Henoko protesters begin three days of marches in Okinawa to mark anniversary


Protesters in Okinawa marched on Friday, calling for a halt to the controversial construction of a new U.S. military facility. Sunday marks the 44th anniversary of the prefecture’s reversion from American control.

Around 700 people, including representatives of civil groups and labor unions, gathered on Friday morning in front of U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, kicking off a three-day event the organizers dub a peace march.

The central government is working to build a facility at Henoko as a mooted new home for Air Station Futenma, which is currently located in Ginowan. Opponents have staged numerous protests near the camp — and the central and local governments remain at odds over the project.

“Let us strengthen our resolve not to allow a new base to be built,” Hiroji Yamashiro, head of the Okinawa Peace Action Center, said outside Camp Schwab.

Similar marches began at two other spots on the island the same day, with participants slated to walk near the Futenma base in Ginowan and the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman over the coming days before holding a large rally at a park in Naha on Sunday.