Eric Wada-shinshii of the Ukwanshin Kabudan, one of the leading advocates for Okinawan cultural revival in Hawaii, sent out the following message to his email list. With his permission, I am re-sharing it here. Please consider signing the petition, and if it moves you to do so, there are many other petitions, FB groups, protests large and small, to get involved with.
For more information on what I think is a very important issue, check out What’s Going On in Okinawa?, and one of my own recent blog posts on the subject. There are numerous other websites and news articles about what’s going on in Henoko, as well. In short, one of the aspects I personally find most aggravating, most offensive, is the fact that Tokyo and Washington continue to go forward with these plans without consideration for Okinawan voices. The Okinawan people have made their wishes clear, through protest, through publication, and through overwhelming majorities in local, prefectural, and national elections. For Tokyo, and for Washington, to claim to be paragons of liberal democracy while steamrolling the wishes of the Okinawan people is, frankly, despicable.
Here is Wada-shinshii’s message, from Jun 3:
I am sending this personal message to you because I think it is important and affects my Okinawa culture, traditions, and ancestral islands.
Governor Onaga and the people of Okinawa have been petitioning help in saving Okinawa’s prestine coral reefs, endangered indigenous sea life, and cultural and sacred sites in Henoko, from the building of a mega US base which will fill in Oura Bay in northern Okinawa’s Nago district.
Governor Onaga was recently here in Hawai`i last week and urgently petitioned the Hawaii politicians as well as addressing the Hawaii Okinawan community. There has been misinformation going around about Okinawa being dependent on the US bases, and also that Onaga is a communist collaborating with China. This is all wrong information as the income produced by the bases, currently constitutes about 4%, as disclosed by the Okinawa councilwomen on their visit to Hawaii in April, and by Governor Onaga and mayor Inamine of Nago. Governor Onaga is also not in collaboration with China, but has made direct relations for trade, as he begins to reconnect with all of Asia and Southeast Asia in making Okinawa a hub for Asian Pacific trade, as was done during the Ryukyu Kingdom. Now some may laugh and say “you can’t go back to kingdom”, and this is not what they are trying to do. The fact is that Okinawa is dependent on Japan which has caused the Japanese government to force actions against Okinawa and punish them for expressing their democracy as they work for peace that they have been hoping for since the end of the war 70 years ago. The media pushes the danger of China and North Korea, however, if we look at it, the strength in China really lies in the investments of the western countries, and a big part being the U.S.. China would not want to lose western interest, and if so, then it is the western countries who should pull out if they thought China was so dangerous.
We need to educate ourselves and our community and make our decisions. Some may not agree or do any action, and some of you may. Either is fine. For me, I have visited Henoko numerous times to understand and educate myself on the area and listen to the elders, who’s lands, cultural and sacred sites have been taken away. The locals depend on the ocean there to harvest their livelihood and sustain themselves and their families. Without this they will be forced to go into town and buy what they have been able to grow and live on. Many will not be able to afford this. The other reason that I have seen is that Okinawa is being sacrificed again and no regard is given to how much our Okinawa relatives, friends and ancestors have already suffered when they were, and still are, sacrificed, where 1/3 of the population was wiped out by the attack or by forced suicide during the bloody battle and cultural genocide of Okinawa. The lands which the bases are on are also stolen lands as in the 1950’s American Occupation, US military went and forced Okinawans off their lands in the middle of they night with bulldozers and bayonets. Our kupuna fought against this and some were killed. Due to the fresh memories of the war, the Okinawa people gave up because they didn’t want anymore to be added to the war death toll.. Now, almost 85% of the population are against the base. The Okinawa people have overwhelmingly voiced their decision by voting in Onaga for governor, Inamine, for Nago major, and Diet representatives who are against the building of the new base. They have followed the legal and democratic actions, but have been ignored and punished by Prime minister Abe. Governor Onaga has called a state of emergency. He is the first governor to have asked for an audience with the Hawaii community, and thought of Hawaii so highly that he made sure to stop here before his visit to Washington DC.
I urge you all to take time and educate your selves to at least know what is going in in our ancestral islands.
For those who would like to do some kind of silent action to support Okinawa, please go to the link below and sign the petition by change.org. If you think it is important enough, please share it.
“Uya nu Yushi Gutu ya, Chimuni Sumiri”, “We shall stain our hearts with the things of our ancestors”. It is our “Fichi Ukiin” , Kuleana, Responsibility.