Panelists stress importance of appealing to agencies outside the country on new base construction in Henoko

Panelists stress importance of appealing to agencies outside the country on new base construction in Henoko

Panelists got a round of applause from participants at a symposium on the Henoko issue on September 3 in Naha City


September 4, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo


A symposium considering the impact of new base construction in Henoko on the surrounding environment and the Yambaru forest’s bid for UNESCO World Natural Heritage status was held on September 3 in Naha City.

Panelist Hideki Yoshikawa, international director of the Save the Dugong Campaign Center, stressed that the importance of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), which was used in the Okinawa dugong lawsuit in the United States, could also be applied to a Noguchigera (Okinawa woodpecker) bird, which is designated as a national special natural treasure.

“If we convey to The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) what is really happening even without a new lawsuit, there is a possibility that the way will open,” Yoshikawa said.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is an independent federal agency in the United States and advises government agencies regarding the NHPA, which protects historical and cultural heritage.

“We face challenges including language barriers, but it is an effective way for citizens to convey the current situation of Okinawa to appropriate institutions and agencies outside the country,” Yoshikawa said.

He stressed that the citizens themselves should take action because the government is unreliable, proceeding with having the Yambaru region recognized as a World Natural Heritage site while tolerating the negative impacts associated with the U.S. military activities there.

Panelist Kunitoshi Sakurai, an emeritus professor at Okinawa University, revealed that he had received advice regarding the construction of the new base from a historian of Japanese descent during their visit to the U.S. last month.

According to Sakurai, he was told it is possible that it might be a violation under the NHPA to build a military base for waging war at the former Ourasaki Camp in the U.S. military’s Camp Schwab, where many war dead are still buried and the work of collecting remains has not been completed.

“We have to rack our brains to find a way and use all measures to block the new base’s construction,” Sakurai said to participants.

At the symposium, there were speeches by Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, Takuma Higashionna, a Nago City Assembly member and a plaintiff of the Okinawa dugong lawsuit, and a concert by Yutaka Umisedo.


(English translation by T&CT)


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