Saturday, August 5, 2017

People of Takae, Okinawa, Continue Fighting against US Marines Helipads

On July 22, members of Education Workers and Amalgamated Union Osaka (EWA) visited Takae of Higashi Village, Okinawa. On the same day last year, hundreds of police riot squad officers sent from across the country violently removed citizens protesting against the construction of helipads for U.S. Marine Corp’s MV22 Ospreys in front of the N1 Gate to the Northern Training Area in order to begin construction of new helipads in three zones there. It was just a few hours after Okinawans clearly showed with the result of a national election their strong will against the construction of new facilities for U.S. military that the Japanese government perpetrated the act of violence.
ISA Ikuko of the Association of Takae Residents against the Helipads briefed the union members on the present status of the helipad construction at the tent set up by protesters across the road from the N1 Gate.
The construction had been suspended for three months from March 1 during the nesting period of the Pryer's woodpecker, an indigenous species of the area designated as a national natural treasure. But, it was only the work with large noises that was suspended and other types of construction work had been continued. Then, as of July 1, the full scale construction work resumed.
The helipad construction has caused massive destruction of the rich forest of uniquely high level of biodiversity in Takae, the home of many species that are not found elsewhere in the world. The Japanese government has submitted a recommendation to UNESCO to register the forest as a world natural heritage while creating an environment there in which the precious indigenous species are threatened by noise, heat and blast the MV22 Ospreys generate, which also frustrates Takae residents.
“Our struggle so far was to prevent the construction of the helipads. From now on, we have to continue fighting to prevent the use of them,” said ISA.The struggle of the people of Takae is still on-going, but, since the start of reclamation work for the construction of the new base in Henoko the number of supporters who join the protest actions in Takae are decreasing. They are afraid that their struggle be forgotten with the completion of the construction work. Solidarity to the people there is much needed now.  (By OTSUBAKI Yuko)
7月22日、大阪教育合同労働組合(以下、教育合 同)の組合員たちが、沖縄県東村高江のN1ゲート前を訪れた。ち ょうど1年前の同日、全国から集められた数百人の機動隊が押し 寄せ、ヘリパッド建設に反対する市民を暴力的に排除しN1ゲート 前を制圧、工事着工を強行した場所である。参院選で、辺野古新基 地建設や高江ヘリパッド建設に反対する伊波洋一さん(現参議院 議員)が、当時現職だった島尻安伊子沖縄担当相を大差で破り、歓 喜に湧いた数時間後に、市民の命を危険に曝す強制排除は行われ た。教育合同の一行は、その日、キャンプシュワブ前で開催され た辺野古新基地建設に反対する「辺野古・大浦湾の埋め立てを止 めよう!人間の鎖大行動」に参加。その後、高江に移動したため 到着は夕刻近く、その頃には座り込みを続けている市民は帰途に 着いていた。それでも、工事車両が出入りする入口付近を軌道隊車 両と、15名ほどのALSOKの警備員たちが塞いでいた。(大椿裕 子)

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