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Tag Archives: Yanbaru Forest

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: 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.

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"...

Postcard from Takae

A U.S. war training ground occupies a quarter of biodiverse Yanbaru forest on the northern tip of Okinawa. The U.S. military trained there during Vietnam War, and now wants to build six helipads for dangerous V-22 Osprey aircraft within two of the best-preserved areas in the forest, near Takae village. Takae residents have engaged in a sit-in since 2007 to protest the construction of military heliports in Yanbaru Forest, home of numerous endangered species. This month Okinawan peace and democracy groups are demonstrating against the restart of construction and the U.S. helicopter destruction of a sit-in tent. Jon Mitchell's article describes the ongoing plight and democratic action of the residents of the small village known for "Slow Life" culture, who have been besieged by U.S. war training for decades.