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Tourism Agency reprimands travel agent for organizing Henoko protest tours

  • 2015-12-14 15:00:00
  • , Sankei
  • Translation

(Sankei: December 12, 2015 – p. 1)

 

 It was learned on Dec. 11 that a travel agency in Tokyo had been organizing “Okinawa support tours” to participate in protest activities against the relocation of the Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City. Since this may be in violation of the provisions of the Travel Agency Law prohibiting solicitation for illegal acts, the travel agent was issued a verbal reprimand by the Tourism Agency.

 

 The travel agent in question is Fuji International Travel Service with offices in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. This company was founded in 1964 and is registered as a travel agent with the Tourism Agency. It arranges domestic and overseas trips for clients.

 

 The company’s website shows that the “three-day Okinawa support tour” consists of flights between Haneda Airport and Okinawa and two nights’ accommodation on the main island of Okinawa. The itinerary on the second day involves “chartering a fishing boat to conduct protest activities against the construction of the new military base from the sea” and “sit-in protest in front of the Camp Schwab gate.” There are tours scheduled for Oct. 10, Nov. 2, and Dec. 26, 2015 and Jan. 17, 2016. Each tour group consists of up to 45 participants and the cost ranges from 82,000-99,000 yen depending on the date.

 

 The website also advertises “4-day exchange tour between the Tokyo and Okinawa teachers’ unions to the main island of Okinawa and the Kerama Islands” and the “26th History Educationalist Conference tour of Okinawa to follow the history of Okinawa’s struggle,” both including sit-in protest in front of Camp Schwab.

 

 According to the Okinawa Prefectural Police, protest activities in the off-limits areas in waters off Camp Schwab violate the Special Criminal Act, while sit-in protests in front of the gate may violate the Road Traffic Law. The Travel Agency Law prohibits soliciting travelers to engage in or facilitate illegal acts, as well as advertising for such trips. A penalty of 18 days of business suspension is slapped on such infractions.

 

 In response to Sankei Shimbun’s inquiry, Fuji International Travel Service stated: “We indeed conduct such tours, but our clients do not participate in the sit-in protests and they only look at [Camp Schwab] from afar on a fishing boat. We are not engaged in any illegal activities but the advertisements have given rise to misunderstanding,” indicating that they had been deleted from the website.

 

 According to the Japan Association of Travel Agents, this is a very unusual case. The association said: “It is regrettable if laws have been violated. We will look into the matter.”

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