読者です 読者をやめる 読者になる 読者になる

My first visit to Henoko

June 17, 2015 (Wednesday). For the first time I went to Henoko by shuttle bus of the Island-Wide Council. The fare on the shuttle bus is 1000 yen, approximately 10 dollars. This shuttle bus leaves from "ken-chou-mae" bus stop*1 everyday.

The shuttle bus of the Island-Wide Council does not leave from Nishihara my hometown. So I had to move to "ken-chou-mae" bus stop from Nishihara.To save bus fare I went on foot to "Yonabaru" bus stop from Nishihara and got on a bus bound for "ken-chou-mae" bus stop from there. This bus fare is 490 yen, approximately 5 dollars.It is also my first time to get on a bus around 8 a.m.

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From "Yonabaru" bus stop to "ken-chou-mae" bus stop, It takes 40 minutes by bus.

I met various people in the bus. High school student in a gym suit that her real name was greatly sewed in the area of the chest. The person who was worried about by a driver because of sleeping to the terminal neighborhood. The kind person who pointed at a vacant seat, and guided me to the vacant seat,considering me to be a traveler continuing to stand in the bus. I only get on a bus and meet various people and receive various stimulation.

I arrived in "ken-chou-mae" bus stop at about 9:00. Looking for a flag of the Island-Wide Council, I walked the area of "ken-chou-mae". But I can't find anything. Unwillingly I sat down in the shade. Then the older brother who was supposedly a Turk gave a handbill of the Turkey restaurant opening to me. It is quiet, but I can feel the town begins to move like morning on weekdays.

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Cool scenery of Naha in the morning.

After a short time elderly women appeared in front of me. She looks me straight in the eye.

"Will the bus to Henoko leave from here?"
I asked and she answered it as follows.
"Yes! I am glad that a young person comes. Eat this. Kombu*2 candy. Eat more. Eat this biscuit too. I am called as "Kamee Obaa"*3 because I recommend food to another person frequently."

I was completely unified by her in this way.

The person rolling up gives a newcomer relief. "Kamee obaa" was very powerful to go by bus in Henoko twice a week. Her age seems to be 80s. She is small, but let feel strength of the will; had powerful eyes. She talked about a reason for objecting to base construction in Henoko. Although the amount of information she offerd is too much for me to memorize, I can understand that she is angry about the indignities to which Japan*4-U.S. subject Okinawan. ; Flight training of a Osprey prohibited at the sky of the residential area in the U. S. is carried out in the sky of the residential area in Okinawa. Betrayal of former governor who advocated the relocation to outside the Okinawa of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in a pledge is ignored in Japan of constitutional state. Shimajiri aiko is Shimauri aiko*5. Prime Minister Abe is Abekobe*6. In unique style including anger and humor she continued talking.
In the meantime, people began gathering. I did not understand the accurate number, I received the impression that there were many elderly women.The woman with the blue flag of the Island-Wide Council stood near when I noticed.
"You have this flag. Because a young person should have the flag."

As the woman said so, I ended up carrying the flag. I was just like a customer who was entrusted with a clerk suddenly.
"Are you staff of the Island-Wide Council?"

Some people asked me.

"No. I'm ordinary citizen."

There were such conversation several times. And there were several people who took me with a digital camera. I don't dislike undifferentiated situation like this. "Kamee Obaa" introduced me to various people, saying "This person go to Henoko for the first time". A newcomer can feel safe to go to Henoko without isolation because they get a newcomer involved in what they are doing closely as above.

I am handed a numbered ticket by the person who unifies administration. My number was the first because I was the first to come. Accoring to the person who unifies administration, the average daily number of passengers is 30. "I want 50 people to come a day." She said. The bus is one. Blue tour bus. At about 9:50, it arrived in front of the Okinawa Prefectural Government buildings. The time has come for us to leave. "You shuld stand until 10:00 with flag." When I was going to get on a bus while carrying a flag on its shoulder, I was told by a muscular person. I said, "Yes." immediately and got back to where I was. When I stood for a while, a muscular person ran and give me a spell. "Kamee obaa" beside the bus beckons to me when I look over the bus. I said, "Yes." immediately again and run to her. She said, "I said 'That person is the first participant! Why do you give that person a flag? Pick him up on the bus first!', so get onto a bus!" I got on a bus while thanking for her consideration.

In the bus, there was the explanation of the future schedule from the person who unifies administration, and the self-introduction by the people of the first participant was performed afterwards. Because a microphone turned around, I easily introduced myself. "I'm from Nishihara. I work for cram school as a teacher in Yonabaru. It's my first visit to Henoko. I protest against base construction in Henoko. Because I can't stand sea of Henoko being destroyed. Sea of Henoko is a mine of food. And furthemore I can't go along with the argument of the Liberal Democratic Party. Nothing more than quibble. They explain that the base construction in Henoko is needed to eliminate the danger of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station. But if a base is transferred in Henoko, the dangerousness increases in Henoko. Sea of Henoko will be destoyed and U.S. military-related accident and/or U.S. military-related crime will increase. the danger of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station should be eliminated unconditionally. The Liberal Democratic Party make great use of 'Eliminate the danger of U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station', but They don't make mention 'Increase the danger of U.S. base in Henoko' I think the Liberal Democratic Party are down and dirty. By the reasons stated above,I protest against base construction in Henoko. Thank you."
There are various first participants,employees at a home-grown company Kanehide group, a person from a mainland television station, a person from nagano prefecture, a person from Canada. Applause happens whenever self-introduction is carried out. Afterward a song was shown, and the details about the drum found in football ground of Okinawa city was explained, and thought for Henoko and the Abe Administration was recited voluntarily by some participants. Because such an information continued flying in a bus, I could feel that time is short. We arrived at Henoko in a twinkling. "Sedake no hama" was the place that we visited first. All the members get off a bus once to encourage the people of the canoe team. It is a photograph of the "Sedake no hama" as follows. Beautiful. I feel a sign of the food (creature).

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These black rubber boats seem to be things of Japan Coast Guard in question.

In "Sedake no hama",The daily briefing from the canoe team and the encouragement by the "Oota" lawyer were carried out. In his company a person from a mainland television station have camera running. This person is today's first participant, too. He introduced himself by saying that "I want to make a program of Henoko" in a bus, but I'm worried very much how he edit an event in Henoko. I feel both hopes and fears.

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How will the present conditions of Henoko be reported?

Then, from "Sedake no hama" I move to "In front of Camp Schwab gate" by bus. Here is the site of protest activity attracting attention from all over the world now. I ate the rice ball which I bought at a service area and walked around "In front of Camp Schwab gate" for a while afterwards.

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Tents formed a line in the opposite roadside of the gate.

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There are a sleep-away camp, and a news article was gathered on the side.

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An article about "Mr.Yamashiro" who was in the front line of protest.

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A company commander of the police kneed citizen recently. I can't tolerate it.

The sunshine is strong. The people who are supposedly a police officer stand before the gate here and there.
"Will I be arrested if I walk in front of gate alone?"
While thinking in this way I saw one woman walking alone when I looked at in front of the gate from far away fearfully. She is "Kamee obaa".
"Is it safe to walk such a place alone?" 
I worried about her very much.

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"Kamee obaa" walks in front of gate proudly alone.

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She moves in front of gate from the edge to the edge.

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Really stately.

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Eventually she began to add an X to a fence. A person from a mainland television station get interviews promptly.

"Kamee obaa" expressed straight anger for the Abe Administration and the Japan-U.S. government in a bus. In addition, She stated that she became friends with both a U.S. soldier and a police while going to Henoko.

When she walked in front of gate, she called out to the police who stood in the place and talked about something with him. She was not angry. She seemed to overpersuage a police. She seemed to explain by words and is going to get sympathy from him. I was amazed by her.

At about 13:30, I moved to the place called "Hama no tent" by bus afterwards. It is the place where a base opposition movement in Henoko originated. The first base construction plan that fill up the sea vastly was derailed by physical resistance movement there. By the tent which stood in this place, I was able to hear process and the latest information of the protest activities.
"Base construction in Henoko is pushed forward so that the dock landing ship of the U.S. Armed Forces which is in Nagasaki anchors in the Henoko. This function is a function not to exist in the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station. Therefore, the new base of Henoko can't be called the alternative facility for the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station."
"The length of a planned base built newly is almost equal in length to 'the international street of Naha (approximately 1 mile of = approximately 1.6 kilometers)'."
"According to the investigation the number of dugongs near here is three."

I was able to obtain new information such as the above in this tent. These explanation was carried out based on a newspaper article put in a tent. It is very persuasive, because a source of that are showed clearly in front.

Possibly a counter of "Are there an error in those newspaper article?" may be possible. Possibly a counter of "Are there an error in those newspaper article?" may be possible. But in turn, the questions such as "Which point of the newspaper article is an error?" and "What is the basis for the argument?" can be done, then we can engage in a productive debate. Basically any claim is OK, but it is important to show data and evidence, and verifying whether these are surely data and evidence is important. The spirit of verification like this was felt from the tent where a lot of newspaper articles are put on everywhere. 
By the way, on a WWW, the information "that the citizen who comes to Henoko get money" is seen, but I was not able to find the place in which I can get such a money. For me who saved bus fare and comes to Henoko, the money is desperately important, but I am very sorry.

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The sandy area in front of "Hama no tent." I feel of the food (creature).

Entertainment was carried out in front of a tent when I came back to "In front of Camp Schwab gate" from "Hama no tent". It seems that anyone can participate freely. A man just sang a song and looks very happy.

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A man struck a pose cracking.

Because I wanted to go to the restroom on the way, I had citizen take me by car. For the person who wants to go to the restroom at any time, a car leaves "In front of Camp Schwab gate". "I want to go to restroom." I said to the person who was near signboard saying "Toire Sougei*7.", that man asked loudly "Is there anyone who wants to go to the restroom!?" I did not yet understand who was concerned with this place how, but I had an impression that a present citizen exercised initiative.

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Next to the restroom, there was the ecofarm.

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A big mint. It is food. I watched the mint which grew up to here for the first time.

Protest activity began when I returned from the restroom. I completely started late. I choose a placard from the cardboard box near the tent to stay at, and join protest activity with it.

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Chants of "Stop base construction".

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We demand an explanation from the company commander who kneed citizen.

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The citizen who records all the details in digital video camera. Encouraging.

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A army of police jumped out of a bus stopped in a base.

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Police make a line and go to "In front of Camp Schwab gate" by going at a trot.

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I was worried about there not being existence of the leader of "Mr.Yamashiro", but there was different leader-like existence. I do not understand his name. He demands an explanation from the company commander who kneed citizen without being daunted by the coming police.

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Police gather in "In front of Camp Schwab gate". A person having a white stick seems to be the commander.

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Police walk rapidly to press a citizen.

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Police was divided into the two groups. They surround the citizen of right and left each and are going to push them outside of "In front of Camp Schwab gate".

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Police push us by force while saying "It's dangerous." It's just dangerous.

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Citizen protests, "Don't push! Why do you push!?" 

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I saw this elderly man in the movie "hyouteki no mura*8".

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Elderly people devote their life and bump into police.

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Angry shouts of "Please don't push!" by citizen and Cruel voices of "It's dangerous. It's dangerous. It's dangerous." by police.

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A cord from the rucksack which police carries on his back.

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A cameraman of the police side.

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He seems to push the button.

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When around ten minutes passed, police came back in a base.

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This person seemed to order it.

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According to neighboring citizen, this person was a section commander. Where is a company commander who kneed the citizen?

After the police left, the protest activity became the end. Elderly people bumped the police from the front. some citizen said, "Police pushed me. If I push back police , he jumps back quickly behind. It's on purpose. He try to hurt me using my power. I want them to stop it because it is dangerous."

I think it's true. Actually,in front of me, there was the citizen who fell down forward. Police push a citizen by strengthening and weakening of power. It's dangerous. Why did police do such a dangerous thing? Thy should protect the citizen. They must surely get money somewhere. Because they want to get money, they do such a bad things.

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Somebody played beautiful music with a guitar. I did not understand the title of a music, but flooed my heart that was tiring by protest activity.

I avoided direct battle with police and I raised a placard in back of other protesters. I have no idea what to do there. Should I tackle police daringly? Or should I sit down? I don't know what I should do for the best. In the first place, I don't want to get injured and be arrested. That is why I don't want to contact police directly. While protesting, I thought that I had better wear the feces of the dog to the whole body to keep police from touching me.

The figure that elderly people collide police from the front have a strong impact. "Kamee obaa" collided police too. Police are almost expressionless. They do dangerous thing saying "It's dangerous. It's dangerous."

The violence to such a citizen by police is often justified by saying of "It is their work.".

It's police's job, so we can't blame them and shold allow them. Such a claim is persuasive to some extent. Because their job is to obey their leader's order. It's unreasonable. But some people must choose this kind of job due to their povety. To pay the bills they become police. There are the gap issue in unequal society.

However, I can't endorse the idea that any behavior is acceptable as long as it is job. Because doing everything for money is too selfish. And there are other job other than police. If police disobey their leader's order,these police will be fired. Maybe they have a very difficult time finding jobs. But if they can't get new job, I think they shuold apply for welfare benefits. The person who live on welfare is better than police who earn money by commit violence against citizen.

If a lot of police think "No way! I don't want to apply for welfare benefits! I choose police and do harm citizen to get money!", there might be a prejudice against welfare benefits.

Or police don't want to betray an order at all and may think, "I like this work because violence is permitted legally.", then they may use violence to a citizen willingly. Particularly, I think in this way when I see staff of Coast Guard use violence to a citizen. Although they have no legal basis at sea, they restrict a citizen and strangle a citizen and let a citizen drown and rob a citizen of oars. They keep doing a citizen harm.

It is clearly reckless that a citizen confronts police and Coast Guard.They strengthen a body earnestly and enjoy martial arts such as judo or the kendo, and use violence to a citizen to earn money. Therefore, after all, what is most striking about my first visit to Henoko was a figure of elderly people who collide with police from the front in defiance of such disadvantage. With anger in their face, they collide with police in such a way as to do sumo from the front. The elderly people of 60s - 90s take the initiative. They are never daunted by police. Probably I think that they think "We don't mind being killed if we can stop base construction in Henoko". Gentle elderly people who resisted police with the look of the ogre has a strong impact.

In the rerurn bus, I spoke the impression of the following contents.

"It was scary to confront police. However, I was surprised because other participants conflict with police daringly. We are obviously disadvantageous physically. I think 'How can they do this?'"

Other people who participated in protest activity for the first time spoke an impression similar to this. They, who were dumbfounded by the direct confrontation with police by elderly people,said "It is impossible for me to confront police like you, but, please take care of yourself.".

For elderly people, new base construction in Henoko must be prevented by themselves for their child and the grandchild. So they can collide with police. But I think that is not all. Each and every elderly people who participated in protest activity seemed strong as individual. Visually they looks thin and gentle, but mind is awfully firm. They can be compared to a diamond. They do not flinch from dissenting opinion of others at all and say their opinion like "a child" without reserve. I think that elderly people were such a characteristic.

For example, in the return bus, there were the following exchanges.
"Abe comes to Okinawa on Okinawa memorial day. We should ambush him at an airport, and must protest together. Why does such a movement not happen in Okinawa? We Okinawan may be missing a few screws." One elderly woman told, "Kamee obaa" counter-argue "No. I would like to go to Cornerstone of Peace memorial on Okinawa memorial day to pray." And other elderly woman said, "That's putting it too strong.". Everybody has begun to argue as equals from the front. In this place, there wasn't the air which stagnated such as the tepid water to read someone's face, and to refrain from remarks. Refraining from criticism not to offend somebody. The mood of refraining from openly criticizing was not felt at all.*9

Basically, elderly people participated in protest activity were the people who can say what they want to say directly,and they adopt same attitude to so called "friends". In the bus, there was a culture of openness in which people could discuss their opinion without pulling their punches. Social politics which are observed frequently at some companies or some universitiesis was not seen here. Probably such communication-style will be the thing which never exists in police and Coast Guard and the United States Armed Forces.

What I remembered in such bus of the Island-Wide Council is academic life in graduate research of which I put myself in the middle. No matter who may be the opponent, even though the opponent is a professor, everybody argued equally. Exchanges in the bus reminded me of this old academic life. The action of criticizing each other let me feel mental pain frequently, though at the point that anyone can express any opinion each other without refraining from criticizing by reading others' face, life in those days was good. I reconfirmed the merits of those academic life. This openness being possessed in the bus of the Island-Wide Council. I think this is one of the reason that the bus of the Island-Wide Council is called "the Henoko university branch school". A place individuals can collide with each other equally from the front deserve to be called a "university". If I have time, No, by making time, I want to go Henoko again by bus of the Island-Wide Council. I at the present think in this way.

The bus arrived in "ken-chou-mae". On the way home I was able to hear various stories from "Kamee obaa". The topics as "not to want to be hurt" or "to be afraid of police" were a trivial matter for her. For the present conditions not to know where the bones of the relative who went for war were, she expressed anger. And she add to She talked about praying for thier souls on Okinawa memorial day to me in a calm manner. She objects to new base construction in Henoko not because it will break a treasure house of the food but because it should be put in several contexts filled with angry and sorrow. Battle of Okinawa, Handling of the war dead by the later Japanese Government, US forces-related crime and accident keeping occuring in Okinawa after Okinawa's reversion to Japan, discriminatory deployment to Okinawa of the osprey. "Kamee obaa" views base construction in Henoko from a lot of contexts. She continued talking beside me while walking "the international street of Naha". before long she said, "I was this.". When she understood that our destinations were different, she said so and crossed the road. After I said, "good-bye" hastily and walk on foot for a while, when I turned around "Kamee obaa" waved a hand at a corner, so I waved a hand back. In this way, I finished my first visit to Henoko.

*1:"ken-chou-mae" means "In front of the Okinawa Prefectural Government buildings".This bus stop is in Naha city.

*2:"Kombu" is kelp.

*3:"Kamee Obaa" tends to mean "Eat grandmother".

*4:especially the Liberal Democratic Party

*5:"Shimauri" means Island seller. "Shimajiri aiko" is Liberal Democratic Party Upper House member.

*6:"Abekobe" mean back-to-front or confused-sounding.

*7:Restroom Pickup

*8:The Village as the target

*9:Because I did not check it in detail, of course the possibility that, in fact, a person was not to be able to say that She/He want to say is not zero.