Important developments have unfolded in Japan since we wrote earlier this month about the threatened dugongs and plans to expand a U.S. military base on Okinawa's coast. The large marine mammals and their habitat on the north-east coast of Okinawa Island can be saved, but our window of opportunity to act is closing fast.
Shinzo Abe's recent resignation as Prime Minister of Japan, and the discovery of precious colony of blue corals in the airbase construction site have improved our odds of success.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed airbase site is open for public comment throughout September. After that time, the authorities will tell us "you've had your chance".
Can you send a message to the Japanese government right now, or forward this message to your friends by email and on facebook, myspace and hi5 to join our call to save the dugongs and stop the airbase. (There's heaps of background information you can blog about too!)
We can stop the airbase, we've done it before.
Local environmentalists continue to inspire us with their peaceful protest, sustained for years since plans for an airbase cast a shadow over the dugong's underwater paradise. Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior was there in 2005, when Yuka Ozak wrote this 500 meters off the coast of Okinawa Island:
"It is 8:30 am and I and 30 activists have been sitting on drilling platform #4 for an hour and a half. We can see workers from the Defense Construction Agency gathering on the beach of Camp Schwab, the US Marine Corp base at Henoko, Okinawa. They are about to board a chartered fishing boat and come out and try to drill the first of 64 holes into the life sustaining coral reef. But for the 300th consecutive day, we are not going to let them."
And it worked - construction was stopped!
Now the our ship, the Esperanza is sailing to Okinawa, with the same message and spirit of resistance as before. Our campaigners meanwhile will hand-deliver all the messages from our supporters worldwide to the Japanese government next Thursday, September 27th. That's why we need you to act right away -- send a message to the Japanese government or spread the word so others add their voices too.
Our colleagues in Japan say recent political events in Japan have made this a unique opportunity to stop this airbase. Japan's government under Shinzo Abe has been marred by scandal and widely criticized for eroding Japan's post-war tradition of peace. Only a few weeks ago at the APEC summit in Australia, the then Prime Minister promised George W. Bush that the Okinawa airbase would be completed by 2014. The Japanese leader who stood by his guns, who refused to stand down despite scandal after political scandal all summer long, finally resigned last Wednesday, September 12th.
We've seen amazing video footage of Okinawa's dugongs and their threatened habitat.
Junichi Sato writes us from Greenpeace Japan:
"Recently local divers found a colony of blue coral in the Oura Bay where the airbase construction is planned. Nowhere on the globe has blue coral been found so far north, and this is one of the biggest found in the region; 80 meters long, 27 meters wide, and 12 meters high. This colony was not known before to exist in the bay.
"Also, local TV news filmed an endangered dugong and turtle swimming and playing together in the bay, which is very rare to be seen (Video in Japanese).
Please help us save them!"
And finally, our dugong video on YouTube (also on the take action page) is followed by a comment which speaks directly to the importance of this urgent action. FranciscoXavier7 wrote "Dugongs are a miracle of Nature, with our effort to create a real peace, we need to Protect, Respect, and learn from this Live Monument of beauty and peace!!"
Call on the Japanese government to save the dugong and stop the expansion of the military base in Okinawa »