March for peace on 5.15 spurs on movement in Henoko
May 13, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
To mark the forty-fourth year since Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, the 39th Peace March took three courses, “east,” “west,” and “south”, starting at 9:30 a.m. on May 13. The “east” and ”west” courses took three days to go around the US military bases in the central and southern part of Okinawa Island, while the “south” course covered the battle sites in the area. The three groups met up at the Shintoshin Park in Naha City on the last day of the program, May 15, holding a 5.15 Gathering for Peace and Life at noon.
The participants in the “east” course held an opening ceremony at Camp Schwab of US military where citizens continue to protest against the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago. Approximately 700 participants from both Okinawa, mainland Japan gathered at the ceremony for the “east” course.
Hiroji Yamashiro, the director of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, and event organizer said “we won’t allow the strengthening of military base construction. I am confident in the power of our peers from all over the country and want to share my cheers with them. I hope they take up their role in the fight in Okinawa.” The leader of the “east” course, Tetsuji Shimoji, called for solidarity, saying “we will persist with our passion. Let’s stand till the end in solidarity.” After the ceremony, the group started marching to the first checkpoint, the public field in Kin Town.
The “east” group passed through Nago City and took a lunch break nearby Ginoza village office, aiming to reach Kin Town. The participants in the “west” course departed from Yomitan village office and took a break at a community center in Kadena Town, with the final destination being Chatan town office. Lastly, the participants in the “south” course left from Nanjo City Athletics track field, stopping for lunch at Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City, then arriving at the Himeyuri Monument.
(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma)
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