Thousands Protest in Tokyo Against US Marine Base
January 26, 2015
The Japan Times & RT News & Robert Avery / RA Films & The Asahi Shimbun
Japanese demonstrators have staged rallies in the country's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa and in Tokyo to express their outrage over a controversial plan to relocate a US Marine Corps Air Station in Futenma. Protesters chanted anti-US slogans and carried placards reading, "No new base." They also demanded that American troops be moved completely off the island. The latest protest rally also comes amid the high number of sexual assaults by US military personnel in Japan.
Thousands Protest in Tokyo Against Futenma Move
The Japan Times
(January 25, 2015) -- Thousands of people gathered Sunday outside the Diet to protest the plan to move US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district in Okinawa from the city of Ginowan.
Various speakers addressed what they described as the harmful presence of US forces in Okinawa, including excessive force to clamp down on protesters and environmental damage, and the government's refusal to address these concerns.
The speakers included Australian-born Catherine Jane Fisher who, addressing the crowd through a translator, delivered an "open message to Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe."
Fisher argued that if terrorism is "violence against civilians for political goals" then "we have terrorists in Okinawa," referring to what she said was excessive use of force by the police against local residents taking part in anti-base protests.
Fisher is known for her long history of political activism and advocacy for sexual assault victims after her traumatic experience of being raped by a US serviceman in Japan in 2002.
She also said construction of the replacement base for Futenma will cause environmental damage in the Henoko area, including to the dugong population and coral reef. "Don't rape us," Fisher said. "Don't rape the sea."
Meri Joyce of the Tokyo-based nongovernmental organization Peace Boat said her group has used "every democratic process and none of it is having an impact."
The protesters then formed a ring around the Diet, temporarily blocking the street before police moved them.
Japanese Protesters Hold anti-US Demo in Okinawa
(January 25, 2015) -- Japanese demonstrators have staged a rally in the country's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa to express their outrage over a controversial plan to relocate a US military base there.
On Sunday, the protesters chanted anti-US slogans and carried placards reading, "No new base." They also called for the closure of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and demanded that American troops be moved completely off the island.
Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered Sunday outside the National Diet, Japan's bicameral legislature, in the capital, Tokyo, to protest the plan to relocate the US military base. Various speakers described as harmful the presence of US forces in Okinawa, pointing to the deployment of excessive force to contain anti-base protests and environmental damage.
Catherine Jane Fisher, a speaker addressing the demonstrators, argued that if terrorism is "violence against civilians for political goals" then "we have terrorists in Okinawa." The United States plans to move the Marines Corps' Futenma air base to a more remote coastal area called Henoko in Nago City to consolidate its troop presence in Okinawa.
Washington and Tokyo first agreed in 1996 to relocate the base from a more congested part of Okinawa to Nago, but opposition from local people and environmental groups has prevented construction in the small town of nearly 60,000 people.
About half of US forces in Japan are based in Okinawa. Many locals have complained about base-related crimes, noise and the risk of accidents.
Susumu Inamine, the mayor of Nago, had earlier issued a statement protesting the move. "Pushing forward with this tramples on the human rights of the people, and the rich diverse natural life of this region. This is no longer about democracy," Inamine said.
The latest protest rally also comes amid the high number of sexual assaults by US military personnel in Japan, as many offending soldiers receive either no or very light punishments. According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, American military personnel were involved in more than 1,000 sex crimes between 2005 and 2013 in Japan.
The Futenma Air Station Dilemma Part 1
Robert Avery / RA Films
(November 9, 2009) -- In August 2004, a Marine Helicopter from the Futenma Air Station, Crashed into the Okinawa International University causing major damage. This incident was among many caused by this Training Facility that practices "Touch n Goes" with both Helicopters & large fueling tankers, that fly at roof top levels over the surrounding city of Ginowan Okinawa.
This Marine Air Station has ignited a firestorm of protests from the continual flights that go on night and day. The noise level alone is disruptive to the people, but the dangers this base poses to the populated area surrounding the base makes this base, one of the most "Dangerous Military Bases" in the World.
President Obama will visit Japan in November 2009 to discuss among other things this Marine Base that needs to be closed; the military wants to build another base to replace Futenma Air Station by land filling the Ocean in the Henoko Peninsula, that would not only cause damage to the Coral Reef, but also destroy the natural habit for the endangered Dugong, or Manatees as they are known around the world.
The military states that this base is critical for the defense of Asia, however this is a TRAINING FACILITY ONLY...
It should be moved from Okinawa and Japan altogether; the pilots practice their touch n goes on this sterile tropical environment, then fly combat missions in the deserts of Iraq & Afganistan. What part of this makes any sense at all. "Train in the environment that you fight in", would seem to make more sense.
With 37 military bases on Okinawa, which is basically the size of New York City, Okinawa can hardly support the 50,000 military personnel and their dependents, yet the military cites the agreement between the former government of Japan and the former President of the United States, "Bush" as written in stone; but since when do agreements that are formed for special interests, and by governments that were cloaked in secrecy and greed, need to be adhered to?
This base could and should be moved to the USA and could easily be housed at Miramar MCAS or Camp Pendleton, or yet a base closed by President Bush, could easily be re-opened, giving jobs to Americans which would help stimulate an already bleak economy.
The economic situation in the world today is a result of mismanagement at all levels of the government, private banking systems and the greed of individuals on wall street. The corruption that has existed for the past 8 years in both the USA and Japan has brought about new change in both the USA and Japan and when bad self serving agreements are made, they not only need not be honored but should be totally ignored.
President Obama it is time to not only make decisions that affect Americans, but also the Okinawan People that have been living under occupation status for over 60 years.
This is the time to make wise decisions to not only close the Futenma Air station but to move this Training Facility to the United States where Americans will benefit from the economic stimulus provided by this base moving back to the USA; this will also give much needed relief to the Okinawan People as well.
Protesters Circle Diet Building
To Oppose Futenma Base Relocation
The Asahi Shimbun
(January 26, 2015) -- Thousands of people, including lawmakers, formed a human chain around the National Diet Building in Tokyo on Jan. 25 to protest the central government's planned relocation of a US air base in Okinawa Prefecture.
"(The government) turns a deaf ear to the will of Okinawans and forges ahead with the relocation plan," said Natsumi Okubo, a 28-year-old company worker from Tokyo's Koto Ward, who joined the demonstration. "As mainlanders, we want to think about what democracy is all about."
Organizers of the protest, including pacifist groups, put the turnout at around 7,000 people.
The central government is moving ahead with the relocation of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma currently in Ginowan to the Henoko district of the city of Nago, both in Okinawa Prefecture.
Voters in Okinawa Prefecture expressed their opposition to that move on Nov. 16 by electing Takeshi Onaga as governor over the incumbent, Hirokazu Nakaima, who had supported the relocation plan.
Onaga, who wants the US air station moved outside the prefecture, says he has been repeatedly snubbed by the central government in his attempts to discuss the Futenma plan.
Among the participants in the Jan. 25 protest were the winners of Okinawa's four single-seat constituencies in the Dec. 14 Lower House election who had all campaigned on a platform of opposing the relocation plan.
In Tokyo, they jointly condemned the Abe administration's moves in relation to the project.
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