Protest rally in Nago demands Ospreys out, stop to Henoko

Speaking to a crowd of protesters in Nago, Thursday, Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga expressed his “unwavering resolve” to stop the flights of the U.S. Marine Corps’ MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and ultimately kick them out from the prefecture.

The protesters were rallying against the crash of an Osprey last week on a reef off the coast of Abu, Nago City, near Camp Schwab. According to organizers, about 4,200 people took part in the rally.

Onaga, together with Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine chose to join the protest rally, instead of a ceremony on the same day to mark the return to Okinawa a 4,000-hectare parcel of Camp Gonzalves, a U.S. jungle warfare training area in northern Okinawa.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy took part in the return ceremony, in which Suga stated that, “The return will greatly contribute to easing Okinawa’s burden of hosting the U.S. military bases.”

Onaga would not have any of that. “The (national) government, which gave top priority on the U.S. military’s request to restart the Osprey flights just a couple of days after the crash, is not seeing the people of Okinawa as Japanese citizens,” the governor said.

The protesters adopted a statement at the rally vowing to continue their fight until U.S. Ospreys are pulled out of Okinawa and the plan to build a replacement facility for the MCAS Futenma is cancelled.