Photos from http://takae.ti-da.net/ (Report from Yanbaru Higashi-son, Takae)
Over 100 workers rushed in from 6am to bring bags of gravel into the planned sites. It was a surprise attack in the early morning, thus the number of protesters were fewer than usual. The Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) expanded the number of the crew, many younger workers are seen. The protesters say that the newly hired workers are being provocative to protesters and there seem to have been rough scenes between the two groups. This is one of the tragedies of the military expansion, that local Okinawans are often forced to be divided into two enemy groups.
This crisis in Takae needs attention from outside. Please take a moment to let the word out to your local media and your friends and people who care, and people who simply are not informed of this violence. Again, the situation in summery is: Japan Defense Ministry is forcing the construction of new US military helipads in the abundant forests of northern Okinawa. It is in the middle of the irreplaceable habitat area of many endangered species. Not only the plan never met with local residents’ consent, but some helipads are planned to be built very close to the residential area and schools. The local residents, along with their supporters, have continued their sit-in protest to stop the construction for nearly 4 years.
US-based NGO “Close The Base” released a statement regarding US military base in Okinawa (in English and Japanese). PLEASE CHECK THIS LINK because it’s very very informative, and please also spread the word. In any small way that you can do.
In the world where we got so many problems, we tend to hear many voices like: “well, the situation will not change after all” or “there’s nothing can be done to change the reality.” We also tend not to get encouraged to ask why this is bad or why that needs to change. Unless you are bookmarking alternative news resources or following public intellectuals on twitter, it seems, you can’t get informed of “important matters”. Whether or not it is the case, what we need to do is quite simple, as the wonderful people from Egypt showed us. This historical event was achieved by ordinary people going out in the streets to fight for their rights. Even though Twitter and Facebook are accounted to have been a “help” in the Egyptian revolution, what mattered eventually was people that came out to the streets, didn’t go back inside their doors until their “NO” was heard correctly.
Okinawan people and their supporters are outside and voicing their NO as well. For quite a long time now. They never stopped saying NO since 2007. Why on the earth would you want to live next to a helicopter landing zone, Why would you wanna walk just underneath a helicopter that might crash on your house, or on your kids’ school?
A short documentary film “Message from Yanbaru” (2007) shows a crucial protest against destruction of our basic right to live. The first few minutes into the film show the rich natural environment Yanbaru boasts of, the area where new US helipads are being built.
The northern part of Okinawa’s main island, surrounded by abundant forests, is called “YANBARU”. The irreplaceable habitat area of endangered spicies, many of which are listed in the Red Data like NOGUCHI GERA (woodpecker), and YANBARU KUINA (rail). There’s also a valuable water reservoirs, which provide 60% of city water on the entire island. Local District TAKAE is located in the middle of such YANBARU.
Takae is a small district with population of 150, 20 % of which are children under 15 years old.
Takae residents surely live surrounded by such beautiful nature. In the film children run about cheerfully and the grandpa feeds his goats their favorite mulberry leaves. Their life suddenly changes in the summer of 2007 when Japan and US began bringing on a construction of 6 new helipads that are closely located to residential houses, the community center and schools in Takae. They soon start their sit-in protest, forming human chains and having talks with the local Defence Agency workers, many of who are also Okinawans. One manager from the Agency in the film cannot even help showing his sympathy to protesters’ calls. He probably is an Okinawan also. Naturally the Agency must have thought the manager was too soft, and now assigns a new guy who acts much more aggressive on people.
After the police intervenes and the Agency finally stops their aggressive operation, Mr. Teruo Ohnishi, a former schoolteacher, starts a conversation with the Agency personnel. This actually doesn’t sound like a conversation, since the Agency guys just stand there speechless. Mr. Ohnishi’s story is a message to all of us. Because we all need to know how the whole movement originates to a long history of oppression in Okinawa. Mr Ohnishi mentions how rapes on girls are caused by US soldiers, and how, for dacades, human life is not permitted in large part of the Okinawan land because of the presence of US military. His message tells us how the Takae protest springs out from a very basic account of human rights.
The film “Message fom Yanbaru” will soon be available with English subtitles. Please check back for updates.
translated from: Henoko Hamatsuushin http://henoko.ti-da.net/e3275917.html
So the workers from Okinawa Defense Bureau left for home, saying “we’ll be back everyday from tomorrow on!”
February will be a big turning point for them since they won’t be able to work on anything from March*.
To save face as a bureaucrat.
To be obsequious to the power of United States
To make a souvenir for our PM (Naoto Kan) to bring to US on his visit
To show some decency to their head office…
The workers of Okinawa Defense Bureau are desperately doing their job.
Please think of your ideas and support each other’s where you can, in order to send as many people as possible to Takae.
Our only way of resistance is that somebody is always there to watch it happen and that people be tied together.
Please be a witness of the way our government kicks about its own people for the sake of United States, and please spread your ideas and thoughts nationwide… Please help us.
*: Any construction in the forest of Takae will be legally prohibited since wildlife start their breeding season.)
taken from: http://takae.ti-da.net
People in Okinawa now are on 24/7 sit-in and surveillance against the helipads construction by Okinawa Defense Bureau.
The last 10 or so photos were taken while the Bureau forcefully enter the construction site, pushing over the people and knocking them down to the ground.