Police charge citizen protesting U.S. military waste with forcible obstruction of business

Police charge citizen protesting U.S. military waste with forcible obstruction of business

Okinawa Prefectural Police

August 4, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo


On August 3 the first security division of the Okinawa Prefectural Police filed documents with the Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office concerning butterfly researcher Akino Miyagi being charged with forcible obstruction of business, a traffic law violation, and a violation of the Waste Disposal Act due to interfering with the duties of Northern Training Area (NTA)-related personnel by scattering glass shards, scrap metal, empty bottles, and the like at a former NTA site in front of a gate to the NTA. These documents were filed with an attached comment about strictly disposing of waste. In an interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo, Miyagi said, “This was merely a protest of the central government concealing the existence of U.S. military waste in order to achieve World Natural Heritage Site registration. Charges should not be filed against citizens who resist the power.”

Charges filed against Miyagi on April 7 have her under suspicion of having scattered glass shards, scrap metal, empty bottles, and the like in front of the NTA’s Higashi Village gate, thereby obstructing the duties of NTA-related personnel.

According to the prefectural police, Miyagi has been standing in the way of the NTA gate since 2020 and obstructing the passage of cars of personnel who are entering and exiting, and has been confirmed as having dumped bags of articles marked “waste” in front of the gate multiple times. The bags contained waste from the U.S. military that Miyagi had discovered at the former NTA site. The prefectural police have been receiving damage reports from NTA-related personnel. A spokesperson for the prefectural police explained that Miyagi has “repeatedly taken actions that qualify as crimes and has been issued instructions and warnings, but has not reformed her illegal activities.”

The Defense claims “act of returning garbage to U.S. military” such as uncollected ammunitions

While acknowledging her actions in front of the gate, Miyagi said, “This is to protest U.S. military waste that remains even now and to make known the existence of the waste.” She has voiced criticism, including, “This is an intervention against citizens who resist the power,” pertaining to how the prefectural police, that have investigated and filed the charges, are handling the situation.

The Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) implemented obstacle removal measures such as the removal of pollutants prior to a return site, which was a portion of the NTA, being returned in 2017. Even after the site was returned, a spokesperson for the ODB has said it would “coordinate with landowners and relevant agencies to collect and carry out proper disposal [of waste]” if new waste were to be confirmed at the site.

However, even now, waste originating from the U.S. military continues to be found. When Miyagi found, among other things, ammunitions containing gunpowder at the former NTA site, she reported it to the police. According to Miyagi, the prefectural police, who initially collected the waste, stopped taking notice around October 2019. A spokesperson for the prefectural police said, “We are taking required measures such as making necessary contact with relevant agencies,” but did not mention whether collection standards exist. Miyagi claimed that, “The ammunitions have not been collected and remain even now. It is ridiculous that this is not questioned, but that a citizen’s deeds are called into question.”

The lawyer Shunji Miyake pointed out that “It is oppressive conduct using the right to investigate. The act of returning discarded garbage to the owner, the U.S. military, does not strike against the ‘authorities’, in actuality.”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)


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