Ten years of “Peace Candle” protests against building new U.S. military base in Henoko

Ten years of “Peace Candle” protests against building new U.S. military base in Henoko

In front of Camp Schwab in Nago, on November 24 Toguchi family members light candles to protest against building a new base in Henoko.

November 25, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

As the U.S. and Japanese governments work on moving U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district in Nago, the “Peace Candle” gathering held on November 24 in protest against the building of a new base marked its tenth year. Every Saturday evening participants light candles in front of Camp Schwab to call for the preservation of the sea off Henoko. Land surveyor Takekiyo Toguchi and his wife Chikako started the gathering and continue to hold it with their children.

The couple prays for world peace, offering “rays of hope” that the governments will give up on building the base.

The gathering started in November 2004. Back then the Toguchis lived with their son Takeryu and newly born twin sisters Kazuki and Wakana in Sedake, which faces Oura Bay where the governments plan to build the base. They started the protest gathering, with like-minded people then taking part to oppose the plan. They stand beside National Route 329, holding a banner written in English and Japanese saying, “Let’s protect our sea of Henoko.” They wave and call to passersby and people involved with the U.S. military.

At the beginning, the couple thought twice about getting their children involved, but then Chikako came to think that they were holding the rally for their children. Hoping that the children would understand what they are doing, the couple continued to stand in protest along the road. The children came to understand.
Kazuki said, “While standing on the roadside protesting, I began to think about why U.S. military bases exist in Okinawa.” Wakana said, “I came to know about the issues of the new base and the Osprey by watching television. I want more people to oppose the plan.” She continued, “I am happy to take part in the rally with my parents.”

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima will decide in December or beyond whether or not to grant approval of the application documents to reclaim land off Henoko. Takekiyo said, “We will continue to hold the rally until the governments give up on the plan. I want to bring it to an end in this, its tenth year.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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