Stop the intimidation of forests conservation activists and immediately evict the US military from the Yambaru Forests World Natural Heritage candidate site.

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific expresses its deep concern over the latest news from Japan regarding the unjust police search against Ms. Akino Miyagi.

On June 4, the Okinawa Prefectural Police searched the residence of Ms. Akino Miyagi, a butterfly researcher living in Higashi Village, Okinawa, and confiscated her computers, cameras, mobile phones and work clothes.

While conducting insect research in the Yambaru Forests, a World Natural Heritage candidate site, Ms. Miyagi discovered a large amount of waste left behind by the U.S. military. The land on which the waste was found is part of a former training area in northern Okinawa Island that the U.S. Government returned to Japan. The waste included old and new bullets, grenades, flares, oil drums, empty cans and bottles, metal parts containing cobalt 60, and field meal packages. Ms. Miyagi notified the police of unused and unexploded ammunition and has called on the Japanese government to clean up the forest.

 

Military waste found in the forest, including unused bullets and parts of unused batteries. Photo credit: Akino Miyagi.

 

Since then, Ms. Miyagi is accused of placing a small amount of the said U.S. military waste in front of the U.S. Marine Corps Northern Training Area gate. According to the police, this is considered an act of forcible obstruction of business and a violation of the Waste Disposal Act. Ms. Miyag is also accused of violating the Road Traffic Law by halting the progress of two U.S. military vehicles entering the training ground and has endured several interrogations since the house raid. On July 7, Ms. Miyagi’s belongings were returned to her. She has been referred to prosecutors and is now waiting for their decision. This incident reflects a part of a larger pattern of criminalisation and intimidation of environmental and human rights defenders worldwide.

A large amount of U.S. military waste remains in the forest. In light of the Polluter-Pays principle, the U.S. military must be responsible for the waste left on these grounds. Moreover, the presence of the U.S. military facilities and their associated activities in the Yambaru Forests threatens the local biodiversity and livelihood of this World Natural Heritage candidate site.

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific stands in internationalist solidarity with Ms. Akino Miyagi.

  • We condemn the unjust and intimidating actions of the Okinawa Prefectural Police and believe that people’s rights to peacefully protest should be respected.
  • We also demand that the Japanese government not prosecute Ms. Miyagi so she can continue conducting her biological research and conservation activities in the Yambaru Forests.
  • We urge the Japanese Government to evict the U.S. military from the Yambaru Forests to protect and conserve this important ecosystem and clean up and restore the land to its original condition.


For more information contact:

Emma Harvey
FoE Asia Pacific Communications Coordinator
Email: emma.harvey@foe.org.au