US veterans call for stopping new base construction in Okinawa

US veterans call for stopping new base construction in Okinawa

Veterans for Peace members speak passionately about their experiences in Okinawa on September 8 at the Okinawa Prefectural Office


September 9, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 8, six members of Veterans for Peace (VFP), a peace organization made up of military veterans, who are visiting Okinawa held a press conference at the Okinawa Prefectural Office. The veterans said that visiting Okinawa brought home to them the fact that the presence of the U.S. military brings nothing but destruction to the earth, peace, and the environment. They expressed determination to actively speak out about their experiences in Okinawa and the situation here after returning to the United States, and to make a broad call for support in preventing the construction of a new U.S. base in Okinawa.

The group came to Okinawa on August 30 in the hopes of deepening their understanding about the U.S. base issues in Okinawa. They will return to the United States on September 9. During their time in Okinawa, they joined protest rallies against the construction of helipads held in front of the N1 gate in Takae, Higashi Village, and also joined Okinawa’s peace movement protesting in front of Futenma and Kadena Air Stations, engaging with Okinawan residents.

Tarak Kauff, who was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s from 1959 to 1963 expressed that having seen the tragedies of the battlefield firsthand, he knows that further U.S. military expansion is impermissible. He said emphatically that now is the time for the U.S. military to leave Okinawa.

Will Griffin, a former member of the U.S. Army who participated in the protests at Takae, said that the sight of Okinawan people and Japanese riot police clashing over the presence of the U.S. military was very strange, and that it vividly showed that Japan is still a colony of the United States.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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