As I write this I am at Honolulu International Airport waiting for my flight. I am heading to Washington DC for a press conference and rally in front of the White House on January 7th to celebrate the closing of our petition asking for a stop to the landfill at Henoko, Okinawa.
We currently have over 178,000 signatures, which is great when you consider the total lack of U.S. interest, and the heavy censorship we have been receiving from Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe. Many people have worked very hard to help share our petition as much as possible, and I thank each and every one of them.
However, if we truly want to save the sea at Henoko, we need to have more widespread support. There are 1.4 million Uchinaanchu living in Okinawa, with 300,000 more living overseas. We have also received many signatures from Japanese, as well as from other people living internationally. So when you consider these things, 178,000 signatures is actually a very small number. We should have much more than that.
Governor of Okinawa Denny Tamaki recently received over 300,000 votes in the recent election in September, promising to save Henoko. Polls suggest that 80% of Okinawans openly oppose the construction of the military base. Why, then, can we not get more signatures for this petition? We should have 400,000 or 500,000 signatures easily, instead of only 178,000.
It is clear that less than half of the people who voted for Governor Tamaki have signed the petition. Why have they not signed? There should be many more signatures on the petition, because it is open to anyone 13 years old or over, and any ethnicity or nationality.
It is true that because we passed the 100,000 signature threshold, we are guaranteed a response from the White House within 60 days after the closing of the petition. However, there is no guarantee as to what type of response we will receive. The more signatures we have, the better our chances are of getting a favorable response. The more signatures we have, the more likely it is that we will get a faster response. The more signatures we have, the more press coverage the petition will receive, and this is what will get more Americans to support Okinawa. The more press coverage and support we have, the more pressure there will be on the U.S. government to help Okinawa.
I am afraid that with such a small percentage of Okinawans supporting the petition, that the U.S. will continue to ignore the Okinawan people. I’m willing to go to Washington DC and speak with U.S. lawmakers and do what I can to help Okinawa. But with such little support from Okinawa itself, there is very little that I can do.
So I’m asking: Do Okinawans actually want to protect Henoko? Do they want the construction of the military base to stop? If so they need to voice their opinions right now and sign the petition. It closes on January 7th, Eastern Standard Time.
Link to the petition: