Don’t destroy the beautiful Henoko sea : 450 people protest against construction of new US base both on sea and land
February 19, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
On the morning of February 18, in Oura Bay, Nago, citizens protesting against new base construction associated with relocation of the U.S. Futenma airfield in Ginowan to Henoko, held a parade on the water using 10 ships and 22 canoes.
The parade on Oura Bay was the first one held since construction work for landfill resumed last December.
About 80 people were onboard the ships, while on Sedake beach about 300 people held a rally to cheer on the sea parade.
In front of the gate of Camp Schwab, about 40 people held a sit-in protest to block construction vehicles.
Protesters on the boats set up banners reading “Stop submerging blocks,” “Protect the beautiful sea,” “Protest against Osprey crash,” on offshore fences installed by the Okinawa Defense Bureau, and shouted protest chants while holding placards.
The canoe team held a large banner reading “Save the Dugongs,” and called out to the participants on the beach.
At 10:00 a.m., when a large crane ship submerged large concrete blocks, the protesters both on the beach and in the ocean yelled in its direction.
Japanese Communist Party Vice Chairman Yoshiki Yamashita, who took part in the sea parade, rallied the participants: “Unity between people in Okinawa prefecture and all parts of the country will create a united force to stop the Japanese and the United States governments. Let’s prevent construction of the new base.”
Setsuko Oyamori, 64, who was on one of the protesting ships, said, “Feelings of anger and sorrow were aroused when I saw floats on the sea and work to dump concrete blocks.”
She added, “I renewed my determination to stop the construction. If we give up, we will turn out just as the government wishes.”
“I wanted to dive into the sea to stop construction,” Daigaku Tanimoto, 65, said, while boarding a ship, “The governor and the mayor should exercise their powers. At the same time, protests at the scene are important. I will show my intention to protest as a citizen.”
Koushin Nakamoto, a captain of one of the ships and chief secretary of the Helicopter Base Objection Association, said, “We could show many people our objection to the new base and convey the situation of the offshore works to them. We would like to promote the grass-roots movement and help it gain momentum.”
(English translation by T&CT)
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