Local protest at civilian Motobu Port blocks entry of U.S. military boat intended for training

Local protest at civilian Motobu Port blocks entry of U.S. military boat intended for training

At 4:09 p.m. on September 17 in front of the Motobu Port gate in Sakimotobu, Motobu Town, citizens and longshoremen protest in front of the Motobu Port gate to block entrance of the vehicles transporting the boat for training.

September 18, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 17 the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa, planned to use one U.S. military Open Water Safety Boat for the purpose of training at Motobu Port in Motobu Town.

Although the boat was transported to the port, due to a protest by citizens and longshoremen, use of the boat on this day was abandoned.

The prefectural and Motobu Town governments requested that the U.S. military not make use of this civilian port, yet the Marine Corps took the stance of not accepting the request for restraint and instead forcibly making use of the port.

According to the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG), a Marine Corps spokesperson stated that use of the civilian port was necessary in order to conduct training at Iejima Auxiliary Airfield, and the Marine Corps submitted written notice to the Motobu Port Authority’s office to notify that it would make use of Motobu Port on September 17 and 21.

An Open Water Safety Boat is a small vessel measuring a total of 10 meters in length. This vessel is used for rescue during parachute drop trainings.

A total of three U.S. military armored vehicles and one boat, including a vehicle towing the boat and a guiding vehicle, arrived at the Motobu Port gate at around 7:00 a.m. on September 17.

A maximum of about 120 citizens and longshoremen waged a sit-in in front of the port gate and in front of the U.S. military vehicles, blocking entrance to the port.

At around 4:40 p.m. the U.S. military vehicles pulled away from the front of the gate.

Before noon on September 17, the Marine Corps clarified to the Ryukyu Shimpo that training at Iejima was suspended due to the weather.

Although the explanation given was that the boat departed Motobu Port and arrived at the Kadena Marina, according to citizens, it appeared that around 5:30 p.m. the vehicles entered a gate to Camp Schwab in Henoko, Nago City.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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