A protest in its 16th year, and a teenager’s vision to “protect the future”

A protest in its 16th year, and a teenager’s vision to “protect the future”

(From left) Chikako Toguchi, daughter Kazuki, Etsuko Urashima and Takekiyo Toguchi positioned themselves on a sidewalk near Camp Schwab on November 30, to urge passing drivers to protect the beautiful oceans of Okinawa.

December 2, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Saki Yoshida

Henoko, Nago City—Every Saturday evening, the Peace Candle lights up near Camp Schwab to protest the construction of a new U.S. military base. November marked the 16th year for the Peace Candle protest, which was started by Takekiyo Toguchi, 63, and his family in 2004. Daughter Kazuki, 17, who has been lighting candles since she was two years old, is now a senior in high school. She’s more passionate than ever: “The environment may have changed, but my desire to protect Okinawa’s future hasn’t changed between now and then.”

Around sunset on November 30, the Toguchi family lit their candles in the occasional chilly winds. They positioned themselves on the sidewalk, holding up a banner and protested: “Protect our beautiful oceans. Stop the new base construction.” The family waved at passing cars, with orange candles in hand. This day, they waved unceasingly for half an hour, along with participants visiting from outside the prefecture.

When the family began the Peace Candle protest, two-year-old Kazuki used to sit on the curb and watch the fluttering candle lights. Now 17, she explained, “Back then, I didn’t understand why the fence was there, and I was curious to go inside. I’ve come to understand that it’s America, in Okinawa.”

Having watched her parents and others wave tirelessly in protest of a new military base construction over the years, Kazuki now envisions a peaceful Okinawa for the next generation of children. The 17-year-old fixed her focus on the future and said, “No base construction. For the future kids of Okinawa.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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