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Luminaries’ statement slams Henoko base deal

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Twenty-nine international scholars, peace activists, writers, artists and a Nobel laureate have issued a formal statement condemning the decision to relocate the Futenma military base to Henoko in northern Okinawa Island and comparing opposition to the move with America’s civil rights movement.

Noted linguist and writer Noam Chomsky, Academy Award-winning filmmakers Oliver Stone and Michael Moore, Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, author and journalist Naomi Klein, and U.N. Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk are among those calling for an international campaign to support Okinawans in their opposition to the new base.

They are joined by John Dower, a professor emeritus of history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Herbert Bix, a professor emeritus of history and sociology at State University of New York at Binghamton; and Gavan McCormack, a professor emeritus at Australian National University; as well as other noted Japan scholars.

“Using the lure of economic development, (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe has extracted approval from Governor (Hirokazu) Nakaima to reclaim the water off Henoko, on the northeastern shore of Okinawa, to build a massive new U.S. Marine air base with a military port,” the group said in its statement issued Tuesday.

“Governor Nakaima’s reclamation approval does not reflect the popular will of the people of Okinawa. Immediately before the gubernatorial election of 2010, Nakaima, who had previously accepted the new base construction plan, changed his position and called for relocation of the Futenma base outside the prefecture.

“Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have nonviolently pressed for the end to their military colonization. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa.

“We support the people of Okinawa in their nonviolent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment. The Henoko marine base project must be canceled and Futenma returned forthwith to the people of Okinawa,” the statement said.

Nakaima’s decision last month to approve a central government application for the landfill project at Henoko is widely seen as a quid pro quo for the promises by Abe’s administration of ¥346 billion in development assistance for Okinawa in fiscal 2014, and a further ¥300 billion annually for the prefecture until fiscal 2021.