800 people protest self-defense force deployment in Ishigaki

800 people protest self-defense force deployment in Ishigaki

Citizens protest against deployment of the JGSDF to Ishigaki while holding up signs.

January 30, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

A public meeting against deployment of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) to Ishigaki Island was held in Ishigaki City gymnastic hall on January 29, and approximately 800 people from around the city attended the meeting. The group adopted a resolution to oppose the city mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama’s announcement to accept the JGSDF. They concluded the protest while holding picket signs with the words “missile” and “base” crossed out.

Mayor Nakayama had said he would “to listen to opinions” from the four districts around the planned area before making any decisions on the deployment, yet the announcement of his approval was suddenly made public on December 26.

Opposing the announcement, the “residents’ liaison association to oppose militarization of Ishigaki” including the four districts held the public meeting. Ten residents from the four districts, war survivors and high school students spoke on stage.

Thirty-seven-year old representative of the four districts, Atsuko Nakatsuji, from Takeda district criticized the mayor, saying; “The mayor is going to allow the JGSDF to be stationed right next to schools where we send our children. There are residents and schools in our districts. It is really disappointing that we could not even have a talk.” She further demanded; “I hope our communities will be quiet and peaceful places where we can continue our farming.”

Seventy-nine-year old war survivor, Shigejiro Uehara who lives in Kawahara stressed the lessons from own experience.

“A place becomes a target of attack if there is a military base. We must not let them build a base.”
A senior student from Yaeyama Norin High School, Kokoro Nohara also shared her wishes.

“It is questionable how the government proceeds with the deployment plan without proper consideration. I hope the island will be a peaceful place to live in future.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma) 

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