In southern part of Japanese Archipelago near from Taiwan, there is an island called Okinawa. Okinawa is also name of one of the smallest of Japan’s 47 prefectures. *
Since 1996, the Government of Japan and the Government of U.S. have been trying to build a “new” military base at Henoko, Nago-city, located in less populated northern part of the island under the pretext of “replacement” of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. MCAS Futenma is located in the center of crowded Ginowan-city and referred to as being “the most dangerous military base in the world”.
Henoko and Oura Bay, the planned site for new enormous base with two 1800m V-shaped runways on a total area of 205 hectares dumping 21 million cubic meters of soil and sand, is well known as “sea of treasures”, where Okinawa’s last fully intact and most healthiest coral reef preserving world-class marine biodiversity (5,334 species of marine life, including 262 endangered species). And also, in Henoko, there are important seagrass feeding grounds for the endangered sea mammal, dugong. If new U.S. military base is built, the habitat of dugong will be wiped off…
As boring survey started in July 2014, Okinawan citizens opposing to construction of a new base at Henoko began to monitor and protest in front of the Camp Schwab Marine Corps Base Gate. With the aim of preventing delivery of equipment and materials to be used for boring survey and construction of the base, citizens also continue monitoring in front of the gate. The riot police (and the Japan Coast Guard at sea) has been displayed for oppressing and even detaining citizens protesting. However, more and more people from both inside and outside Okinawa as well as other countries have visited Henoko for joining the protest. The non-violent struggle against new base at Henoko never stop until the Government of Japan withdraw the plan.
We’re only doing what we can do to protect the endangered dugong, the bio-diverse sea, and all the life. “Nuchi du Takara (Life is precious)”.
* Okinawa was once independent as the Ryukyu Kingdom, before invasion by Japan through a series of events in the 1870s. At the end of World War II, 71 years ago, Okinawa became a site of one of the war’s most ferocious battles. An estimated 120,000 Okinawans (between one-third and one-quarter of the population) died since March 1945 till the Japan’s defeat. After the war, the presence of permanent U.S. bases has created friction between Okinawans and U.S. Military. During the occupation, U.S. military personnel were exempt from domestic jurisdiction since Okinawa was an occupied territory of U.S.. Even after Okinawa’s “reversion” to Japan in 1972, Japan immediately signed a treaty with U.S. so that the American military could stay in Okinawa. Until today, Okinawa is burdened with more than 70 percent of U.S. bases in Japan, even though it accounts it accounts for less than 1 percent of Japanese territory.