Okinawa boaters pester defense workers at new base site


The Japan Coast Guard shooed away protesters Friday as the Okinawa Defense Bureau tried to install buoys and floats off Nago’s Henoko district to protect the site expected to host the replacement facility for a contentious U.S. Marine base in Ginowan.

Activists sailed out in canoes to demand suspension of the work, but were blocked by dinghies and small ships deployed by the Japan Coast Guard. Some of the canoes were escorted back to shore.

Ships could be seen fixing tethered floats to land and making other preparations that the bureau, a branch of the Defense Ministry, expected to finish the same day. It will soon start a drilling survey of the sea bottom.

The Henoko coastal district is to host the facility that will replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in crowded Ginowan, further south in Okinawa.

The buoy-laying work was apparently not affected by the protests, and no estimates of their numbers were reported.