Wednesday, April 23, 2014

10th Anniversary of the Henoko Boat Action

10th Anniversary of Henoko Boat Action to Stop Military Landfill (Photo: Save the Dugong Campaign Center)

Via The Asia-Pacific Journal:
Henoko April 19 Declaration

Today we commemorate 10 years of sit-in to block the drilling survey [of the designated Marine base site at Henoko, Northern Okinawa]. It is now actually 17 years since local residents rose up in protest against the bases, and it is more than 16 years since Nago citizens in a city plebiscite showed their intention by voting “No to any new base.”

We remember as if it were yesterday how on this day 10 years ago local residents, Nago citizens and other Okinawans after an over-night vigil gathered in the pre-dawn darkness and repulsed the trucks and workers that had come to enforce the drilling. Through the fierce, year long marine resistance struggle that began that day and was carried out on the sea-front and on canoes and small boats and on the construction towers erected in the sea, we endured blazing summer heat and biting cold wind and the violence inflicted on us by government-employed workers and we succeeded in having the plan to reclaim the coral reef scrapped. We believe that victory was due not just to local residents and Nago citizens but to the circle of support by people beyond Okinawa and extending world-wide.

Despite this, the two governments, Japan and the United States, remained determined to construct a new Henoko base, come what may. They persuaded the then Nago City mayor and the Okinawan Governor to accept a new “V”-shaped design, and pressed ahead with an illegal environmental impact study and other procedures, even dispatching the Maritime Self-Defense Forces to support the survey. In response, Nago citizens in 2010 gave birth to a new city administration led by Mayor Inamine Susumu and pledged to prevent any base construction on land on sea. That momentum then carried over into the “all-Okinawa” opposition to “any base transfer within the prefecture.” Even Governor Nakaima Hirokazu, who till then had been in favour of conditional acceptance of the base, switched his stance to “move Futenma Base outside Okinawa.” However, at the end of last year [2013], surrendering to threats and financial inducements of the new LDP government under Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, one that drips with discrimination against Okinawa, he trampled on the will of the people and licensed the reclamation.

The situation we now face is certainly no less severe, and may indeed be even more severe, than what we faced 10 years ago. In January of this year [2014] we made clear the will of the people by re-electing Inamine Susumu as mayor, by a large margin. Yet just two days after that election, the Abe government, as if to show its contempt, began steps towards base construction, mobilizing all its forces, including [consideration of] a special criminal law and a special measures law and mobilizing police and coastguard, to suppress the resistance of the Okinawan people including Nago citizens.

And yet, despite all the pressures and assaults the two governments have visited upon us over these ten, or rather these 17, years, we have not surrendered. For the sake of our children and grandchildren we have stood firm on an anti-base principle and it is a matter for our pride, and a mark of our solidarity, that we have prevented the driving of even one single construction peg into the beautiful seas that stretch out here before us. We now possess a mayor of steadfast conviction who protects the “safety and security” of citizens and we enjoy the strong support of distinguished figures and intellectuals from around the world. We are building an even stronger movement than before.

We call for the withdrawal of the reclamation license issued by Governor Nakaima, for the abandonment by the governments of Japan and the United States of the plan to construct a new base at Henoko, and for the closure and dismantling of the Futenma base. We declare anew our resolve to pass on to our children and grandchildren these beautiful, bio-diverse seas, home to the dugong.

Participants at the gathering to commemorate the 10 year-long sit-in to oppose the survey drilling [of Oura Bay], (representative: Urashima Etsuko)

Henoko Beach, Nago City, Okinawa,
April 19. 2014. Translated by Gavan McCormack

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