‘The Wind from Okinawa’ Speaking Tour 2016
Yuichi Kamoshita and Sarasa Aihara are core members of the protest group against the new U.S. military base in Henoko, Okinawa.
Daily protests, which normally attract over 200 people, are currently taking place outside ‘Camp Schwab’ with activists sitting in the road, forcibly being removed by riot police and being arrested for trying to stop the construction of the new airbase, which plans to landfill 160 hectares of Oura Bay. A breathtakingly beautiful bay is a critical feeding ground for the Dugong (a type of manatee), sea turtles and home to a unique Porites cylindric coral community, enriched by fresh water plankton which lead into the bay from jungle rivers.
There are currently 32 U.S. bases on Okinawa, with the island extensively being used as a training ground for some 26,000 Marines, the total population of Okinawa is 1.4 million. The 24 Osprey helicopters take-off and landings are an acute disruption for local residents with a long track record of accidents which are covered-up by the U.S military. Jungle training also means Marines in full combat outfits run freely through villages, across roads and the general surroundings, while hillsides and jungle are scarred by ammunition practice, this has led to jungle fires and sever disruption to the unique island wildlife.
All eyes are on Japan as the citizens of Okinawa ask for a final end to the legacy of the second world war. Japan is at an interesting crossroads, while in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster there is major opposition to nuclear energy, it is also coupled with the campaign to stop nuclear weapons, very much shaped by the 1945 atomic bombs which were dropped on the civilian populations of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. The current Conservative Japanese Government are eroding the Peace Constitution with movements towards a drastic reinterpretation of Article 9 (to not have a military, be involved in war or to persecute others), by strongly aligning with the U.S. military and its aggressive foreign policy agenda.
With over 800 U.S bases globally, with around 200 in East Asia, Okinawa acts as an ‘Asian pivot’, allowing the U.S to maneuver and monopolise the region.
Protests at Henoko are currently at a crucial point whereby the people of Okinawa have had enough of “feeling like a U.S. colony”. 77% of islanders say they do not want the new airbase & navy port, the Governor and the island mayors have all been elected on the issue of opposing the new base, while pressure on the mainland government has never been so fierce.
Victory for protestors at Henoko could set an Okinawan precedent for what people power can achieve, an example to show that militarism can be resisted. With most local people opposed to the Henoko base, now is the time to rally support from the international peace movement.
Come and hear these young committed peace activists from Okinawa who are very much influenced by their Buddhist faith, as well as the history which shaped the current generation of Japan.
For more info: http://nobasehenoko.chakin.com/index.html and http://www.okinawaiken.org/washingtonpost2015/
Organised by: http://vcnv.org.uk/
Working with: nipponzanmyohoji.net