Okinawans rally against Osprey

An estimated 100,000 people gathered on Sunday in Ginowan for a massive rally to protest against the proposed deployment of the dangerous Osprey US military aircraft in Okinawa. I joined yesterday’s rally which took place in blistering heat and had been rearranged after the original event was postponed last month because of a typhoon.

The speeches of protest were preceded by performances of Okinawan music. First up was 24 year old Ryuta Shiroma from the Yanbaru region of northern Okinawa. He was followed by Ayumi Yonaha from Yonaguni Island who sang three songs. These included the powerful ‘Heiwa no Ryuka’ – a cry for peace written by Keisuke Kuwata and previously recorded by Nenes.

Many speeches protesting against the Osprey followed. These ranged from an impassioned address by the mayor of Naha to a heartfelt plea for a peaceful future from a female student of Okinawa International University. Despite being listed in the programme as one of the speakers, Okinawa’s conservative Governor Nakaima changed his mind and decided not to attend the rally in person. Instead he sent only a message of support which was read out to boos and jeers from sections of the crowd.

As if the Okinawan people aren’t suffering enough already from the huge and continued American military presence on their island, the Osprey, with its patchy safety record, is still planned to arrive here next month and add to the burden. Other rallies against its deployment were held simultaneously on the islands of Miyako and Ishigaki, and there were even protests in Tokyo, Yamaguchi and other parts of mainland Japan.

 

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2 Comments on “Okinawans rally against Osprey”

  1. NISHI Izumi Says:

    I have not heard that the Osprey aircraft will be deployed next month but far earlier. I will not be surprised that its deployment will be carried out next week.


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