Fourth-generation Okinawan-American petitions President Trump to halt Henoko construction

Fourth-generation Okinawan-American petitions President Trump to halt Henoko construction

Robert Kajiwara who is working to collect signatures to stop the new base construction in Henoko, Nago City via the White House petition website

December 13, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo

Special correspondent Yukiyo Zaha reports from Washington DC

On December 8, a petition website was created to halt the new base construction in Henoko, Nago City in association with the relocation of the U.S. military Futenma Air Station. The petition is addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump and the hope is to, at the very least, halt the construction before February 24 of next year at which time a prefectural referendum will be held. Signatures are being collected via We the People, a White House petition website. As of December 12 (Japan time), there were about 7,300 signatures. If 10,000 signatures can be collected within the first 30 days, then a response to the petition by the White House will be delivered within 60 days. Petition creator Robert Kajiwara, a 32-year-old fourth-generation Okinawan-American living in Hawaii, said, “We would like as many Okinawans as possible to sign the petition.”

The petition is titled, “Stop the landfill of Henoko/Oura Bay until a referendum can be held in Okinawa.” The petition touches on the election of Governor Denny Tamaki who opposes the new base construction, as well as the many years of protests by the Okinawan people. Despite these factors, the Japanese government and U.S. military have ignored the will of the Okinawan people. Addressed to President Trump, the petition writes, “Please order a HALT to the construction & ensure that democracy prevails. Please show Okinawans that America is indeed an honorable and GREAT nation.”

Kajiwara’s mother is from Nakagusuku Village. Besides participating in training for children living overseas from Nakagusuku Village, Kajiwara has also participated in activities in support of Native Hawaiians. He felt that Okinawa and Hawaii, both of which had been independent countries, have followed similar histories and are in similar situations. He has also participated in several protests in Henoko. He said, “With a multi-cultural background and being able to speak English, I felt that I could build a bridge between Okinawa and the U.S. In order to appeal to Americans, we have to do it in a way that they can understand.”

Anyone 13 or older can sign the petition. A confirmation E-mail will be sent after entering one’s name and E-mail address. Clicking the button in the E-mail completes the process. The URL for the website is:

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

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