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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 April 15 - 21  > Rally held to commemorate 5th anniversary of the resident’s sit-in against construction of new U.S. air base in Okinawa
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2009 April 15 - 21 [US FORCES]

Rally held to commemorate 5th anniversary of the resident’s sit-in against construction of new U.S. air base in Okinawa

April 19, 2009
About 200 residents of the Henoko district of Nago City, Okinawa, on April 18 took part in a rally marking the 5th anniversary of their sit-in to stop the planned construction of a new U.S. air base in the sea off Henoko.

Speaking on behalf of the Nago Council against the Construction of the U.S. On-Sea Heliport, Ashitomi Hiroshi criticized the preliminary survey for the environmental impact assessment on the base construction by stating, “It is obvious that the government is intent on constructing the new U.S. base by 2014.”

Referring passage through the House of Representatives of a bill to approve the Guam Agreement, a package deal between Japan and the United States for constructing a new U.S. base while relocating a part of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, Ashitomi called on the participants to “increase the movement to press the House of Councilors to discuss the agreement thoroughly and reject it.”

April 19 marks the 1827th day since the sit-in protest on Henoko beach started on April 19, 2004.

Unable to ignore the public outrage caused by the gang rape of a schoolgirl by U.S. Marines in 1995, the Japanese and U.S. governments decided to return the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station site to Japan. However, they also agreed to construct a new air base in the sea off the Henoko district of Nago City.

Ignoring Nago residents’ opposition as expressed in the 1997 referendum and various prefectural-wide opinion polls showing 70 percent in opposition, the government is pushing ahead with the construction plan.

On April 19, 2004, Henoko residents set up a tent village for a sit-in action in protest against the construction and to monitor the Defense Agency’s drilling survey.

Since then, the tent village has been the foothold for the movement of Nago citizens and people in and out Okinawa Prefecture to “protect the bountiful sea and peace!”
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