Rally at White House backs 200,000 signatures urging halt to Henoko base construction

Rally at White House backs 200,000 signatures urging halt to Henoko base construction

On January 7 in front of the White House in Washington, DC, 4th-generation Okinawan-American Robert Kajiwara (center) requests that new base construction in Henoko, Nago City, be suspended until after the prefectural referendum is held.


January 9, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Washington Special Correspondent Yukiyo Zaha


“We are uchinanchu and we don’t give up.” “Base construction is destroying the ecosystem and environment.” “The U.S. is also a concerned party.”

Such calls were resounding at a rally in front of the White House on January 7.

People with roots in Okinawa and veterans with the peace organization Veterans for Peace (VFP) took up microphones and called for suspension of Henoko base construction, which is being forced through by the U.S. government. Another rally by the Ishinda gate to U.S. Camp Foster in Kitanakagusuku Village, Okinawa, was held on the same day in solidarity with the rally in Washington, DC.


Teiko Yonaha-Tursi is a Goodwill Ambassador appointed by the Okinawa prefectural government who resides in New York, and who holds the U.S. and Japan responsible.

She said, “This is a clear example of NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard] from the Japanese mainland.

Enough is enough. The U.S. is also a concerned party.”


Those participating in the rally shouted the words of the former Okinawa governor, the late Takeshi Onaga, toward the White House.

These words were, “Uchinanchu ushetenaibirando (You must not make light of the Okinawan people).”

Robert Kajiwara, who created a petition for the White House to stop land reclamation in Henoko, has sent letters and emails addressing the petition to about 100 governmental officials starting with President Trump and including the members of Congress.

He reiterated his determination to the crowd with the words, “Uchinanchu never give up.”

Frank dela Peña of Veterans for Peace Ryukyu/Okinawa Chapter Kokusai (VFP-ROCK) delivered a greeting for VFP-ROCK representative Douglas Lummis.

He stated, “The base will destroy the coral garden that is Oura Bay, and would drive the endangered dugong mammal from its northmost habitat.

The base would be a source of more pollution, accidents and crimes, especially crimes against women.”

Matthew Jelveh, whose wife is from Okinawa, participated in the rally holding a homemade placard that read “Protect the coral.”

He said, “New base in Henoko is unnecessary. What we can do is not to stay quiet as Americans, as human beings.”


(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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