Protests against Henoko continue; early return of bases hinted
About 2,500 people rallied in front of the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s office in Naha, Tuesday, to protest the relocation of the MCAS Futenma to Henoko.
The protests in front of the main gate of Camp Schwab have also continued daily with some 300 protesters taking part on Tuesday morning. Some local assembly members and citizens groups took to the sea in boats, one of which overturned as it collided with a Japanese coast guard boat after it entered the off-limit zone off the coast. Four people were thrown overboard and were rescued by the coast guard. One of them was taken to a hospital with ight injuries.
Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine who attended both rallies told protesters at Schwab, “Let us emphasize that we can no longer bear any additional burden of hosting military bass. Let’s go for the victory!” Later in the day in Naha, Inamine said, “The Japanese Government has long exploited Okinawa. I promise to make an all-out effort to stop the relocation plan.”
Tuesday was the 63rd anniversary of the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty, which allowed Japan to recover its sovereignty but left Okinawa under U.S. control, a treaty that still arouses bitter feelings in many local residents.
On the same day, bilateral defense and foreign ministers held a conference in New York and released a joint statement stressing that the Henoko relocation plan is the only solution.
To sweeten the pot, Japanese and U.S. negotiators in New York had agreed earlier to consider speeding up the return of U.S. bases south of Kadena Air Base. They promised to discuss in the near future about ways to return the land earlier than originally planned.