NGOs call for Japan to respect Okinawans’ freedom of expression at UN Human Rights Council

September 21, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 19 at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) made a statement delivered by its representative Taisuke Komatsu at the UN Human Rights Council. In the statement the IMADR called on the government of Japan to fully respect Okinawans’ freedom of expression in their protests against construction of US military facilities such as those being built in Henoko, Nago, and Higashi Village, Takae.

The statement delivered by the IMADR was a joint statement with international human rights NGOs Human Rights Now and Franciscans International. It pointed out that, “The large presence of the foreign [U.S.] military has caused a countless numbers of human rights violations, including sexual violence against women and girls.” The NGOs also criticized that despite Okinawans’ opposition, the government of Japan has been advancing the plans to construct new U.S. military facilities in Henoko and Takae.

During the IMADR statement, Komatsu said that the security company employed to work in Henoko by the Okinawa Defense Bureau compiled a list of protesters containing their personal information. The Japanese government denied its involvement and stated that no investigations will be conducted. In regards to newspaper reporters being forcibly removed by riot police officers in Takae, Komatsu went on to mention that, “Press freedom is under threat in Okinawa.”

The government of Japan exercised its Right of Reply to the joint NGO statement. This said in part that the construction works in Okinawa are being carried out with the consent of local governments, with the landfill permit, and in accordance with laws and regulations. In addition, it insisted that, “The government has and will continue to take appropriate measures in accordance with laws and regulations.
At the United Nations Office in Geneva, Komatsu told Ryukyu Shimpo that even though the joint statement had provided concrete examples of humans rights violations like the monitoring list from Henoko and oppression of the media, the government of Japan did not refute those points in an upfront manner.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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