Thousands protest in Tokyo against Futenma move


Staff Writer

Thousands of people gathered Sunday outside the Diet to protest the plan to move U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district in Okinawa from the city of Ginowan.

Various speakers addressed what they described as the harmful presence of U.S. forces in Okinawa, including excessive force to clamp down on protesters and environmental damage, and the government’s refusal to address these concerns.

The speakers included Australian-born Catherine Jane Fisher who, addressing the crowd through a translator, delivered an “open message to Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe.”

Fisher argued that if terrorism is “violence against civilians for political goals” then “we have terrorists in Okinawa,” referring to what she said was excessive use of force by the police against local residents taking part in anti-base protests.

Fisher is known for her long history of political activism and advocacy for sexual assault victims after her traumatic experience of being raped by a U.S. serviceman in Japan in 2002.

She also said construction of the replacement base for Futenma will cause environmental damage in the Henoko area, including to the dugong population and coral reef. “Don’t rape us,” Fisher said. “Don’t rape the sea.”

Meri Joyce of the Tokyo-based nongovernmental organization Peace Boat said her group has used “every democratic process and none of it is having an impact.”

The protesters then formed a ring around the Diet, temporarily blocking the street before police moved them.

  • By referring only to “Futenma move”, the headline is somewhat misleading. It gives the false impression that protesters want to keep the base in Futenma! It is not the “move” to which they object, but the destination of that move – Henoko. No one would be encircling the Diet if the base were moving to Hawaii or California. Moreover, it’s not just a move – it’s an expansion and modernization.

    • bob

      if no expansion of another facility, then the base stays where it remains.

      • That may well be the position of the Pentagon and the Abe administration. It is not the position of the Okinawan people, as clearly expressed in election after election. For a very long time, Tokyo and Washington have been happy to concentrate bases in Okinawa in order to minimize the political costs of locating them on the mainland, and Okinawa was unable to resist. Those days are over. Contempt for Okinawan self-determination is not only disgusting; it is also foolish.

      • bob

        Ok lets’clarify something first, you say Okinawan people, and I hope you can distinguish between the two groups, okinawans who are mostly blooded frommainland Japan, and those few actual Ryukyuns who clearly are not Japanese but actual Ryukyu originals people of the Ryukyu islands.
        You may not be aware but the agitators that call themselves Okinawans are not the originals people of those islands and therefore should have no say so in their matters nor speak for them. I should know I married a Ryukyu descendent generation after generation and there is by no means any Japanese bloodline that makes
        them Japanese descendents , hence you will find among the people living there, if you ask a true descendent Ryukyu if they are Japanese and clearly, proudly and very loudly, they will tell you “I’m not Japanese”. Furthermore these agitators are only concerned about one thing ‘themselves” they are made up of business owners who rely and banking all their assets on “tourism”, land development, and construction contractor companies. Those are your main bodies along with the nationalists and right wingers. You mention that Tokyo and Washington have been happy to concentrate bases in order to minimize political costs of locating them on mainland is further from the truth. There is no contempt for people from the mainland residing in Okinawa, what there is a real resentment of the actual original Ryukyu peoples against the Japanese, Chinese, and any others who are not in favor of taking care of the islands, without causing harm to their natural way of life. You have to understand what it means to be a Ryukyuan and it is not something learned by reading books nor living in just the main body of the Ryukyu islands but to really learn the ancient customs and way of life then and only then can you really understand the originals and that they do welcome the bases. Tokyo and DC have for the last 20 yrs been
        trying to reduce the footprint but you have to keep in mind that any drawdown is an invitation to someone other univited neighbor.

  • Komakai Okane

    It’s unclear how Nakaima walked away so quietly after signing documents at the end of his term allowing the Henoko work to begin. His 180 degree change of position in the last 6 months of his term went against the majority of Okinawans. In other periods of history his head would have been put on a stick and paraded through town.

    It’s appropriate to hear the word “rape” being used now to describe the forceful action of Abe and the American brass standing over him. It might be helpful for some graphic cartoons of this scenario to start appearing in Japanese newspapers and across the globe. Who will have the courage to publish first?

    What other types of leverage do the Okinawans have over mainland Japan besides peaceful protests – perhaps something financial in the form of boycotts, embargoes, trade sanctions?

    • bob

      would you rather have Panda or a Bear standing over Abe?

  • timefox

    Was it forgot that an opponent attacked a guard in Futenma? Was it forgot that a Korean showed taekwondo at the gate in Futenma? Was it forgot that a Korean visits Okinawa and is supporting counteragitation in Futenma?

    It’s dangerous to receive it as voice in Okinawa easily.

  • Lincolnman

    Protests and demonstrations are fine – spreading biased and non-factual information is not. The enlargement at Camp Schwab will result in the closure of Futenma Air Station, long known as a facility with safety concerns. In addition, implementation of the 2006 ATARA agreement will result in the closure and return of almost all US facilities south of Kadena and the movement of 10K USMC personnel to Guam – yet these protestors are against that. Further, using emotionally laden terms like “rape” merely shows how extreme these folks are – it is unfortunate that Ms Fisher has allowed herself to be coopted by these radicals who in reality have a much different agenda than their stated environmental concerns.

    • bob

      it’s about the land developers and construction projects that are among the main agitators.

  • bob

    hey what’s up with Kinjo-san and mayuki-chan, they are both base workers along with takako’s family members who also work for the base but there they are loud and clear in the crowd…complaining against their easy money cash cow

  • bob

    If these people want to complain, complain about the costs of “chump” change easy money that the Japanese tax payers overpay the Master Labor Contract workers who have the same benefits as “real” Japan government workers except that they dont’ have to study and take the National Exam or attend a National University but receive the same pay and easier working conditions. It’s true, I have witnessed these bums, sleeping on the job, smoking cigarettes parked among trees and brushes where most people can’t see them. They take long long breaks, spend most of the time on the internet, so the majority of these bums spend about 65% – 80% of the time doing absolutely wasting time than being productive, and get paid English only to say “nice to meet you” and that ends there but get PAID because its English. Now not all of them do this, some actually do work and very hard, but in lieu of cutbacks in US personnel it is clearly evident that the local national has really been milking the system for many many years.

  • nangoku

    Disinformation by Bob and others about so-called true blooded Okinawans is irrelevant. It is a shared history of oppression, just as it is for Ainu and Zainichi and former Burakumin that matters. it is a social class thing, and the people of Okinawa know they have been mistreated by mainlanders and the US, had their land taken away by force, forced to endure a base economy, ignored by the mainstream media.

    Nonsense too about people with other agendas. Their fight, by the way, is identical to that of natives of Jeju in Korea fighting a South Korean base. Led by Catholics for the most part, even their mayor has been arrested. Authoritarianism is universally abhorred, and it has nothing to do with blood or ethnicity. Now if only the governor elect would be more forthcoming and show his solidarity with those who have been attacked by Kidotai and Coast Guard members.

    Clearly Abe has had a policy of no arrests for the most part as he knows heavy handedness will make it into the mass media, which unlike the Japan Times, tends to ignore Okinawans. What will happen from here out is anyone’s guess, as Abe is also pretty dense. His handling of the hostage crisis has demonstrated this, with him stupidly making Japan a target by his siding with Israel and the U.S. in his aid money and arresting a Japanese Muslim academic and a Japanese Muslim journalist on suspicion of helping a kid in Hokkaido join the ISIS (not true)–the two who had been trying to media for the last 5 months with the ransom amount known just as long.

    Hence Abe is extremely dangerous to Japanese security. You could even said Abe is guilty of murder in the case of the hostage, He is surely hated by many Okinawans, as evidenced by many LDP members in Okinawa going against the LDP positions. The issues confronting us these days all all connected…the neo-fascists who use security as an excuse to remilitarise, even alarming the U.S. whose bases continue to oppress because the U.S. is afraid of a go-it-alone nationalist state and would prefer a quiet puppet that does not provoke China and North Korea. And the same authoritarians pass anti-secrets laws to prevent us from finding out whatever they don’t want us to know, to keep their deepest and darkest secrets about Toden and Fukushima hidden, to intimidate journalists and activists. The fight against U.S. bases is the fight against the nuclear mafia is the fight to keep a peace constitution is the fight to preserve freedom of thought.

  • bob

    First of all you married the wrong ryukyuan, second you have no sense much less any real knowledge of security situations on the island or anywhere else in Japan for that matter. The Golden Horde has raped and pillaged the islands for quite some time now, but you wouldn’t know that because your Ryukyuan wife gave you the wrong information in other words “lost in translation”, give it up and do the islands and its people a favor, go back to the rock you crawled out of.