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On the morning of January 1, 2017, many gathered along the Henoko shoreline to watch the first sunrise of the year. We vowed to stop the construction of a new U.S. military base, and prayed for a peaceful year. And as if to answer our prayers, for days we were blessed with mild weather.

That period of peace was short-lived, unfortunately. Offshore construction work resumed.

Henoko Blue’s first time on the water this year was January 4. Of course, we were there to keep watch and to take direct, non-violent action to stop construction, since such work could begin at any time.

In the morning, floats were lined up on the beach along Oura Bay. From Dream Fleet boats and Henoko Blue canoes, we voiced our objections as workers carried out the task at hand.

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The crane from which the floats had been suspended disappeared from the beach in the afternoon, and little seemed to be taking place.

We had lunch, and under the beautiful sky, the physical and mental tension that we’d felt since we’d begun monitoring the goings-on in the morning began to melt away. The gentle breeze was almost too perfect for taking a nap. Even after the clock struck three, there seemed to be no movement on the part of construction workers. We desperately hoped that this would be it for the day.

But shortly after 4 p.m., a large crane appeared near the installation site of a floating dock, to which construction boats and Japan Coast Guard vessels are set to be moored. Three construction boats that were lowered down from the crane began to tug on an oil containment fence around the area.

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Dream Fleet and Henoko Blue did our best to stop and protest the work that was being done, but the Coast Guard, which until then had been quiet, came speeding toward us. They did not only leave those who had fallen into the cold winter ocean, but continued to fly by them at breakneck speed.

Watching fellow protectors in danger, we sadly realized “it” had begun once again.

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Although it felt like we were out there resisting and protesting for a long time, in just an hour, their work was done.

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What the workers did was surround the site where the floating dock would be installed with an oil fence to prevent us from interfering with the installation work. In other words, if it weren’t for Henoko Blue or Dream Fleet, the workers could’ve set up a floating dock right away. Because of our presence and non-violent action, they had to add an additional step to their work.

Construction work has resumed, but we were able to stop the floating dock from being set up on the first day. It was an achievement made possible through arduous and persistent resistance.

At the same time, however, it means that we are not that many steps away from the completion of a base made for the purpose of killing people in war.

We must take these tiny steps to stop and delay construction of a new base in Henoko, so that neither our ocean nor our hearts are not filled with rock and cement. And to stop the road to war from being built on top of them.

05. Jan. 2017

Original post (Japanese)
English translation by C.K.

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