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Henoko protest now in its fifth month

Date Posted: 2004-09-24

Nago residents opposed to the new airfield facility scheduled to replace Futenma Marine Corps Air Station are carrying their opposition to new lengths.

The sit-in at Henoko Fishing Port, where Defense Facilities Administration Bureau officials are trying to make progress with environmental surveys connected to the planned replacement airport, began in April and is continuing strong. Although the surveys are ongoing, protesters are making it difficult as they put canoes and small boats in the path of the survey vessels.

The protesters are vowing to continue their demonstrations, despite seeing no signs they’re having any effect on stopping the surveys.

They say they’re getting tired, but will press on. “We need boats to protest on the sea, and we need people and power and money. We never have enough, plus nobody is listening,” said the chairman of the heliport opposition committee. “We still have to sit here and how how much we are against the heliport being built here.”

Other opposition members are beginning to wonder what effect they’re having. “Does this demonstration help? Even though we sit here there are no effects. We need to do something else…we need to change our planning.”

Meanwhile, Nago City Mayor Tateo Kishimoto says he’ll back off his insistence the new airport be built in his jurisdiction, but only if a better choice is found. Kishimoto says he supports an earlier return of Futenma to Japan than now scheduled.

The Dudong Network Okinawa is continuing its opposition to the new airfield. Group members, appealed to government officials to suspend the underwater drilling survey. They say the daily operation of survey boats and protest boats in the waters off Henoko is causing difficulties for the dudongs.

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