Japanese government resumes construction work of new U.S military base in the sea off Henoko

January 15, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

The governments of Japan and the United States plan to construct a replacement base for U.S Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Henoko, Nago. The Okinawa Defense Bureau resumed setting up a float bridge when they placed an oil fence off the coast of Henoko at 11 a.m. on January 15. Concerned the construction work could influence Lower House election at the end of last year, the bureau had halted the offshore operation and removed the float bridge from the sea. However, they have now resumed the operation. At several spots, the bureau used a crane truck to lower an oil fence on the beach. Construction workers then used ships to stretch the oil fence over the sea off Henoko. The setting up of the bridge was expected to take a full day.

In the Okinawa gubernatorial election and in the Lower House election, all the candidates opposing construction of the new base defeated candidates backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Okinawan people have continued to oppose the base construction. However, the Japanese government has resumed the offshore operation while forcibly removing citizens protesting against the plan. The central government is not even trying to hide its heavy-handed approach of forcing through the Henoko relocation.

Four ships and canoes carrying protesters gathered to try to prevent construction in the marine area where the Okinawa Defense Bureau resumed the construction. Alleging the protesters entered an off-limits area, Japan Coast Guard officers, who were on inflatable boats, captured about 20 of them at 10:30 a.m. The scene has gotten tense.

In front of the gate of Camp Schwab, over 100 citizens held protest rallies and staged a sit-in protest. There have been standoffs continuing between citizens and Okinawan Prefectural Police. A woman in her 80s fell to the ground and hit her head hard. Around 8:10 a.m., she was carried by ambulance to the hospital.

(English translation by T&CT)

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