Okinawa anti-base activists arrested at Camp Schwab


Police have arrested two Japanese activists who oppose construction of the Futenma replacement base in Okinawa Prefecture after they were detained by the U.S. military for allegedly trespassing at the gate of Camp Schwab.

One of the pair is Hiroji Yamashiro, who heads a local activist group, the Okinawa Heiwa Undo Center.

Camp Schwab is adjacent to where the construction of the new air base is under way in the Henoko area of the city of Nago.

The base is being built to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, currently located in Ginowan in the prefecture.

Trespassing on a U.S. base violates a law based on the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States.

About 500 demonstrators converged on Nago Police Station, criticizing the U.S. military’s brief detainment of the two activists Sunday. About 20 police officers were dispatched to guard the building’s entrance.

“They believe they will stop protesters from raising their voice against the construction of the base in the Henoko district by detaining them, but they’re wrong,” said an 80-year-old woman from Naha who was among those calling for the protesters’ release.

Activists had gathered at the gate of Camp Schwab to protest work on the new base. The organizer said there were about 2,800 people present. Some held banners reading “We take a firm stand against landfill in Henoko” and chanted slogans.

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine also criticized the U.S. military and the Okinawan police for arresting the pair.

“The people of Okinawa need to team together as that’s the only way to counter such strong power,” Inamine said. “Let’s raise our voices and present our demand to both the U.S. and the Japanese governments.”

Protester Takeryu Toguchi, a 17-year-old high student in Nago, said the construction site off Henoko threatens the survival of dugongs that live in the area.

“I can hear an anguished cry out of the ocean,” the student said. “We cannot turn away from those sea creatures.”

  • timefox

    They are same as a terrorist.

  • gokyo

    Another example of peaceful and law abiding protestors?

  • JimmyJM

    Futenma, as a base, has its roots in pre-Pacific war history. People moved into areas around the base knowing it was an active air base with aircraft coming and going regularly. They moved there anyway and now complain about the noise and danger. But it is fait accompli and the base is now a disaster waiting to happen. I wonder how concerned about the dugong 17 year old Toguchi would feel if one of those aircraft came down in a residential neighborhood. It is past time to close Futenma. But where to move the facility? Numerous recommendations were made as to relocating the facility, some of them very logical. Those recommendations were dismissed by Tokyo though a closer look at some of them would have been wise. As for the trespassers, perhaps Mayor Inamine wouldn’t mind people entering his home and walking though his bedroom but that would be trespassing. There are numerous signs telling people that entering the base without authorization is trespassing and punishable under Japanese law. So why did the two decide to trespass? Publicity no doubt. And they’ve succeeded.

  • A bit half way news here. Yamashiro and Tanimoto were allegedly suspected of trespassing onto Camp Schwab around 9 a.m. on February 22. According to witnesses, protestors scuffled with Japanese security guards working for the U.S. military, in front of the base’s new gate. ( in front – not inside, not entering the bade )

    According to the Okinawa Prefectural Police, at around 9:30 a.m, the U.S. military reported that they had constrained the two men.
    Following the arrests of the protestors, many citizens gathered at Nago Police Station the arrests were unjustifiable. What the US Army tried here is to take the leader to frighten the protesters Another fail and insult of the Us Army that will just heat up the problem more.