Save the Okinawa Dugong from a U.S. Military Base

The Okinawa dugong is a critically endangered relative of the manatee that holds a central place in the culture of Okinawa, Japan.

But the last remaining population of these marine mammals are facing a grave threat from the U.S. Department of Defense, which plans on constructing and operating a Marine Corps base in the Japanese island’s coastal waters.

Building the base will involve filling in and paving over hundreds of acres of rich coral and seagrass habitat critical to the survival of dugongs and several species of endangered sea turtles.

Please add your name, asking the U.S. Department of Defense to stand with the Okinawan people and to save the last remaining Okinawa dugongs by halting this environmentally and socially disastrous project.

To the United States Department of Defense,

I ask you to halt the construction and operation of a Marine Corps air base in Okinawa, Japan. 

The planned base, the Futenma Replacement Facility, will include a V-shaped runway built on landfill dumped into a pristine ocean bay. These waters are important habitat for ecologically significant coral reefs, endangered sea turtles, and critically endangered population of manatee-like creatures, the Okinawa dugong. 

The Okinawa dugong holds a central place in the culture of Okinawa, Japan, and is protected as a cultural icon under Japanese law. Under the U.S. National Historic Preservation Act and international law, the United States must avoid or mitigate harm to places or things of cultural significance to another country.

In addition, building the base will cost 2.7 times as much as previously estimated (as much as $24.5 billion) and is slated to take years longer to complete than expected. But the ultimate price will be paid by these gentle marine mammals and the Okinawan cultural practices that revolve around them.

The law requires you to make every effort to understand and minimize the effects this base will have on the last remaining dugongs and the people of Okinawa. Clearly, the effects are damaging and irreversible to both the people and protected animals of Okinawa. 

Please do not continue with this environmentally and socially disastrous project.


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