JCG refuses to answer why they are constraining protesters in Henoko

JCG refuses to answer why they are constraining protesters in Henoko

A coast guard officer jumped onto a kayak and pushed a citizen into the ocean (center). Other officers tried to pull out the citizens. Off the coast of Henoko at 2:56 p.m. on Februray 2 (Photograph provided by Megumi Itaya).

February 7, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

Officers of the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) have been constraining citizens protesting against the plan to build an alternative base in Henoko, Nago, for Ginowan-based U.S. Marine Corp Air Station Futenma. On February 6, a spokesperson from the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters announced that they would not respond to questions from the media on how and why these incidents occurred. The coast guard officers have been taking excessive actions against citizens protesting from kayaks. While some of the officers pushed the citizens from their kayaks into the ocean, others left them behind in the open ocean. Their actions have worsened. In anger, the citizens said that they would not tolerate such heavy-handedness, and warned it would prompt a protest from Okinawan people.

On that day, a reporter from the Ryukyu Shimpo asked the JCG to confirm reports that five citizens were constrained on on their kayaks outside of the restricted area. A representative of the 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters said, “We cannot answer individual cases on the issue.” When the reporter asked why they had previously been responding to verify the facts, but not now, the representative repeatedly said, “The answer is that we cannot answer to individual cases.”

The JCG had previously responded to questions from the media asking when and where incidents occurred, and confirmed the situations from coast guard officers at the scenes. When the Ryukyu Shimpo reporter asked about the incident where officers left citizens on their kayaks out in the open ocean, the representative of the JCG admitted the officers had moved the citizens offshore. The JCG representative said, “Officers dealt with the situation in terms of maritime safety and the law’s implementation.”

On February 2, the officers jumped onto a kayak carrying citizens and overthrew it. They then pushed them into the sea close to the area where ships and inflatable JCG boats were approaching. On January 20, a coast guard officer took excessive action against a 51-year-old female filmmaker Asako Kageyama by putting his leg on her shoulder and holding her body down with his weight in order to confiscate her camera. On January 30, the officers took away the paddle of a citizen on a kayak, throwing it in the ocean.

On February 6, Hiroji Yamashiro, the director of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center talked about the way the JCG did not respond to questions about its coast guard officers’ excessive actions against citizens. Yamashiro said, “They normally need to explain about what happened. Their attitude continues to prompt a protest from Okinawan people. The JCG is the same as the Japanese government which is ignoring Okinawan people’s will. It is unacceptable.” A college student from Tokyo, Katshiro Fujishiro said, “It doesn’t make sense that the JCG is not explaining about the coast guard officers’ excessive actions against citizens. I cannot tolerate that.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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