ODB produces document calling citizens’ protests to helipad construction “heinous and illegal”

November 18, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) has made an external informational document publicizing photographs of the citizens opposed to the construction of helipads who have entered land provided to the U.S. military. The distributed document judges the citizens’ behavior as “heinously illegal acts.” A lawyer commented that would be possible for the ODB to indicate damages to the police and request an investigation into the matter. However, the lawyer went on to say that the ODB has gone too far by widely supplying such information at a time when there is general inquiry concerning these citizens’ actions.

It seems the ODB’s appreciation of human rights has been thrown into doubt, due to its description of certain individuals’ behavior as “heinous and illegal,” and its spreading of content capable of fostering prejudice against citizens’ campaigns opposing the overlarge share of the base burden on Okinawa.

This document explains that local citizens are the ones causing the destruction of precious vegetation and having devastating effects on the environment. The ODB stated that its reasons for making these materials were to explain the present condition of these matters, and to respond to many inquiries it receives concerning the activities of those persons opposing construction related to relocation. On the other hand, an environmental expert stated that the burden on the environment is being caused in the same places that ODB personnel, riot police, and security personnel are dispatched. This expert also explained that the construction of helipads is the actual cause of large-scale deforestation and destruction of nature.

The document was no less than nine pages long and included an attachment called “Illegal Trespassers,” which presented many photographs of citizens who engage in protest activities. Another item titled “Examples of Illegal and Heinously Disruptive Behavior” held nine photographs of Chairman Hiroji Yamashiro of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center entering land provided to the U.S. military.

On the page titled “Interferences to Environmental Conservation Measures,” the ODB explained that windbreak fencing and transplanted Ryukyu-chiku (a variety of bamboo found in Okinawa) will be put around the helipads as an environmental conservation plan to protect against direct wind and sunlight, as well as soil runoff. Without addressing the large-scale deforestation related to construction, the document indicates that the citizens who protest in the Northern Training Area are trampling down the environs surrounding the transplanted Ryukyu-chiku. When asked by the media, the ODB responded that it is also using the document as needed when external explanation is necessary.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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