JCG’s craft rams into protester’s boat off Henko

JCG's craft rams into protester's boat off Henko

The JCG's special guard craft rams into protesters’ rubber boat in Oura Bay, Nago, at 12.00 p.m. on March 10. (Photograph taken by Yugo Okita)

March 11, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 10, in Oura Bay, Nago, the Japan Coast Guard (JCG)’s special guard and rescue craft collided with a rubber boat carrying two activists protesting against new U.S. base construction. The JCG chased the protesters’ rubber boat, which crossed over the boundary marking temporally restricted area. The bow of the craft rode on a man riding at the rear of the boat. He was not seriously injured, but he complained of pain in his left shoulder, “I thought I might be crushed in the clash.”

Soon after crossing over the boundary, marked by a line of buoys, the boat turned around and went straight in the opposite direction of Camp Schwab. The JCG’s craft turned its course towards the right to chase the boat and hit it. The coast guard officers detained the two protesters. They were released at 1:00 p.m. When the boat crossed over, the Okinawa Defense Bureau was not carrying out a preparation for base construction.

An official from the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters issued the following statement; “When our small craft was tracking the rubber boat, the two rapidly approached near each other. A man claimed that our craft touched his shoulder. The officers asked him whether he was injured, and if he requested ambulance transport. However, he did not respond to the questions. He did not seemed to be injured.”

The official declined to comment on whether the JCG’s craft deliberately rammed into the protester’s boat. “We responded to an illegal action in order to ensure security on the sea from the view of law enforcement,” the official said.

On the same day, a woman jumped into the sea in the restricted area to protest. A coast guard officer grasped her shoulder and forcibly pushed her under the water. Her head was repeatedly plunged into the water. An official of the JCG denied it, saying, “It is not fact that an officer pushed her head under water. He lifted her up on the boat for her safety.”

The Okinawa Defense Bureau, using large construction ships, has installed an oil fence on Oura Bay. The oil fence, floats and a float bridge surround the coastline, stretching from Camp Schwab to the Henokozaki cape.

In front of Camp Schwab, members of citizen groups gathered to keep guard on the arrival of construction vehicles.

(English translation by T&CT)

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