Symposium INDEX

Japan Peace Conference 2005
Special Reports


Onishi Teruo

Nago Council against the Construction of US On-Sea Heliport


Appreciation and proposal for further cooperation

Dear friends from all over Japan and abroad who have come here to attend the Japan Peace Conference,Let me first express my appreciation for your support for our 9-year-old struggle in Henoko.
It becomes important in Japan to increase cooperation among local municipalities and people concerned in the struggle against U.S. military bases. Also important is to promote exchange of experiences of peoples' struggles carried out all over the world in opposition to U.S. military bases.
Our struggle in the Henoko District has defeated the Japanese and U.S. governments' attempts twice.

Two victories as a great momentum

Our first victory was a Nago City's referendum on December 21, 1997, in which we rejected the construction of an on-sea heliport proposed by the Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO). Nago citizens' determination to "decide important matters by themselves" brought a victory for democracy and autonomy, defeating the proposal by Naha Regional Defense Facilities Administration Bureau and death merchants. This determination continues to be our driving force.

The second was the victory over the attempt of the Japanese and U.S. governments, the Okinawa prefectural government under Governor Inamine Keiichi and Nago City government led by Mayor Kishimoto Tateo to make Naha Airport an airport for joint military-civilian use, trampling on democracy and autonomy. Our struggle based on nonviolent and interdisciplinary cooperation successfully foiled their plan.

The document on the U.S. military realignment entitled "Japan-U.S. Alliance: Transformation and Realignment for the Future" can be considered as a new version of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. As many people have already pointed out the dangerous nature of the realignment plan, here I will not go into the details of this issue. I only want to say that it is important for people in Henoko to be convinced of the impact of the two victories in building up their struggle under the new circumstances.

The struggle in Henoko has been carried out for 2,639 days plus 588 days. It is a nonviolent struggle of simple and honest people, who have conducted sit-in protests in tents and at sea, to block the base construction. As you may have seen on TV, many people from throughout the country have banded together with Okinawans. Our struggle has also attracted international attention. A book entitled "Naivety - Question From Henoko - Okinawa's Nonviolent Spirit," will be published tomorrow. It is a record of how I developed a nonviolent approach in the struggle against the base construction.

I have always referred to the struggle of Henoko as an example displayed by local people living in a corner of the earth, of what course human beings should follow in the 21st century.

Two global tasks combined

The struggle in Henoko represents a struggle to achieve two tasks of international significance. One is to work for global environment preservation. For Henoko, it is particularly important to ensure the implementation of the Earth Charter adopted by NGOs in the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Spinning a globe, you can see deserts in subtropical zones, evergreen broadleaf forests stretching from Yunnan, China to Taiwan, Southwest Islands of Japan, and to the Osaka metropolitan district. And in Okinawa, located between tropical and subtropical zones, enjoys diverse ecosystem and biodiversity on its land and sea. Okinawa is a treasure trove of rare species such as dugongs and Okinawa rails (Yanbarukuina), and in Oura Bay you will find tremendous charms of nature.

The other is the effort to establish a culture of peace in the 21st century. On September 13, 1999, the U.N. General Assembly adopted the "Declaration on a Culture of Peace" and the "10-Year Program of Action." This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference which confirmed the "10 Principles of Peace." Equal to Gandhi's pacifism and his "5 Principles of Peace," Okinawans have adopted in their history of struggle a "culture of peace," as seen in Ahagon Shoko's nonviolent action and Senaga Kamejiro's untiring struggle. The phrase "Life is a Treasure" explains the spirit of Okinawans' culture of peace. It is impossible to imagine Okinawans' lifestyle without Sanshin (Okinawa's traditional musical instrument). In almost every house in Okinawa you will find Sanshin in Tokonoma, recess set up in a Japanese room where art or flower may be displayed. Okinawans' culture of solving problems through nonviolence and peaceful dialogue is well expressed in a slogan: "Change all arms to musical instruments." This is why we always have Sanshin symphonies in the struggle in Henoko.

The struggle in Henoko has developed as a joint struggle of honest people seeking to achieve these two goals.

Don't use taxpayers' money to build an evil stronghold

The plan to construct a new base on the sea off the Henoko District has been revealed in the U.S. military realignment scheme. It is not only a matter of relocating the U.S. Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City to Henoko. The plan aims to strengthen and consolidate the base functions to make it a fortress. The planned military air base will operate jointly with the U.S. Henoko Ordnance Ammunition Depot and a U.S. naval port. The base will form together with an urban warfare-training complex in U.S. Camp Hansen and a conventional training ground in U.S. Camp Schwab a zone of "evil strongholds for the U.S. preemptive attack strategy. And it will be co-used by Japan's Self-Defense Forces. U.S. bases in Okinawa have been used as sortie bases during the Vietnam War, and training bases for U.S. Marines dispatched to conduct murderous attack against Fallujah during the Iraq War. The new base in Henoko, if constructed, will be used by the U.S. to launch preemptive attacks in any place on the globe, posing as a consequence a threat to other Asian nations under the U.S. military realignment plan.

The realignment of U.S. forces in Japan will also impose financial burden on Japan. There are several facilities constructed by using Japanese taxpayers' money in the name of メsympathy budget," and the area where these facilities including some more currently under construction is called "Little Washington." According to the base construction plan, all these facilities will be destroyed to remake the area as a military port. It seems that by placing Japan's Self-Defense Forces under the U.S. military control, the U.S. government wants to make it easier for the Japanese counterpart to invest taxpayers' money in base-related expenses. These moves make it easier for Japanese people to understand our call, "Don't use tax money for the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty!"

For a third victory

The plan to build a new U.S. base on the sea off the Henoko District is part of the U.S. military realignment scheme. What is happening is that the Koizumi cabinet is just putting into practice the scenario written by the Defense Department of the United States. After having it all, the U.S. government may make more humiliating demands on the Japanese people. U.S. high officials highly evaluated with emotion the interim report on the realignment of U.S. bases in Japan. A commander of U.S. Marine Corps serving as a coordinator of the four U.S. forces stationed frolicked and said what had been agreed between the U.S. and Japanese government on the U.S. military realignment was "exciting and challenging." The Japanese government is polishing a sword, while politically and structurally maintaining the discrimination against Okinawa under the special aid measures law.

The plan to construct a new base on the coast has provoked fierce criticism from Okinawa people, including local residents, because the plan, if put into practice, will destroy their living and natural environments. At this moment, local municipalities and residents in different parts of Japan are carrying out struggles against U.S. military bases jointly. United actions carried out on a daily basis, simple as they may be, help to reveal the dangerous nature of the U.S. military realignment plan, highlighting highlight contradictions between the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the people.

We are planning to hold a large on-sea demonstration in Oura Bay on December 23, to mark the 9th anniversary of the Nago citizens' referendum. The tent village in Henoko will continue to be there as a symbol of the nationwide struggle against the U.S. military realignment until March, when the final report is published. It becomes especially important to develop cooperation with lawyers as we have entered a new phase to explore interdisciplinary studies and united efforts. "Go, look, listen, and discover" is a source of practical strength in our struggle. It will be a good idea to swim in Oura Bay and study in Nagashima, as an on-the-spot learning activity to grasp how harmful the construction of a new base is.

Our ship HEIWA-MARU will welcome you in Henoko!