The Daily Manila Shimbun


Major rally held in Okinawa to oppose US base relocation

August 13, 2017

NAHA, OKINAWA PREF.- A major rally was held in Okinawa Prefecture on Saturday to display opposition to the ongoing project to build a new US military facility in the Henoko coastal area of Nago in the southern Japan prefecture.

The event was also aimed to show support for Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga's filing of a lawsuit against the central government to block the construction of the new facility to take over the heliport functions of the US Marine Corps' Futenma air base in the center of Ginowan, also Okinawa.

The rally in the prefectural capital of Naha was attended by 45,000 people, according to a civil group that organized it.

During the event, the participants adopted a declaration expressing their resolve to prevent a new base from being built in Henoko.

Separately in a resolution, they demanded a flight ban on US Osprey tilt-rotor military aircraft following a fatal crash off Australia on Aug. 5 of an Osprey transporter that belonged to the Futenma base, as well as the cancellation of the Osprey deployment in Futenma.

In a speech, Onaga said the central government is "eager to bypass laws and regulations and forcibly advancing the base construction," referring to the ongoing landfill work in Henoko without the prefecture's permission for coral destruction. "This is far from what a country ruled by law is like," he stressed.

Onaga reiterated his readiness to revoke permission given by his predecessor for land reclamation off Henoko. He stopped short of specifying when he will take the step.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, were not invited to the rally, after LDP and Komeito members in the Okinawa prefectural assembly voted against a bill to file the lawsuit against the central government or abstained from the vote.

"The (central) government is not on our side," said Ryuto Hokama, a 16-year-old high school student in Naha. "It's not fair that US bases are concentrated in Okinawa, considering that they are necessary for the security of the whole of Japan." Jiji Press