October 28, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Hirofumi Mazaki
Eight years since its first protest activity, the Association for Singing Gospel at the Futenma Base Gate prayed for peace in front of a gate to the U.S. Futenma Air Station through the singing of hymns. On the evening of October 26, there were 19 Christians involved with the Association who donned masks and participated in a protest activity in front of the Nodake Gate of Futenma Air Station. The participants vowed that as long as there are fences there, they will call for peace through gospel, and their voices resounded in the air.
The Association’s first protest activity took place in front of the Nodake gate on October 29, 2012 in response to vertical takeoff and landing MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft being deployed to Futenma Air Station. Despite the government installing fences around this gate in July 2013, protest activities continued to take place every week on Monday evenings on the walkway in front of the gate. In 2015, protest activities in Henoko, Nago City also started gospel singing once per month. Protest through gospel spread from Futenma throughout the nation to places such as the Kantei (the prime minister’s official residence).
The protest activity, which marked 8 years since the first such activity, took place at 6:00 p.m. on October 26 after darkness had fallen. Donning a mask, association representative Takehiro Kamiya, 58, pastor at Futenma Baptist Church, said “We did not plan for [the protest activities] to continue for this long, but the circumstances in Okinawa are such that we feel obliged to sing. This is because, among other things, there continues to be little account given to people’s lives”. While observed by military police standing on both sides of the fences, Association members sang seven hymns such as We Shall Overcome and offered prayer. People passing in their cars honked their horns, smiled, and waved to the Association members.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)