1,500 people stage protest rally 20 years after agreement to close Futenma base

1,500 people stage protest rally 20 years after agreement to close Futenma base

Citizens holding hands cry out against new U.S. base construction at 7:00 p.m. on April 12, at Kenmin Hiroba in Naha. (Photograph taken by Futoshi Hanashiro)

April 13, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

April 12 marked 20 years since Tokyo and Washington agreed to close the U.S. Futenma base. On the afternoon of April 12 at Kenmin Hiroba in Naha, a citizens organization, “All Okinawa Kaigi”, aimed at preventing the construction of a new base in Henoko, held a rally calling for closure of the Futenma base and the cancellation of the new base’s construction. According to the organizer, about 1,500 people took part in the rally.

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, a member of the legal team for Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga who is continuing a court battle against the Japanese government over the new base construction, and a leader of a student group made speeches.

Suzuyo Takazato, co-leader of the All Okinawa Kaigi, said in her speech: “The government alleges the works to close the Futenma base has been delayed but dangerous conditions for residents near the base still remain. We must stop the government’s attempt to wrongly shift the blame on to Okinawa. We will continue to do our best to realize unconditional closure of the Futenma base and take back the lands. ”

The rally adopted a resolution demanding a halt to operation of the Futenma base within five years, early closure and removal of the base, withdrawal of the MV-22 aircraft, and cancellation of the new base construction in Henoko, Nago.

The members of the All Okinawa Kaigi will visit the Okinawa Defense Bureau and the Okinawa Liaison Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deliver the resolution.

After the rally, the participants marched on Kokusai Street chanting slogans such as ‘remove Futenma Air Station’ and ‘oppose new base construction’.

(Translation by T&CT)

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