In January, three residents from the U.S. territory of Guam visited Japan to express their solidarity with Okinawans struggling to block construction of new U.S. military facilities on their island.
In the small community of Takae — population around 140 — they met residents Ashimine Yukine and Isa Ikuko, who explained what life was like living alongside the marines’ Jungle Warfare Training Center, a sprawling 35 square-kilometer facility that was once a testing ground for Agent Orange and later commanded by Oliver North.
In 2016, explained the residents, Tokyo mobilized approximately 800 riot police to force through the construction of new U.S. helipads in the area.
“The entire island is a military training ground,” explained Isa. “No matter how much we ask the Japanese government to change things, nothing changes. U.S. military helicopters and Ospreys fly low at day and night. Residents are moving away.”
In 2017, there were 25 U.S. military aircraft accidents in Japan — up from 11 the previous year. Many of these have occurred on Okinawa. As recently as last October, a CH-53E helicopter crashed and burned near Takae.
The Guam residents also visited Henoko, where the Japanese government has begun preliminary work on a massive new U.S. military installation to replace the U.S. air base Futenma, in Ginowan. The base will be built by landfilling Oura Bay, an area of immense biodiversity.l[