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What US citizens can do for TAKAE

Map: by Yuntaku Takae
Dear US citizens and friends who are our global counterparts,

This letter is sent to you because the situation described below suffers Okinawa eventually for the sake of the United States.


This week, the Japanese government sent hundreds of riot squads from mainland Japan to Takae, a tiny district with a population of 160 people that is surrounded by the richly biodiverse mountains of Yanbaru. Located in the northern part of Okinawa Island, Takae sits right next to the Northern Training Area (NTA), officially known as the US Marine Corps Jungle Warfare Training Center. Activists have gathered to protest the construction of the US Marine Corps’ (USMC) helipads (landing zones) in NTA.  But the current suppression by the Japanese riot squads of these non-violent protesters seems like an execution of martial law.

Since the summer of 2007, when the Japanese government neglected the opposition and forcibly preceded with the construction, a handful of Takae residents started their non-violent sit-in action in front of the gates of the construction site. Soon, it grew to become a larger direct action. People supported and came to join from various parts of Okinawa and mainland Japan as well as from all over the world.

SACO 1996
The onset of today's uproar began in 1996, when U.S. and Japanese governments signed  the agreement in relation to the U.S. military installations in Okinawa. It was called SACO agreement, the abbreviation of “the Special Action Committee on Okinawa.” The SACO Final Report said, “The two Governments launched the SACO process to reduce the burden on the people of Okinawa and thereby strengthen the Japan-US alliance.” And the eleven plans were listed “to realign, consolidate and reduce US facilities and areas, and adjust operational procedures of US forces in Okinawa consistent with their respective obligations under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and other related agreements.” Most appealing one might be the relocation plan of USMC Futenma Air Station.  As the SACO Report put it: “return Futenma Air Station within the next five to seven years, after adequate replacement facilities are completed and operational.” During the 20-year long twisted and winding process, it was revealed as the "Henoko Plan.” It proposed a new land-fill base with the V-shape runways and facilities including a military port on the sea of Henoko.

The other major plan of the land handover concerned the Northern Training Area. As the condition for the handover of the 3,987ha (or 9,852 acres) of the land within the NTA, the Japanese government accepted the relocation of "helicopter landing zones" from the areas of handover to the remaining part of the Northern Training Area. Why did the US not just return the entire land? For what reason do they require the extra landing zones even when it would still remain the existing 15 landing pads after the return of the land? No explanations were offered to the residents. The relevant documents of the SACO are still undisclosed, and so we cannot understand why and how the Japanese government negotiated and approved these conditions in the end.

On July 20, 2016, just a day before the raid by the riot squad in Takae, the Okinawa Times, one of the local newspapers, reported that US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris, Jr. had informed the US Senate Committee on Armed Services (Chair. John McCain) in February of this year about his perspective on the construction of helipads in the NTA. Commander Harris reported to the Senate Committee that the construction of the new helipads in NTA would be completed within this year, which would help to calm down the tention among the local people who have been opposing the Henoko Plan, the Okinawa Times wrote.

US-JP military interests have intentionally tied the construction of new military facilities to the promise of the partial land handover, “relocation" of the “helipads,” for example, in the case of Takae.  They then insisted that these would help "reduce the burden of Okinawa."

Yes, this is the true reason of the turbulent 20 years after the SACO. Both Japanese government and US forces have enthusiastically manipulated to connect the return of the land with the intensification and strengthening of the US military facilities in Okinawa. And the past 20 years make the situation much worse. Today, US-JP military interests try to link the individual construction projects as the condition for each other.

The Japanese government urged Okinawa Prefecture to compromise and accept the helipads construction in Takae in the midst of the intensive mutual consultation between Tokyo and Okinawa regarding the Henoko Plan. Flip side of the same coin is the US military officials who informed the US Congress that the fulfillment of the helipad construction plan in the NTA would lead to solve the current deadlock concerning the Henoko Plan.

No way. Enough is enough. People living in Okinawa are demanding the immediate withdrawal of US. Forces and the release of the land to the people without any conditions whatsoever.

On top of the growing sentiments of rage and mourning after the rape and murder of a woman by the ex-marine suspect in this May, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly signed the resolution to demand withdrawal of the U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa for the first time after the US occupation in 1945.

And in response to the current suppression of Takae protesters by the Japanese riot squads, the Prefectural Assembly finally passed the resolution to protest against the forcible construction of helipads in Takae and demand the immediate cease of it.

Tell the truth to the President of the United States, claim to the Congress members to report about what the US has done to the island and the people of Okinawa.

This is the violation of human rights and democracy of the people of Okinawa, by using the hands of the Japanese Government, for the sake of the United States.

Take your responsibility and free Okinawa.
Spread our hope.

Write or Call to the White House
Call the President
  Comments: 202-456-1111
  Switchboard: 202-456-1414
  Comments: 202-456-6213
  Visitor's Office: 202-456-2121
Comments online

How to contact your elected officials

The English version of the Ryukyu Shimpo, one of the local newspapers in Okinawa, is a good source for information relevant to the anti-military struggles in Takae, Henoko, and elsewhere in Okinawa.

<what’s going on in Takae>
"Tensions between protesters and riot police mount over construction of U.S. Marine Corps helipads in Takae,” July 12, 2016

"Editorial: Governor should declare opposition to resumption of Takae helipad construction,” July 13, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

"Riot squad sent to subdue Takae protesters similar in scale to that sent to eradicate yakuza gangsters,” July 18, 2016

<on the recent tension against US Forces in Okinawa>
"Special Feature: Okinawa holds mass protest rally against US base,” June 19, 2016. (Specially issued for the Okinawa Mass Protest Rallies protesting the rape and murder case.)

<on Okinawa Prefectural Assembly resolutions>
Okinawa Prefectural Assembly demands removal of US Marines from Okinawa May 27, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

Takae resolution of Okinawa Prefectural Assembly (only in Japanese)

Okinawa Times article on US commander's report to the Senate Committee  (only in Japanese)
[“Construction of helipads in Takae ‘will complete within this year’: US commander reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Okinawa Times July 20, 2016.]

Project Disagree Okinawa
July 22, 2016

Revised on July 24; add a list of contents, contact information of the white house and the elected officials