Protest rally against construction of new US military base attracts 2,500 people during Abe’s visit to US

Protest rally against construction of new US military base attracts 2,500 people during Abe's visit to US

The protest rally held in the public square in front of the Okinawa Prefectural Government Office in Naha attracted about 2,500 people (Photograph taken by Yuna Fukuhara).


April 29, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 28, a protest rally was held in the public square in front of the Okinawa Prefectural Government Office in Naha. According to the organizers, about 2,500 people took part. In the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama reconfirmed the Henoko relocation would go ahead. When one of the speakers who took the rostrum, declared to never let that happen, there was loud applause from the crowd. The participants stressed their determination to reject a new “humiliation” from the U.S. and Japanese government. They also pledged to make the scheduled mass rally at Okinawa Cellular Stadium on May 17 a success.

When the Peace Treaty signed in San Francisco came into force on April 28, 1952, Okinawa fell under the occupation of the U.S. military administration. The rally was held to mark the 63rd anniversary of this “humiliating day.” This is the fifth time a mass protest rally has been held since last August when the Japanese government began a marine boring survey as part of the offshore construction work for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago. At the end of March, Fisheries minister Yoshimasa Hayashi suspended the order by Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga urging the Okinawa Defense Bureau to halt offshore construction activity. This is the first rally since then.

As a part of the rally, citizens took part in protests at the gate of U.S. Marine Camp Schwab and in the sea off Henoko earlier in the day.

In the summit meeting held in the early hours of the morning of April 28, the two leaders reaffirmed the Henoko relocation is the only way to remove the dangers posed by U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. The same statement was jointly released at the so-called “two-plus-two meeting,” between U.S. and Japanese foreign and defense ministers. One of the speakers at the rally said, “Ignoring the will of the Okinawan people, both governments continue to construct the new base, which is destroying democracy. We will never tolerate such injustice.”

Referring to the summit meeting, Nago Mayor Susumi Inamine said, “If people were cheated by the phrase, ‘a reduction of Okinawa’s base hosting burden,’ it would be a shame. I would like to end this “humiliation” as soon as possible.” Inamine went on to say, “Many people will work together to stop the new base.” Representing the organizers, lower house member Kantoku Teruya said, “In the two-plus-two meeting, the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed the Henoko relocation is the only way to remove the dangers posed by Futenma Air Station. We will never allow the new base construction to happen. We should all work together.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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