Monday, February 21, 2011

Network for Okinawa Statement/Press Release on New U.S. Military Construction in Yanbaru Forest & Henoko, Okinawa

Network for Okinawa Statement/Press Release on New U.S. Military Construction in Yanbaru Forest & Henoko, Okinawa

Construction Accelerates at Two U.S. Military Sites in Okinawa Prefecture
Advocates Express Concern for Treatment of Peaceful Protesters
WASHINGTON – The Japanese Defense Ministry’s Okinawan Headquarters (the Okinawan Defense Bureau) accelerated construction of new facilities at two military bases in northern Okinawa during the last week of January — despite recent signals from U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the United States would be more flexible in the realignment of bases in Okinawa. The construction prompted calls of protest from international peace and environmental organizations.

Construction workers pushed past local residents to move material and equipment into Takae Village in the Yanbaru Forest. Crews also replaced a barbed wire barrier with a temporary wall on a beach bordering Camp Schwab in an effort to block the view of new construction from protesters. Residents have continuously protested both construction sites since US and Japanese governments announced their plans at the end of 1996; and cite the many sensitive environmental and cultural treasures at risk. Both sites are home to rare and endangered species found only in Okinawa.

“The actions of the Okinawan Defense Bureau are of deep concern and demonstrate the legitimate grievances of the Okinawan community. We urge all parties to exercise firm restraint. We call on the Japanese and American governments to respect the democratic wishes of Okinawans who have overwhelmingly voted to prevent new base construction on Okinawa,” said John Feffer, spokesperson for US-based Network for Okinawa.

Plans for the US Marine Corps’ jungle training area near Takae Village include six new helipads capable of handling the military’s new V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Residents object that the construction will surround their village of 160 people and damage the biodiverse Yambaru Forest. Takae’s local residents successfully prevented construction from 2007 until December 2010 when a protest camp was partially destroyed by a US helicopter and construction crews forcibly restarted construction work.

Residents near Camp Schwab oppose construction of a new airbase and military port over coral reefs in Henoko Bay. Military leaders cite this new megabase as a replacement for the existing controversial Futenma airbase in central Okinawa. The plan has drawn international criticism because of the endangered species that live within the construction area. In 2008, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the U.S. Department of Defense had violated the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) by failing to “take into account” in the planning of the construction of a US military base in Henoko and Oura Bay the effects of the construction on the Okinawa dugong, a Japanese “natural monument.” Last November, Okinawa elected a governor who campaigned on the promise to close Futenma and relocate it outside the prefecture.

“It is an incredible tragedy the Japanese and American governments insist on pushing forward with a construction plan that would cause irreparable damage to one of the world’s most diverse biosystems,” said Mr. Feffer. “During a time of economic crisis and mounting deficits, it is shocking that both countries have embraced a plan that cuts education and social welfare programs while supporting a construction plan that benefits only the military-industrial complex.”

The Network for Okinawa (NO) is a grassroots coalition of peace groups, environmental organizations, faith-based organizations, academia, and think tanks, which oppose additional military construction in Okinawa and support the democratic decisions of the people of Okinawa.

Japanese version:

「Network for Okinawa」(沖縄のためのネットワーク)声明文



建設作業員が建設資材や機材を高江の山原(やんばる)の森へ移動する際、地元住民を押しのけて通り過ぎました。また、キャンプ・シュワブと海辺の境界にある有刺鉄条網を臨時の壁に置き換えることで、建設現場を抗議者の 視界から妨げる試みです。住民は、1996年末に日米政府が計画を発表して以 来、両建設現場では住民たちが反対運動を行ってきました。住民たちは、繊細な 環境および文化遺産の危機をずっと訴えてきました。両方の現場は、沖縄でしか見つけることのできない希少種や絶滅危惧種の生息地です。

「沖縄防衛局の行為は大きな懸念であり、沖縄地域の正当な不満をあきらかにしています。私たちは、工事関係者には不適切な行動を慎むよう要求します。私たちは、日米両政府に対し、沖縄の圧倒的大多数の人々が新基地建設阻止のために投票した民主的な願いを尊重するよう求めます」と、米国を拠点にしている「Network for Okinawa」の代表のジョン・フェファー氏は語りました。

高江近くの米海兵隊のジャングル訓練場の計画は、米軍が開発した垂直離着陸機V-22オスプレイが操作できる米軍のヘリパッド6つを含みます。住民は、建設が160人の住む村を囲み、生物が多様なやんばるの森に被害を及ぼすと異議を唱えています。2007年から2010年12月までの間は、建設の阻止に成功していましたが、今回、抗議テントが米軍のヘリコプターによって部分的に破壊され、建設作業員 たちが強制的に建設を再開しました。2007年から2010年12月までの 間は、建設の阻止に成功していました。



※「Network for Okinawa」(沖縄のためのネットワーク)は、米国と世界の平和・環境団体、宗教的奉仕活動団体、大学・研究機関やシンクタンクの代表者を結びつけ、沖縄に おける軍事施設建設に反対し、民主的な判断をサポートする草の根のネットワークです。

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