Friday, February 4, 2011

Photo Essay: Henoko, Okinawa: "Bayonets and Bulldozers"

On Jan. 28, the day after 14 U.S. Marine amphibious assault tanks disembarked in the middle of the night at Henoko, Japanese military construction workers started building a wall at Henoko Beach.

On the same day, the Japanese Ministry of Defense filed a complaint against Nago City, Okinawa for refusing to allow the ministry to conduct a survey of sea animals and plants whose habitats would be destroyed by new military construction.. Nago City refuses to comply, on the grounds that the Japanese Ministry of Defense has not received local, Okinawan approval for the construction.

Jan. 31 - The Wall (looks like it's made out of old, rusted metal scraps)

Jan. 30 - Building the wall

Jan. 28 - Japanese Defense Ministry’s Okinawan Headquarters (the Okinawan Defense Ministry) construction workers take down the barbed wire fence covered with ribbons, protest banners, and prayers put there by Henoko residents

Jan. 27 - 14 U.S. Marine amphibious assault tanks disembark at Henoko Beach
( All photos courtesy of Henoko Hama Tsushin blog)

Background on the lawsuit via Satoko Norimatsu's Peace Philosophy Centre website:
Nago's mayor, Inamine Susumu, has made his position clear: he opposes the US-Japan plan to build a new U.S. Marine base in place of U.S. Marine Futenma Air Station over the cape of Henoko. Inamine disallowed such a survey because it would be done on the premise that a new base would be built. Ryukyu Shimpo expects that if Inamine dismisses this complaint, the Ministry of Defense may file an administrative lawsuit against Inamine.

According to Nakachi Hiroshi, professor of administrative law of the University of Ryukyus, the intent of the Administrative Appeal Act is to provide an opportunity for ordinary citizens to complain against deeds of administrative entities, and should not be applied to the state. Nakachi wonders if this is a political performance by the Japanese government to indicate that they are making efforts to build a base despite the local opposition. But such a performance should bring no political benefits to the government, Nakachi says.

Nago will probably dismiss the complaint. In this case, it is unknown whether the Japanese government will file a lawsuit against the city. If so, this will be reminiscent of the 1995 lawsuit by then Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi against then Governor of Okinawa Ota Masahide, who refused to sign the contract to renew land lease for US military use, on the behalf of hundreds of Okinawan military landowners and their municipal leaders who refused to sign military leases.

Henoko community organizers keep watch at Tent Village, as they have since 1997

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