UN forum Asia delegates declare Japan ignores Okinawans’ indigenous rights in building new base

UN forum Asia delegates declare Japan ignores Okinawans’ indigenous rights in building new base

On April 25 at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues event is held at the UN Headquarters in New York, and Okinawa International University Professor Masaki Tomochi (second to the left from center) reports on the current condition of Okinawa.


April 27, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
Washington Special Correspondent Yukiyo Zaha reporting

On the morning on April 25 (local time), the 16th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that convened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York held a meeting between the UN General Assembly and indigenous peoples representatives from around the world. A delegate from Asia included in his speech a statement about Okinawa. He said that despite repeated recommendations from the UN, the Government of Japan does not recognize Okinawans as indigenous people. This representative went on to say that the Japanese government, without understanding Okinawans, is forcing through construction of a new base in Henoko, Nago City.

According to Okinawa International University Professor Masaki Tomochi, who attended the meeting, a Japanese government representative said that, “Although the Constitution of Japan allows freedom of expression, illegal protest activities such as entering restricted areas are being conducted.” Tomochi pointed out that the statement was intended to downplay the legitimacy of the anti-base movement.

In the evening the NGO Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), the mission of which is to address issues faced by indigenous people throughout Asia, hosted an event. At the event Professor Tomochi reported that the Government of Japan has started embankment work for the new base in Henoko. He is highly critical of the US and Japanese governments’ handling of the situation, and emphatically calls for construction to be stopped immediately, but moreover for it to be stopped and not to be resumed.
During the event, delegates from around Asia and a South American support group that tackles indigenous people’s issues made a declaration expressing their sense of impending danger for Okinawa. The declaration imparted that the lives and peace of indigenous people are exposed to dangers through Okinawan land being developed into military bases.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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