Okinawans resist new US base
Residents of Nago City on the Japanese island of Okinawa are carrying out daily sit-ins to defend their beautiful sea with its rich life against the construction of a new US military base being imposed on them. They are opposing the drilling involved in a geological survey of the seabed as the first step in the construction of the new US on-sea base. The construction of the base is being supported by the Japanese government. The US call for a new base followed the April 1999 announcement by the Japanese and US governments that the US Futenma Air Station on Okinawa would be completely returned to Japan. The return, however, was on the condition that Japan offer the US forces a substitute facility. The Japanese government decided in December 1999 on the construction of a substitute facility in the sea off Okinawa's main island. The sea has a lot of coral reefs and is known to be the feeding grounds of the endangered sea mammal dugongs. In order to construct a new base the government is planning to bore 63 holes in the reefs within the construction site. The drilling was to start on April 19, the day local residents began their sit-in. Their actions prevented the start of the drilling. Officials have explained that the drilling survey they are trying to conduct is just a "preliminary", but residents, supported by an increasing number of people in and outside of Okinawa, know that the survey is the first step in the process of constructing the base. The "sit-in" tent is filled with excitement. The participants are holding various activities, including study meetings, yoga workshops, boat tours, and short plays. A national issue On May 8, 90-year-old Nak-amura Fumiko from Naha City participated in the sit-in. She is known as the leader of the "One-Foot Film Movement" to buy back and preserve US films of the Okinawa ground war. She said, "I was born in a town adjacent to Nago City and grew up in the kindly fruits of nature there. When I was a child, my mother scolded me for taking small clams. Now her teaching "Don't kill out living things" is more important than ever. The government officials are going to destroy the nature and build a military base to train murderers. We must refuse to allow such a base to be built." Japanese Communist Par-ty member of the House of Representatives Akamine Seiken said, "The construction of a new base in the district will further enhance the capabilities of the US military bases in Okinawa as a major stepping-stone for US military intervention in or invasion of other countries. Having experienced the tragic Okinawa battle, Okinawans wish for peace. We'll never allow the construction of the new base. It's a fight that flows together with the world current moving towards peace."