More than 1000 citizens hold rally in Nago calling for withdrawal of Osprey

More than 1000 citizens hold rally in Nago calling for withdrawal of Osprey

On October 3, in the courtyard of the Nago Municipal Office people raised their fists as a display of solidarity in a protest rally seeking the cancellation of the Osprey deployment.

October 4, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 3 a citizens’ rally protesting against the Osprey deployment was held in the courtyard of Nago Municipal Office. This was the first rally to be held at the level of a village, town or city since the Osprey were deployed in Okinawa and according to the organizers, more than 1000 people took part. The participants adopted a resolution calling for the withdrawal of the Osprey and the closure and removal of the U.S. military facilities at Futenma. Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who is the chairperson of the executive committee of the rally, said, “I want to ask the Okinawan people to join us to create an even more powerful message to ensure that the governments of Japan and the United States listen to what we have to say.”

Yoshikazu Tamaki, a member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly and secretary-general of the Okinawan People’s Rally held on September 9, stated that they were considering taking action and were collecting signatures to call for a prefectural referendum in an attempt to overturn the Osprey deployment. On October 4, Mayor Inamine and other organizers of the rally visited the Okinawa Defense Bureau and the Naha Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hand over the resolution. They also hope to present the resolution to government officials attending the meeting to be held in Tokyo from October 15 to 17 between members of the Okinawa Municipal Council for Military Land Conversion and Base Problems and government officials.

A rally was held in Yaese Town on October 4, and another is planned for October 16 in Ogimi Village, indicating that the opposition to the Osprey deployment is now widespread across Okinawa. In his speech, Mayor Inamine criticized the governments of Japan and the United States, saying that, “In return for gaining independence, Japan cut Okinawa adrift in the San Francisco Peace Treaty by placing it under U.S. military occupation. That structural discrimination against Okinawa remains, and is reflected in the current controversy.” He called for further protest rallies by the other municipalities, saying “We should initiate a wave of protest action against the governments of the Japan and the United States. We simply cannot accept the Osprey and will do our best to get it out of Okinawa.”

After the rally, Inamine told reporters, “The V-shaped runways planned for the Futenma Relocation Facilities in Henoko are designed to match the Osprey performance specifications. The Futenma to Henoko relocation plan will be irreversible if we cannot stop the deployment of the Osprey.”

In addition to Inamine and Tamaki, representatives from various organizations gave speeches. Some members of the opposition party of the Nago Municipal Assembly who had been on Osprey at Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture did not attend the rally because they were away visiting other prefectures.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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