Big Okinawa demonstration against US military base

This video says about itself:

Tens of thousands rally for removal of US base off Okinawa | Philip News

Protesters display signs against a planned US military base relocation during a rally in Naha, Okinawa prefecture, on the southern Japanese island on Aug. 11, 2018.

AP TOKYO — Tens of thousands of protesters in Okinawa vowed to stop the planned relocation of a US military base, saying they want it off the southern Japanese island entirely. Opponents of the relocation say the plan to move US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a crowded neighborhood to a less populated coastal site would not only be an environmental debacle but also ignore local wishes to remove the base.

About 70,000 people gathered Saturday at a park in the state capital of Naha under pouring rain ahead of an approaching typhoon and observed a moment of silence for Okinawa’s governor, Takeshi Onaga, who died Wednesday of cancer.

Onaga, elected in 2014, had spearheaded opposition to the relocation and criticized the central government for ignoring the voices of Okinawans. He had filed lawsuits against the central government and said he planned to revoke a landfill permit issued by his predecessor that is needed for construction of the new base.

Deputy Gov. Kiichiro Jahana, representing Onaga at Saturday’s rally, said he will follow through with the revocation process as instructed by the governor and succeed his “strong determination and passion”. Okinawans are trying to block the government plan to start dumping soil into Henoko Bay within days to make a landfill for the new site of the Futenma base.

By Ben McGrath:

Japan: Tens of thousands on Okinawa denounce US base relocation plan

21 August 2018

On August 11, 70,000 protesters gathered on Okinawa, Japan to denounce the central government’s relocation of a US military base on the island. The demonstration took place to also mark the death of Okinawa prefectural governor, Takeshi Onaga, who died from pancreatic cancer on August 8 at the age of 67. Other rallies took place around the country, including in Tokyo.

The demonstration took place in Naha, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture. Protesters held signs that read “New Henoko Base, No!” and other slogans to denounce Tokyo’s plan. They also adopted a resolution demanding the central government cancel its plans to relocate the US base.

Okinawan residents and others opposed to the US military presence in Japan have demonstrated for years against the central government’s plan to relocate the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma base from the center of the crowded Okinawan city of Ginowan to a new facility being constructed at Henoko on the island’s coast.

Governor Onaga, who came to office in November 2014, fought against the base relocation, having made it a central issue of his gubernatorial campaign. However, he consistently worked to channel opposition to the base along parochial lines, exploiting locals’ legitimate anger towards crimes committed by US soldiers and contractors, from drinking and driving to rape and murder.

In order to block a wider political struggle against Japanese and US militarism, Onaga claimed that the base relocation issue stemmed from Japan’s mainlanders looking down upon and taking advantage of Okinawans, who had to bear the brunt of hosting US troops.

Onaga had been a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) until he ran as an independent for mayor of the prefecture’s capital Naha in 2000, an office he held for 14 years. He remained a conservative heavyweight in prefectural politics and did not oppose the US-Japan security treaty. In fact, he stated in 2015, “I have served as a politician for over 30 years, and I have consistently supported the US-Japan security arrangement.”

The anti-war sentiment of those who backed Onaga often went further and included the demand for the removal of US bases from Japan altogether. The protesters have often coupled their struggle against US bases with opposition to the government’s agenda of remilitarization, which includes the revision of the country’s constitution to remove any barrier to the expansion and overseas deployment of the Japanese military.

Given that Okinawa is a major staging pointing for US military action in Asia, opposition to the base is intimately bound up with the struggle against militarism. On July 30, during another rally in front of Abe’s residence in Tokyo, one of the participants, an 81-year-old woman, drew this connection. “I want to go to Okinawa, but I can’t make it, so I will raise my voice against base construction here. Having a base comes down to being complicit in war”, she stated.

Onaga’s tactics, however, represent a dead end for the struggle. The governor spent his last years working to ensnare the base issue in court and convince the population that this could block construction at Henoko.

In October 2015, Onaga withdrew the approval given by his predecessor Hirokazu Nakaima for land reclamation on the coast. This was quickly overturned by the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau. A fight in the courts ensued and in December 2016, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that Onaga’s actions were illegal.

For more than year after that, the governor threatened to withdraw approval for reclamation on a new basis. This was a stalling tactic Onaga used as he negotiated with the central government. Only as anti-base opponents grew frustrated with the delay, staging sit-ins at prefectural offices, did he once again announce he would revoke the reclamation project’s approval.

Onaga stated on July 27, “Facts that were not yet known when land reclamation approval was given have come to light, and the appropriate and rational conditions in terms of land usage (that are required for land reclamation approval) are no longer being met.”

This new revocation was meant to stop planned reclamation work from beginning on August 17, though Tokyo is holding off on the construction project in the run up to a September 30 election to choose Onaga’s successor.

Ultimately, Onaga, local businesses and others with commercial interests on Okinawa sought to have the base removed from the island in order to use the territory for land development that would attract businesses and tourists. At the same time, they highlighted its cheaper cost of labor compared to other areas of Japan.

The US military’s constant presence in Okinawa since the end of World War II has impeded commercial development as one-fifth of the main island in the prefecture is covered with US bases which are home to half of the 50,000 US troops in Japan.

Other establishment parties, including from the so-called left, lent political credibility to Onaga while he was in office. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) all praised him after his death. …

In fact, the conservative LDP is looking towards the special election to choose Onaga’s replacement as a means of putting the base dispute to rest legally speaking. The party intends to run Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima as its candidate. Deputy Governor Kiichiro Jahana will take over as interim governor until the September 30 election.

Rare bat rediscovered on Okinawa island

Yanbaru whiskered bat, photo by Kyoto University / Jason Preble

From Kyoto University in Japan:

Capturing of the rare Yanbaru whiskered bat

Finding is first since initial discovery 22 years ago

April 27, 2018

The critically endangered Yanbaru whiskered bat, Myotis yanbarensis, has been caught for the first time on Okinawa Island since its discovery 22 years ago. Kyoto University doctoral student Jason Preble succeeded in the capture on the night of 20 February, during a survey in the Yanbaru Forest in the north of Okinawa‘s main island.

The rare bat species was first discovered in the subtropical Yanbaru Forest in 1996, when two specimens were collected. It was later observed on a few occasions on the islands Tokunoshima and Amami-Oshima, but no sightings were reported again on Okinawa Island.

This small tree-dwelling bat, endemic to these islands, thus became a serious conservation concern and was declared ‘critically endangered’, the highest risk level, by both the Japanese Ministry of Environment and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

On 20 February 2018 at 20:05, Preble captured one male Myotis yanbarensis weighing 4.9 g and apparently in good health. Three nights later he caught a second male bat weighing 5.2 g. Upon release, he tracked these individuals using VHF transmitters. A third male was also caught four days later. The captures took place in the former United States military Northern Training Area, facilitated by a high-tech acoustic lure that broadcasts synthesized bat calls.

Moreover, Preble was able to record the bat’s echolocation call, vital data that was previously unreported.

This large area of forest was returned to Japan in December 2016, and Kyoto University’s Island Bat Research Group, led by Christian Vincenot, was among the first teams to be granted access by the Ministry of Environment, Okinawa Forestry Office, and Aha Dam authority.

The presence of the Yanbaru whiskered bat indicates that this zone, which was off limits for over a half-century, may have served as an unintended wildlife sanctuary. This discovery revives hope for conservation of this rare species, while also suggesting that Myotis yanbarensis may be range-restricted to a small part of the Yanbaru Forest and therefore may continue to be at risk of local extinction.

Extreme caution is therefore advised in the management of this area, which is currently a candidate for UNESCO Natural Heritage status. Bats are often highly sensitive to infrastructure development, as seen in the steep decline in endangered populations following the construction in 2013 of a new airport runway over bat caves on Ishigaki island, also in the Okinawan archipelago.

US military helicoper’s window falls on Japanese school

This video, about Okinawa in Japan says about itself:

Parents Outraged Window From U.S. Military Helicopter Falls Onto Elementary School Yard In Japan

13 December 2017

Peace prizes for Chomsky, Corbyn, Okinawa activists

This video says about itself:

Okinawa Peace Protests October 2015

A compilation of video footage taken during a visit to Okinawa. The author of the video was invited by a monk in the Nipponzan Myohoji order. This trip was made possible by Voices for Creative Nonviolence (, a campaign based in Chicago.

From the International Peace Bureau, September 2017:

Press release: Séan MacBride Peace Prize 2017

The International Peace Bureau awards the Séan MacBride Peace Prize every year to a person, or organisation, or movement in recognition of its outstanding work for peace, disarmament, human rights.

This year the IPB Board has chosen the following three winners of the prize:

All Okinawa Council Against Henoko New Base

Noam Chomsky

Jeremy Corbyn

All Okinawa Council Against Henoko New Base – for its unflagging commitment to win the closure of the Futemna Marine Air Base, which is widely seen as one of the world’s most dangerous military bases, and for its unremitting nonviolent opposition to the construction of a massive new air, land and sea base in Henoko. The Council has assembled all Okinawan forces – grassroots, political, and intellectual – opposed to these bases, building on decades of democratic and nonviolent struggle for peace and opposing the social, environmental, political violations that accompany foreign military bases, never giving up. Engaging in a wide variety of actions. The Council’s steadfastness and exceptional range of nonviolent actions, the broad popular support it enjoys, and the spirit and dedication that characterize this exceptional anti-bases movement make it a model for peace and justice struggles and deserving of support and solidarity.

Noam Chomsky – for his tireless commitment to peace, his strong critiques to U.S. foreign policy, and his anti-imperialism. Professor Chomsky has been properly described as “a genuine people’s hero, an inspiration for struggles all over the world for that basic decency known as freedom”, as “one of the greatest and most radical public thinkers of our time”, “one of the most significant challengers of unjust power and delusions”, and as a ‘guru’ for the world’s anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movement. In recent years, in addition to his continuing contributions to the fields of linguistics, philosophy and cognitive science, his critiques have focused on the U.S. post-9-11 “War on Terror” which has provided cover for a continuation of U.S. imperial policies, and the imperative of addressing the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and climate change.

Jeremy Corbyn – for his sustained and powerful political work for disarmament and peace. As an active member, vice-chair and now vice-president of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK he has for many years worked to further the political message of nuclear disarmament. As the past chair of the Stop the War Campaign in the UK he has worked for peace and alternatives to war. As a member of parliament in the UK he has, for 34 years continually taken that work for justice, peace and disarmament to the political arena both in and outside of Parliament. He has ceaselessly stood by the principles, which he has held for so long, to ensure true security and well-being for all – for his constituents, for the citizens of the UK and for the people of the world. Now, as leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition he continues to carry his personal principles into his political life – stating openly that he could not press the nuclear button and arguing strongly for a re-orientation of priorities – to cut military spending and spend instead on health, welfare and education.

The prize ceremony will be held on Friday, 24th November in Barcelona. Please note that there will be a press conference on the same day at 11am.

Corbyn‘s prize was awarded on 8 December 2017, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Drunk United States soldier kills Okinawa man

This video from the USA says about itself:

Okinawa‘s Revolt: Decades of Rape, Environmental Harm by U.S. Military Spur Residents to Rise Up

16 January 2014

Nearly 70 years ago the United States took over the Japanese island of Okinawa after one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. More than 200,000 people died, mostly Japanese civilians.

Today the United States operates 34 bases on the island and is planning to build a new state-of-the-art Marine base, despite mass protests. A multi-decades movement of Okinawa residents has pushed for ousting U.S. forces off the island, citing environmental concerns and sexual assaults by U.S. soldiers on local residents.

Broadcasting from Tokyo, we are joined by two guests: Kozue Akibayashi, a professor and activist in Japan with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Women’s International Network Against Militarism; and John Junkerman, a documentary filmmaker currently working on a film about U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

JAPAN: US marine held after drink-drive crash

Tuesday 21st November 2017

US TROOPS on the Japanese island of Okinawa have been confined to base and banned from drinking after a marine was arrested over the drink-drive death of a local man.

Police spokesman Kazuhiko Miyagi said Nicholas James-McLean was still three times over the limit when he was arrested on Sunday night, hours after the early-morning crash in the main city of Naha.

Witnesses said the marine slammed his lorry head-on into Hidemasa Taira’s van as the resident was turning at a junction. Mr Taira had the right of way and the US serviceman may have passed a red light.

The US military admitted that “alcohol may have been a factor” in the crash and ordered all commanders to lead training on responsible drinking and acceptable behaviour.

Okinawa residents oppose the US military presence on their island, which currently numbers 25,000. US troops have been responsible for numerous rapes and murders since first arriving at the end of World War II.

New orchid species discovery in Okinawa, Japan

This video from Japan says about itself:


Over 2000 orchids are displayed throughout the year. I went there in March 23rd 2012, taking photos.

From Kobe University in Japan:

Two new species of orchids discovered in Okinawa

April 10, 2017

Summary: Two new species of parasitic plants have been discovered on the main island of Okinawa, Japan. They have been named Gastrodia nipponicoides and Gastrodia okinawensis.

Two new species of parasitic plants have been discovered on the main island of Okinawa, Japan. The discovery was made by Project Associate Professor SUETSUGU Kenji (Kobe University Graduate School of Science), who named them Gastrodia nipponicoides and Gastrodia okinawensis. Details of these findings were published online in Phytotaxa on April 7th.

Plants’ ability to photosynthesize is often taken as one of their defining features. However, some species choose instead to live a parasitic existence, attaching to the hyphae of fungi and exploiting them for nutrients. These plants are known as mycoheterotrophs. Since they don’t engage in photosynthesis, they only appear above ground during the brief period when they are in fruit or flowering. In addition, many of the species are small, making them very hard to find. Even in Japan, one of the most advanced countries in the world in documenting its flora, many mycoheterotrophs remain unclassified. Professor Suetsugu is one of those involved in documenting their distribution and classification.

Professor Suetsugu discovered the two species in March 2012 on the main island of tropical Okinawa, during a joint field survey with independent botanical researchers Mr. NAKAMA Masakazu, Ms. WATANABE Tazuko, and Mr. WATANABE Hiromitsu. This group continued to examine the plants with additional support from independent researchers Mr. TOMA Tsugutaka, Mr. ABE Atsushi (researcher at the Okinawa Churashima Foundation), and Professor MORIGUCHI Mitsuru (Okinawa University Faculty of Humanities).

Their investigation revealed that both species are related to Gastrodia nipponica of the Orchidaceae family, but they can be distinguished by differences in the “lips” on their petals and in the column (an organ found in orchids that fuses the male and female parts, the stamen and the pistil).

The plants were recorded as new species and named Gastrodia nipponicoides and Gastrodia okinawanesis. G. nipponicoides reaches 3-6cm in height with 1-4 blackish brown flowers, each about 15mm long. G. okinawanesis is taller at 10-17cm, with 1-4 light brown flowers, each about 20mm in length.

Mycoheterotrophs live a parasitic existence within forest ecosystems. As parasites, they can only survive in rich, stable ecosystems with resources to spare. The existence of these species is evidence of far-reaching underground ecosystems that include a network of fungi that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Last year the Yanbaru forests were designated as the Yanbaru National Park, and the discovery of these two species further demonstrates the importance of this habitat.

Close US Okinawa military bases, demonstration

This video says about itself:

25 December 2016

Dozens protested U.S. military bases in Japan and called for the closure of U.S. bases in Okinawa. Demonstrators carried banners reading “Get Out! Marines“.

World’s oldest fishhooks discovered

World's oldest fishhooks, photo National Academy of Sciences

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Fishhooks, oldest in the world, found in Japan

18 September 2016

Archaeologists have found the oldest fishhooks in the world in Japan. They were in a cave on Okinawa island and are estimated to be 23,000 years old.

The hooks are made from a sea snail‘s shell. From this discovery archeologists conclude that fishing techniques have existed already much longer than expected, and were used in more places in the world.

Eels and frogs

Okinawa was first inhabited around 35,000 years ago. Scientists wondered how people there survived all the time. The fishhooks have answered that question.

In Sakitari cave researchers found also remains of eels, frogs, birds and small terrestrial animals. They conclude from that these were also on the menu of the first inhabitants of Okinawa.

East Timor

Until now, scientists assumed that the fishhook was invented about 16,000 years ago.

They based themselves on a find in East Timor in 2011. In the northern part along the coast hooks were found which were made of shellfish.

Okinawa protest against United States military base

This video says about itself:

Japanese Protests at U.S. Military Base in Okinawa

20 August 2016

Police removed demonstrators that were blocking the entrance of Okinawa’s U.S. military base. They were protesting against the U.S. construction of helipads in a nearby village.

Murder, rape around US military base in Okinawa

This video from the USA says about itself:

US military contractor murders another Okinawa woman, Japan furious

20 May 2016

By James Tweedie:

US ex-marine held for woman’s killing

Saturday 21st May 2016

Abe ‘outraged and speechless’ at latest in string of atrocities

JAPANESE Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined the governor of Okinawa in outrage yesterday at the latest murder of a local woman apparently by a US military contractor.

Former US marine turned civil contractor Kenneth Shinzato was arrested on Thursday in connection with the disappearance of Rina Shimabukuro on April 28.

Ms Shimabukuro’s boyfriend told police she went for a walk that evening and never returned.

Mr Shinzato was arrested after police found the victim’s body at a forest location he gave them, but he had not yet been charged yesterday.

However, local media quoted sources close to the investigation saying he had admitted strangling and stabbing the victim.

“I feel extremely strong outrage,” Mr Abe told reporters.

“I have no words to express, considering how the family feels.

“We urge the US side to take thorough measures to prevent the recurrence of such events.”

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga said he was “outraged” and that the death of the woman broke his heart.

“As I look back at all the developments to date, I’m simply speechless,” he said.

US ambassador Caroline Kennedy said: “We will double our efforts to make sure this will never happen again,” while the US State Department said the military was co-operating with police.

Two months ago a US Navy sailor admitted raping a woman at a hotel on Okinawa and US servicemen have committed numerous rapes and murders of Okinawan women and children since occupying the island towards end of World War II.

The island is home to more than half the 50,000 US troops remaining in Japan since the war.

The litany of outrages — compounded by the US military’s insistence on trying suspects by court martial rather than in Japanese civilian courts — has fuelled strong opposition to the US military presence.

Mr Onaga has been among those leading mass protests against the planned relocation of US Marine Air Station Futenma from its present unsafe location in a suburb of the capital to a more remote spot, demanding instead that it be closed altogether.

This video from Japan says about itself:

20 May 2016

Protesters rallied in Tokyo, Friday, condemning the alleged murder of a 20-year-old Japanese woman by an American contractor working at a US military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa.