Subject: [cwj 67] Human chain surrounds Kadena base
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 13:53:26 -0700
Seq: 67

Friday, July 21, 2000
Human chain surrounds Kadena base 

Staff writer 

NAGO, Okinawa Pref.-- In a unified expression of opposition to
the U.S. military's presence in Okinawa, some 27,000 citizens
from Okinawa and the mainland formed a human chain around the
U.S. Kadena Air Base on Thursday.

Under a blazing summer sun, individual local residents and
members of an estimated 100 citizens' groups and labor unions
joined hands for five minutes on three occasions between 2 p.m.
and 3 p.m., completely surrounding the 17-km perimeter of the air

Although the human chain was not completed on the first and
second attempts, the number of demonstrators topped the targeted
25,000 by 2,100 on the third attempt and succeeded in forming an
unbroken chain, organizers said.

The base, which occupies 20.5 sq. km of land in the cities of
Kadena, Okinawa and Chatan, is the largest U.S. air base in Asia.
Eighty-four percent of land in Kadena is part of the base.

Organizing committee representative Tokushin Yamauchi said he
wants to make world leaders and citizens understand the
"excessive" and "unfair" burden that Okinawa bears.

"More than 50 years after the war, the United States is still making
us keep so many bases on such a small island like Okinawa," he

Yamauchi, a former mayor of Yomitan in central Okinawa, said
the day's demonstration was different from the previous two
human chains that formed up around the Kadena base, in 1987 and
1990, because of the varied backgrounds of the participants and
the widespread media attention.

"There are many people from the mainland here today," Yamaichi
said. "The last two chains were basically local citizens' movement,
but this time it is getting a great deal of attention from the foreign

While Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine was not present at the event,
former Gov. Masahide Ota joined the human chain.

Ota said that while many Okinawans welcome the G-8 summit,
others see it as simply an attempt to smooth the scheduled transfer
of the Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, central Okinawa, to Nago.

Last year, the Henoko district on Nago's east shore was chosen as
the site of a new airport to take over Futenma's functions.

"I don't want the summit to be remembered in the future as the
turning point for accepting a new military facility in Okinawa," Ota

Demonstrator Akira Kadekaru, 35, who is originally from Okinawa
but currently lives in Nara Prefecture, said a large proportion of
the U.S. military facilities should be moved to Japan's mainland.

"People (on the mainland) think the bases are Okinawa's problem.
But it's about U.S.-Japan security," Kadekaru said. "If the bases
were moved to the mainland, they would know about the burden
of having bases and would take the issue more seriously."

Banners, flyers and chanted slogans were the main forms of
expressing opposition. Many people wore red clothes as part of
the "red card movement," which uses that color to denote citizens'
desire to see the end of the U.S. military presence in Japan.

Naha native Hiroe Shimabukuro, 25, who organized the red card
movement, said she began her campaign over the Internet in June.

"In just one month, so many people have responded and passed
around my message," she said. "There are many people who want
to take part in the anti-base movements but do not know how. I
wanted to provide an easy but recognizable method for people to
join the movement."

At the end of the demonstration, organizers issued a statement
from a hill where the base facilities can be overlooked, urging the
leaders of the Group of Eight nations to discuss ways to establish
security without a military presence.

The Japan Times: July 21, 2000

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