About 4000 people are reported to have participated in the rally.
Comments such as “We want the people of the main islands of Japan to share the burden of hosting the U.S. military bases,” and “All the citizens of Japan should take part in discussions on Japan-U.S. security arrangements,” were heard from among the participants.
This is one of the largest rallies held by Okinawan people in Tokyo in the years since the prefecture’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty. On January 28, the mayors handed a petition to Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, other related ministers, and representatives of other political parties to request that the U.S. and Japanese governments rescind the deployment of the Osprey and abandon the idea of relocating the facilities at Futenma Air Station within the prefecture. (Links to footage of the rally are on the website. Please refer to the links at the end of this article).
Masaharu Kina, the chairman of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly and co-leader of the committee gave the opening speech at the rally. Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, Toshiyasu Shiroma, the head of the Town and Village Assembly, and Seiko Nagayama, the head of the Chairman’s Council of the Municipal Assembly, and Masaru Nakamura, the head of the Chairman’s Council of the Town and Village Assembly also spoke.
Kina said, “The deployment of the Osprey forces Okinawans to bear a greater burden in order to strengthen the functions of U.S. bases. This is something that could possibly put citizens, including children, in danger.”
Onaga stated that the Okinawan people’s anger had come to the boil in response to the U.S. and Japanese governments having forced through deployment of the Osprey. Referring to “Restore Japan,” the catchphrase used by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the last Lower House election, Onaga said, “You cannot restore Japan by continuing to place the burden of Japanese security only on Okinawa. All the people in the main islands of Japan need to take part in discussion on Japan-U.S. security agreements.”
Shiroma said, “We would like all of Japan’s citizens to share the pain that Okinawa endures.” Nagayama said, “We want the central government to provide peace and safety for Okinawa.” Nakamura said, “The U.S. military conducts training for Osprey crews without adhering to the protocols on this agreed upon by both nations. We want the U.S. military to remove the Osprey from Okinawa as soon as possible.” As a display of commitment Nobumasa Nakamura, the chairman of the Rengo Okinawa and co-leader of the committee, wrapped up the rally by shouting “Ganbaro!” (Let’s keep up the struggle!) three times.
In addition to the representatives from Okinawa, members of Okinawan associations in the main islands of Japan, students and other citizens, members of various citizen groups also participated in the rally. The Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper also issued a special edition to commemorate the rally.
After the rally, to continue their protest against the deployment, participants marched about two kilometers through Ginza and other places.
(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)
Footage of the protest rally
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