Symposium INDEX

Japan Peace Conference 2006
Special Reports



New Struggle against the Devil's Fortress


President, Nago Peace Committee
Co-Chair, Nago Council against the Construction of US On-Sea Heliport

Before speaking about the struggle in Henoko, I should make evaluations of the gubernatorial election in Okinawa Prefecture, but I'll do that at the symposium tomorrow. The point is that Nago citizens defeated the Japanese and U.S. governments twice, and every one of us should bear this fact in mind.

The first victory was achieved when Nago citizens voted in a referendum to refuse the government plan to construct an on-sea heliport. The second victory was that we, built on the victory in the referendum, succeeded in developing the non-violent struggle nurtured in Okinawa and raising public opinion to drive the government to give up the plan to construct a new base as an airport for joint military-civilian use.

The Japan Peace Committee National Convention held in Kyoto in June last year gave me prospects and conviction for yet another victory. With a view to the struggle against the realignment of U.S. military bases as the next stage, I wrote a book on our 9-year struggle under the title of "Simple and Honest - Quest from Henoko." In the book I described those two victories as valuable achievements that would open up a new horizon for our struggle to block the realignment plan. More and more citizens are calling for their rights to self-government and democracy to be fully respected on this issue, as seen in the referendum on the transfer of carrier-borne aircraft from Atsugi Air Base to Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, and in the signature campaign in Yokosuka petitioning the city to enact an ordinance to conduct a referendum on the planned deployment of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base. Such citizensユ movements are developing at home and internationally.

When the plan was proposed first to construct a new base on the see off Henoko district, I called it a fortress base. And now, I have named the planned V-shape runways devil's fortress base. My naming is being used frequently in local newspapers in Okinawa. At last year's Japan Peace Conference, oversea guests also said that the U.S. military realignment plan, including the way of implementing it, was of devilish nature.

The final report on the realignment of U.S. military bases in Japan, published under the title of the "United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation," refers to Henoko just briefly: "In principle, the construction method for the FRF will be landfill, " and "The U.S.Government does not have a plan to operate fighter aircraft from this facility." While keeping specifics of the basic plan secret, it places the Misssile Defense System in the key implementation details. The U.S. military has already started deploying PAC3 (Patriot Advance Capability 3) interceptor missils at Kadena Air Base, and building a repair yard in Sasebo Naval Base. They will reveal the details of the plan one after another.

In Henoko, the plan to construct a new heliport exclusively for military use has been decided on, and it is becoming more and more visible that all kinds of military aircraft will "fly over the housing area." This is obvious from the facts that the heliport will have four approach lights and hooks for fixed-wing aircraft on runways, that they apply the U.S military flight standards, and that the barracks will be relocated. The upgrading of Henoko ammunition depot will be put on the agenda in relation to the Missile Defense initiative, and it is quite possible that the planned heliport will be equipped with the MD system and be used as a training base. All these indicate that the plan is to construct a sortie base, which will serve at the same time as a stronghold for integrated military exercises.

Regarding the plan to construct two V-shaped runways in Henoko, the work on elaborating a basic plan and environmental assessment are underway concurrently. I have named this assessment "heinous environmental assessment." While environmental groups are becoming increasingly interested in peace issues, peace organizations remain quite ignorant of environmental problems. The planned construction site is a treasure trove of buried cultural properties. We must study the problem from all different aspects and points of view. We should take advantage of these factors in our struggle at the present stage, when the government is going through the process of planning and environmental assessment.

I say that the Japanese and U.S. governments are good at creating enemies against themselves. They already antagonized 400 U.S. environmental organizations, and now with the realignment plan, they are making enemies out of archaeologists, historians and citizens across the country. In my book, I inserted the a newspaper report on the buried cultural properties, the same one I have given out to you, and the story of Senaga Kamejiro who said, "Oppressive approach gives rise to resistance, and resistance attracts friends." Our struggle has always called for international solidarity. Many of our colleagues in Henoko have visited Pyeongtaek in South Korea to support people's struggle there. From the Korean people's candlelight vigils and E-mail revolution, we have learned to be simple and honest sticking to the fight, and how to develop a network. With a view to promoting broadest possible solidarity around the world, I plan to attend the International Conference against Foreign Military Bases to be held in Ecuador in March next year.

I have been saying that the human struggle in the 21st century should aim at building culture of peace based on non-violence and peaceful dialogue. This I have engraved in my heart as the key pillar of the concrete strategy for struggle. Furthermore, the issue of the construction of a new base in Henoko calls for a united effort of humanity for conserving global environment and biodiversity. I have said that peace organizations are weak on environmental issues. On the other hand, environmental groups are becoming more and more concerned about the problems of peace and military bases. Possibilities have arisen for developing a new form of cooperation, such as the campaign for preserving buried cultural property.

In pushing ahead with the realignment of U.S. bases in Japan, the Japanese and U.S. governments have to go through the necessary formalities and fulfill accountability to the people. In the course of events, they cannot avoid causing friction with the people at local and national levels. The need now is to learn more about the issues and establish cooperation. The plan to construct two V-shaped runways on the shoreline of U.S. Camp Schwab in a sense comes from a straightforward thinking of the adversary. The construction work will be carried out on land, from inside the base, making it easier for them to bar out the resistance by mobilizing the riot police. Mr. TJ Johnson spoke about his experience of how he, together with the citizens, fought the "militarized police" to carry on the struggle against the Iraq war.

Facing the militarized police, are we going to run away, or are we going to work out a new form of struggle? The other day, I went to Yokosuka to support the campaign to calling for a referendum on the planned deployment of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the U.S. Naval Yokosuka Base. Two baby-boomer men held out their hands and told me they had obtained vessel licenses so that they could sail Heiwa-maru, our campaign boat. I'm inspired so much that those baby boomers who love Okinawa are coming in the first place to Henoko to support our non-violent struggle for democracy and culture of peace. Let the メgeneration with nothing to loseモ be the fortress of peace and democracy in the 21st century!