45,000 gather for rally against new base construction in Henoko, Governor Onaga renews determination to repeal landfill approval

August 13, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On August 12, The All Okinawa Kaigi (All Okinawa Coalition) held a mass rally to support Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga and resist the construction of a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago, at Onoyama Athletic Stadium, Naha.

The rally called for the cancellation of the new base and the withdrawal of MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft belonging to the Futenma base and the halting of MV-22 Osprey flights.

According to the organizer, about 45,000 people gathered at the rally.

In addition to a declaration stating that they will continue to resist absurdity in order to protect local autonomy, democracy and human rights, participants adopted a special resolution calling for the withdrawal of MV-22 Ospreys from Okinawa and the halting the flights in the wake of the Osprey crash in Australia.

Governor Onaga renewed his determination to repeal the previous governor’s approval of land reclamation in Oura Bay, saying, “Based on all the information available, I will decide the time to repeal the approval.”

Participants held placards stating, “We will not give up” at the mass rally held at Onoyama Athletic Stadium, Naha, at 3:22 p.m. on August 12. (Photograph taken by Naoya Oshiro)

 

The declaration called for “an immediate halt to the illegal landfill by the central government which has been suppressing Okinawa’s popular will.

” It further criticized the government saying, “We ask these questions. Is there a true democracy in this country, and what is a law-abiding country?”

Moreover, it stressed, “We will totally support the lawsuit brought by Governor Onaga with full power.”

A special resolution protesting against the Osprey crash stated; “There have been abnormal situations such as crashes and emergency landings occurring in succession around the world, including Okinawa in only eight months.”

It sought the withdrawal of the Osprey deployment and the halting of flight operations, investigations into the cause of the accidents, the immediate closure and removal of the Futenma airfield, a halt to nighttime aircraft training, sling loads, and rappelling training in helicopters.

Members of the organization behind the event will visit Tokyo later to hand the special resolution to the prime minister’s official residence and the U.S. embassy in Japan.

Co-representative of the All Okinawa Kaigi Ai Tamaki, a student at the Ryukyu University’s Graduate School, said in her speech, “The lives of individuals living in the prefecture should not be allowed to become ‘sacrifice stones’ in order to maintain and strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance.”

Co-representative of the All Okinawa Kaigi Tetsumi Takara, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus, urged participants to convey the fact that many residents gathered here in order to seek the right to survive in peace and live without fear.

In tandem with the rally in Okinawa, gatherings were held in other prefectures, including Kyoto and Hyogo, demanding cancellation of the new base’s construction in Henoko.

The All Okinawa Kaigi announced at the rally that it would send a delegation to the Unites States in order to convey the Okinawan popular will, which opposes the construction of the new base in Henoko.

A delegation will be sent for the second time to the U.S. since January this year.

The delegation will visit San Francisco and other cities from August 16 to 24, and will meet with members of Congress, labor unions and civil groups.

(English translation by T&CT)

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