Ten thousand people encircle Japan’s National Diet to protest land reclamation work in Henoko

Ten thousand people encircle Japan’s National Diet to protest land reclamation work in Henoko

On May 26 in front of the National Diet Building in Chiyoda, Tokyo, citizens participating in the Diet encirclement action announce their opposition to the new base being built in Henoko.

May 27, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo

A large-scale citizens’ rally encircling the National Diet called “Don’t Destroy the Beautiful Ocean, Don’t Fill it with Sand” met on May 26, calling for abandonment of Futenma replacement facility construction in Henoko, Nago City. The rally was organized by the Stop! Henoko Land Reclamation Diet Encirclement Action Committee and was held in the area around the National Diet Building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. This is the 6th National Diet encirclement action to protest construction of the new base in Henoko that has taken place since June last year. According to the organizers, about 10,000 people came to encircle the Diet Building and to put their energy into messages such as, “Don’t fill the ocean in Henoko with sand,” and “We don’t need a government that destroys nature.”

The participants pointed out that land reclamation and construction of seawalls for the new base are progressing, and that it is possible soil will be deposited into the ocean in June. Shinsaku Nohira of the action committee pointed out that the government has been hiding information, while the ocean floor where the base is to be constructed has been identified as infirm. He said, “The keywords are soft ground and active fault. A base cannot be built on soft ground. Don’t waste the taxpayers’ money. The government should not lie.”

Representative Hiroshi Ashitomi of the Helicopter Base Objection Association, members of Okinawan citizens’ groups, and Diet members belonging to opposition parties grasped microphones in front of the main entrance to the Diet Building and raised their objections to the government advancing construction work while ignoring popular will against construction. Citizens hoisted blue placards, handmade banners and flags with individual objections and phrases such as “Don’t bury the beautiful ocean.”

All-Okinawa Kaigi (All-Okinawa Coalition) executive director and former teacher Ryuji Yamamoto said he thinks it is problematic that some facilities in the vicinity of the new base site, such as the National Institute of Technology, Okinawa College, exceed the height restrictions specified in the U.S. Unified Facilities Criteria, yet these facilities are being made exceptions. Touching on the incident in which a window part from a U.S. military helicopter fell onto the grounds of Futenma Daini Elementary School in Ginowan City, Yamamoto said, “I don’t want exceptions to be made where children’s lives are concerned.”

House of Councillors member Yoichi Iha, one of the opposition party Diet members from Okinawa, said, “There are no alternative feeding grounds for the dugong. We cannot let land reclamation happen.”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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