Connecting to the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission for the Okinawa Dugong
On July 10, 2020, led by the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project, seventy-one Okinawan and Japanese civil society organizations and groups (including one Philippine organization) sent a letter of request and a civil society report to the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), the U.S. federal agency in charge of overseeing the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The letter asks the MMC to review and comment on the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) efforts for the conservation of the Okinawa dugong, an endangered marine mammal, Japan’s Natural Monument, and Okinawa’s cultural icon, in relation to the construction of a U.S. military base in Henoko-Oura Bay, Okinawa, Japan. In particular, it calls on the MMC to examine the DoD’s contention made six years ago that construction and operation of the base would have “no adverse effects” on the marine mammal. The report details how the DoD contention was influenced by the Japanese government’s flawed and manipulated Environmental Impact Assessment for the base. It also describes how the Japanese government’s failure to conduct proper monitoring led to the demise of the Okinawa Dugong in recent years in sharp contrast to the DoD’s contention.
These organizations and groups included Japanese and Okinawan leading environmental organizations such as the Nature Conservation Society of Japan, Okinawa Environment Network, former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s think-tank East Asia Community Institute, Veterans for Peace Ryukyu-Okinawa, nursery schools, and religious organizations. Their diversity reflects the symbolic importance that the Okinawa dugong has attained over the years for the protection of the environment and the desire of the people of Okinawa for a peaceful life.
Please check out our letter of request.