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A Ceremony Nobody Celebrated: Return of Land

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On December 22, 2016, the U.S. and Japanese governments jointly held a ceremony in Nago City, Okinawa to mark the return of 4.000 hectares of the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area in northern Okinawa Island to Japan. Both governments tried to promote the event as celebratory as possible (see the U.S. Embassy website). 



However, the ceremony was an awkward and blundering event in the sense that no one seemed to be in mood for real celebration (see The New York Times and Truthout). 

The return of land is certainly a positive development for Okinawa. Many in Okinawa were however not celebrating because the land return deal was contingent upon the construction of six new helipads next to the community of Takae in Hagashi village. They were angry that the Japanese government took an iron hand approach to finish the construction in time for the ceremony by oppressing and arresting protesters (see The Japan Times). 

Okinawa Governor TakeshiOnaga, along with many prefectural assembly member…
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Launched in November 2016, the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project strives to protect the environment and the lives of people in Okinawa, Japan through the means of "connecting the green dots." That is, we reach out to, connect, and make best use of available resources in local communities, environment NGOs, domestic institutions and laws, and international institutions and conventions in bringing environmental justice to Okinawa. We believe that, by protecting the environment, we can also improve the quality of life and promote peace/genuine security in Okinawa and beyond.

 As our first action, we, along with 38 other Okinawan and Japanese organizations,are sending a letter of concern and request to the U.S. government and the U.S. military regarding the future of the Yanbaru forest in northern Okinawa Island.

Can the Yanbaru forest become a World Natural Heritage site? Or would the presence of the U.S. military's Northern Training Area in the Yanbaru forest, low altit…