Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Okinawan Dream

Today I'm heading to a peace and demilitarization conference in Okinawa. I'm travelling as part of a delegation of people from Guam who are going to discuss Guam's role in the larger strategic vision that the US has for the Asia-Pacific region. Delegates will also be coming from Hawai'i, Palau, the Marshall Islands, the Philippines, South Korea and mainland Japan. For my part, I've written a speech on the dream of a world without nuclear weapons that I'll be sharing the day after tomorrow.

For me, this trip to Okinawa is a dream come true.

I have read and heard so much about Okinawa since it was first announced as the place that Guam was scheduled to receive 7,000 Marines and 8,000 dependents from in late 2005. Since then, the buildup has changed many times, I've changed many times, and the people around me who discuss this issue and work on this issue has changed as well. Okinawa has become an strangely intimate part of my life over the past few years because of the military buildup. When I was in Japan last year, I was asked just as many questions about Okinawa as I was about Guam. When I was in South Korea last year, my coming from Guam immediately sparked in peoples' imaginations the connection to Okinawa, and so I became a makeshift spontaneous representative from Okinawa, simply because a roadmap made between our colonizers had linked our destinies together.

But even prior to the buildup being announced, Okinawa was already a place that was in my mind. It was even a place I found myself dreaming of. It was a place that I would find in my early research as a site often placed alongside Guam in chains of equivalences meant to express military colonialism, or American strategic interests in Asia. Our destinities have been linked long before 2005, through the circumstances of the Cold War, the globalized world, and desires of the US for force projection ability in the region. The buildup helped us to see more clearly in the most minute ways the ways we have been or are connected, but even after 6 years of being forced together, we still know so little about each other and still have such faint and delicate ties. It is unfortunate that even up until today our ties are still quite small, but with this conference we are working on enhancing them, and strengthening them.

I found myself dreaming of Okinawa long ago, as a place that had some connection to Guam, so many possible connections to Guam, but still felt like it was a world away. I first wrote about Okinawa on this blog in 2004, over a year before the buildup was even first mentioned officially. My short post was in response to an article that I had read by a graduate student from Okinawa at the University of Hawai'i, who wanted to inform people about the everyday dangers of the heavy US military presence in her island. Looking back at my voice in 2004, I almost cringe. Some of it is so different. I see that at that time I still used the word "haole" in my blog (I stopped several years ago). Some of it is still the same, just written with a bit more confidence, and a few more years of experiencing the world, and thinking about these issues. For example, I worried a great deal about military violence, such as nuclear war wiping out Guam and Chamorros. I still worry about this, but at that time, this was something I had only written on my blog and shared with a few people. As of now I've written about this many times (on blogs, newspapers, etc.), spoken about it in public in Guam and before thousands of people in Japan.

The title of the post was "Sometimes I Dream of Okinawa..." and so when I say that the fact that I'm going to Okinawa is like a dream come true, I am actually very serious.


Someone needs to write an article like this for Guam, because Guam and Okinawa share similar dangers and pressures. The U.S. forces on Guam are endangering the Chamorro people and others, but the media refuses to even consider this aspect of their presence.

According to Lee Weber, Joe Murphy and other haole elites, the military is the only reason Guam is unihabitable. The military does alot more than liberate people and provide cheap gasoline, it is time we start talking about these things, or else find our water lens completely tainted or the island full of shades of people as a nuclear cloud hovers over our island, taking the last traces of Chamorro culture with it.
U.S. forces on Okinawa endangering the people
By Kozue Uehara

On Aug. 13, a transportation helicopter, a CH-53-D Sea Stallion belonging to U.S. Marines based on O'ahu, crashed on Okinawan International University in Ginowan city. The helicopter exploded and filled the scene with smoke. The staff of the university ran away from shattered-glass windows. Students taking summer session fled the danger.

Before it crashed, the defective helicopter wandered around, scattering many parts and oil over the densely populated area, including a 26-foot fin of the propeller, which penetrated a door and a cement wall and destroyed the TV in the room where a little child was taking a nap.

Students and people next to the scene were trembling and crying. U.S. Forces Japan commander Lt. Gen. Thomas Waskow, however, emphasized the distinguished service of the crews in avoiding death and injury of residents.

More than 50,000 servicemen and civilian employees of the Army and 75 percent of all U.S. bases in Japan have been in Okinawa since World War II. The U.S. troops have held up the ideal of their being here for "security" and "democratization" of the world.

In Okinawa, however, human rights of the residents have not been enhanced because of the existence of the U.S. forces. There are also many people who are suffering from hearing loss caused by the roaring sound of training flights.

In 1959, a U.S. Army jet plane crashed on Miyamori elementary school in Ishikawa city, Okinawa. The training accident killed 17 people (11 children) and injured 121.

Can the huge U.S. forces imagine the sadness and fear of the people?

The U.S. and the Japanese governments reached an agreement of restoration for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, in Ginowan city, after the people's protests against the rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl in 1995 by U.S. servicemen.

Both governments, however, started to pressure Okinawa prefecture in favor of constructing a substantial military base in Henoko Bay, Okinawa, with its beautiful coral reefs.

I hope that U.S. military bases are not transferred but are restored to the people of Okinawa.

There are huge military bases also in Hawai'i. So, many residents in Hawai'i, I hope, would sympathize with us and our fear of the existence of military bases on our small island.

Such sympathy and alignment of the people all over the world will surely empower our movement to try to solve the problem. Through this case, I would like the people in Hawai'i to reconsider the existence of the U.S. forces in a foreign country and to know how much they endanger people living there.

1 comment:

RealityZone said...


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