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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 January 19 - 25  > Okinawa fishermen protest against military drill outside designated waters
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2011 January 19 - 25 [US FORCES]

Okinawa fishermen protest against military drill outside designated waters

January 13 & 21, 201
Leaders of the Okinawa fisheries industry on January 20 urged Governor Nakaima Hirokazu to demand that the Japanese and U.S. governments refrain from conducting military training exercises outside the designated training area off the coast of Okinawa.

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and U.S. forces late last year conducted integrated military training exercises beyond the designated training area. Another bombing exercise the U.S. forces had between January 5 and 15 was initially planned to take place outside that area.

The waters surrounding the designated area are major fishing grounds for squids and tuna, Okinawa’s leading seafood species, which are in season now. Thus, local fishermen are suffering losses on a daily basis.

Representatives from the local Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, the local chairmen’s association of fisheries coop, and the committee against fisheries restrictions showed their anger saying, “Military training exercises out-of-bounds area are the same as prohibiting us from fishing.”

Early this month, Carrier Strike Group 1, with the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson as its flagship, carried out bombing exercises in the seas off Okinawa and Kyushu. The Japanese government was not notified of the January drill at first. It was only one day before the start of the training exercises that the government learned of it in a report by the Japan Coast Guard. Local fishermen were then finally informed of the drill although the 1972 Japan-U.S. agreement requires the United States to give notice of training exercises at least 15 days in advance.

On January 12, a group of Japanese Communist Party members of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly and JCP representative Akamine Seiken (Lower House) visited the Okinawa Defense Bureau to demand that the January bombing exercises be cancelled.

Manabe Ro, Okinawa Defense Bureau director, at that time confusedly said, “It is unavoidable for us to accept U.S. training if it is for an unavoidable reason.” He also said that military exercises out of the training range “are legally acceptable as long as they are conducted on the open seas.” As for the bombing exercises of the USS Carl Vinson, the local defense chief said, “U.S. forces conduct training for the purpose of Japan’s defense based on the Japan-U.S. alliance. Therefore, we cannot tell them to stop.”

Akamine angrily responded, “Are you saying that military training is more important than local people’s economic survival?”
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