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There was once a tiny island-kingdom called "RYUKYU", now it is a part of Japan named "OKINAWA". Everything about Okinawa, past & now.
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Okinawa NPO chief stabbed to death | The Tokyo Reporter

Okinawa NPO chief stabbed to death | The Tokyo Reporter | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |
OKINAWA (TR) – With the director of a non-profit organization found stabbed to death in her home in Okinawa City on Thursday afternoon, Okinawa Prefectural Police have launched a murder investigation, reports the Sankei Shimbun (April 9).

At 12:50 p.m., the collapsed body of Shizue Ueta, 63, was discovered by her oldest daughter in the living room of the second-floor residence they shared in the Takahara area. The victim was bleeding from a single stab wound to the lower back.

The first floor of the building is used as an office by Support Center Yumesaki, an NPO headed by Ueta that offers assistance for children struggling in school.

An exterior stairway allows for access to the residence on the second floor. The daughter, 23, had encountered her mother in the bedroom at midnight. At 12:30 p.m., she entered the living room and found her mother lying face down.

Police have not found any traces of a struggle or that a robbery took place, according to Nippon News Network (April 9). The murder weapon has not yet been located.
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Learn value of peace by studying Battle of Okinawa: ex-U.S. soldier | The Japan Times

Learn value of peace by studying Battle of Okinawa: ex-U.S. soldier | The Japan Times | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Harold Okumura, a former U.S. serviceman who fought on Okinawa, has called for peace through learning about some of the bloodiest battles there, 70 years after the U.S. military landed on the islands in the later stages of the Pacific War.

On Wednesday, the 70th anniversary of the U.S. landing in the village of Yomitan on Okinawa Island, Okumura, a 91-year-old third-generation Japanese-American, visited the village for the first time since the war, with his daughters and grandchildren in tow.

The savage ground battle between Japanese and U.S. troops known as the Battle of Okinawa began in full after the April 1, 1945, landing. During the battle, many residents died in mass suicides or murders, urged on by Japanese propaganda that often portrayed U.S. soldiers as rampaging barbarians.

War destroys everything, Okumura said, adding that he wants future generations to learn a lesson from it.

Standing on the coast of Yomitan, Okumura, who served as a translator during the war, noted that nothing had changed about Okinawa’s beautiful ocean scenery. It was “entirely as usual, nice and green,” he said, except that 70 years ago there were landing craft bobbing just off shore.

Okumura, born in Hawaii, was drafted a few years after the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and later underwent Japanese-language training.

After landing on Okinawa, he helped call on Japanese soldiers and residents hiding in the caves to come out and surrender.

“Hey, come out,” Okumura said to them in Japanese. “Don’t worry, I’m a third-generation Japanese-American from Hawaii.”

If the hiding Japanese troops and residents did not come out, U.S. troops mercilessly set fire to the caves, Okumura said, adding this was a terrible thing to see. He said he was very glad when they did emerge.

In the Mabuni district of Itoman, scene of some of the fiercest fighting in the battle, Okumura watched helplessly from afar as civilians jumped off a cliff.

“Actually, I didn’t want to come back,” Okumura said, remembering the horrors of the experience. Still, to teach his children and grandchildren the preciousness of peace, he came to the conclusion that another visit to Okinawa was necessary.

Impressed by how Okinawa has been restored since the end of the war 70 years ago, Okumura said he was extremely happy to see “all this improvement.”

“Now my family can see what I did, where I was,” Okumura stressed. “I’m really glad to come back.”

He emphasized that he wants the next generation to create a peaceful world without war.

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Ainu, Okinawans join first U.N. indigenous peoples' conference - 毎日新聞

NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- Delegates for indigenous peoples from around the world, including Ainu and Okinawans, came together Monday at the United Nations to discuss measures aimed at ensuring their political representation and freedom from discrimination in the first U.N.-backed conference of its kind.

Kazushi Abe, vice president of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido and Shisei Toma of the Association of the Indigenous Peoples in the Ryukyus, an Okinawa civic association, were among those invited to speak at the two-day World Conference on Indigenous Peoples through Tuesday.

The two-day conference is focused on the implementation by the U.N. and national and local governments of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Rights adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007.

The declaration promotes the rights of indigenous peoples to organize their own political systems, live free from discrimination, hold their traditional land, be consulted on development which affects them, and other human rights.

According to the U.N., there are at least 370 million people making up 5,000 indigenous people groups in 70 countries throughout the world.

Opening the conference on Monday, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said its success "is integral to progress for all humanity."

Abe, 67, told Kyodo News, "It's outstanding that an indigenous people's conference is staged for two days (when world leaders gather) during the U.N. General Assembly."

The Ainu group leader was planning to speak to press the Japanese government to implement the U.N. declaration but could not do so because an allotted time for speakers ran out.

Abe, who participated as a member of the Japanese government delegation, said he was "very impressed that the Japanese government was understanding and took part together."

"We hope to work together with other indigenous peoples in the world and that our children and grandchildren will be proud of being Ainu in the future," he added.

Also at the opening session at the General Assembly hall, participants adopted a resolution reaffirming U.N. member states' commitment to the declaration and asking the Secretary General to create an action plan.

September 23, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

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Japan starts first military expansion in 40 years, risks angering China

Japan starts first military expansion in 40 years, risks angering China | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

YONAGUNI, Japan (Reuters) - Japan began its first military expansion at the western end of its island chain in more than 40 years on Saturday, breaking ground on a radar station on a tropical island off Taiwan.

The move risks angering China, locked in a dispute with Japan over nearby islands which they both claim.

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who attended a ceremony on Yonaguni Island to mark the start of construction, suggested the military presence could be enlarged to other islands in the seas south-west of Japan's main islands. "This is the first deployment since the United States returned Okinawa (1972) and calls for us to be more on guard are growing," Mr Onodera told reporters. "I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands that are part of Japan's territory."

The military radar station on Yonaguni, part of a longstanding plan to improve defence and surveillance, gives Japan a lookout just 150km from the Japanese-held islands claimed by China.

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Surrounded by sharks

Surrounded by sharks | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

IT IS hard to imagine Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft landing in a deafening roar where, at the moment, beaches and a coral reef encircle subtropical waters and dugong, a rare kind of sea-cow, graze placidly. But building work for a vast new heliport for American marines could start soon at Henoko, on the eastern side of Okinawa, the main island of a chain that makes up Japan’s southernmost prefecture. At the end of 2013 Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, won legal permission from the prefecture’s governor, Hirokazu Nakaima, for landfill work to begin at the site.

Since Mr Abe took office in 2012, his government has lobbied officials on Okinawa, hoping to solve a problem that has plagued the country’s security alliance with the United States for 17 years. The islanders have long resented the fact that so many American soldiers are concentrated in their small territory. After the rape of a teenage girl by three marines in 1995, the United States agreed to shut its most unpopular base, called Futenma, as soon as an alternative runway could be built. The proposed site was Henoko, a rural area where the marines’ Camp Schwab stands.

Locals, including the prefectural government, later demanded that Futenma be shifted out of Okinawa entirely. America feared the eventual loss of its bases on the island, which are vital for its security policy in Asia. “We feel colonised by the American military presence,” says Kazuhiko Matsuda, a businessman in Nago near Henoko, though he admits that many people depend on money from the bases.

The impasse may end thanks to Mr Abe’s success in winning Mr Nakaima’s consent for a new runway in return for wads of government cash—last month he promised {Yen}300 billion ($2.9 billion) of investment a year for Okinawa until 2021. If so, few achievements by a Japanese prime minister would please the United States more. As tensions mount between Japan and China over islands in Okinawa prefecture known as the Senkakus in Japan (which administers them) and as the Diaoyus in China (which claims them), Okinawa’s strategic value has risen.

Progress on Futenma, however, coincided with Mr Abe’s decision to go to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, on December 26th. The shrine, in Shinto lore, houses the spirits of 14 high-ranking war criminals along with those of 2.5m other war dead. The visit handed a public-relations coup to China, and vindicated South Korea’s decision to reject attempts to improve relations with Japan, which American diplomats had been working hard to sweeten. The United States declared itself “disappointed”. Mr Abe’s visit “raises questions about his views and intentions in the region and dents Japan’s diplomatic influence,” says Daniel Russel, assistant secretary for East Asia at the State Department.

Mr Abe seems to be calculating that other steps he is taking to strengthen the alliance with America will outweigh the impact of his visit to Yasukuni. He may be right. His decision last year to bring Japan into talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an American-led effort to liberalise trade, impressed the United States. American policymakers also approve of his ambitious programme to revive Japan’s economy. Not long ago, they fretted that Japan’s tepid economic growth was making it a less useful strategic partner.

Going, going, dugong

America’s Department of Defence remains solidly behind Mr Abe’s steps to overhaul Japan’s national-security architecture. It has long called for the country to loosen the constitutional and other restrictions that make its armed forces less effective. This year Japan’s government will seek to alter the interpretation of its pacifist constitution to allow “collective self-defence”. Such a change would allow Japan to come to the aid of allies, chiefly America, if they were attacked. It forms part of a coming revision of Japan’s and America’s defence co-operation guidelines which aims at bringing the two sides closer.

Still, there are limits. Michael Green of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank in Washington, DC, says relations are tricky between the White House and Mr Abe’s office, because each finds the other unpredictable. Japan’s government, like other Asian ones, worries about America’s commitment to the region, and in particular about the Obama administration’s willingness to come to the defence of the Senkaku islands in an emergency. Japan is likely to take further steps to shore up its defence. Mr Abe’s government has said it will look at acquiring the ability to strike first at enemy missile-launch facilities. It would take such action in partnership with the United States, but the change would give Japan more clout inside the alliance.

For the moment, all eyes are on Henoko, where Mr Abe’s achievement could yet be undermined by local politics. On January 19th, an election for mayor of Nago could lead to the reappointment of Susumu Inamine, the incumbent and front-runner, who opposes the relocation. City regulations, he claims, would give him the power to block construction. Even if the pro-relocation candidate, Bunshin Suematsu, wins, protesters could make construction embarrassing for the central government. The Japanese-American alliance will remain hostage for a while longer to events on one little beach.


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Okinawans threaten suit over US base

Okinawans threaten suit over US base | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

Opponents of a recent decision by governor of Japan's Okinawa Island to relocate a controversial US military base have threatened to file a lawsuit over the move.

Hirokazu Nakaima signed off on Friday the Japanese Defense Ministry application to reclaim land for a new military base on the coast.

The new base is set to replace the US Marine Corps base in Futenma, which is a densely-populated part of the island. It would be relocated to a new site near Nago City in the north of the island.

However, opponents want the base to be completely moved off Okinawa.

Hiroshi Ashitomi, head of a Nago group which opposes the base, said his organization would file a lawsuit over Okinawa governor's decision.

Meanwhile on Friday, angry protesters denounced the decision during a demonstration in front of the Okinawa prefectural office.

Several hundred demonstrators broke into the lobby of the building and staged a sit-in protest.

Nakaima agreed with the long-stalled relocation after a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on December 25, during which the premier promised major cash injection into Okinawa’s economy every year until 2021.

“What the governor has done is unforgivable,” said Yuichi Higa, the head of the assembly in Nago city, adding, “Residents who are opposed will surely resort to the use of force, such as blocking roads, to stop this from happening.”

Some 47,000 US military personnel are currently stationed in Japan. Nearly half of the US troops are stationed in Okinawa, where the soldiers have reportedly committed more than 5,800 crimes since Washington returned the island to Japan in 1972.

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Okinawa Island - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Okinawa Island

is the largest of the Okinawa Islands and the Ryukyu ( Nansei) Islands of Japan. The island has an area of 1,201.03 square kilometers (463.72 sq mi). It is roughly 640 kilometres (400 mi) south of the rest of Japan. The city of Naha, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture, is located there.

Okinawa Island (沖縄本島 Okinawa-hontō?, alternatively 沖縄島 Okinawa-jima;Okinawan: ウチナー Uchinaa; Kunigami: フチナー Fuchinaa) is the largest of theOkinawa Islands and the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands of Japan. The island has an area of 1,201.03 square kilometers (463.72 sq mi). It is roughly 640 kilometres (400 mi) south of the rest of Japan. The city of Naha, the capital of Okinawa Prefecture, is located there.

The island's population is known as the longest-lived people in the world, together with the Sardinians whose island is located in the Mediterranean sea; there are 34 centenarians per 100,000 people, which is more than three times the rate in Japan.

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The Yonaguni Monument - The Mind Unleashed

The Yonaguni Monument - The Mind Unleashed | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

Of all the famous monuments in Japan, perhaps none is more perplexing than Yonaguni, an underwater rock formation that lies off the coast of the Ryuku Islands. It was discovered in 1987 by a group of divers who were there to observe Hammerhead sharks, and it immediately sparked a huge amount of debate in the scientific community: is the monument a natural formation, or is it man-made?

Scientists have long argued that millennia of strong currents and erosion have carved the formations out of the ocean floor, and they point to the fact that the monument is all one piece of solid rock as proof that it was not assembled by a builder. Others, though, point to the many straight edges, square corners and 90-degree angles of the formation as proof that it’s artificial. They often cite one formation in particular, a section of rock that resembles a crude carving of a human face, as evidence. If they are right, then an even more interesting mystery presents itself: the monument had to have been built when it was last above sea-level… over 10,000 years ago!

"With exceptionally clear sub-surface clarity, and a 100 foot visibility a common factor, allowed for thorough photographic documentation, both still photography and video. These images provided the basis of japan’s leading headlines for more than a year. Yet, not a word about the Okinawa discovery reached the US public, until the magazine, “Ancient American” broke the news last spring. Since that scoop, only the CNN network televised a report about Japan’s underwater city. Nothing about it has been mentioned in any of the nation’s other archaeology publications, not even in any of our daily newspapers. One would imagine that such a mind-boggling find would be the most exciting piece of news an archaeologist could possibly hope to learn. Even so, outside of the “Ancient American” and CNN’s single report, the pall of silence covering all the facts about Okinawa’s structures screens them from view more effectively then their location at the bottom of the sea. Why? How can this appalling neglect persist in the face of a discovery of such unparalleled magnitude? At the risk  of accusations of paranoia, one might conclude that a real conspiracy of managed information dominates America’s well-springs of public knowledge." -  Said Frank Joseph with "Ancient American Magazine"

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War victims in South Sea Islands file lawsuit against government

War victims in South Sea Islands file lawsuit against government | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

August 15, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

War victims in what were formerly as known the Nanyo Gunto (South Sea Islands) during World War II filed a lawsuit with the Naha District Court on August 15. They have sought an apology and damages of 11 million yen per person from the government .The plaintiffs are Okinawan people who were involved in the war and bereaved families. Twenty-four plaintiffs range in age from 67 years old to 101 years old. According to the Okinawa War Victim Group, it is the first time that victims in the former Nanyo Gunto have questioned the government’s responsibility for the war damages.

Seven plaintiffs also joined in the lawsuit to seek an apology and compensation from the government for civilian casualties in the Battle of Okinawa. They filed a lawsuit with the Naha District Court on August 15.

Many plaintiffs took part in the gathering held before they filed the lawsuit. Shigeru Zukeyama, the lead attorney of the War Victim Group said, “The war isn’t over yet in Okinawa where the U.S. is still strengthening its military bases. In seeking an apology and compensation from the government, we would like to reveal the realities of the war and to clarify the damage that occurred in the South Sea Islands.” The lawyer called for the unity among the plaintiffs.

Mitsuo Ara, 75, who is from Palau and lost his brother and sister there, said, “I’ve felt grief and sorrow since their deaths, but I would not act like this if I were alone. Through the lawsuit, I want to let people know about their pain and sufferings of the people who died.” During the war, at least 35,000 Okinawan people died in the Philippines and the South Sea Islands.

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Itoman Sabani boat builder wins MJC award

Itoman Sabani boat builder wins MJC award | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

The Tokyo-based Marine Journalists Conference has decided to present the 2013 MJC Marine Award (Cultural and Dissemination Section) to Itoman traditional sabani boat-builder Kiyoshi Oshiro. For many years, 63 year-old Oshiro has made fishing boats known as sabani and has contributed to expanding their use in the fishing town of Itoman. The conference is organized by journalists and editors-in-chief of magazines that specialize in marine sports, and the award is for individuals and groups that have made significant contributions in the field of water sports and leisure activities. Oshiro is the fourth person from Okinawa to win the award.

Oshiro said, “I want to thank all those sabani boat builders who have come before me for all their efforts in inheriting the wisdom of our ancestors. I just to have been the fortunate one to win this on this occasion.”

The awards ceremony will be held on March 9, in Yokohama.

In explaining the reasons behind the award, conference representatives praised Oshiro for his contribution to Itoman by inheriting the methods of building, paddling and sailing traditional sabani. As the number of sabani builders has decreased through the years, he passed on his skills to his apprentice, Kazuaki Takara. By taking part in races, Oshiro has also displayed his own navigation skills and the superior performance of his boats.

Oshiro learned the basic methods of making a sabani after graduating from junior high school. Despite the demand for these boats having almost disappeared due to advances in shipbuilding technology, he has continued to pass on the skills required for sabani building, while at the same time working in a boat repair business. Through the years, he has built a total of about 80 sabani.

Recently, sabani have also attracted attention in the area of water sports. Oshiro downsized the vessel from the seven meters of the traditional type to around five meters in length, allowing a small number of people to enjoy it as a form of marine leisure. Oshiro said, “The role of sabani as fishing boats has come to an end. I hope to create a niche for them in the marine sport area of the tourist industry.”

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Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Turn Me Loose I Wanna Sabani !

Mike's Ryukyu Gallery: Turn Me Loose I Wanna Sabani ! | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |
They are sailing again today. Just a few miles north of here, maybe, ten bucks by taxi. Here I am, stuck in the office, when I could be out there with them.  Groan. It's been so tempting, thinking about grabbing the cameras and escaping. There are summer festivals going-on everywhere. A promise was made.  I told the wife, I'd take it easy, all weekend. Dang.  Should have crossed my fingers, when I said that. Tomorrow, when the sun sets, that means the weekend is over.  Right ? If I grab the cameras and shoot festival fireworks, that's taking it easy. 

That's what I'll do but, I'd really rather be sailing in a sabani.

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Film Director Oliver Stone urges Okinawans to wage nonviolent struggle

Film Director Oliver Stone urges Okinawans to wage nonviolent struggle | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

In his interview with the Ryukyu Shimpo, referring to the issue of U.S. military bases on Okinawa, film director Oliver Stone suggested that people should raise their voices to change the situation. Looking back on U.S. diplomatic history, he said that there have been some major turning points, such as the end of the Cold War, that lead towards disarmament. Stone said that as a result of people’s ongoing demands to reduce the unreasonable burden of the bases, “Everyone now knows of Okinawa.” He emphasized, “Okinawa, you have had an effect. You have stopped things from happening in Okinawa.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

Governments cover up history

Shimabukuro: You and American University Professor Peter Kuznick created the documentary series “Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States” which focuses on the history of U.S. foreign policy including the development of nuclear weapons. What response have you had from people in the United States or abroad?

Oliver Stone: We did far better than we expected. For me, coming from bigger media and films, movies, I was disappointed by the media, the American media’s reaction to the series. I thought that they were dismissive and ignored it. They did not see it as a serious history. It’s hard because we are not known as big historians. I’m a filmmaker. They look at me as a filmmaker and here I am, coming on to history and taking it all on, and changing it, I mean, taking an upside-down view and saying – This is American history, but what you learned in school is all screwed up. And, I switch it like this and say – Think about American history this way! It’s not easy for them to accept. But, let me just say, that when the series came out I have to say, honestly, that Peter was very encouraged by most of the historians. Most of the historians were very positive. We were very lucky to get Showtime, which is premium cable, to do this and we had good results, surprising results. They didn’t advertise much. They did not expect a big market and we got 1.1 million viewers a week, on average. The encouraging thing was that the series started and stayed and went higher at the end, which is very rare, because most television series drop-off. As a result, I was able to get a deal with Warner Brothers, which is a big company, to distribute the film on DVD, the full 12 hours, in October of this year. That’s a big deal.
We got more attention, more serious attention in England, and we did very well in England. We also showed there. So I was encouraged by the more intelligent approach of the English Media, and that includes the more conservative papers like the Telegraph and The Times, and that The Guardian was very good. The book sales in Japan were very good. Premium cable and NHK, smaller stations. It wasn’t the best or the widest show. It was late at night and they cut ten minutes or nine minutes out of each episode, but given the limitations, we did very well in Japan.

Q: How do you see the history of the United States when looking from the standpoint of foreign countries and their histories?

Oliver Stone: Well, everything changes. Once you get into this history . . . You see, the reason I made The History, was because I knew that what I learned in school was not entirely true. That, like with every country, like with Japan, history gets covered up.
So, the atomic bombing of Japan, as with many other stories, in American history becomes a good thing, something that ends the war. And when you investigate it thoroughly, it was an unnecessary bombing, not only strategically, but morally repulsive. It puts my country in a very poor light. This is an issue, which bothers me no end. I was born in 1946. The bomb was always un-discussed. It was the right thing to do. It ended World War II. And, when you understand that the [fear of] Russian invasion of Japan played a significant role, perhaps the determinate role in Japan surrendering, it changes the entire equation, and you begin to look at the Soviet Union-U.S. rivalry, the Cold War, so to speak, as started by the U.S. right then and there in Japan. You see? Which I think is something that we don’t even deal with in this country.
Some revisionist historians at college level do deal with it, but not at high school level. Not at the high school level. So, we have a “national myth.” The U.S. won World War II. The U.S. had to use the atomic bomb to end the war. These are two myths that we try to shatter. That is at the very beginning of the series. This is the kind of problem you have.
This is the kind of problem you have. But, we go all the way through Reagan, Bush, Obama, Eisenhower. We believe that this is what America has become. We have become a super fortress, a global security state, not a national security state but a global security state, with an empire unlike any in history; one that controls the world. Most recently in the asylum seeking of Edward Snowden, you see the United States again, exerting its will on every country in the world, to stop this man and not to let him fly into another country, not to seek asylum.
This is an amazing, amazing act of control. It shows you the control the United States exerts, especially in Europe, which is very . . . Except in South America, which is interesting, because in the old days, when I grew up, South America was under America’s thumb and Europe was independent. Now, unfortunately, Europe is under America’s thumb.

Q: About 200,000 people lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II. U.S. military bases in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa after the war. You are visiting Okinawa for the first time. What impression do you have of Okinawa?

Oliver Stone: It is clear to me now, that the United States has truly a unilateral relationship with Okinawa. The United States is more interested in keeping Okinawa probably that even the Japanese bases. It fits right into the U.S. global strategy of controlling all sea-lanes, controlling China, the “pivot to China.”
I don’t really think the United States cares about that Okinawa belongs to Japan or not, and that’s another issue, but I really think the United States only cares about its relationship with Okinawa, because they wanted to use it like Guam. They want to use it like Pearl Harbor. And, Japan doesn’t care either. I don’t think Japan cares about Okinawa. Okinawa cares about Okinawa. I mean, Japan would say – Okay, you want to? all the bases on Okinawa? Fine!
Most Americans still see Okinawa simply as a battlefield in World War II, where the United States people lost a lot of soldiers and the Japanese were fanatical in resisting, but that it was a glorious battle, and we won. I don’t think that they even know that there is a difference between the Okinawan people and the Japanese people, and they certainly do not know that Okinawa was an independent kingdom before, it was 1879, and that Japan occupied them. Okinawa is truly, I guess you would call it a Polynesian Island. I don’t know what you would call it, but it certainly exists in the same realm as Guam or the Philippines or Hawaii, all of which have been treated pretty badly by the United States and by the Japanese.
So, I’m going to Jeju Island also, in my trip. So it’s ironic, because I hadn’t planned it that way, but Jeju was added at the last second, and it’s similar to Okinawa, because it’s an island and they are being threatened by a huge development, this naval base being built, supposedly by the South Koreans, but really being done for the use of the United States on Jeju. They’re going to destroy the coral reef. They are going to use the biggest, deepest naval carriers in the fleet. The George Washington would be able to sail into Jeju, which means the end of the coral reef there, in that part of the island.

The relationship between Okinawa and U.S. – a double standard

Q: The United States advocates freedom, equality, and democracy based on the spirit of the Constitution and founding principles, but people in Okinawa live in a contradictory world.
Oliver Stone: It’s definitely a double standard and part of the reason that we made The Untold History was to point out some of these contradictions. It’s very hard for me to accept that the American people just go along with this, because they’re comfortable, because the empire justifies itself. They don’t think about the costs to them, of this empire, that we pay these taxes. In fact, on Okinawa the situation is that the United States has a “sweetheart deal” because they get Japan to pay most of the money for Okinawan maintenance, which is interesting. We have the best deal of all in Okinawa. Japan pays most of these costs. On top of that, our Status of Forces Agreement allows us to maintain independence inside Okinawa. We have no responsibility beyond the judgment of our own military courts. That was the reason why we had to pull out of Iraq, according to many people, was because Iraq would not recognize the Status of Forces Agreement with the United States. And, the United States is terrified of being judged by an international tribunal, and I think it shows you that we are basically scared of being judge wrongly, and scared of our own actions.

Q: You referred to the arms race of the Cold War era in Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States. How do you see China’s rising presence? Some people use this as an excuse to maintain the U.S. bases in Okinawa.

Oliver Stone: China certainly has a right to flex its muscles, but you know, unfortunately if you try to keep China down and say – You can’t flex your muscles . . . we’re going to have problems. I think you have to let a baby giant… you have to let it grow. China will have its own set of problems, but I don’t see China as the enemy. I see China as very smart, but I do think that they have some inherent problems. They’re not exactly a democracy. They have party-control issues. But, we have to get along. The world needs to be multi-polar. The United States cannot be the dominant power any longer.
This is a big issue, because, if you are number-one you don’t want to give up the position. That’s the mentality of capitalism. You’re number-one. See, no one in the United States ever asked – Why do we have to be in this race for arms all over the world? And, with the Soviet Union collapsing in 1991, that was a key moment to ask that question, but the United States never even thought about it and pursued its policy of hegemony all over the world and maintained this pace of military spending, as well as expanding the bases.

Everyone now knows of Okinawa

Q: There have been moves by which the people seek change, which were reflected in election results and government’s policy, both in Japan and in the United States. However, the leaders cannot keep their promises. Former Prime Minister Hatoyama failed to achieve his pledge to move Futenma Air Station outside of Okinawa.

Oliver Stone: This is where I think mass movements played a huge role. I mean, people matter. Mass movements give leaders backbone to fight. Certainly, Franklin Roosevelt felt the population was behind him and that was why he was able to legislate very authoritatively, to tell the bankers that they can should give up. It takes guts, because the banks run the world. He did it. Henry Wallace. John Kennedy. John Kennedy was always aware of political opinion. He was very much a politician, but he felt like he knew he was going to win the 1964 election. He knew it. He felt it. He felt like – I can do many of these things I want to do in 1964. I may not be popular, but I can do that after I get re-elected. He was the best chance we had after World War II, to really change things, and he was killed before the election, and I think that’s part of the reason he was killed. Obama I think is very much the same case. I think Obama, again, was a candidate for great change and hope and somewhere, as we showed in Chapter 10 of our documentary, somewhere along the line he lost his way. By the time he became the president, after he had been elected, Wall Street, pharmaceutical companies, computer companies were financing him instead of the people. His deals with Wall Street were somehow in place, very little reform. On the War on Terror – nothing. Minor, softer language, better management than Bush, but essentially transparency was not brought to government and no responsibility was brought to the eavesdropping and Snowden affair, et cetera. On the contrary, Obama has been harder on whistleblowers, harder on people who were trying to expose war crimes. So, this is where mass movements are important. Obama knows in his gut, that the people, some people on the left and right have had enough. I think to some degree that moderates his behavior.
But, there is no question that mass pressure is important. During the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon wanted to bomb of the North even more. He wanted to bomb Cambodia. He bombed enormously, but I think the protests, to some degree, curbed his appetite, and to some degree made the peace agreement possible in 1973. But Nixon was an extreme example of a leader who just did not pay attention to people.
That’s very hard. Ronald Reagan paid more attention, because he was a war candidate. He wanted to really destroy the “Evil Empire,” but the protests, the nuclear protests in 1983 in New York and all around the country against what people felt was the coming of a new war, had a lot to do with Reagan starting to change. He softened. When Gorbachev came along, which was lucky for him, Reagan found himself in a completely opposite position of becoming a peacemaker. So the protests, the Nuclear Freeze Movement of 1983 did pay off.
And Occupy, to some degree, expressed our disgust with bankers. We mustn’t let up. We hope our series will be one of these things that will educate people. Who knows? The children, the young people who are seeing our TV series, maybe one of them is going to see it and be moved, or more than one, and maybe one of those people is going to be a Martin Luther King or a Robert Kennedy or a Jack Kennedy, and maybe it will make a difference. Education is the only way. Consciousness is the only way to defeat this darkness of imperial power and domination. Okinawans keep marching. In Jeju, every day the Koreans…. This is a very tough government in Jeju, probably tougher than the Japanese Government. There are very tough. The arrest people and they beat them with sticks and put them in jail. These people have been protesting on Jeju Island for six years. Now, the naval base is still being dealt. You know, I’m going there and other people go. I mean, you hope with a little bit of water that suddenly the dam cracks, yeah? A little bit of water…. Okinawa, you guys have had an effect. You have stopped things from happening in Okinawa. You are a small population, but you get it. You are heard. Everyone now knows of Okinawa. Be very clear about what you mean, saying – We don’t really want to be part of Japan and certainly not part of the United States. Be very clear that – We are islanders! We are not part of Japan! Be very clear in that message.
It would be great if you had a good leader, somebody like a Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, who could clarify very clearly for the American people and the European people what it is that upsets you. I believe in the Gandhi and Martin Luther King principle of satyagraha, nonviolence. That’s not to say “passive.” Believe me, when you’re going out there and you link arms and you get arrested and beaten, it’s not passive. It’s very much active, active resistance, but nonviolent.

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Okinawa governor to skip ceremony marking restoration of Japan's sovereignty

Okinawa governor to skip ceremony marking restoration of Japan's sovereignty | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has decided not to attend a ceremony in Tokyo on April 28 to mark the restoration of Japan’s sovereignty in 1952—seven years after its defeat in World War II.

Nakaima said the decision to hold a ceremony has upset many residents of Okinawa, which remained under U.S. control for another two decades after 1952. Okinawa is still reluctant host to the bulk of U.S. military forces in Japan.

Vice Governor Kurayoshi Takara will represent Okinawa at the ceremony, Nakaima said, adding that he hopes the Abe government will take into account the feelings of the Okinawan people.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged in his election campaign last December to make April 28 “Restoration of Sovereignty Day”, to mark the day in 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect, formally ending World War Ii and the Allied Occupation.

“There are an increasing number of young people who do not know that there existed a seven-year occupation period under which Japan lost its sovereignty,” Abe said.

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Yakuza arrested in extortion of Taisei Construction over Okinawa land deal | The Tokyo Reporter

Yakuza arrested in extortion of Taisei Construction over Okinawa land deal | The Tokyo Reporter | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |
TOKYO (TR) – Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Wednesday arrested an organized crime member for the extortion of a construction company over a land transaction in Okinawa Prefecture, reports TV Asahi (June 11).

Between November and January, Ryokichi Takaesu, a 64-year-old executive of the Kyokuryu-kai, is alleged to have received a total 13 million yen from a manager at Tokyo-based Taisei Construction in the purchase of a plot of land measuring 15,000 square meters in Naha Ciy.

Police also arrested 71-year-old businessman Koichi Yoshizawa. Both suspects have denied the allegations.

According to police, a fishery cooperative requested that the manager at Taisei purchase and resell the property, reports the Yomiuri Shimbun (June 10). However, the manager failed to find a purchaser, and the cooperative sold it to a third party.

The chairman of the cooperative then consulted with Takaesu about receiving compensation from Taisei for the non-completion of the request.
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Abe’s Botched Handling of Henoko

Abe’s Botched Handling of Henoko | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |
The PM’s handling of the relocation of the U.S. military base will cost Japan in the long term.


The Abe administration has resorted to high-handed measures in resuming a seabed-drilling survey as part of the move to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa prefecture to Henoko in Nago city. The Japan Coast Guard has used exceedingly rough tactics to remove local residents, and there have been cases of security guards working at Camp Schwab detaining citizens protesting the relocation. The Abe administration’s repeated use of heavy-handed political tactics with regard to this important political issue is extremely dangerous.

Respecting the will of the people, and basing policy on their wishes is a fundamental principle of democracy. Of course, public opinion is not always the best guide to what is right for the people and for the nation; politicians may sometimes have to go against the majority opinion for the sake of the people and of the nation. That is part of parliamentary democracy.

So it is impossible to state categorically that politicians should always take a particular action just because it has majority support. Despite this caveat, it is hard to see how the heavy-handed methods used by Abe and his administration in this case are in the interests of the Japanese people. Forcing through the relocation of facilities at Futenma to Henoko will not benefit the citizens of Okinawa, or the nation as a whole. But it will leave a huge stain on the reputation of Japan and the Japanese people.

The Japanese government insists that problems with the relocation of the facilities at Futenma to Henoko will have a negative impact on the Japan-U.S. relationship. I believe this to be false. Of course, the reservations felt by the United States regarding China’s military expansion are shared by Japan and neighboring countries. It goes without saying that the U.S. military presence in Okinawa is necessary for this reason.

However, the United States is currently withdrawing its front-line forces not only from Asia but from Europe as well. This is because the U.S. has shifted its military strategy from permanent deployments to an approach that uses rapid-reaction forces to respond to emergency situations. The redeployment of the Marines stationed on Okinawa to Guam and elsewhere is one part of this strategy, and is not being undertaken purely out of consideration for Japan or for Okinawa.

Given this shift in U.S. military strategy, I do not believe it is necessary to build an alternative facility for Futenma at Henoko, or to construct a runway there. However, if a runway truly is required, then there are adequate locations in Okinawa or Honshu that could serve as an alternative. Therefore, I cannot agree with either the shape or form of Abe’s actions in forcing through land reclamation and construction preparations at Henoko.

Nor do I believe that the U.S. will benefit by pushing ahead with building a runway at Henoko, riding roughshod over the opposition of the residents’ of Okinawa, which hosts 74 percent of U.S. bases in Japan. Even if a runway is militarily justified, it would entail nothing less than turning into a landfill site a crystal-clear ocean that is home to beautiful corals and is the most-northerly natural habitat for the rare species of dugong, a manatee-like marine mammal. We should all strive to protect Okinawa’s precious natural environment.

If the Abe administration is still determined to relocate to Henoko in spite of this, then it should first consult fully with the local authorities. The prefectural governor, who has been duly elected by the residents of Okinawa, has requested a meeting with the prime minister. For Abe to refuse to meet him simply because he has a different opinion on the issue is exceedingly childish. It is behavior unbefitting a prime minister, and infantile conduct that makes it difficult to think that any rational discourse can ever take place.

Former Governor Hirokazu Nakaima may have given his approval for the relocation, but the residents of Okinawa have delivered a resounding “No” to the plan with the result of the subsequent gubernatorial. The current governor, Takeshi Onaga is acting in line with the will of the people of Okinawa by attempting to reopen discussions with Tokyo. For Abe to refuse to engage with him is to deny the democratic political process. What the Japanese government ought to be doing now is first to listen to the people of Okinawa, and then to enter into discussions with the U.S. to resolve the issue.

If, as a result of these negotiations, U.S. forces end up withdrawing from Okinawa, Japan itself must take responsibility for its own defense and decide how to fill the gap. The Abe administration wants to avoid this debate, and prefers to simply go along with what Washington wants. Again, that is an abandonment of the political process.

Okinawa is extremely important both strategically and geopolitically. All Japanese should think seriously as to how Japan should shoulder the burden, if U.S. forces depart. Rather than expecting the United States to do the work, Japanese should be resolved to share the burden and take responsibility.

I believe that we should reduce the U.S. military presence on Okinawa to the minimum possible. If Japan demonstrates a strong resolve to engage in burden-sharing, I believe that the United States will be responsive to discussions. I am not of the opinion that the failure of the relocation to Henoko to take place as planned will have any immediate, grave impact on the Japan-U.S. Alliance.

Rather, the use of heavy-handed tactics by the central government with regard to the relocation of Futenma will merely create antagonism and mistrust, and harden the opposition. The old adage “more haste, less speed” surely applies here. Abe should engage in exhaustive discussions, even if they do take more time. Attempting to forge ahead regardless will only end in failure and the impact on the Japan-U.S. relationship will only be worse. The prime minister and his office should take a more conscientious approach, and consider the broader perspective.

Ichiro Ozawa is a Japanese politician and president of the People’s Life Party & Taro Yamamoto and Friends.

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Typhoon Neoguri sweeps across Japan's southern Okinawa islands

Typhoon Neoguri sweeps across Japan's southern Okinawa islands | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

A typhoon paralyzed transportation and knocked out power to thousands on the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa on Tuesday.

The Okinawan government said 17 people were injured, one seriously. Separately, a man was reported missing from a fishing boat in rough seas off Kyushu island, to the north.

One of the strongest and biggest typhoons to hit during Japan's summer, Typhoon Neoguri was packing sustained winds of 100 miles per hour and gusts up to 134 mph in late evening, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The storm was weakening, but forecasters said its wide area and slow movement could add to the potential damage. Japan is relatively well prepared for typhoons, but torrential rains could cause greater damage if the typhoon moves across the Japanese archipelago as expected on Thursday or Friday.

"Please refrain from nonessential activities and from approaching hazardous areas," said Meteorological Agency official Satoshi Ebihara. "Please show extreme caution."

Local airports were closed and about 600,000 people were advised to evacuate their homes, though most remained put, taking refuge from the destructive winds, waves up to 46 feet high and storm surges that were set to intensify as the storm passed the main island of Okinawa in the evening.

More than half of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan are based in Okinawa, the location of several bases, including Kadena, the biggest U.S. air base in Asia. An advisory on its website said the storm was at a level for which all outdoor activity was prohibited.

Television footage showed a building shattered, damaged storefronts and trees toppled as winds picked up in the Okinawan capital of Naha.


Since typhoons track along Japan's coasts, often veering onshore every summer, the country is relatively well prepared. Much greater damage is likely from torrential rains if the typhoon hits land as expected on Thursday or Friday and moves across the Japanese archipelago.

The storm was moving slowly and diminishing in intensity, but its wide area and slow movement could add to the potential damage, weather forecasters said.

Authorities in China and Taiwan also warned ships to stay clear of the storm.

Forecasts show the storm tracking toward Kyushu and then across Japan's main island of Honshu. It is forecast to lose more of its power over land, but much of the damage from such storms comes from downpours that cause landslides and flooding. Such risks are elevated by the storm's timing, on the tail end of Japan's summer rainy season.

The Philippines, which suffered the strongest typhoon to ever hit land when Haiyan struck in November, was spared the ferocious winds of Neoguri. The storm did not make landfall and was closest to the country Monday when it was about 300 miles east of the northernmost province of Batanes before it started to blow away toward southern Japan.

The typhoon did intensify the Philippines' southwest monsoon, dumping heavy rains on some western provinces without causing any major damage.

Neoguri is a Korean word meaning "raccoon dog," a knee-high animal that looks like a cross between a dog and a raccoon but is a separate species common in East Asia.

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Okinawa's musicians provide a focus for Japanese protest against US bases

Okinawa's musicians provide a focus for Japanese protest against US bases | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

If an island of 1.4m people can be summed up in a sound, it is that of thesanshin. Where there are people on Okinawa, a Japanese island almost 1,000 miles south of Tokyo, the distinctive tones of the three-stringed instrument are never far away.

Music is deeply rooted in Okinawa's tragic place in Japan's history and the conduit for its modern grievances against the glut of US military bases on the island. As Barack Obama prepares to visit Tokyo to meet Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, later in April, the anti-war message of sanshin players such as Shoukichi Kina and Misako Oshiro is back in vogue as the subtropical island confronts its biggest political challenge since it reverted from US to Japanese rule in the 1970s..

In his mid-60s, Kina cuts a controversial figure as spiritual leader of Okinawa's activist musicians. Since the release of their first single Haisai Ojisan (Hey, Man!) in the 1970s, Kina and his band Champloose have done more than any other artists to secure Okinawan music against competition from mass-market Japanese J-pop and the more innocent musical motifs of the mainland folk genres minyo and enka.

"Our job as musicians should be to celebrate the good and do something about fixing the bad," said Kina, who some have called Okinawa's answer to Bob Marley. "That's why I hate the military bases here, but I love Americans."

Though it accounts for less than 1% of Japan's total area, Okinawa is now home to about 75% of US bases in Japan and half its 50,000 troops. Military facilities take up a fifth of the island. Obama and Abe are expected to discuss the controversial relocation of Futenma, a sprawling US marine base, from a heavily populated part of Okinawa to an unspoiled location on the island's northeast coast, as the allies attempt to lessen the island's military burden. The move is opposed by most islanders, including theresidents of Nago, whose city lies near the proposed site for the new base....

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International scholars and peace advocates support Okinawan struggle to oppose the Henoko landfill

International scholars and peace advocates support Okinawan struggle to oppose the Henoko landfill | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

January 8, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 8, leading scholars, peace advocates and artists from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia released a statement opposing the construction of a new US military base within Okinawa. The statement urges, “support the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment.” It calls for the plan to relocate the Futenma base to Henoko to be canceled and to return the base immediately to the people of Okinawa.

Initial signers of the statement include linguist Noam Chomsky, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone and Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace and a nonviolent solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland. It is for the first time that so many influential people in the world have released a statement on the Futenma base issue.

There are also many other names given, such as John W. Dower, professor emeritus of history at Massachusetts Institute and Pulitzer Prize winner, Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat, Richard Falk, professor emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, Daniel Ellsberg, Senior Fellow at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Gavan McCormack, professor emeritus of the Australian National University who was awarded the Ryukyu Shimpo Ikemiyagi Shui Prize for promotion of international understanding of Okinawa and Canadian author and journalist Naomi Klein.


“We the undersigned oppose the deal made at the end of 2013 between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima to deepen and extend the military colonization of Okinawa at the expense of the people and the environment,” the statement said. It mentioned the polls in recent years have been showing that 70 to 90 percent of the people of Okinawa opposed the Henoko base plan, and pointed out that “Governor Nakaima’s reclamation approval does not reflect the popular will of the people of Okinawa.” “The reclamation approval was a betrayal of the people of Okinawa,” the statement criticized the governor for breaking his election pledge to move the Futenma base outside the prefecture. “The base should have been returned to its owners after the war,” the statement said about the U.S. military stationed on the islands and the burden on the people since the war ended. The statement said, referring to the Futenma base, “any conditional return of the base is fundamentally unjustifiable.” It pointed out, referring to the approval of the landfill, “The new agreement would also perpetuate the long suffering of the people of Okinawa.”

Speaking for the signers, Joseph Gerson, director of the Peace and Economic Security Program for the American Friends Service Committee, said the statement is intended to “rally international support for Okinawans in their inspiring and essential nonviolent campaign to end seventy years of military colonization, to defend their dignity and human rights, and to ensure peace and protect their environment.”


(English translation by T&CT)

Statement Follows:

We oppose construction of a new US military base within Okinawa, and support the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment

We the undersigned oppose the deal made at the end of 2013 between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima to deepen and extend the military colonization of Okinawa at the expense of the people and the environment. Using the lure of economic development, Mr. Abe has extracted approval from Governor Nakaima to reclaim the water off Henoko, on the northeastern shore of Okinawa, to build a massive new U.S. Marine air base with a military port.

Plans to build the base at Henoko have been on the drawing board since the 1960s. They were revitalized in 1996, when the sentiments against US military bases peaked following the rape of a twelve year-old Okinawan child by three U.S. servicemen. In order to pacify such sentiments, the US and Japanese governments planned to close Futenma Marine Air Base in the middle of Ginowan City and move its functions to a new base to be constructed at Henoko, a site of extraordinary bio-diversity and home to the endangered marine mammal dugong.

Governor Nakaima’s reclamation approval does not reflect the popular will of the people of Okinawa. Immediately before the gubernatorial election of 2010, Mr. Nakaima, who had previously accepted the new base construction plan, changed his position and called for relocation of the Futenma base outside the prefecture. He won the election by defeating a candidate who had consistently opposed the new base. Polls in recent years have shown that 70 to 90 percent of the people of Okinawa opposed the Henoko base plan. The poll conducted immediately after Nakaima’s recent reclamation approval showed that 72.4 percent of the people of Okinawa saw the governor’s decision as a “breach of his election pledge.” The reclamation approval was a betrayal of the people of Okinawa.

73.8 percent of the US military bases (those for exclusive US use) in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa, which is only 0.6 percent of the total land mass of Japan. 18.3 percent of the Okinawa Island is occupied by the US military. Futenma Air Base originally was built during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa by US forces in order to prepare for battles on the mainland of Japan. They simply usurped the land from local residents. The base should have been returned to its owners after the war, but the US military has retained it even though now almost seven decades have passed. Therefore, any conditional return of the base is fundamentally unjustifiable.

The new agreement would also perpetuate the long suffering of the people of Okinawa. Invaded in the beginning of the 17th century by Japan and annexed forcefully into the Japanese nation at the end of 19th century, Okinawa was in 1944 transformed into a fortress to resist advancing US forces and thus to buy time to protect the Emperor System. The Battle of Okinawa killed more than 100,000 local residents, about a quarter of the island’s population. After the war, more bases were built under the US military occupation. Okinawa “reverted” to Japan in 1972, but the Okinawans’ hope for the removal of the military bases was shattered. Today, people of Okinawa continue to suffer from crimes and accidents, high decibel aircraft noise and environmental pollution caused by the bases. Throughout these decades, they have suffered what the U.S. Declaration of Independence denounces as “abuses and usurpations,” including the presence of foreign “standing armies without the consent of our legislatures.”

Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have non-violently pressed for the end to their military colonization. They tried to stop live-fire military drills that threatened their lives by entering the exercise zone in protest; they formed human chains around military bases to express their opposition; and about a hundred thousand people, one tenth of the population have turned out periodically for massive demonstrations. Octogenarians initiated the campaign to prevent the construction of the Henoko base with a sit-in that has been continuing for years. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa.

We support the people of Okinawa in their non-violent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment. The Henoko marine base project must be canceled and Futenma returned forthwith to the people of Okinawa.

January 2014

Norman Birnbaum, Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University
Herbert Bix, Emeritus Professor of History and Sociology, State University of New York at Binghamton
Reiner Braun, Co-president International Peace Bureau and Executive Director of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
John W. Dower, Professor Emeritus of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut
Daniel Ellsberg, Senior Fellow at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, former Defense and State Department official
John Feffer, Co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus ( at the Institute for Policy Studies
Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Joseph Gerson (PhD), Director, Peace & Economic Security Program, American Friends Service Committee
Richard Falk, Milbank Professor of International law Emeritus, Princeton University
Norma Field, Professor Emerita, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
Kate Hudson (PhD), General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Catherine Lutz, Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Brown University
Naomi Klein, Author and journalist
Joy Kogawa, Author of Obasan
Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate
Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action
Gavan McCormack, Professor Emeritus, Australian National University
Kyo Maclear, author of Virginia Wolf
Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus, Brown University/ Veteran, United States Army, Henoko, Okinawa, 1967-68
Mark Selden, a Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University
Oliver Stone, Filmmaker
David Vine, Associate Professor of Anthropology, American University
The Very Rev. the Hon. Lois Wilson, former President, World Council of Churches
Lawrence Wittner, Professor Emeritus of History, State University of New York/Albany
Ann Wright, Retired US Army Colonel and former US diplomat

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Japan to Keep U.S. Air Base on Okinawa |

Japan to Keep U.S. Air Base on Okinawa | | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

The controversial U.S. military air base on Japan’s southern prefecture of Okinawa will be relocated to another part of the island after a decision by prefecture governor Hirokazu Nakaima.

The ruling follows 17 years of protests stemming from safety and environmental concerns, and is sure to be unpopular with many on the island. Nakaima was elected largely on the back of his campaign promise to permanently close the military installation.

Despite local opposition, Tokyo is keen to maintain Japan’s long-standing relationship with the U.S. as a counterweight to territorial disputes with China. Around 26,000 American troops are currently stationed in Okinawa as part of a security alliance.

Read more: Japan to Keep U.S. Air Base on Okinawa |

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Asia Times Online :: Okinawa: The Pentagon’s Pacific junk heap

In June 2013, construction workers unearthed more than 20 rusty barrels from beneath a soccer pitch in Okinawa City. The land had once been part of Kadena Air Base - the Pentagon's largest installation in the Pacific region - but was returned to civilian usage in 1987. Tests revealed that the barrels contained two ingredients of military defoliants used in the Vietnam War - the herbicide 2,4,5-T and 2,3,7,8-TCDD dioxin. Levels of the highly toxic TCDD in nearby water measured 280 times safe limits. [1] 

The Pentagon has repeatedly denied the storage of defoliants - including Agent Orange - on Okinawa. [2] Following the discovery, it distanced itself from the barrels; a spokesperson stated it was investigating if they had been buried after the land's return in 1987 [3] and a US government-sponsored scientist suggested they may merely have contained kitchen or medical waste. [4] However, the conclusions of the Japanese and international scientific

community were unequivocal: Not only did the barrels disprove Pentagon denials of the presence of military defoliants in Japan, the polluted land posed a threat to the health of local residents and required immediate remediation. [5] 

The Pentagon is the largest polluter on the planet. [6] Producing more toxic waste than the US's top three chemical manufacturers combined, in 2008 25,000 of its properties within the US were found to be contaminated. More than 100 of thee were classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as Superfund sites which necessitated urgent clean-up. [7] 

Although Okinawa Island hosts more than 30 US bases - taking up 20% of its land - there has never been a concerted attempt to investigate levels of contamination within them. Unlike other nations with US bases such as South Korea and Germany, the Japanese government has no effective powers to conduct environmental checks, nor does the Pentagon have a duty to disclose to the public any contamination that it knows to exist. [8] 

To date, most incidents of pollution have only become known when individual service members divulge details to the media or, as in the case of the barrels uncovered in Okinawa City, the Japanese authorities conduct tests following the return of military land. 

Despite their limited scope, such disclosures offer a disturbing window into the contamination of Okinawa. Over the past seven decades, the island's sea, land and air have been contaminated with toxins including arsenic, depleted uranium, nerve gas and carcinogenic hexavalent chromium. These substances have poisoned Okinawan civilians and US troops alike - and it is highly probable that they are damaging the health of those living on the island today. But, regardless of these risks, the Pentagon continues to do everything it can to evade responsibility for the damage its bases cause. 

The history of US pollution on Okinawa is almost as long as its ongoing military presence. Following the end of World War Two, Okinawa earned the nickname the "Junk Heap of the Pacific" due to the large volume of surplus supplies abandoned there. [9] During this period, one of the first known instances of contamination occurred when eight residents of Iheya Village were killed by arsenic poisoning from a nearby US compound in 1947. [10] 

The 1952 Treaty of San Francisco granted the Pentagon full control of Okinawa and, as the military seized large tracts of civilian land to convert into bases, the dangers of pollution grew. Fuel leaks saturated the ground, industrial-grade detergents flowed from runways into nearby streams and solvents were flushed away without regard to where they ended up. 

Such lax environmental controls were common on US military bases all over the world at this time, but Okinawa's problems were exacerbated by the geo-political gray zone in which it existed. Throughout the 1945 - 1972 US occupation, the island was not protected by American law or the Japanese constitution, so the Pentagon stored large stockpiles of chemical and atomic weapons there - and nuclear-powered submarines made regular pit-stops to Okinawa. 

In September 1968, Japanese newspapers reported that radioactive cobalt-60 had been detected in Naha Port - believed by scientists to have emanated from visiting US subs. Three Okinawan divers reported being sickened by their exposure to the substance which accumulated in mud at the bottom of the harbor. [11] 

The next year, the Wall Street Journal broke the news of a leak of nerve gas at Chibana Ammunition Depot, near Kadena Air Base, that hospitalized more than 20 US service members. Precise details of the subsequent mop-up operation remained hidden until July this year when US veterans stationed on the island at the time described how tons of the chemical munitions had been dumped off Okinawa's coast. [12] 

Experts estimate that the metal containers holding these poisons corrode after 50 years, threatening the health of fishing crews and coastal communities today. 

During the Vietnam War, Okinawa served as the Pentagon's primary staging post for the conflict. Led by the US Army's 2nd Logistics Division, the military channeled the majority of its supplies - including ammunition, coffins and, now it seems, Agent Orange - via the island's ports. This transportation was a two-way street; surplus and damaged materiel was also returned from the war zone to Okinawa for re-processing. 

In 1969, US Army Chemical Corps Second Lieutenant Lindsay Pe1terson was the officer in charge of these retrograde supplies at Hamby Outside Storage Area, central Okinawa. In a recent interview, he recalled how damaged barrels of Agent Orange were among chemicals shipped to the island. "Agent Orange was processed through the port at Naha and trucked to the Hamby Open Storage Area. When I arrived, there were around 10,000 barrels. Most of them were leaking so we had to empty them into new 55 gallon (208 liter) drums." [13] 

Peterson recalls how the re-drumming process saturated his crew with defoliants. He is among hundreds of seriously ill US veterans who believe their sicknesses were caused by exposure to dioxin-tainted defoliants while serving on Okinawa. Although the US government has refused to help the majority of these veterans, in 2008 it awarded compensation to a former marine warehouseman suffering from Hodgkin's lymphoma and type 2 diabetes mellitus sparked by handling Agent Orange-contaminated supplies brought back to Okinawa from the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. [14] 

Other US veterans have alleged that surplus stocks of Agent Orange were buried during the 1960s and '70s on Okinawan installations including Hamby Air Base, MCAS Futenma and Kadena Air Base. [15] 

With the benefit of hindsight such practices seem unfathomable but, at the time, the burial of Agent Orange was standard military operating procedure. For example, a US Army handbook from 1971 titled "Tactical Employment of Herbicides" states:

Used containers and surplus quantities of ORANGE should be buried in deep pits at locations where there will be the least possibility of agent leaching into water supplies or cultivated crop areas....

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Freediving Yonaguni Pyramid - Aliens or Lost Civilization? (Yonaguni Monument)

Yonaguni Monument. Pyramid? Lost City? Lost Civilization? Natural? Work of Aliens? The Island of Yonaguni is full of mystery. I first heard about the Yonagun...
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The Ryukyu - Classic | in Edinburgh | WOW247

A rare chance to experience classical Okinawan song and dance. This unique performance features the three-stringed sanshin, legendary Ryukyu Kingdom court dances and glorious costumes. A must-see show for fans of dance and folk music.

Next Performance:21st Aug, 2013 14:30

Future Performances

22nd Aug, 2013 14:30
23rd Aug, 2013 14:30
24th Aug, 2013 14:30
25th Aug, 2013 14:30
26th Aug, 2013 14:30

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Ryukyu Kimono Part 1 - Introduction & Bingata Dyeing

Ryukyu Kimono : The Spirit of Okinawa Part 1 Introduction & Bingata Dyeing
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U.S. military confirms death of crew member in Okinawa chopper crash

U.S. military confirms death of crew member in Okinawa chopper crash | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

The U.S. Air Force said Saturday it has confirmed that the human remains discovered at the site of a helicopter crash in Okinawa on Monday are those of the fourth crew member.

The 18th Wing’s public affairs section at U.S. Kadena Air Base said it has confirmed the death of Tech. Sgt. Mark Smith, 30, a flight engineer with the 33rd Rescue Squadron.

The HH-60 rescue helicopter Smith was aboard crashed Monday in a mountainous area within the premises of Camp Hansen, a U.S. military installation on Okinawa Island, around 2 km from the nearest residential area.

The other three crew members had been confirmed safe. The Kadena base said Tuesday that human remains had been discovered at the crash site but had yet to be identified...

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Central government, Naha still divided on sovereignty celebration

Central government, Naha still divided on sovereignty celebration | RYUKYU - OKINAWA |

The central government and Okinawa Prefecture remain far apart over holding a state-sponsored ceremony April 28 to celebrate the 61st anniversary of the restoration of sovereignty to Japan after its defeat in World War II.

Since Okinawa was kept under U.S. control even after the April 28, 1952, effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which ended the postwar Occupation by the Allied Powers, people in the prefecture are strongly opposed to the central government’s decision to mark the day with celebration.

In the prefecture, April 28 has long been remembered as a day of humiliation. Many residents think Okinawa was abandoned by the Japanese government on that day in 1952.

On March 29, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly unanimously passed a resolution protesting the ceremony, which will be held in Tokyo.

Amid strong public opposition to the event, Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima decided not to attend the ceremony but instead send Vice Gov. Kurayoshi Takara on his behalf.

But Takeshi Noda, chief of the Liberal Democratic Party’s tax panel and the main driver of the ceremony, stressed the significance of the April 28 event.

“It is important for the Japanese people to review why the country went to war, why it was defeated and how it was governed during the Occupation period,” Noda said.

In its campaign platform for the House of Representatives election last December, the LDP, which was then the biggest opposition party, included plans to hold the ceremony for the first time ever, on April 28, to mark the recovery of Japan’s of sovereignty.

After the party ousted the Democratic Party of Japan from power in the election, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also heads the LDP, made a decision on the event at a Cabinet meeting on March 12.

The Amami Islands, which belong to Kagoshima Prefecture, and the Ogasawara Islands, situated some 1,000 km south of Tokyo, were also kept under U.S. control after the San Francisco treaty took effect.

For people in Okinawa, however, it is emotionally difficult to accept the sovereignty ceremony because its own reversion to Japan took longer than the return of the two island chains, and the U.S. military presence in Okinawa remains heavy.

The Amami Islands were returned in 1953, the Ogasawara Islands in 1968 and Okinawa in 1972.

Traffic and other accidents and crimes involving U.S. servicemen have been frequent in Okinawa. Yet, Abe is believed to have decided to hold the April 28 ceremony to demonstrate Japan’s uncompromising stance over sovereignty and territorial issues, sources said. Japan is embroiled in disputes with China over the Senkakus, with South Korea over two islands in the Sea of Japan, and with Russia over four islands off Hokkaido.

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