Peace Boat US, as many readers know already, has diverse interns and volunteer staff members.
One of our volunteer staff members, Rachel Clark, is also a freelance interpreter. Today she is reporting on one of her past assignments, as interpreter for a delegation of officials from Nago City, Okinawa, Japan, who visited the US in April and May, 2014 to convey opposition to US plans to build a new military base in Okinawa. Together with Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City, Diet member Denny Tamaki from Okinawa Prefecture, and their assistants, Rachel visited intellectuals, politicians, think-tank institutions, mainstream media, Okinawan and NGO communities in New York and Washington DC.
Through her experience she learned about the long struggle of the Okinawan people, whose lives and property have been severly impacted by the presence of U.S. military bases, and are currently on the verge of losing precious marine life and environment, too.
After World War II, Okinawa, unlike the rest of Japan, remained under the control of the U.S. until it was reverted to Japan in 1972.
Through the 1960s, the Japanese government shifted many of the US military bases from the mainland to Okinawa, still a U.S. territory and a major strategic location for the U.S. due to its proximity to the Vietnam War. Thus Okinawa, just 0.6 percent of the entire land mass of Japan, ended up bearing the burden of 74 percent of the U.S. military bases in Japan.
Experiencing overwhelming number of accidents and heinous crimes by U.S. military forces (13,000 cases in the last 68 years), it was decided that the overcrowded Futenma Marine Air base would be relocated to Henoko in Nago City. Construction of the new base at Henoko requires an enormous landfill for the new facilities. Although Henoko is less populated than Futenma, it is a treasure chest of abundant bio-diversity, both land and marine, that is extremely rare even on a global scale. Once they start filling the area with 21 million m³ (about 742 million ft³) of soil, the total ecosystem will be ruined.