Diet, prefecture, city, town and village assembly members sit-in protest against new US base in Henoko
January 25, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
On January 24, more than 100 members of Diet, prefecture, city town and village assemblies took part in a sit-in protest in front of Camp Schwab in Henoko, Nago. The governments of Japan and the United States are pushing forward the plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko. Four groups from the ruling party of Okinawa Prefectural Assembly initiated the action. The participants vowed to pursue the government at the Diet, asserting the government is forcibly carrying out construction of a new U.S. base. They criticized the government for allowing the Japan Coast Guard to exercise excessive security measures against citizens. The members are working hard to adopt protest resolutions at their assemblies. They plan to take turns joining the sit-in protest.
On January 17, the defense bureau brought floats from the coast of Henokozaki to the sea and tied them in a line between Henokozaki and Nagashima in Oura Bay. Part of the coast and the sea were enclosed by the float line as well as an oil fence, indicating the temporarily restricted area.
Citizens opposing construction of the new U.S. base rode on 14 canoes, which departed from Sedaka beach at 8:30 a.m. Meanwhile, officers aboard more than a dozen rubber coast guard boats and about ten ships employed by the defense bureau asked the protesters in the canoes to leave the scene.
The coast guard’s patrol fleet, made up of at least ten ships, was sighted offshore. However, there were no clashes between the protesters and the police and coast guard officers on either the sea or land, because there was no construction activity.
The members’ protest gathering was held at the sit-in in front of the gate of Camp Schwab between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. for three days from January 23. January 24, the last day of this action, drew the largest number of participants, including Diet Members Elected from Okinawa constituencies and members of 12 of city, town, and village assemblies.
Meanwhile, at 11 a.m. on January 23, when the assembly members returned to work, there was a tussle between citizens and riot police officers who were leading construction trucks into the base. Sit-in protesters want assembly members to take action more than engage in political performance. Several assembly members suggested continuing to come to the scene on chartered buses and stand watch for construction trucks entering the base during night. Some members said they would ask Governor Takeshi Onaga to join them.
(English translation by T&CT)
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