October 4, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
(Henoko Issue Reporting Team) On October 3, citizens opposed to the new base construction in Henoko, Nago in conjunction with the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma held the gathering “Prefectural People’s Mass Action”, which was regularly held the first Saturday of each month until being cancelled in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Around 700 people (organizer estimate) gathered in front of the gate to the U.S. military’s Camp Schwab in Henoko, Nago and expressed renewed resolve in opposition to the new base construction.
As a countermeasure against COVID-19, the gathering was held for a shorter time and reduced in scale. Members representing Okinawa in the National Diet also attended.
At the gathering, in addition to protest against the new base construction, many people also harshly criticized Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for refusing to appoint six candidates recommended for appointment by and to the Science Council of Japan. “There is no future for this country where the state tries to bend even scholars and researchers to its will. Let’s show a strong resolve to change things starting from Okinawa,” said former Nago mayor Susumu Inamine, making a strong call for action.
Governor Denny Tamaki also sent a message to the protesters saying, “The government ignoring the people’s will and pushing forward with construction is utterly unacceptable,” and criticizing the state of construction. His message continued, “I will work with all my power to realize my campaign promise not to let a new base be built in Henoko.” At the end of the gathering, Hiroji Yamashiro, director of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, spoke and said, “Let us tell them that Okinawans’ courage and resolve is unshakeable. No matter how the new cabinet may shake its heavy hand, Okinawa will not yield.”
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)