JCG officers board craft carrying Henoko protesters, making it capsize

JCG officers board craft carrying Henoko protesters, making it capsize

A boat carrying protesters capsized in the sea off Henoko at around 11:30 a.m. on April 28.

April 29, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Japanese government is carrying out offshore construction activity as part of the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago. A ship with four citizens protesting against the activity was capsized close to a marine construction barge in a restricted area on April 28. While all the citizens were rescued, one of them was immediately brought to hospital. He turned out to be uninjured. The citizens claimed that Japan Coast Guard (JCG) officers boarded the craft, which made it capsize. They plan to take legal action against the officers. This is the first time that a vessel carrying protesters against the Henoko relocation has been capsized.

At the time of the incident, workers employed by the Okinawa Defense Bureau were carrying out work from two marine barges and a crane ship. The protest within the temporary restricted area in Oura Bay began at 9:30 a.m. on April 28.

At around 11:20 a.m., the craft carrying the four protesters went beyond the floats marking the restricted area and moved close to a marine construction barge. Two inflatable rafts of the JCG surrounded the ship. Several officers boarded the vessel, which made it lean to the left, and ultimately capsized it. The citizens and officers were thrown from the boat which was left floating upside-down.

One of the citizens who became nauseous was immediately taken to a hospital. He recovered and was released later the same day. The male protester said, “After the boat capsized, one of the officers pushed my head down into the water, which made me feel unconscious.” The JCG officers held another two of the citizens for questioning. They reportedly remained silent throughout and were released at around 2 p.m. The protesters claim the officers’ actions were excessive and they are considering suing the JCG and seeking state compensation for what happened.

The Japan Coast Guard issued a statement. “We are investigating the reason why the ship capsized. Despite repeated warnings and instructions, the protesters entered a restricted area. The coast guard officers approached the boat which was motionless. Then the officers boarded the craft. We can confirm the boat capsized after that. We cannot make any further comment on the case right now because of the ongoing investigation.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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