‘Our land, our life’: Okinawans hold out against new U.S. base in coastal zone

‘Our land, our life’: Okinawans hold out against new U.S. base in coastal zone

Defeat for Japan’s opposition party in last month’s national elections has dashed hopes for a quick resolution to the contentious relocation of a U.S. military base on the island of Okinawa — a move that the party had campaigned against. The proposed shifting of the Futenma Marine air base within Okinawa, from a densely populated city to a less crowded coastal area, was agreed on between Tokyo and Washington in the 1990s. But local opposition has thwarted the move ever since, with critics pointing to its disastrous environmental impact, discrimination against Okinawans by mainland Japan, and the need for greater Indigenous autonomy and land rights. Okinawan activists, some of whom have been protesting against the relocation to Henoko Bay for decades, plan to continue their dissent following the defeat of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP). “It’s really good this issue was on the table before the elections,” Shinako Oyakawa, an Indigenous and land rights activist, told Mongabay. But at the same time, Okinawans “should not [rely] on Japanese centralized political parties and mainland Japan,” she added. “We Okinawan people have to believe in ourselves and our Indigenous rights. It’s our land and our life. We have to take care of it. We can’t rely on the political policies of the Japanese government,” she said. Landfill work underway at Henoko Bay, the proposed new site of the Futenma Marine base. Image courtesy of the Okinawa Drone Project. ‘This problem is like a cancer here’ Japan has the most overseas U.S.…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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