Greatly reduced in scope, annual May 15 protest “questions the state of affairs after Okinawa’s reversion”

Greatly reduced in scope, annual May 15 protest “questions the state of affairs after Okinawa’s reversion”

Participants making an appeal for base closures at the “5/15 Assembly questioning the state of affairs 49 years after the reversion” assembly outside the gates of Camp Foster in Kitanakagusuku May 15

May 15, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


The 5/15 Peace March Executive Committee (led by Peace Okinawa chairman Hiroji Yamashiro) held a rally at the gate of the U.S. military’s Camp Foster in Kitanakagusuku May 15, where they asked for the truth about the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. Every year, around May 15, the date when Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972, the group usually hosts a peace parade, however due to the coronavirus pandemic it has been cancelled for the second straight year, with this event being held in its place. Greatly reduced in scope, the event was attended by around 40 of the executive committee’s members. The group raised their voices in the direction of the United States Forces Japan’s (USFJ) Okinawa Area Field Office, a symbol of Okinawa’s base burden, calling for the “shutdown of the enormous U.S. bases,” and prayed for peace on the island.

Most years, the peace march is followed by the “Okinawan Rally to Protect Peace and Life,” but this year this was cancelled as well. Last year, all events were cancelled to the pandemic, and instead a written appeal was presented. Meanwhile, next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Okinawa’s return, and with this year being the second where events would be cancelled the executive committee was searching for some sort of appeal they could make this year. While observing disease prevention measures, the group gathered with around one percent of their usual number of people.

The assembly adopted a written appeal calling for eight items including the early closure and return of MCAS Futenma, cancelling the construction of a new base in Henoko, the removal of Osprey aircraft and an opposition against new deployments, the removal of Osprey landing pads in Takae, Higashi, and removing the JDSF missiles deployed to Sakishima Island.

The peace parade has been going on for 78 years, and after the return of Okinawa to Japan in 1972 it adopted the theme of “Questioning the state of Okinawa, and island with endless bases.” In normal years, around 3,000 people attend the parade, coming from Okinawa and all over Japan, walking around the bases and calling for resolution of base issues and constitutional complaints. Last year was the first year that all events were cancelled. This year, they planned on greatly reducing the scope of the event by shortening the course, and limiting the participants to around 200 people.


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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