Earmarked for destruction - the pristine coral reef and sea grass beds of Henoko Bay


The fantastic news is that thanks to all our efforts, the Earth Report documentary has been broadcast to over 700,000,000 homes and more than 1,000,000 hotels worldwide.

For further details, please visit our news page.

FHAN has full rights to the programme, and we are already exploring the possiblilities of getting it broadcast on national television in Japan, on US networks and elsewhere.

For information about how the programme came about, and our other activities, please click here, and on the links above to find out about the Earth Report Campaign, the eight-year effort to stop construction of the air base at Henoko and the struggle to close the US military’s Futenma Air Station, perilously located in the middle of Ginowan City (pop. 90.000).

Futenma-Henoko Action Network Earth Report Appeal
 

Dear Friends,

We would like to bring your attention to an exciting film project. BBC World’s flagship environmental series Earth Report, is committed to making a documentary recording the environmental consequences of a joint US-Japan plan to build a new US military air base atop a coral reef in Okinawa’s pristine Henoko Bay, and the ongoing efforts to save Okinawa’s unique marine ecosystem.

Motivating the Earth Report team and the Futenma-Henoko Action Network, who are jointly producing the documentary, are the twin goals of halting the construction of the air base in Henoko Bay and closing the US Marine Corps・Futenma Air Station (which the US military has tied to the completion of the new air base). Earth Report and FHAN are committed to making the film even if our central goals are realized during filming. Indeed, we will be delighted if this program can record a decisive success for those of us seeking to promote public safety, local democracy and environmental justice.

We need your help to draw greater attention to the issues involved in order to safeguard Henoko Bay for future generations, and to promote the well being of the Okinawan population as a whole.

The Struggle to Protect Henoko Bay

Despite sustained and widespread opposition, the US and Japanese governments have pressed ahead with their joint plan to build an offshore air base in the pristine Henoko Bay. The air base plan involves a massive landfill project that will stretch a mile and a half long and a half-mile wide, sealing the reef under concrete and destroying the marine ecosystem of the bay. Not only is Henoko Bay the habitat of Okinawa’s critically endangered dugong (sea manatee) and eight other endangered species all protected under both Japanese and US law ・the bay has been central to the culture and livelihood of coastal communities for generations.

You may already be aware of the air base project and the increasingly global struggle to protect Henoko Bay. Ever since the US and Japan ignored the results of a 1997 citizens・referendum, in which the majority voted against the air base, an encampment at the Henoko fishing port ・and, more recently, divers and a flotilla of sea kayaks and fishing boats ・have so far successfully blocked any significant work in the bay.

 The controversial air base has also been the focus of consecutive resolutions of the World Conservation Congress (IUCN), passed in Amman in 2000 and again in Bangkok in 2004. It has also been brought before United Nations human rights bodies and was highlighted in a UNEP report on the dugong. Lawsuits are pending on both sides of the Pacific. Even the US General Accounting Office has raised several flags, including the annual US$200 million estimated maintenance cost of the offshore air base.

The Current Situation

The appearance of drilling platforms in the bay has brought us to a critical point. Japan’s Defense Agency, in charge of building the base, is preparing to drill fifty meters deep at sixty-three sites on the reef and surrounding seabed even before it begins an environmental impact assessment (EIA). With the tacit consent of the US, not only has Japan excluded this massive drilling survey from the base project’s EIA process ・an omission the Japan Bar Association charges is a violation of Japan's own EIA law ・it has also failed to include a zero option・in the assessment procedure ・the now internationally standard practice of retaining the possibility of canceling a project if it is estimated to result in an unreasonable impact on the environment and the local community.

Finally, adding to the immediacy of the problem is the fact that the US military has made completion of the new base at Henoko a condition for closing the Marine Corps・Futenma Air Station. The crash of a US Marine transport helicopter from Futenma into a university campus, located in a crowded neighborhood, on August 13 of last year was a terrifying reminder of what is at stake in this struggle. By linking the closure of Futenma to the construction of the new air base, the Japanese government and the US military have offered Okinawa’s urban residents the intolerable option of choosing whether to sacrifice their own safety, or their environmental heritage. Moving the military functions of Futenma across and up the island to Henoko, moreover, merely shifts the affliction of the US base to other communities within Okinawa.

Despite the obvious environmental, social, financial and indeed growing political costs the offshore air base poses for both Japan and the US, the unprecedented scheme has yet to be abandoned, raising speculation about the collusion of Japanese construction firms who stand to gain handsomely from the US$4 billion project. Of course, the unwillingness of the US to relinquish its military hold on Okinawa is also exposed. Seventy-five percent of all US forces in Japan are located in Okinawa, a mere 0.6% of Japan’s territory. If built, the Henoko air base would be the US military’s 38th installation in this small island prefecture.

 

The BBC Project and How You Can Help

Australian film-maker, Steve Couri, will direct the documentary. Earth Report has granted FHAN all rights to the final program. In other words, the documentary will be ours to copy, sell or distribute at will. This will allow us to use the program for educational purposes both locally and internationally to draw attention to the air base issue, the importance of the dugong and Okinawa’s unique marine ecosystem more generally, and the social, political and economic power struggles involved in the US military's’s effort to strengthen its presence overseas.

Earth Report is committed to providing half of the approximate US$50,000 they estimate will be necessary for the documentary, and has agreed to film it in October 2005.

We are turning to you ・individuals and organizations working for local democracy environmental justice, peace and human rights ・to help us raise the remainder of the film’s cost and make this critical project a reality.

 Recognizing that every moment counts, we have set the rather early date of April 30th as our deadline to meet our fundraising goal of US$28,500 (roughly 3,000,000 yen). We are aiming for slightly more than the estimated $25,000 budget to cover administrative costs.

Please help us make the Earth Report program a reality!

Donations can be made online and to the following accounts:

In the US: Henoko Earth Report Fund, Citibank account #8882385

In Japan: Ryukyu Bank, Makiminato Branch, Branch code: 326, Account No. 391-100

Post Office, Makiminato Branch Account No. 17070 - 11691541        

Henoko Earth Report Fundraising Committee, Futenma-Henoko Action Network

Earth Report, Japan

***What is the Futenma-Henoko Action Network?

FHAN is made up of individuals from Okinawa, mainland Japan, England and the United States. Filling various roles in the educational field, FHAN members were drawn together by their mutual recognition that popular education ・getting accurate information out to the general public ・is the key to broader awareness of and concern for Okinawa’s globally unique ecosystem, and realization that a healthy environment means a healthy, sustainable society.