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2014 February 12 - 18 [OKINAWA]

Okinawans voice opposition to US base construction during Kennedy’s visit

February 13, 2014
Okinawan people staged a protest on February 12 against the planned construction of a new U.S. military base when U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy made her first visit to their prefecture.

Kennedy met with Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu and reportedly talked about ways to “alleviate” the burden of U.S. bases carried by Okinawans.

Under the guise of “easing the burden”, the U.S. and Japanese governments plan to “relocate” the U.S. Marine’s Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City to the Henoko coastal area in Nago City within Okinawa. In January’s Nago mayoral election, the incumbent mayor opposing the construction project defeated his pro-U.S. base rival backed by the ruling coalition.

That day, some 300 Okinawans held a rally in front of the prefectural office building. They shouted in chorus, “We need no U.S. bases!” “Don’t kill dugongs!” putting up banners on which messages were written in English.

Ashitomi Hiroshi, who has staged sit-in protests in the Henoko district, said, “Kennedy should listen to the local people, see the waters off Henoko with her own eyes, and try to reflect on how beautiful it is.”

Yamada Yoshikatsu, secretary of the Okinawa United Action Liaison Council, said, “What the ambassador should do now is convey to President Obama the local will which was clearly expressed in the mayoral election.”

Japanese Communist Party member of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly Toguchi Osamu referred to the fact that the assembly adopted a resolution in January urging the governor to resign because he breached his own election promise by approving the central government request to reclaim land for the base construction. The governor is no longer eligible to negotiate with the ambassador on behalf of Okinawans, he stressed.

Past related article:
> Okinawa’s town assembly unanimously adopts resolution against US base construction [January 23, 2014]
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