Takae residents protest against new construction of helipads

Takae residents protest against new construction of helipads

In the afternoon of March 17 in front of the N1 area gate in Aha, Kunigami Village, participants raised their voices to claim the return of the U.S. Military Northern Training Area.

March 18, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 17, residents and opponents protesting against the construction of six military helipads in Takae as a condition of the partial return of the U.S military’s Northern Training Area held a meeting at their sit-in protest site in front of the N1 gate in Aha, Kunigami Village. The protesters expect to block the construction for two years and to request a total return of the Northern Training Area. An organizer announced that approximately 390 people attended the meeting.

Three groups, the Association of Residents Against the Helipads, the Liaison of Protest Action Against the Takae Helipads Construction, and the Okinawa Prefecture United Action Association, organized the meeting. In rainy weather, participants in raincoats and with umbrellas listened to speeches by the host.

Forty-five-year-old Akira Shimizu of the Association of Residents Against the Helipads mentioned that the Northern Training Area was excluded from the area to be designated as a world natural heritage site of the Yambaru forest area. Shimizu called for the total return of the area and said, “We want to preserve world natural heritage, not helipads.”

Masahiko Nakandakari, co-leader of the Liaison of Protest Action, met with applause from those gathered when he mentioned the alignment of the protest action with Henoko’s. “The All-Okinawa Council, or Shimagurumi-kaigi, launched branches in various areas of Okinawa, and supporters now come to Takae regularly,” he said.

Kiichiro Yogi from the Okinawa United Action Association, who continues to join in a sit-in protest against the helipads, added, “Our struggle proudly continues to be a part of a post-war history of Okinawa.”

Based on the environmental impact assessment carried out by the Okinawa Defense Bureau, Koichi Makishi of Okinawa Peace Citizen’s Liaison talked about burrows of the Okinawa woodpecker found in the N1 area where the construction has been planned. Makishi pointed out, “We need to pick up such news to protect the forest of Takae.”

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana) 

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