Indigenous Ryukyuans call on Canadian military to stop using U.S. military bases on Okinawa

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Global News video clip.

Earlier this year, Mongabay reported (in a collaboration with other news platforms): “Opponents of the latest U.S. military base in Okinawa, Japan, are calling for urgent intervention by the United Nations to halt the construction of the new base, release military groundwater test data on toxic spills, and close all 32 U.S. military bases.”

The Japanese government began reclamation work in 2018 in the Henoko Bay area on the eastern coast of Okinawa for the relocation of the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan, a crowded neighborhood on the island.

Work is also taking place at Oura Bay.

A new airfield at Camp Schwab is meant to replace MCAS Futenma.

The Mongabay article adds: “[Opponents of the base are] demanding the recognition of their rights as Indigenous peoples, which Japan refuses to grant, despite multiple recommendations from U.N. agencies, including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Human Rights Committee to do so.”

Now, Global News adds: “They say Canada, whose military regularly uses these bases, needs to be part of a dialogue about the impact on locals.”

The Global News video appears to include Masaki Tomochi, who is Ryukyu Uchinaanchu and a professor of economics at Okinawa International University, who says: “We want our peaceful island back. …I want Canada not to invade our rights.”

The Ryukyuan delegation visited the UN in April of this year.

In early September, the Associated Press reported: “Japan’s Supreme Court dismissed Okinawa’s rejection of a central government plan to build U.S. Marine Corps runways on the island and ordered the prefecture to approve it despite protests by locals who oppose the American troops’ presence.”

That article further noted: “Okinawa, Japan, Gov. Denny Tamaki has called for a significant reduction of the U.S. military on the island, the immediate closure of the Futenma base and the scrapping of the base construction in Henoko. Tamaki said he will not back down and continue with the demands despite the ruling.”

Then on September 19, the Japan Times reported: “[Tamaki has now] sought international backing at a U.N. [Human Rights Council] session for his opposition to a plan to relocate a U.S. military base within the prefecture.”

Last month, Stars and Stripes noted: “A Japanese Cabinet minister [Tetsuo Saito, Japan’s minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism] took Okinawa prefecture to court Thursday [October 5] to wrest permitting authority from its governor and kick-start the stalled construction of a coastal airfield to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.”

We continue to follow this with interest.

Photo: World Beyond War visual database of US military bases around the world, including on Okinawa.

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