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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 February 20 - 26  > American promoter of anti-Henoko base petition unjustly taken into custody at Japanese airport
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2019 February 20 - 26 [POLITICS]

American promoter of anti-Henoko base petition unjustly taken into custody at Japanese airport

February 21, 2019

Robert Kajiwara, an initiator of a petition against the Henoko base project, was unjustly detained at Kansai International Airport for two hours for interrogation by immigration officers, Akahata learned on February 20.

Using the White House’s “We the People” online petitioning system, Kajiwara, who is a fourth-generation Okinawan-American living in Hawaii, at the end of last year launched a petition campaign calling for suspending the construction of a U.S. base in Henoko until an Okinawa-wide referendum is conducted.

The incident at Kansai Airport was revealed in a meeting which was held between Kajiwara and Okinawa-elected Dietmembers, including Japanese Communist Party Lower House member Akamine Seiken, in the Diet building on the morning of February 20. He visited Japan to observe the preparations being made for the prefectural referendum.

In the meeting, Kajiwara reported that on February 19 at around 6 p.m., after arriving at KIX on a flight from Hawaii, he was led to a small room for questioning. In the room, three or four immigration officers in turn asked him, “What is the purpose of your trip to Henoko?” “Are you intending to join anti-base actions there?” The interrogation lasted nearly two hours and Kajiwara was released as an Okinawa-elected parliamentarian of the Social Democratic Party became his reference. On the following day, a PR official of the Osaka Regional Immigration Office apologized to Kajiwara on the phone.

Kajiwara in the meeting with the Okinawa-elected parliamentarians recalled that at the time of his arrival at KIX in November 2018, he went through passport control smoothly. He added that the immigration authority might have been reacting to his anti-Henoko base petition which started in December.

JCP Akamine referred to the cancellation of a speech gathering scheduled to be held on February 22 in Okinawa’s Nago City at which Kajiwara was invited as the main speaker. Akamine said to Kajiwara, “The 2-hour interrogation at the airport was not coincidental. I feel an attempt was made to keep you away from the anti-base movement activities in Okinawa.”

Prior to the meeting, Kajiwara held a press conference in the Diet building. At the press conference, he said that the Japanese and U.S. governments should respect Okinawans’ decision to hold the referendum as the two nations proclaim themselves to be democracies. Asked for a comment on the Abe government’s stance to push forward with the Henoko base project regardless of the results of the referendum, Kajiwara said the government led by Prime Minister Abe is undemocratic and is unconcerned with Okinawans’ democratic rights.

Past related articles:
> Okinawa-wide referendum officially announced February 15, 2019]
> White House intends to respond to petition calling for halt to Henoko landfill work [January 23, 2019]

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