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21,000 Okinawans hold protest rally against relocation of U.S. Marine Corps base within prefecture

About 21,000 Okinawans held a rally on November 8 in Ginowan City demanding the immediate closure of the dangerous U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station and opposing the plan to move it to Henoko to provide a state-of-the-art air base in Okinawa.h

Ginowan is the city that hosts the U.S. Futenma base, but an overwhelming majority of the residents are demanding that the base site be returned to the city so that they can live free of sonic booms from U.S. military aircraft and the danger of plane crashes.

Participants in the rally demonstrated their firm opposition to a new U.S. base being constructed anywhere in Okinawa.

Speaking on behalf of the organizers of the rally, Ginowan Mayor Iha Yoichi urged Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio to take a decisive step to free Okinawans from the unbearable burdens of U.S. bases, the source of their anguish and sufferings, which has continued to exist for more than sixty years.

Mayor Onaga Masatoshi of Naha City stated, gAlthough I am a conservative, I am sure the majority of Okinawans are united in calling for U.S. bases to be reduced.h

Mayor Noguni Masaharu of Chatan Town, north of Ginowan City, warned that residents nearby the Futenma base can no longer put up with the heavy burden of hosting the base. We also oppose the idea of moving the U.S. Marine Corps operations at Futenma to the U.S. Kadena Air Force Base.h

On behalf of the Japanese Communist Party, Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi and four other Dietmembers attended the rally.

JCP member of the House of Representatives Akamine Seiken gave a speech stating that the Hatoyama cabinet is called upon to begin negotiating with the U.S. to ensure that the Futenma base be closed in accordance with the 1996 Japan-U.S. agreement and that the plan to relocate Futenma base functions to Nago be canceled. gIf he dares to implement the planned relocation to Nago (under the 2006 Japan-U.S. agreement), we will have to stop it by holding a mammoth rally far greater than todayfs,h he added.

The adopted resolution also demanded that the Japan-U.S. Status of U.S. Forces Agreement be revised.

JCP Ichida: Rally was very impressive

On November 9, JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi told reporters at the Diet Building that he was very impressed by the Okinawa rally that gclearly showed that most Okinawans are opposed to any realignment of U.S. bases in Okinawa. The Hatoyama government must initiate diplomatic negotiations with the U.S. government in a forceful manner that completely meets Okinawansf demands.h

USMC carries out attack exercise during the rally

On November 8, while 21,000 people were holding a rally in Ginowan City, dozens of armed U.S. troops on board rafts landed on the coast off the USMC Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago City and deployed into the woods.

Ashitomi Hiroshi, head of the Nago Council against the Construction of the U.S. On-Sea Heliport, said angrily, gIs this their response to the determination of participants in the 11.8 rally? How arrogantly provocative they are!h

- Akahata, November 10, 2009



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