Why the Construction of an American Military Base in Henoko Is Being Described as Japan's Ferguson

Osprey deployment withdraw protest rally

A man marching in Tokyo to protest US Osprey aircraft deployment. Sign reads, “Close all US bases on Okinawa.” (January 27, 2013). Photo by KAZUMAC. Copyright Demotix.

One of Japan’s biggest but underreported stories – both in Japan and abroad – is the decision to relocate the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from the central part of Okinawa Island to Henoko, about 50 kilometers to the north.

The decision to relocate Futenma to Henoko has generated large-scale protests both on land and on the sea over the summer. Some commentators are calling the events at Henoko Japan’s Ferguson, referring to the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri by police in August, which provoked protests and riots. 

As video hosted on the local Ryuku Shimpo shows, as of mid-September 2014, protesters who venture near the construction are being swiftly apprehended and detained by a large force of Coast Guard personnel for violating a court order (令状主義違反) to stay away from the area.

Meanwhile on land, protests against the Henoko base are drawing crowds of 10,000 people.

Okinawa is both the southernmost of Japan’s 47 prefectures and the country’s poorest prefecture in Japan.

Despite its small size (Okinawa covers just 0.6 percent of Japan's land area) Okinawa hosts at least 28 American military installations and three quarters of American service personnel stationed in Japan. About 20 percent of Okinawa is devoted to military installations, a legacy of Okiniwa’s postwar status as an American “trustee” territory that was only returned to Japan in 1972.

Many of the 28 military American installations are located within densely populated neighbourhoods – Marine Air Corps Futenma is located in the heart of Ginowan City.

For many years there have been attempts to relocate American forces. Then, at the end of 2013 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima signed an agreement to build a new US marine base at Henoko, a relatively pristine site about an hour by car from Ginowan.

Despite talk of relocating the Marines to Guam, and pre-election promises by local politicians to resist building at Henoko, US forces will not be leaving Okinawa any time soon. Okinawa residents feel betrayed.

The new American military base at Henoko in Okinawa will be construction on a coral reef and seagrass beds which is inhabited by the dugong, an endangered marine mammal protected under Japanese and US law.

Keiko Tsuyama, a New York-based Japanese journalist interviewed by GV recently, says, “If this sort of project were planned for the East Coast or the West Coast of the United States, it would never be tolerated by Americans. Why Henoko?”

Peaceful Protest, Disproportionate Response

Local resentment over the decision to build a base at Henoko quickly grew following the agreement in late 2014. Over the summer, the road in front of construction site at Henoko had become a large protest camp.

Some protesters have been camped out here since 1996, when plans were first made to locate the base at Henoko:

Over this past summer, some protestors took to the ocean in kayaks and canoes, in an attempt to protest a seabed study in Oura Bay, off Henoko, prior to construction taking place.

While there has been television coverage of the protests, the footage generally captures a low-intensity cat-and-mouse game occurring between authorities and protesters.

For example, a local news report from September 3, 2014, showed security forces chasing off a protester who has draped a net over a platform used to drill boreholes for a seismic study. (Update: Since the publication of this story, this video has been deleted.)

Local newspaper Ryuku Shimpo has uploaded some YouTube footage of Japan Coast Guard officers enforcing the court order:

The Twitter hashtag #henoko also provides regular updates about the Henoko protests.

Throughout the summer and now into September, many Twitter users are capturing a government response of surprising intensity:

Dozens of canoes have been confiscated, (according to the Okinawa Times). In the next prefectural gubernatorial election we must prevail and overturn this despotic regime.

Henoko.net is a frequently-updated blog that provides detailed coverage of protests, and responses to the protests by the Coast Guard. The most recent update is for September 14:



The Coast Guard is using aggressive tactics and intimidation to asset control over the sea off Henoko. To get a sense of the tactics, watch the video below. We have received video taken by local residents of Nago of officers boarding protest vessels off the planned base site – this is the first time these images have been posted online for the public to see.

It's unlikely aggressive tactics will be enough to deter an Okinawan population that first survived the Battle of Okinawa at the end of the war, then 30 years of American occupation, and now years of pressuring government to reduce the number of American bases in the prefecture.

One Twitter user sums up the spirit of the protesters:

“We Will Never Give Up” – posted on the fence of the planned Henoko base.


  • No Base! 沖縄 Okinawa

    Henoko could be described as Japan’s ‘Ferguson’, or it could be Japan’s “Montgomery Alabama” The non military residents of Okinawa have been experiencing this discrimination and bullying for over 70 years now. Many are fed up with it and feel it’s time to make a change. University students are gathering now and say they want this to be the ‘last generation of military base problems in Okinawa’.

  • Akira Uema

    It hurts to see what Japan is doing to the land of our ancestors!

    Ryukyu should seek independence right away!!! Japan never did any good to Ryukyu in centuries of history.

    • jwtn

      You should seek independence, and file a war crimes complaint against the United States. I was station at futenma for 4 years. I cannot believe that US generals are still allowing you to be treated like this. You may not get the support from Washington, but this is probably whats best for you. If the majority of Americans actually understood what was happening I am pretty sure they would disapprove. The US military in Okinawa is less than honorable and truly a disgrace to American values.

  • MotomuraYasuhiko

    The main factor of the independence group defeat of Scotland is because Scottish people were not able to push a discrimination deployment problem of the nuclear weapon base on the front. Why will it be?/蘇格蘭的獨立派敗北的主主要原因,由蘇格蘭的人們沒到前面推出斷核武器基地的差異配置問題。為何??呢/苏格兰的独立派败北的主主要原因,由苏格兰的人们没到前面推出断核武器基地的差异配置问题。为何??呢/Ключевой фактор независимого поражения фракции Шотландии потому, что люди Шотландии не были в чтобы завершить толкающую вперед отличительную проблему характера ядерного оружия основа.
    Почему это? /스코틀랜드의 독립 파 패배의 주요 요인은 스코틀랜드 사람들이 핵무기 기지의 차별 배치 문제를 전면에 내세우고 못한 때문입니다. 왜일까요 ??/Từ những yếu tố chính của Scotland độc lập phe đánh bại những người Scotland không thể phân biệt đối xử GTB triển khai vũ khí hạt nhân cơ sở. Có điều gì sai?/Skottorand nu dokurichi-ha nu makitaru ufu-gein-noo、Skottorand nu chunuchaa-nu KwakuHeikiKichi-nu SabechiHaibi-mondaa jenmen-nun-kai chuukunaa ushi-ijashi-yuusantagu-du-yaibin。Nuunchi-yaiigayaa??/スコットランドの独立派敗北の主要因は、スコットランドの人々が核兵器基地の差別配備問題を前面に押し出しきれなかったからです。なぜでしょう??
    Shingetsu News Agencyさんがリンクをシェアしました。
    SNA video project crowdfunding page updated w/”The Struggle to Save Henoko” (crowdfunding page in Japanese language only)
    -Do not be deceived by pro-Japanese Okinawa media and the pro-Japanese Okinawa vested interest group! !They of the US base site charges aim are only dogs of the Japanese Government – Japanese police. The anti-Henoko base motion not to mention removal of this ↓ nuclear storehouse is a match pump. Make noise without mentioning the removal of this ↓ nuclear storehouse. Ryukyu Okinawan oneself accepts it that is 98% of other existing US bases and will fall into a trick to leave.
    It is unconstitutional in the Henoko ammo which is adjacent in this Camp Schwab base, and the storehouse for exclusive use of the nuclear weapon of the international declaration violation exists. The Japanese Island does not have it. Therefore the Japanese prepares the new base into this place of Okinawa. The storehouse for exclusive use of the nuclear weapon was constructed before 1972. Because they did it under the rule in the United States, the United States Armed Forces constructed it without permission. On the other hand, the three non-nuclear principles already matched a peace constitution in the Japanese island. Therefore the United States Armed Forces were not able to construct the storehouse for exclusive use of the nuclear weapon at all in a Japanese island./別被親日沖繩宣傳媒體和親日沖繩既得權益集體欺騙!!美軍基地用地費目標的他們不過是日本政府-日本人警察的狗。不對這個↓核儲藏庫的撤去言及的反邊野古基地運動是火柴·泵。不對這個↓核儲藏庫的撤去言及騷亂。那個琉球沖繩人自己承認堵塞,其他的98%的原有的美軍基地,陷入在(到)留下的詭計。
    在鄰接這個Camp Schwab基地的邊野古彈藥庫上(裡)由於違憲國際宣言違反的核武器專用儲藏庫存在。到日本島沒有。因此日本人在沖繩的這個地方成立新的基地。那個核武器專用儲藏庫1972年以前被建造了。是因為美國統治下美軍隨意地建造了。那個一方面,在日本島與和平憲法已經有無(非)核武器三原則。為此,美軍在日本島核武器專用儲藏庫全部不能建造。/친일 오키나와 언론과 친일 오키나와 기득권 집단에 속지 말라! ! 미군 기지 부지 비용 목적의 그들은 일본 정부 – 일본인 경찰의 개에 불과하다. 이 ↓ 핵 저장고 철거 말할 것도없고 반 헤 노코 기지 운동은 매치 펌프. 이 ↓ 핵 저장고 철거 언급하지 떠드는 것. 그것은 즉, 기타 98 % 기존 미군기지를 류큐 오키나와 사람 자신이 용납하고 남겨 트릭에 빠지게된다.
    이 Camp Schwab 기지에 인접한 헤 노코 탄약고에는 위헌 국제 선언 위반의 핵무기 전용 저장고가 존재한다. 일본 섬에는 없다. 그래서 일본인은 오키나와의이 위치에 새로운 기지를 만든다. 그 핵무기 전용 저장고는 1972 년 이전에 건축되었습니다. 미국 통치하에이기 때문에 미군이 마음대로 건조했습니다. 한편 일본 섬에서 평화 헌법과 비핵 3 원칙이 이미 있었다. 따라서 미군은 일본 섬에서 핵무기 전용 저장고는 일체 건축 할 수 없습니다./親日沖縄マスコミと親日沖縄既得権益集団に騙されるな!!米軍基地用地料狙いの彼らは日本政府-日本人警察の犬にすぎない。この↓核貯蔵庫の撤去に言及しない反辺野古基地運動はマッチ・ポンプ。この↓核貯蔵庫の撤去に言及しないで騒ぐこと。それはつまり、その他の98パーセントの既存の米軍基地を琉球沖縄人自身が容認し、残すトリックに陥ることになる。
    このCamp Schwab基地に隣接する辺野古弾薬庫には違憲で国際宣言違反の核兵器専用貯蔵庫が存在する。日本島にはない。だから日本人は沖縄のこの場所に新しい基地を作る。その核兵器専用貯蔵庫は1972年以前に建造されました。米国統治下ですから米軍が勝手に建造しました。その一方、日本島では平和憲法と非核三原則がすでにあった。そのため、米軍は日本島で核兵器専用貯蔵庫は一切建造できませんでした。

    Shingetsu News Agencyさんがリンクをシェアしました。
    SNA video project crowdfunding page updated w/”The Struggle to Save Henoko” (crowdfunding page in Japanese language only)

  • MotomuraYasuhiko


    >★★★”Characterized by covert collusion amidst Tokyo and Washington, which began with a clandestine postwar agreement to allow the US administration to set up military bases there indefinitely, campaigners say the region’s history is one of bloodshed and sacrifice at the behest of mainland Japan. ”/「東京の中の隠れた共謀とワシントン(それは米国管理を無期限に軍事基地をそこで建てさせる秘密の戦後の合意から始めました)によって特徴づけます、運動員は、地域の歴史が流血の1つと本土日本の強要の犠牲であると言います。」

    The part with “the nuclear weapon” is performed deletion of for an article of this “Reuters/Kyodo” definitely. The follows are article contents of “Guardian”. It is described with “a nuclear weapon” definitely.
    It is the evidence that “Reuters/Kyodo” conceals the truth that “a nuclear weapon” is the center of the Okinawa problem for a reader as for it daringly and reports.
    How do you think?
    I am inhabitants of field, Okinawa. I am angry./説明:
    ★★★”The history of Okinawa, Tomochi argues, is one of bloody sacrifice at mainland Japan’s behest, and collusion between Tokyo and Washington, beginning with a secret postwar agreement to allow the US to bring nuclear weapons to the island and maintain military bases there indefinitely.”/「沖縄の歴史は、米国が島に核兵器を持ってきて、無期限に軍事基地をそこで維持するのを許す秘密の戦後の合意から始めて、本土日本の強要の残忍な犠牲の1人と東京とワシントン間のなれあいであると、Tomochiは主張します。」

  • MotomuraYasuhiko

    YouTube-Nuclei Sealed/核密封/봉인 된 핵/封印された核

  • MotomuraYasuhiko

    Blog-Nuclei Sealed/核密封/봉인 된 핵/封印された核

  • MotomuraYasuhiko

    >Shingetsu News Agency
    Henoko buoys come 10 years, 1 day after US Marine CH-53 transport helicopter crash on campus of Okinawa International University.

  • MotomuraYasuhiko

    -In addition, November 16, 1994 ten years ago.
    This US base of Henoko where it was recognized that the warehouse for exclusive use of the nuclear weapon existed now six months before the copter crash. A copter crashed there and was burnt down. Five people were killed or injured. The warehouse for exclusive use of the nuclear weapon violates Japanese national policy and a Japanese constitution./還有,那個10年前的1994年11月16日。
    那個直升飛機墜落事故的6個月前核武器專用倉庫現在在沖繩島也存在判明的那個邊野古的這個美軍基地。在那裡直升飛機墜落,燃燒起來了。5人死傷了。核武器專用倉庫違反日本國是和日本憲法。/또한 그 10 년 전 1994 년 11 월 16 일.
    그 헬기 추락 사고의 6 개월 전에 핵무기 전용 창고가 현재도 존재하는 것으로 밝혀 그 헤 노코이 미군 기지. 거기에 헬기가 추락, 염상했다. 5 명이 죽거나 다쳤다. 핵무기 전용 창고는 일본 국시과 일본 헌법에 위반한다./Ngoài ra, 16 tháng 11 năm 1994 của mười năm trước của mình.
    Các căn cứ quân sự của Mỹ ở Henoko rằng kho vũ khí hạt nhân chỉ tồn tại ngày nay trong sáu tháng trước khi vụ tai nạn máy bay trực thăng đã được tìm thấy. Máy bay trực thăng bị rơi ở đó, tôi đã cháy theo ngọn lửa. 5 người đã bị thương vong. Kho vũ khí hạt nhân chỉ vi phạm Hiến pháp của Nhật Bản và các chính sách quốc gia Nhật Bản./また、その10年前の1994年11月16日。

  • MotomuraYasuhiko

    -The then news that the local Nago-shi assembly six months before the copter crash decided this. Local Nago-shi assembly decided the warehouse removal for exclusive use of the nuclear weapon of the Henoko ammo. In other words, as for this, Ryukyu Okinawa means the evidence that is not yet incorporated in a Japanese part. Please cooperate with the return country of the Ryukyu country./這是那個直升飛機墜落的6個月前的本地的名護市議會作決議的當時的新聞。本地的名護市議會作決議了邊野古彈藥庫的核武器專用倉庫撤去。總之這個,琉球沖繩意味至今還沒被日本的一部分編入的證據。請協助琉球國的復國。/이것은 그 헬기 추락 6 개월 이전 지역 나고 시의회가 결의 한 당시 뉴스. 헤 노코 탄약고의 핵무기 전용 창고 철거를 현지 나고 시의회가 결의했다. 즉 이것은 류큐 오키나와는 아직도 일본의 일부에 포함되지 않은 증거를 의미한다. 류큐 국의 복수 국가에 협력하십시오./Thông tin này tại thời điểm đó Nago hội đồng thành phố địa phương sáu tháng trước khi vụ tai nạn máy bay trực thăng đã được giải quyết. Nago hội đồng thành phố địa phương đã giải quyết để kho vũ khí hạt nhân chỉ loại bỏ các kho đạn dược Henoko. Nói cách khác đây là bằng chứng cho thấy đã không được đưa vào như một phần của Nhật Bản vẫn Ryukyu ở Okinawa. Xin hãy giúp sự phục hồi của đất nước Ryukyu đất nước./これはそのヘリ墜落の6ヵ月前の地元の名護市議会が決議した当時のニュース。辺野古弾薬庫の核兵器専用倉庫撤去を地元の名護市議会が決議した。つまりこれは、琉球沖縄は未だに日本の一部に組み込まれていない証拠を意味する。琉球国の復国に協力してください。

  • MotomuraYasuhiko

    -琉球國臨時政府/Ryukyu Country provisional government/류큐 국 임시 정부https://www.facebook.com/motomura.yasuhiko?skip_nax_wizard=true&ref_type
    Now, I am aiming the number of supporters Ryukyu country of more than 140 million people Japanese! !/現在,我以超過日本人140,000,000人的琉球國支援者的數作為目標!!/지금은 일본인 140 백만 명이 넘는 류큐 국 서포터의 수를 목표로하고 있습니다! !/Bây giờ, tôi đang nhắm đến số lượng Ryukyu nước ủng hộ hơn 140.000.000 nhân dân Nhật Bản! !/今、私は日本人140,000,000人を超える琉球国サポーターの数を目指しています!!

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