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Tag Archives: Takae

Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States by Gavan McCormack & Satoko Oka Norimatsu

Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States by Gavan McCormack and Satoko Oka Norimatsu will be released by Rowman & Littlefield in July 2012. Resistant Islands offers a comprehensive overview of Okinawan history over half a millennium from the Ryukyu Kingdom to the present, focusing especially on the colonization by Japan, the islands' disastrous fate during World War II, and their subsequent and continuing subordination to US military purpose.

Okinawa Outreach: “Save Takae! Voice your opposition to the resumed US helipad construction!”

The engaged scholars at Okinawa Outreach are asking for support from Americans in voicing opposition to the resumed, forced U.S. military Osprey aircraft helipad construction by the Okinawan branch of the Japanese Defense Bureau. At the beginning of this year, the Bureau accelerated the destruction of one of the best-preserved areas of Yanbaru Forest to make way for the U.S. military helipads. John Feffer, spokesperson Network for Okinawa, stated the following in February: We urge all parties to exercise firm restraint. We call on the Japanese and American governments to respect the democratic wishes of Okinawans who have overwhelmingly voted to prevent new base construction on Okinawa. It is an incredible tragedy the Japanese and American governments insist on pushing forward with a construction plan that would cause irreparable damage to one of the world’s most diverse biosystems. During a time of economic crisis and mounting deficits, it is shocking that both countries have embraced a plan that cuts education and social welfare programs while supporting a construction plan that benefits only the military-industrial complex.” The site the U.S. has chosen is a habitat for numerous endangered species unique to Okinawa, including the Okinawa woodpecker. Please read and respond to this latest plea for support for democracy, ecological preservation, and peace from Okinawa.

Okinawa Outreach: Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa demands the suspension of construction of U.S. military helipads in biodiverse Yanbaru Forest

Okinawa Outreach, a new blog edited by Okinawan scholars and activists, offers news, photos, & analysis directly from Okinawa. Its July reports describe efforts by the Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa (Okinawa BD) to obtain answers from the Okinawan Defense Bureau (the Japan Defense Bureau's branch in Okinawa) regarding U.S. military plans for training accident-prone military Osprey aircraft in biodiverse Yanbaru Forest. The Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa demanded a halt to the construction of helipads which the U.S. wants to locate in one of the most well-preserved areas of the forest, a habitat for numerous endangered species unique to northern Okinawa. Okinawa Outreach also provided updates to the Okinawan Defense Bureau's November 2008 legal action against 15 residents of the Takae community (including a child), who, since July 2007, had been conducting a peaceful sit-in protest against the helipad construction on the prefectural road near the construction sites. Many consider this frivolous litigation, a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) action, intended to intimidate and silence critics). The next hearing is scheduled for the end of August.

Citizens’ Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa: United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Collective Statement

The Citizens' Network for Biological Diversity has posted a Collective Statement delivered in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in United Nations Headquarters, New York, 16-27 May, 2011: It was delivered by Asia Indigenous People’s Pact (AIPP) . They joined our efforts and endorsed the statement and also uploaded it on their website. We worked with Shimin Gaikou Centre to create the statement in bringing up Okinawa Issues (US base construction plan in Henoko/Oura bay and six US helipads in Takae) along with Ainu people's issue. We are very happy to have No Helipad Takae Resident Society in our statement.

May 7, 2011 Bitter Gourd Protest: “U.S. government itself is a ‘master of manipulation and extortion’”

On May 7, Okinawans protested derisive remarks by Kevin Maher made public earlier this year. The U.S. State Department's former director of the Office of Japan Affairs called Okinawans "masters of manipulation and extortion" and described them as "too lazy to grow goya" (bitter gourd), a vegetable widely grown throughout Okinawa. About 200 people gathered at the public square in front of the Okinawa Prefectural Government office to demonstrate against Maher's remarks and Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa’s visit. Before the protest, an Asahi News' explosive Wikileaks series exposing deceitful and fraudulent US-Japan machinations regarding Okinawa energized the entire prefecture. The Ryukyu Shimpo published an article retorting "U.S. government itself is a 'master of manipulation and extortion,'" quoting an Okinawan peace activist who added that the Japanese government is equally "blameworthy." On May 8, the Okinawa Prefectural Government adopted a "Resolution of Protest Over The Remarks made by Mr. Kevin Maher, U.S. State Department Director of The Office of Japan Affairs" demanding that the former U.S. diplomat rescind his alleged remarks and apologize to the citizens of Okinawa Prefecture.

Temporary Reprieve for Takae Village & Yanbaru Forest

On a welcome note, the villagers of Takae, environmentalists, (and the workers caught in the middle of of the Japanese government's forced military construction in Yanbaru Forest) have an uneasy and much-needed reprieve for the next couple of months. Tokyo has stopped heavy equipment construction because the reproductive season of the critically endangered Okinawa Woodpecker has begun. The rare woodpecker, an ecological and cultural Okinawan icon, lives only in Yanbaru Forest. The few remaining pairs of Okinawa woodpeckers are on the brink of extinction from ongoing destruction of their rainforest habitat.

Okinawans Continue to Resist in Takae

John Feffer reports on the disappointing survival of the costly, accident-prone V-22 Osprey in the latest round of Washington budget cuts. Lobbyists for the long-criticized aircraft (called a "turkey" by Dick Cheney) won their fight for profit against advocates of sound government spending. Feffer comments on the American subsidization of the forced construction of unwanted U.S. helipads in Okinawa, where environmentalists and local democratic activists are engaged in a daily nonviolent struggle with military construction workers: "It's bad enough that U.S. taxpayers have to continue to support the care and feeding of this particular Osprey. Worse, we're inflicting the bird on others."

Network for Okinawa Statement/Press Release on Forced Military Construction in Yanbaru Forest & Henoko, Okinawa

The Network for Okinawa, following calls of protest from international peace, democracy, and environmental organizations, has issued a statement/press release on forced U.S. military construction in biologically rich and fragile Yanbaru Forest, Oura Bay, and Henoko, Okinawa.

Takae in Crisis

Despite statements by the U.S. and Japanese governments that military construction would not proceed without local approval, the Japanese Defense Ministry's Okinawan Headquarters (the Okinawan Defense Ministry) forcibly started construction work on helipads in Okinawa at the end of last year. These new helipads, where the U.S. wants to train Marines in the use of heavier, noisier, and dangerous V-22 Osprey aircraft, would (if built) endanger the lives of local residents and irreparably destroy the pristine and biologically rich Yanbaru Forest in northern Okinawa. On Feb. 1, several dump trucks and 50-60 workers threw bags of gravel over the fence at multiple entry points of the U.S. Marine Northern Training Area (a jungle warfare training ground used to test napalm during the U.S. war in Vietnam). However, the Okinawan Citizens Defense Force (a pro-democracy and peace group) is engaging in nonviolent means to obstruct unapproved military construction. Multi-car Okinawan brigades are blocking entrances to construction sites.

US for Okinawa’s Statement of Support for Takae, Okinawa

US for Okinawa, a Network for Okinawa coalition member, sent the following statement of support for Takae to the U.S. Ambassador of Japan, asking that the U.S. military halt construction of more Osprey heliports in its war training ground in Okinawa's Yanbaru Forest, home of unique, endangered species. Their letter included the following points: ...Such destruction further destroys the important biodiversity of the region, endangers the lives of local residents, and shamefully continues to undermine democracy in Okinawa. As U.S. citizens, we call upon our country to use its great power to foster global environmental sustainability—not to blatantly destroy the forests, waters and wildlife of other countries under the guise of “security"...