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Henoko opponents’ strike surpasses 1,000 days

Date Posted: 2007-01-19

The protesters are weary, but remain determined to block construction of a new U.S. military facility in northern Okinawa.

A sit-down strike along the Henoko shoreline near Nago City began more than 1,000 days ago, on April 19, 2004, with hundreds of determined men and women speaking out against a Japanese-American plan to move Futenma Marine Corps Air Station to the Okinawa northeast coast. Peace activists and local residents opposed to a new base on environmental grounds, and have kept the vigil going in spite of challenges from government groups. Initially organized with only ten people gathering in a tent next to the Henoko Fishing Port, the protesters’ numbers swelled as students turned out to boost the opposition.

Organizer Kayo Munayoshi is a community activist and a sometimes protester at Henoko. A journalist wounded in combat action off the Vietnam coast, scars across his arm and hip reaffirm his opposition to the military. “I killed people and I saw the hell,” he says. “We don’t need bases for a war.” He’s also worried about the ocean waters around Henoko being polluted. “The sea is dying from dirty water caused by the American base located nearby,” he argues. “We shouldn’t kill the sea.”

When the Henoko announcement was made there would be environmental drilling in early 2004, opponents rallied to block the government ships from performing the operations. Using ships, boats and canoes, protesters interfered with the testing, leading to a collapse of the ocean bed boring.

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