Peace Candle service held at Henoko on Christmas Eve

Peace Candle service held at Henoko on Christmas Eve

At 7:00pm, on December 24, people pray in opposition to the Henoko base construction with a Peace Candle service in front of Camp Schwab in Nago. (Taken by Akiko Kuwahara of Ryukyu Shimpo)

On Christmas Eve, a Peace Candle service was held in front of the No. 1 gate of Camp Schwab at Henoko in Nago. The service has been held there every Saturday evening by residents who wish to preserve the sea of Henoko and to persuade the government to cancel plans to construct the replacement facility for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in this location. This last service of 2011 was carried out in the context of the government being about to submit the Environmental Impact Report as part of the process to carry the plan forward. Ten people, including the group’s 56 year-old leader Takekiyo Toguchi and members of his family, held candles as the light of peace, as they prayed for a successful end to their opposition to the Henoko base construction.

This Peace Candle service was first held in November 2004, and has now entered its eighth year. In June, at the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee, the governments of Japan and the United States decided upon the construction plan which includes a V-shaped runway at Henoko. The government canceled its search for a place outside Okinawa for the replacement facility and reconfirmed its intention to build it at Henoko. Toguchi questioned the government’s taking a hard stance on the submission of the Environmental Impact Report, saying, “Do they really think they can build here? Are they prepared to go against the opposition of the Governor of Okinawa and the Mayor of Nago to push the plan forward?”

The Peace Candle service began at 6:30pm on Saturday with the participants holding candles placed inside plastic bottles. They appealed to American soldiers and other people driving past the National Highway No. 329 in front of the gate of the base, gently waving their hands as they held a banner written in English and Japanese saying “Save the sea of Henoko.” Toguchi said, “Seven years have passed since we began these Peace Candle services, which indicates how Henoko has been an ongoing issue for a long time. I really hope that there will be a good outcome next year.” He will continue these Peace Candle services next year.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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