Takae Village Sit-In Protest against US Helipads in Pristine Yanbaru Forest, Okinawa

Takae is a small village in Yanbaru Forest (pdf), a mountainous region in the northern part of Okinawa adjacent to Henoko. Greenpeace Japan notes that Yanbaru is known for distinct and irreplaceable biodiversity.

Over 192 plant and animal (most are endangered and near extinction) species are unique to this area, such as the bird species Okinawa Rail and Okinawa Woodpecker; Itajii (Evergreen Oak); and the Jambar long armed scarab beetle (the largest beetle species in Japan).

The sea life includes Taimai (Hawksbill turtles), dugongs, corals and tropical fish.

The United States wants to build seven helipads in this natural forest.

Yanbaru Forest. (Photo: Japan Focus: "Okinawa's Turbulent 400 Years" by Gavan McCormack)

Satoko Norimatsu's Peace Philosophy Centre blog reports on the Sit-in Campaign Against US Helipads in Takae, Okinawa, quoting from Brian and Co's Blog:

Takae Helipad Campaign in Okinawa:

There are many campaigns against military bases in Japan. Usually they work independently of each other. However they do join forces for large-scale protests when a major incident occurs...

In February 2006 the Takae helipad campaign began. The campaign was formed by a small number of residents none of whom had any previous campaigning experience. Between them they set up 24- hour guard at entrances to the helipad construction sites. They confronted the construction workers and blocked access to the new helipad sites. Once built, the helipads role would be used in the training of mainly US troops in Jungle warfare.

The campaigners concerns about the new helipads are related to the environmental destruction of the jungle, noise and air pollution. As well their concerns for the environment, they are also against the use of their homeland for the training of military personnel, that they will be taught about killing and jungle warfare literally on their doorsteps. There are also safety concerns after one helicopter crashed near Takae close to their elementary school in 1999. And in 2004 a US military helicopter crashed in the grounds of a university in the city of Ginowan...

Read the rest at
http://brianandco.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/files/TakaeHelipadCampaign.pdf.

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