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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 December 12 - 18  > Abe gov’t forcibly begins filling landfill areas in sea off Henoko
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2018 December 12 - 18 [POLITICS]

Abe gov’t forcibly begins filling landfill areas in sea off Henoko

December 15, 2018

In defiance of fierce protest from Okinawans, the Abe government on December 14 started to pour dirt into the sea area off Henoko as part of the construction of a new U.S. base. Just on the previous day, the Okinawa Governor met with the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the Defense Minister, demanding that the government refrain from beginning the landfill work.

With the launch of the dirt dumping, Okinawans’ fight against the Henoko base project has entered a new stage. Since winning the November 2014 Okinawa gubernatorial election, former Governor Onaga Takeshi, who died of cancer in office in August this year, had worked hard to realize his election pledge to block the base construction. Soon after Onaga’s death, in accordance with his last will, the prefectural government revoked the permit for the Henoko landfill work, which was given by Onaga’s predecessor to the Defense Ministry. As a result, having lost legal grounds, the government became unable to continue the preparation of the reclamation work.

In September, anti-base candidate Tamaki Denny defeated the pro-base candidate in the gubernatorial election, reflecting Okinawans’ strong opposition to the Henoko project. However, the Defense Ministry submitted to the Land Minister an application for the suspension of the prefecture’s revocation of the landfill permission. After the application was accepted, the Defense Ministry resumed the landfill preparation in November.

In the early morning hours of December 14, protesters began to gather in front of U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab located near the landfill site. The number of protest participants reached 600 by mid-morning. At 11 a.m., at the news that dump trucks started to pour dirt into the sea, protesters placed their arms on each other’s shoulders and shouted, “We will not allow the Abe government to tyrannize us!” In addition, seven protest ships, one boat, and 49 canoes staged an on-sea protest.

At 1 p.m., a protest rally took place on a Henoko beach with 1,000 people participating. The action was joined by Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Akamine Seiken and three other Okinawa-elected Dietmembers opposing the Henoko project. Akamine in his speech called on the participants to keep working to stop the base construction in collaboration with Governor Tamaki.

On the day, Governor Tamaki held a press conference in the prefectural office building and issued a comment expressing his strong anger regarding the national government’s underhanded conduct. He stressed that the further the Abe government pushes ahead with the controversial project, the more Okinawans’ fighting spirits will be aroused. Tamaki called on people across Japan to voice opposition to and stand up against the Abe government which tramples on the basic principles associated with democracy.

Past related articles:
> State launches attack on Okinawa’s revocation of Henoko landfill approval [October 18, 2018]
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