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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 20 - 26  > Okinawans stage protest against Tokyo’s forcible landfill expansion
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2019 March 20 - 26 [POLITICS]

Okinawans stage protest against Tokyo’s forcible landfill expansion

March 26, 2019

“Accept Okinawans’ opinions for opposing the Henoko base project!” “Stop destroying our precious ocean!” - Okinawans’ voices in protest echoed throughout Henoko beach on March 25, the day when the Abe government forcibly began pouring sand and dirt into a new section of the landfill site in the Henoko coastal area.

On this day, 700 Okinawans participated in various protest actions near the construction site, such as an on-sea protest, a sit-in protest in front of the gate of U.S. Camp Schwab adjacent to the construction site, and a rally on Henoko beach.

In the Henoko beach rally hosted by the “All Okinawa Council against Henoko New Base”, council co-leader Takasato Suzuyo referred to the recent death of a dugong, a rare marine mammal, in addition to the mayonnaise-like unstable seafloor and the active faults beneath the planned landfill site. She said, “Nature shows us in many ways the inadvisability of building a new base here. Let us reveal the subterfuges used by the Abe government to push ahead with the plan and win the cancellation of the base construction!”

In reaction to the forcible start of the landfill work in a new area, Okinawa Governor Tamaki Denny released a written statement criticizing the Abe government’s intent to bulldoze through the base project as trampling on democracy and destroying local autonomy.

Governor Tamaki in his statement stressed that backed by the February referendum in which more than 70% of voters expressed their opposition to the Henoko base project, he had requested the central government to change its stance to a more democratic one which will lead to the resolution of the Henoko base issue through dialogue, and had repeatedly held talks with Prime Minister Abe. “However, the Abe government has gone ahead with the landfill work on the new section,” Tamaki added angrily.

The governor expressed his determination to stand together with Okinawans opposing the Henoko base project and appealed to people inside and outside Japan for support for achieving the success of Okinawa’s fight.

Later on the same day in Tokyo, Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira at a press conference in the Diet building pointed out, “The Abe government went ahead with the expansion of landfill areas in defiance of the results of the prefectural referendum in February and of the governor’s repeated call for a temporary suspension which was made in his meeting with PM Abe. This outrage threw dirt on Japan’s democracy.” Koike demanded an immediate halt to the Henoko landfill work.

***

On this day, in Iwate Prefecture, the prefectural assembly in a majority vote adopted a statement demanding that the national government discontinue the Henoko base construction and discuss the base issue with Okinawan authorities in a sincere manner. This was the first time that a statement of this kind was approved by prefectural assemblies in Japan outside of Okinawa.

The Iwate Prefectural Assembly statement stressed that the existence of active faults and an extremely soft seafloor in the Henoko reclamation site casts doubt on the feasibility of the base project. Noting that the prefectural referendum outcome represents Okinawans’ clear opposition to the landfill work, the statement called for a sincere response from the Abe government based on the Constitution which guarantees local autonomy, democracy, popular sovereignty, and fundamental human rights.

Past related articles:
> Okinawa governor notifies Japan & US gov'ts of Okinawans' rejection to Henoko base construction [March 2, 2019]
> Okinawa confronts PM Abe with overwhelming ‘No’ in Henoko referendum [February 25, 2019]
> Mayonnaise sea bottom will lead Henoko base project to dead end [January 22, 2019]
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