Largest US federation of trade unions pledges support in struggle against new US base
November 22, Ryukyu Shimpo
Sakae Toiyama reports from Washington, DC
On November 20, delegates from the All Okinawa Council, led by All Okinawa Council co-representative and Kanehide Group chairman Morimasa Goya, visited the Washington, DC headquarters of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of labor unions in the United States. The delegates asked for cooperation in getting U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma relocated outside of Okinawa. AFL-CIO director of foreign affairs Cathy Feingold expressed her support and her desire to spread the struggle for peace.
A delegation of All Okinawa Council members arrived in the United States on November 15 to convey Okinawan opposition to the planned construction of a new base in Henoko, Nago as part of the planned relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. November 20 was their last day of scheduled activities.
The AFL-CIO represents 56 member unions and around 12.5 million workers nationwide. It is also a supporter of President Obama.
At the meeting, All Okinawa Council co-representative Goya called for support and cooperation, emphasizing that the U.S. and Japanese governments are forcefully pushing forward with the relocation to Henoko in spite of widespread Okinawan opposition. “In Okinawa, we are facing a crisis of peace and democracy,” Goya stated.
Norio Oshiro, chairman of the Okinawa Trade Union Confederation, stated, “Okinawan labor unions, business leaders, civic organizations, and elected officials are all working together to oppose the Henoko relocation. We hope the AFL-CIO will join our struggle.”
Ms. Feingold explained that the AFL-CIO places great importance on military base issues and the anti-nuclear movement. She also referenced a resolution in solidarity with the Okinawan people in opposition to the new base construction passed on November 15 by the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), an umbrella organization of the AFL-CIO with around 20,000-30,000 members. Ms. Feingold expressed her understanding of the importance of solidarity and her hope to increase widespread participation in the struggle together with APALA.
In addition to meeting with AFL-CIO representatives, the All Okinawa Council delegates also held a demonstration in front of the White House and met with staff representatives of Congress members.
After wrapping up their activities, the delegates held a press conference in Washington, DC. There, co-representative Goya stated that understanding of the Okinawan situation has still not progressed in the United States. He expressed his desire to strengthen action in the United States, including promoting understanding among US congress members.
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)
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