Okinawa: anti-base protesters score win —for now

Okinawa's Gov. Takeshi Onaga on Oct. 13 revoked the approval issued by his predecessor for a landfill to relocate the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to a new site at the island's Cape Henoko. Sit-in protestors in front of Camp Schwab  Marine Base at Henoko rejoiced as the announcement came over a live radio broadcast. Some took over the roadway to perform the island's traditional Kachashi dance in jubilation. Hiroji Yamashiro, director of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, voiced defiance of anticipated efforts by Japan's central government to override the decision: "We will not lose to the governments of Japan and the United States. With the governor, we will continue to struggle to stop construction of the new US base." In March, Gov. Onaga had issued a stop-work order on the relocation, which the central government overruled. Protesters are demanding that the US Marines leave Okinawa entirely. (Kyodo, Oct. 14; BBC News, Ryukyu Shimpo, Oct. 13)

In a controvery around the protests earlier this year, the Pentagon reportedly dismissed a senior US Marine Corps official in Okinawa following the leak of a base surveillance video to a Japanese neo-nationalist group. Robert Eldridge, deputy assistant chief of staff for external affairs, apparently leaked footage showing the arrest of Hiroji Yamashiro after he crossed the yellow-painted perimeter line in a protest at Camp Schwab. The footage was uploaded to YouTube by a user called "Tedokon Bogii," believed to be a presenter for the far-right online Channel Sakura. Dubbing itself a Japanese culture channel, Sakura regularly glorifies Japan's role in World War II, and portrays anti-base protests in Okinawa as the work of Chinese, Korean or communist agitators. Eldridge had himself appeared on Channel Sakura twice—in one appearance branding the Okinawa protests "hate speech." (Japan Times, March 23)