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Sunday, January 02, 2011

Please Join Action for Takae at US Embassy! 高江ヘリパッド工事強行とテント損壊事件についてアメリカ大使館への抗議と申し入れへの呼びかけ


Please Join Us in Our Action for Preserving the Pristine Yanbaru Forest and People of Takae, Okinawa!

Yanbaru Kuina (photo from Gaku's blog)

We invite you to join us in our protest at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo over the restart of the U.S. helipads construction in Takae, Higashi Village of Okinawa, and the destruction of the sit-in tent by a U.S. helicopter, either by sending us your message/request to the US Embassy by email by January 8, or physically joining our action on January 10 in Tokyo (see instruction at the bottom).

The Yambaru Forest is a habitat for endangered species such as Yambaru Kuina (Okinawan Rail) and Noguchi Gera (Okinawan Woodpecker). It is known internationally as a region rich in biodiversity. Takae, situated in Yambaru, is a small village of about 160 residents, including many who moved here for its pristine nature. 

Noguchigera (Photo from Uchina Joho)

However, the U.S. Marine Corps has been using the Yambaru Forest for combat training. In 1957, th US military started using the area as “Northern Training Area” (Jungle Warfare Training Center), and currently there are 15 U.S. helicopter takeoff and landing zones (helipads) in Higashi Village. Residents of Takae have constantly suffered from the noise and the risk of helicopter crashes. To make matters worse, the Japanese and US governments decided to build 6 new helipads, surrounding the residential neighborhood of Takae.

Takae's citizen and filmmaker Higa Marty explains
the situationto Mark Selden and Gavan McCormack
 Construction of new helipads will not only further endanger the livelihood and lives themselves of Takae residents, but also further destroy the precious environment with its wealth of species, forest and rivers. New military facilities also pave the way to the possibility of a new war. Residents of Takae have protested against the helipads construction for the above reasons. In 2006, we passed a resolution against the new helipads, and demanded of the relevant authorities that they review the construction plan. Takae residents and their supporters from across Japan and from around the world have continued to sit-in, monitoring the site and trying to persuade the government against the construction.

The Japanese and US governments, however, have not listened to the voices of opposition by the residents, and have not provided sincere explanation or proper opportunities for public hearing. The Japanese government even decided, all of a sudden, to prosecute some of the local protesters for obstructing traffic.

Takae Protest Tent
Just before dawn on December 22, 2010, at 6:30 AM, some 100 members of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, ignoring the ongoing court proceedings, barged into the site without warning to restart the helipad construction. On the next night, December 23rd, a US helicopter hovered only 15 meters above the sit-in tent, causing the tent to blow down. Such military exercise over a public road threatens the safety of local residents. The Japanese and US governments are harming the people of Takae by forcing through the construction work without sufficient explanation or consent by local residents. Such an approach by the two governments is unacceptable.

Residents of the Henoko district in Nago City, where the Japanese and US governments plan to build a replacement base for MCAS Futenma, have also been sitting-in for over 2,400 days, in order to preserve their life and the beautiful ocean. We urge you also to say “NO” to the new base plan in Henoko.

Higa Marty at one of the gates of  Northern
Training Area by which protesters sit-in.  

Following our protest to the Ministry of Defense on December 22 and the December 26 demonstration in Shinjuku, “Save Takae/Okinawa – an urgent appeal and demonstration against construction of helipads,” we will go to the US Embassy in Tokyo and the Japanese Ministry of Defense on January 10 (Mon.), 2011, to protest. We would like to collect as many requests/demands as possible and deliver them to the US government. We accept both individual and organizational messages. Just one sentence message, such as “We do not need US helipads in the pristine forest” will suffice, or a longer message is welcome too. The Takae and Henoko issues are not just about war and military bases, but they are also about environmental preservation, biological diversity, and an alternative, “slow-life” lifestyle. Please express your message in your own words. Please follow the below instruction and send your message by January 8, 2011.

The new halipad construction sites
(six helipads in four locations) surround
Takae's residential neighbourhood.

With our voices and with our actions, let us stop the helipad construction in Takae, and the base construction in Henoko. Let us bring a peaceful and fulfilling life to Takae and Henoko!

(The original document in Japanese is at: Translated by Norimatsu Satoko and Gavan McCormack)

★Email your message/request to:

Please include in your email the following information:

*** Name (for an individual) or name of your organization
*** Your message/request (length is up to you)

Both Japanese and English messages will be accepted.

Deadline: January 8 (Sat.), 2011

If you can physically join our action at the US Embassy, please meet us in front of Toranomon JT building, at 3 PM on January 10, 2011. (Take Exit 3 of Subway Ginza Line “Toranomon” station. Walk four minutes straight on Sotobori Street, towards Tameike Sanno). We particularly appreciate participation of people from US!

Address: Toranomon JT Building, 2-1, 2 chome, Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo – see MAP here. Address in Japanese: 2011年1月10日(月・休)15時 虎ノ門JTビル前集合(地下鉄銀座線「虎ノ門駅」3番出口より、外堀通りを溜池山王方面へ直進、徒歩4分)

Yanbaru Forest (Photo from Kikuta Ichiro's page)

Organizer: Okinawa o fuminijiruna (Do not trample on Okinawa!) Urgent Action Committee; Yuntaku Takae; Okinawa One-tsubo Anti-war Landowners Association Kanto Bloc (URLs below)



沖縄・一坪反戦地主会 関東ブロック

★There will be another action on the same day at the Ministry of Defense. We will meet in front of the MoD at 6:30 PM. The organizer of this action is “Committee for Not Allowing Base Construction in Henoko.” See Map of MoD here:
In Japaneese, 1月10日18時半 防衛省前集合

★For the background information in English about the Takae issue, go to:

Voices of Takae (English version)

Postcard…from Takae, by Jon Mitchell

★ See a YouTube video of the Okinawan media reports on the December 23 incident of a US helicopter hovering above the Takae protest tent, which caused damage to the tent and some items in the tent.

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