Okinawa Governor Nakaima & Mayors Hand U.S. Military Base Closure/No New Base Request to Japanese PM Kan
Friday, February 11, 2011
On Feb. 8, Governor Nakaima and a group of Okinawan mayors handed a request to Naoto Kan, asking the Japanese prime minister to move the US Marine Air Station Futenma off the island and to cancel the plan for a new "replacement" mega-base in Henoko, an environmentally sensitive area on the island. The mayors included Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, Mayor Takeshi Asato of Ginowan City, and 9 other mayors from base-hosting communities.
Their request, the first formal request of 2011, follows a 15-year sit-in protest at Henoko; a 3-year protest at Takae in Yanbaru Forest; numerous statements, plebiscites, resolutions, elections, and mass protest rallies across Okinawa over the past fifteen years — all demanding the closure of Futenma and the cancellation of the proposal of a new U.S. base at Henoko.
(Message to US Marine Air Station Futenma painted on the roof of Ginowan City Hall. Photo: Ginowan City, via Futenma-Henoko Action Network)In March 2010, Satoko Norimatsu, a scholar of Okinawan issues and peace educator, asked:
"How many of these elections, plebiscites, resolutions, and mass-scale rallies do the central government and US Government need to hear about in order to REALLY get the message - one simple message that Okinawa (nor any other prefecture) does NOT want another base?"
Okinawans have tried to get their message through to Tokyo and Washington via lawsuits; articles and books; an advertisement in the Washington Post; statements across rooftops, in the sand, on t-shirts, painted on faces, spelled out in candlelight by human formation, on monuments; and flying from banners on boats and flag posts; through songs, photographs, and festivals; and global solidarity rallies with supporters wearing dugong masks and Okinawa woodpecker hats.