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04 September 2016

Okinawans are Rosa Parks and LIBERTARIAN


I stayed in Takae district, Higashi village in Okinawa Prefecture last week. I have been there more than 10 times in last 7 years. Okinawa is southernmost prefecture, 3 hour flight from Tokyo, which is tropical and whose population is 1.4 million. It is like Hawaii or Guam in the U.S.

Articles in Okinawa tag describes what is happening there. As described, Okinawans are in desperate situation. They confront with new US military construction plans. One is in Henoko, Nago city, where US Marine Camp Schwab is located. V shape runways construction is planned landfilling the sea by the beach of Camp Schwab.


The other is Takae, Higashi village, where Northern Training Area is located.


In Takae, construction of 6 helipads is planned in the forest near the villagers residential area.

In both cases, newly constructed bases will threaten the environment of locals as well as wildlife including endangered species. There have been protest movement such as direct action like sit-in at gates of the construction sites.


The Japanese government is pushing forward the project using massive police forces to clear out.

In Takae, last month one gate was cleared out by removing sit-in tents at the gate. Security guards and policemen are stationed at the gate. The photos are Before on the top and After in the below.  








But Okinawans never give in. That is their history. Since the end of second world war, Okinawa has been occupied by US military forces until return to Japan in 1972. The big bases remained even after the return to Japan.

They always had troubles with US forces. To counter the oppression, what they do is sit-in protest direct action. They keep on doing until they win. They have suceeded in the past.

This time they try. In the opposite side to the gate cleared out by the police, they set up another big tent that can house hundreds of people. There are tens of benches inside. The place was another important entrance for construction. The tent blocks contruction workers to transport machines and materials to another places. The authority demands them to clear out. They refused.


Inside a meeting was held every morning. The leader of protest movement said, their policy is non-violent but disobedient to the authority like Rosa Parks, Dr. King and Gandhi. They might break some laws but that doesn't matter if we can stop the worst thing. We do not have to follow bad laws.  

I stayed in the tent and was told that just sitting on the bench is good enough to counter the police. If hundreds of people are inside, the police cannot move out so many people from such narrow place.


They also do sit-in protest on the road that construction trucks pass. Their sit-in delayed construction.

That is Okinawan way. That has been going on for decades.

Due to such circumstances, Okinawa has been most autonomous prefecture in Japan. Okinawa went through unique path. There was an independent kingdom until late 19th century. The island was annexed to Empire of Japan then.  

The Okinawan government is now fighting against central government regarding landfill permit of Henoko sea. The Okinawan government invalidated landfill permit so the central government sued the Okinawa to make it validated. The verdict will be issued on 16 of September. The Okinawan government says it will fight until the end and halt landfill of Henoko and construction of new base anyway they can.

Recently independence movement has been discussed among Okinawans. They found belonging to Japan is no longer advantageous to their land. They have different kind of culture and geographically separated from mainland Japan. They always wanted to claim independence. Now their patience has reached beyond limit.

That is like LIBERTARIAN way of thinking.

Interestingly, ROSA PARKS and LIBERTARIAN are sprits of their oppressors' nation. Maybe because of that, some US veterans sympathised with Okinawans. Last week some members of Veterans for Peace joined the protest. Last month Veterans for Peace in Berkeley made a resolution that new US marine base construction should be halted.


They showed up in the tent. I talked with them. They were surprised to know that during Vietnam war era, Agent Orange was used in the village and villagers were used as simulated VetCont targets in the training. One young member who was stationed in Iraq said he had been deceived by the government. They really learnt significance of this protest movement like their own.

ROSA PARKS and LIBERTARIAN may be globally common concepts for living life.