Civic groups submit largest appeal yet against Henoko construction with 1.21 million signatures

March 9, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

Civic group representatives submit signatures to opposition party Diet members on March 9 at the House of Representatives 1st Diet Members’ Building.

As of March 9, an appeal titled “Nationwide United Signatures Calling for Respect for the Okinawan People’s Will and Retraction of Forcing Bases on Okinawa” had gathered 1,212,281 signatures. The appeal opposes the construction of a new base in Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa in conjunction with the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and the construction of helipads in conjunction with the return of roughly half of the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area (in Kunigami Village and Higashi Village, Okinawa). This appeal has collected more signatures than any other appeal of its kind opposing base construction in Okinawa. The civic groups that collected the signatures held a gathering on March 9 at the House of Representatives 1st Diet Members’ Building, where they submitted the signatures to opposition party Diet members and called on them to file a petition for immediate cessation of the new base construction.

The signatures were collected from all around Japan since October of last year by cooperation between three civic groups: “Okinawa Council Opposing Base Relocation Within Okinawa”, “’Stop! Henoko Land Reclamation’ Diet Building Encirclement Action Committee”, and “Don’t Allow War/Don’t Destroy Article 9! United Action Committee”. Roughly 20 Diet members attended the gathering on March 9 to accept the signatures, including representatives from the Democratic Party, the Japan Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Liberal Party, as well as from the House of Councilors faction “Okinawa Whirlwind”.

The three groups will continue to collect signatures until April 25, and hope to broaden support nationwide. Okinawa Peace Movement Center director Satoru Oshiro, who attended the gathering, expressed gratitude for efforts being made nationwide and said, “We cannot accept the suppression, which could be called discrimination, currently occurring against Okinawa, and we will not surrender to it. We will without a doubt stop the ongoing base construction for the sake of our children’s futures. My determination is stronger than ever.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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