World academics, peace leaders blast Henoko plan

Opposition to the announced approval of land reclamation, which will lead to creation of a Futenma Replacement Facility at Nago City’s Henoko district, is drawing flak from dozens of writers, artists, international scholars and even a Nobel laureate.

Less than a month after Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima signed the approval for land reclamation to begin in Oura Bay, adjacent to the Marines’ Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa, international figures are speaking out against the decision.  Noted filmmakers Michael Moore and Oliver Stone head the list of opponents to the plan, flanked by Noam Chomsky, a linguist and writer, Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, and Professor Emeritus John Dower of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

They’ve likened their joint efforts to the American civil rights movement launched decades ago.  The noted scholars have banded together with dozens of other international academicians to issue a statement knocking Nakaima’s agreement.   “Using the lure of economic development, (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe has extracted approval from Governor Nakaima to reclaim the water off Henoko, to build a massive new U.S. Marine air base with a military port.”   Going a step beyond, the group declares that “Governor Nakaima’s reclamation approval does not reflect the popular will of the people of Okinawa. Immediately before the gubernatorial election of 2010, Nakaima, who had previously accepted the new base construction plan, changed his position and called for relocation of the Futenma base outside the prefecture.”

The newly formed opposition group says their effort is “Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have nonviolently pressed for the end to their military colonization. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa. We support the people of Okinawa in their nonviolent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment. The Henoko marine base project must be canceled and Futenma returned forthwith to the people of Okinawa.”

Governor Nakaima, after months of considering Tokyo’s request for approval of the massive landfill project, gave the go-ahead in late December.  His decision came only days after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made promises of massive aid to Okinawa extending through 2021.  Tokyo pledged ¥346 billion annually in development monies this year and at least ¥300 billion each year for the next seven.  On top of that, Abe’s administration has committed billions of yen to fund Naha International Airport and the island’s light rail system expansion.