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Connecting to Mission Blue and beyond: Henoko-Oura Bay Coastal Waters is a "HOPE SPOT"

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Amidst the Japanese government's relentless push to build a new U.S. military base at Henoko-Oura Bay, international support for Okinawa's fight to protect the precious environment has been growing. Mission Blue, a respected U.S. based NGO, has just designated the Henoko-Oura Bay Coastal Waters as a "Hope Spot."  Mission Blue has confirmed that this area is a special place on par with other natural wonders and Hope Spots around the world. It has also demonstrated that our fight to protect is worthwhile.  The message from Dr. Sylvia Earle, a renown marine biologist spearheading Mission Blue, is a great encouragement to those of us who want to protect the environment of Henoko-Oura Bay. 

Meanwhile, the World Beyond War, a global peace movement to end all wars, has joined the celebration of this great news by inviting the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project to write an article about this new Hope Spot at the WBW's website.  Its invitation was a pleasant surprise, an…

Connecting to IUCN: NGO Evaluation and Recommendations regarding the Nomination of NPOI for World Natural Heritage

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On October 5, 2019, the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project and the Informed Public Project sent the IUCN World Heritage Programme an information document regarding the Japanese Environment Ministry's nomination of the "Northern Part of Okinawa Island" (NPOI) (or commonly known as Yambaru forest in Okinawa) for UNESCO World Natural Heritage status. See our document below.

The NPOI is one of the four areas that the Ministry is hoping to have inscribed as World Natural Heritage sites in 2020. See the Ministry's Nomination document and Nomination Annexes.

The present information document is part of our continuing dialogue with the Programme. We have been successful in directing the attention of the Programme to the critical issues of the presence of the U.S. military's Northern Training Area (NTA) neighboring the NPOI.  In turn, the Japanese government has responded well to the Programme's recommendations regarding the NTA. See this "Hesitant heritage&qu…

Review Henoko Plan!: 33 Civil Groups Send a Statement regarding US National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020

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On September 13, thirty-three civil society groups from Okinawa, Japan, and the U.S. sent the members of both U.S. Senate and House Committees on Armed Services an endorsement statement for Section 1255 of the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (S. 1790). See our statement below.
Tilted as "Report on Distributed Lay-down of United States Forces in the Indo-Pacific Region," Section 1255 requests the DoD "to conduct a review of the planned distribution of members of the United States Armed Forces in Okinawa, Guam, Hawaii, Australia, and elsewhere (distributed lay-down)."

This call for review is critical and timely for the peoples of the Pacific Region, especially for those of us living Okinawa, Japan. We argue in our statement, the Henoko Plan, the linchpin of the "distributed lay-down," has been beset with many problems.

The Plan is against the democratic voice of the people of Okinawa; it is destroying a critica…

Yambaru Forest's Second Attempt for World Natural Heritage Status: Improvements and Challenges

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On February 1, 2019,  the Japanese Ministry of the Environment submitted to UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) its nomination of four areas in the Ryukyu archipelago for UNESCO World Natural Heritage status. The areas are Amami-Oshima Island, Tokuno-Shima Island, the Northern Part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island
(see the Nomination Document and the Nomination Annexes).

The nomination is the Ministry's second attempt in the last two years.  

In February 2017, the Ministry submitted its first nomination.  However, in May 2018, IUCN, the advisory body to UNESCO concerning matters related to World Natural Heritage, recommended that the nomination should be "deferred" requesting a substantial revision. In response, the Ministry withdrew the nomination.

In the present nomination dossier, we see improvements
from the previous nomination, especially regarding the issues of the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area (NTA), which sits next to th…

Abe Government's Admission of Flaws in Henoko Base Construction Plan Challenges the Integrity of U.S. and International Institutions

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Abe Government's Reluctant Admission
After a long silence, the Abe government finally admits that the construction of a U.S. military base at Henoko-Oura Bay in Okinawa requires significant changes to the original land reclamation plan (see Asahi Shimbun). Parts of the seafloor of the construction site have proven to be extremely fragile, or mayonnaise-like condition. To solidify the seafloor to support a functional airport, a "sand compaction pile method" needs to be carried out (see this video for sand compaction pile method). That is, casing piles will be driven into the seafloor as deep as 60 meters (or 90 meters below the water surface) and the piles will be filled from the top with sand and other compacting materials. Then, the piles are removed slowly leaving the compacting materials in the form of a pillar thus solidifying the seafloor. With this procedure, 76,000 sand pillars will be placed in the seafloor (see Ryukyu Shimpo). 

The government’s admission has criti…

Happy New Year from Henoko-Oura Bay

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Happy New Year!
On New Year's Day 2019, some 360 people gathered at the Henoko beach to join the Hachi ukushi (first day of working or of rising) ceremony, celebrating the beginning of the year of the boar.

Traditionally, people in Okinawa hold the Hachi ukushi to pray for the safety and good health of farmers, fisherman, artisans, and community members and a good harvest, good catch, and good yielding in the year.We hold this traditional Hachi ukushi on the send or third day of the first month of the year in the lunar calendar.
The Hachi ukushi ceremony at Henoko is a little different from traditional ones, but it serves ultimately the same purposes.We prayed to the Nirai kanai no kami (gods of the outer world beyond the sea) that the U.S. military base would not be built in Henoko-Oura Bay so that the natural environment that provides us with food and livelihood would remain intact. We prayed that peace would prevail in the world without war so that people all over the world would …

We Stand with Governor Denny:辺野古の中止と普天間の撤去を!

新たに沖縄県知事に就任した玉城デニー氏が、現在、辺野古新基地建設の中止と普天間飛行場の撤去を訴えるために、ニューヨーク、ワシントンDCを訪れています。この機会に、Okinawa Environmental Justice Projectは、以下のWe Stand with Governor Dennyのメッセージを発表しました。よろしければ、メッセージの拡散をお願いします!(メッセージの原文(英語)はこちらから
We Stand with Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki in Fight against Henoko Base Construction and Fight for Withdrawl of Futenma Base
玉城デニー沖縄県知事と共に 普天間基地の撤去と辺野古新基地建設の中止を求めて! (原文(英文)の和訳)
Okinawa Environmental Justice Project

米国政府が容認する中、日本政府は、沖縄本島北部の辺野古・大浦湾における新たな基地建設を無謀に押し進めている。両政府にとって、辺野古案こそが、人口の集中する宜野湾市の真ん中にある米海兵隊基地普天間飛行場を移転させる「唯一の選択肢」だとしている。
しかし、辺野古案は、20年に亘り民主主義のあらゆる方法をもって反対を示し続きてきた、沖縄の人々の民意に対する侮辱である。また、262種の絶滅危惧種を含む5,300種の海洋生物が生息する世界でも有数の価値をもつ環境の一つの破壊への後戻りできない道である[i]
この侮辱と破壊を行うために、日本政府は、日本と米国の法や規制をあからさまに曲げ、無視し、日米関係のあるべき姿に悪影響を与えている。そしてその過程で、米軍や米国政府も共犯者になっている。
私たちOkinawa Environmental Justice Projectのメンバーは、玉城デニー沖縄県知事と共に、米国市民と米政府に対して、辺野古案をきちんと再考すること、辺野古新基地建設の阻止と普天間飛行場の閉鎖を掲げる沖縄の決意と民意を尊重することを求める[ii]

埋立て承認の撤回 辺野古新基地建設の不当性は、建設のための埋立て承認をめぐる、沖縄県と日本政府間の争いにおいて、明確に示されている。承認は、2013年12月に、日本政府の圧力のもと、当時の仲井真弘多沖…