High school students in Yambaru learn about military base issues

High school students in Yambaru learn about military base issues

On June 14 at Miyamori Elementary School in Ishikawa, Uruma City, participants offered Chrysanthemum flowers at the crash site.

June 19, 2014, Mitsuo Kochi correspondent of Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 14, a peace project titled “Thinking about the Battle of Okinawa in Yambaru with High School Students” with the themes of the Battle of Okinawa and the U.S. military bases was held. The Nago City School Board sponsors and carries out the project each year. This is the 20th event. This year, participants learned about “Futenma Air Station,” “The U.S.military jet crash onto Miyamori Elementary School in 1959,” and “The relocation of Futenma Air Station to Henoko.”

A total of 82 people, including students from Nago High School, Nago Commercial and Industrial School, Northern Agriculture and Forestry High School, Hentona High School, Motobu High School, Hokuzan High School, Ginoza High School, Okinawa Vocational High School and community members took part. Participants went around Kakazu Hill in Ginowan City, Miyamori Elementary School, and Henoko.

At Kakazu Hill, former Ginowan mayor Yoichi Iha explained the background and current situation of the US military base’s construction. Looking at the Futenma Air Station under heavy rain, one of the high-school students pointed out, “The runway extends to right near the residential area.”

At the Miyamori Elementary School in Ishikawa, Uruma City, Masaharu Kudaka, who was in the fifth grade at the time of the accident, told his story in front of photographs and panels. Hideko Ogido from Nago Commercial and Industrial High School remarked, “I was really shocked by the accident. Why do Okinawan people have to be afraid of the U.S. military personnel even after the war?”

Many of the high-school students said they were shocked that the aircraft had crashed into Miyamori Elementary School. They all prayed for the victims by dedicating chrysanthemum flowers at the crash site.

At Henoko, Tsutomu Nakasone from the Nago City Office explained the historical background of moving Futenma Air Station to Henoko.

Hibiki Kobashigawa said, “The Miyamori Elementary School accident was horrifying. As we learned about the plan to build a new military base in Henoko, I realized accidents like Miyamori Elementary School concern us, too.” Yuki Oshiro said, “It will be too late to solve the issues after accidents and incidents related to military bases happen.”

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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