Government to set up a special team at Okinawa’s police headquarters to tighten security for Henoko

July 15, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The government has instructed the National Police Agency to strengthen security surrounding protests over seabed drilling in Henoko, Nago, where U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is due to be relocated. The Okinawa Prefectural Police plans to set up a public security investigation team at the headquarters soon. This team will carry out a security investigation in response to the situation in Henoko. The Okinawa Prefectural Police will establish a security force of 60-70 members this month, when the Okinawa Defense Bureau will set buoy lines and start drilling in the planned sea area.

The Okinawa Prefectural Police will form the team with not only members of the security department, it will also draw police officers from the detective and traffic departments as support personnel. It has not confirmed when the team will be finalised because exact timing of the drilling is not yet decided. A public security investigation team is a temporary organization set up when there is a possible risk in large-scale and specific security incidents such as civil resistance and demonstrations. They carry out investigations based on the Act on Special Measures Concerning Criminal Cases. In Okinawa, a public security investigation team was organized when the Osprey were moved to the Futenma Air Station.

The Okinawa Prefectural Police will establish what laws and regulations should be applied to suspects when major clashes occur between police and citizens who oppose the landfill. In the case of clashes, riot police will be stationed at the scene. The public security investigation team will respond to cases where someone is arrested or deemed a subject of investigation. Such a team is normally comprised only of members of the security department. However, when the expected large-scale movement of protesters takes place, members from other departments will join the team for support. Such special security measures have been taken before, such as when the Emperor visited Okinawa.

Keiji Furuya, the chairman of the national public safety commission, has said that the Okinawa Prefectural Police should not hesitate to respond firmly and harshly to activity deemed illegal according to evidence and public law. He said that he would advise the Okinawa Prefectural Police.

(English translation by T&CT)

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