Ishiagaki residents’ rally of 400 says fervent “NO” to GSDF deployment on Ishigaki Island

January 19, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 18 the residents’ liaison association to oppose militarization of Ishigaki held a citizens’ rally at Ishigaki Citizen Hall to ask that the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) not be deployed to Ishigaki Island.

According to the organizers about 400 people attended to fervently oppose the deployment.

Takao Izutsu, a representative of Veterans for Peace Japan (VFPJ), a group composed of former SDF officials and citizens, spoke at the rally.

On January 18 at Ishigaki Citizen Hall, citizens rally against deployment of GSDF to Ishigaki Island

Izutsu said, “Speaking in terms of military logic, there are no wars in which bases are not targeted,” emphasizing the elevated risk of emergencies on the island that would come with GSDF deployment.

He went on to explain that in the case of an emergency it will be physically impossible for island residents to take shelter, and said, “Regardless of our support of or opposition to the deployment, we should take a hard look at the realities of war.”

At an exchange of opinions among city residents, the owner of an independent business in Hirae, Ishigaki CIty claimed, “We don’t want to be made to experience the damage from bases like that experienced by the families on Okinawa Island.” Kei Chinen, the general manager of Okinawa EXES Ishigakijima Hotel in Miyara, Ishigaki City, said, “Tourism is a peacetime industry. A stronghold that stirs up feelings of insecurity isn’t needed.”

A resolution was adopted at the rally. The resolution requested that the calculated expenses for this GSDF deployment included in the draft defense budget for fiscal year 2018 be removed.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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