Robert Kajiwara knew he did not have much time to act before construction work began for the controversial relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture.

So the 32-year-old turned to the White House's We the People petition website as a last resort, hoping that the U.S. government would intervene in what he sees as the impending destruction of Oura Bay and its ecosystem for the move of the inland military base to the coastal area of Henoko.

"In the days preceding the start of the petition, I was really concerned" about Henoko, Kajiwara said. "I thought, 'We've got to do something. We've got to think of some way we can help.'"