NGO members and researchers from various countries visit Okinawa to learn about base issues

NGO members and researchers from various countries visit Okinawa to learn about base issues

Study tour members participate in protest in front of the Camp Schwab gate in Henoko, Nago at 2:30 p.m. on July 28.

July 29, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

A group of ten NGO members, researchers, and foreigners working on issues of peace and demilitarization are visiting Okinawa on a study tour to learn about the U.S. military base issues here. They arrived on July 27. The tour participants come from the United States, Nepal, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. As of July 29, they have visited Kadena Air Base, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma, and Henoko, Nago, the planned relocation site for MCAS Futenma.

On July 27, the participants visited sites from the Battle of Okinawa in the southern part of Okinawa Island, guided by Okinawa International University professor emeritus Masaie Ishihara. They then visited the Sakima Art Museum, which sits immediately adjacent to MCAS Futenma, and observed Futenma from the roof of the museum.

At the Sakima Art Museum, Yoshikazu Makishi of the Okinawa Dugong Environmental Assessment Surveillance Group explained to the study tour participants how the U.S. military drove residents off their land and annexed it to build MCAS Futenma.

Participant Kyle Kajihiro, a former member of the 1947 Nobel Prize-winning peace organization American Friends Service Committee, who now studies political geography at the University of Hawaii, said, “When I learned about the history, I felt that the base issues in Okinawa are very unjust.”
On July 28, the group took a boat out into Oura Bay in Nago, where the new military base is set to be built. They then participated in a protest rally in front of the Camp Schwab gate.
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space chairman Dave Webb of the United Kingdom declared, “The world knows about the base issues going on in Okinawa. Together with people opposing military bases worldwide, I want to express my admiration for all of you.”

Satoko Norimatsu, organizer and leader of the study tour and co-editor of the Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, said, “All of the people visiting here today are active in various fields around the world, and they are able to view the current events in Okinawa from a broad perspective. I believe that when they go back to their home countries, they will continue engaging in Okinawa issues.”

(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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