NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Two activists have been released following their arrest Sunday during a protest against construction of the replacement base for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.
The pair allegedly trespassed at the gate of Camp Schwab during a demonstration against work on the new base in the Henoko district in Nago, northern Okinawa. They were detained by U.S. military personnel Sunday morning and were arrested by the Okinawa Prefectural Police later in the day.
The police turned the case over to prosecutors Monday, but the Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office released the activists that day without issuing a warrant. The prosecutors refrained from disclosing the reasons for their release.
The activists, one of whom is Hiroji Yamashiro, who heads a group called Okinawa Heiwa Undo Center, emerged from Naha Police Station at around 7:45 p.m. They were greeted by about 100 supporters.
The group opposes the contentious plan to relocate the Futenma base away from the densely populated city of Ginowan in southern Okinawa.
Yamashiro told reporters that he felt “relieved” to be free and said that “the arrest was totally unreasonable.”
Following his arrest, Yamashiro told his lawyer that he did not intend to enter the base and was only trying to prevent a tussle between protesters and the U.S. military security guards from escalating.
The arrests prompted the Naha Municipal Assembly to discuss the Henoko anti-base movement on Monday. In a majority vote, the assembly adopted a statement against police and the Japan Coast Guard for deploying “excessive” security against the protesters.
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