I complain regularly on this blog about how, despite the incredible similarities that the people of Guam (mainly Chamorro, but others who call it home as well) have with the people of Okinawa, we barely know each other. Long colonial histories, shared experiences of military destruction and dispossession after World War II, and contemporary statuses as lynchpins to America's strategic posture in Asia.
That is one of the reasons why Okinawans see Guam as a possible solution to their problems(to get rid of the US military), and many on Guam see the problems that Okinawans have with the US presence there, as a solution to Guam's own economic problems (bring them to Guam instead). People on Guam think of Okinawa as a US military base, or simply just another part of Japan, while people in Okinawa see Guam as a US military base and just another part of the US. We are ridiculous caricatures to each other, caricatures which serve the interests of those who claims our seperate but inter-woven destinies.
I posted yesterday the speech that We Are Guahan representative Melvin Won-Pat Borja gave at a conference earlier this year in New York. When I asked him about his trip, he said that one of the most refreshing things that came from his time there, was the discussions he had with activists from Okinawa. That while at first glance, they may take the position that Guam is an ideal place to send US troops to, to get them out of their island, this quickly changed once they heard more about Guam and stepped beyond the caricature. After realizing that Guam was in a similar position that their island, a colonial footnote forced to shoulder the burden of their colonizer's defense interests, they agreed that Guam was not the place to solve their problems.
I am always glad to hear of stories like this, even though I know that this is an easy audience (Okinawan peace or demilitarization activists) to convince. More always needs to be done, and regular lines of communication, not just great stories between activists are needed to have a bigger impact.
That is one reason why I am grateful for the websites Ten Thousand Things, Peace Philosophy Centre and DMZ Hawai'i/Aloha Aina, because they regularly features up to date information about things which are happening, not just in Okinawa, but all across the Pacific-Asia region.
Here is something that I came across yesterday on Peace Philosophy Centre, "Okinawa Voice Reconfirmed, and Reinforced," which is a recent poll on people's attitudes in Okinawa about the US military presence there and overall US-Japan defense relations:
Latest Mainichi Shimbun poll, conducted from May 28 to 30 with Okinawans:
84% of Okinawans oppose a new base construction in Henoko.
Support for Hatoyama: 8%
(drop from 63%, in November 2009)
71% don't think Marines are needed in Okinawa
15% think they are needed.
50% think US military bases in Okinawa should be reduced, and 41% think
they should be removed.
55% think Japan-US Security Treaty should be changed into a Peace Treaty,
and 14% think it should be abolished. 7% think it should be maintained.