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2017 November 8 - 14 TOP3 [LABOR]

Mobilized to remove anti-base citizens, many public workers claim mental distress

November 10, 2017

Many of the national public workers who have been mobilized to forcibly remove anti-base protesters from protest sites in Okinawa's Henoko area claim that this particular duty assignment is causing them emotional distress. Their union officer who exposed this situation has consequently been punished.

The Cabinet Office Okinawa General Bureau last year assigned about 80% of its staff (about 300 personnel) to national road-related affairs near Henoko. The national authorities assign civil servants to monitor sit-in protesters 24 hours a day in front of the gate of U.S. Camp Schwab where a new base is being constructed.

The bureau ordered the workers of the bureau's Development and Construction Department to: dismantle a sit-in tent village; keep notes of the number of demonstrators; record their speeches; note the name of groups they belong to; report on any individuals, organizations, and vehicles coming from outside Okinawa to support the local protesters; and make a video recording of their sit-in protest 24/7.

However, these employees one after another began expressing too much emotional distress claiming that they are assigned this duty against their will. One employee said that he was told from his daughter one day that he became an enemy of Okinawans. Another said that many Okinawans now equate the bureau's workers with the police.

Nakazato Takayuki of the bureau's Development and Construction Department was a union leader of this department. He once appealed to the sit-in protesters that those public workers are only ordered to engage in the crackdown. He even responded to an Akahata interview in October 2016.

Regarding his behavior as a problem, the Cabinet Office admonished Nakazato and cut the amount of his summer bonus. Nakazato then filed a complaint with the National Personnel Authority against the punishment. His case is still under examination.

Past related articles:
> Rally held to demand cancellation of punishment of unionized gov't worker for criticizing Henoko base construction [July 7, 2017]
> Large number of gov’t workers mobilized to suppress Henoko base protesters [October 1, 2016]
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