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NPO angers Kudaka Island residents by 30 cutting trees

Date Posted: 2006-02-24

Kudaka Island is called ‘The Island of the God’.

A clash between a non-profit religious organization which says it was listening to the voice of God and local residents is centered on trees cut without authorization. The tiny island is located in a new municipality on the southern part of Okinawa Island. Nanjou City’s Chinen Village area hosts Fubou Shrine, often called the mecca of Kudaka Island.

On that island are trees labeled ‘trees of God’.

A local NPO Foundation of Religion entered the shrine recently and cut down the trees without anyone’s authority or permission, and residents are extremely upset. They say “we will never forgive them.” The Fubou Shrine is one of the seven best known and important shrines on Okinawa
Residents tend to the Fubou Shrime, including its trees. Their devotion is so strong, even residents cannot enter the Shrine except in special circumstances. Men are never allowed to enter, and signs are posted saying ‘Keep Out’.

The NPO has admitted cutting the trees in December, telling local residents “Our God said ‘go to the Fubou Shrine and clean the Shrine. It is all dirty. That is what our God said, so we cut the trees.” The group says it has been doing rehabilitiation for mentally handicapped people with disabled minds.

Residents charge the NPO chopped down 30 trees, leaving only trees in a new forest area. They’re protesting the group’s actions to the Nanjou City Board of Education, which has oversight responsibilities.

The Board of Education has fired a report to the NPO group, telling them “This Shrine is a city owned cultural asset, and you cannot cut trees.” The NPO says it first began cutting trees on the site in 1997. They admit to also cutting trees at the former Chinen Village’s world heritage Seefaautaki Shrine.

An apology of sorts has been offered, but not accepted, by residents. “We are very sorry”, the religious group said in a statement, “but we were listening to our God.” Officials say the apology does nothing to rectify the situation, noting it will take at least 100 years for replacement trees to grow in place of those destroyed.

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