Thursday, October 22, 2015

Okinawa Today

I am in Okinawa this week. I'll be speaking at a conference in Ishigaki Island this weekend, but I've spent the past week traveling around doing interviews with various activists involved in the struggle against US bases here. I haven't had much time to write up anything for this blog or elsewhere since I've gotten here as things have been so crazily busy. On Facebook one source of information about Okinawa that I've found very informative is the group Okinawan Independence and Free Ainu. It provides a very intriguing perspective on these two native groups within Japan which the Japanese government and people once sought to erase. These two groups are native to locations which lie at the opposite ends of Japan, but it is heartening to see a group that is seeking to connect their histories and futures.

I've included some recent updates from the group below:


181 environmental groups support LewChew (Okinawa) governor Onaga’s revocation of Henoko approval
October 8, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

One hundred eighty-one environmental organizations released a joint statement supporting LewChew (Okinawa) Governor Takeshi Onaga. Onaga revoked the approval to reclaim land for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to the Henoko coastal area in Nago. There were also 5,221 individuals who supported the joint statement.

In the statement, supporters referred to the fact that Onaga won last year’s election on a pledge to oppose the Henoko relocation. They claimed that the governments of Japan and the United States should not ignore LewChewan people’s overwhelming support for the LewChew governor. The statement demanded the Japanese government stop the new base construction in Henoko and not take countermeasures against the governor’s revoking of the landfill approval under the Administrative Appeal Act.



“The problem of relocation of US military Futenma Air Station to Henoko, Nago City and the forced deployment of Osprey show that Okinawa is still a US-Japan colony.”
Masaki Tomochi
Professor, Okinawa International University


Koza riot

On Dec. 20, 1970, a traffic accident involving a drunken American driver and a LewChew (Okinawan) pedestrian in Koza sparked the largest anti-U.S. riot. The Koza riot has been regarded as symbolic of LewChewan anger against a string of crimes conducted by American soldiers who had gone without punishment. Local residents flooded the streets of Koza, burned vehicles and assaulted the U.S. military bases.


Hokkaido Centenary Commemoration Tower

In 1968, various events were carried out by the Japanese government to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the “reclamation" of Hokkaido. The historical view that applauds Japan’s invasion of Hokkaido neglects the existence of Ainu people who was driven from their motherland and brought uncomfortable feelings to Miwako Totsuka, an Ainu poet. Her expression of concerns drew a great response from the society.

“Please don’t forget that, beneath the tower that commemorates the Hokkaido centenary, there is Hokkaido’s soil stained with our Ainu blood.”


Left: Flag of Lewchewan (Okinawan) National movement. During 1875 and 1879, this is the flag of Lewchewan Kingdom. It is called flag of tri-colored domoe. The background white represents purity and tri-colored domoe represents beauty, humanity and moderation.

Right: Flag of Free Ainu (Hokkaido) Movement. It is designed by Ainu Artist Sunazawa Bikky in 1973. Skyblue represents sky and ocean white represents snow, and Red represents arrow flew across Hokkaido's snowfield. 

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