3,000 take part in protest rally in Henoko for first time since start of sea wall construction, refusing to bow to government pressure

3,000 take part in protest rally in Henoko for first time since start of sea wall construction, refusing to bow to government pressure

Participants in the rally raised their fists to protest against the start of sea wall construction. They sought to block the new base and called for the scrapping of the "anti-conspiracy bill" in front of gate of Camp Schwab in Henoko, Nago, on April 29. (Photograph taken by Masatoshi Moromizato)

April 30, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On the morning of April 29, in front of the gate of Camp Schwab in Henoko, Nago City, a mass rally was held to block construction of new U.S. base. At the rally, participants called for the repeal of the so-called “anti-conspiracy bill” and urged people not to forget the “4.28 Day of Humiliation”.

It became the first large-scale gathering after the Okinawa Defense Bureau began sea wall construction to reclaim sea off the coast of Camp Schwab on April 25.

An executive committee consisting of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center and the prefectural assembly’s ruling parties organized the rally.
According to the organizer, about 3,000 people took part in the rally. The participants raised their voices in protest against construction carried out forcefully by the central government and called for the construction of the new U.S. base in Henoko to be blocked. The new base is part of a project to relocate the U.S. Futenma airfield in Ginowan.

The rally also aimed to raise awareness of the “day of humiliation” when Okinawa was separated from Japan following the enforcement of the San Francisco Peace Treaty on April 28, 1952. It also called for the scrapping of the bill to revise the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes incorporating “conspiracy crimes”.
The participants prayed for the soul of a victim, an Okinawan woman who was assaulted and murdered by a U.S. military civilian worker (a former U.S. marine) one year ago, on April 28, 2016.

The rally adopted a resolution stating: “The request to relocate the Futenma base ‘outside the country or outside the prefecture’ has been being ignored by the central government. The three powers, legislative, judicial and executive, join together in attacking Okinawa. We will not yield to them.”

Tetsumi Takara, president of the Okinawa Constitution Promotion Council said on behalf of the organizer, “The situation in which Okinawan popular opinion is disregarded is still going on. We want to have the right to self-determination. The excessive concentration of U.S. military bases on Okinawa has been causing incidents and accidents. We would like to strive to block construction of the new base in Henoko, without forgetting the day of humiliation.”

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine said, “Due to the discriminatory measures by the Japanese government, we are suffering under the heavy pressure of the base. We just want to live a normal life quietly. We will not allow the base to be built in Henoko. We want to do our best to lead to complete revocation [of the Futenma relocation plan].”

Hiroji Yamashiro, director of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, Diet members from Okinawa and other speakers called for solidarity.

(English translation by T&CT)

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