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08 August 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 5 "Bring Back Okinawa!"

In Henoko, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, shaken by the issue of the construction of a new U.S. military base, a female singer time slips to the time in the midst of the Vietnam War. What is the Henoko New Base Problem? What is the Vietnam War? What is America? What is Okinawa?

 

A short story in 9 chapters. Each chapter features famous songs from Japan, the United States and Okinawa.

 

Please read from Chapter 1.

 

The next morning, Naomi apologized to Obaa at the inn for losing her claws to play the Sanshin. Obaa said to her, "It's okay because I have lots of them." But Naomi thought that if she could go to that bar again and see Kenny, she would ask him to give the claws back.

That morning, she went to a sit-in in front of the construction gate of Camp Schwab. The construction vehicle gate was established separate from the gate for vehicles of U.S. troops and personnel at Camp Schwab.

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To prevent trucks and tanker trucks and other vehicles that come to the construction gate from enterring, they placed chairs in front of the gate and sit down. Dozens of people from inside and outside the prefecture sit side by side in chairs in front of the entrance for the construction vehicle.

Participation is based on individual liberty. There was no compulsion in the activities here. Also, there was no reward. The sit-in is a voluntary act of nonviolent disobedience. The sit-in itself is said to be subject to the Road Traffic Law and the crime of obstruction of business by force, but in Okinawa Japan even before the reversion, sit-ins were held for many years as an anti-base movement, and this action has been understood as freedom of expression or civil disobedience act. It is said to be a method that traces the father of the Indian independence movement, Gandhi, the father of the American civil rights movement, Reverene Martin Luther King.

However, when construction vehicles came, police officers and riot police appear and eliminate people who sat down. In this case, the organizers would instruct them not to resist being pulled over by a police officer unnecessarily. Do not raise your hand to the police or riot police even if you are dragged away without resistance or your body was carried by riot police and carried away. It is the protestors policy not to arrest or injure anyone.

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If the gate is opened after being eliminated, construction vehicles enter and carry out base construction work in the base, but since there are sit-ins three times a day (9:00 in the morning, noon, and 3:00 pm), the number of vehicles entering would be reduced compared to when there was no one at all. Therefore, the pace of construction was slowed, and the idea is that if the social and political situation would change as time passed by, the construction of the base can be canceled before it is completed.

Naomi didn't feel like taking part in the sit-in. She’s only just arrived. She just decided to sing in front of the people who were sitting down. She sang "沖縄を返せ, Okinawawo kaese, (Bring Back Okinawa)," which she learned from Kenny last night. She sang while playing guitar.


Bring back OKINAWA!

Breaking the hard soil

An island burning with the wrath of the people

Okinawa.

We and our ancestors

With Blood and sweat

protected and nurtured Okinawa

 

We cry out for Okinawa

Okinawa is ours

Bring back Okinawa [Bring back]

Bring back Okinawa

 

The people sitting in the sit-down chanted "Bring back Okinawa!" in unison, raising the mood.

An elderly participant said.

"I used to know this old song, it's a song about reversion to my homeland. However, recently Okinawa should be returned to Okinawa! I'm tempted to say. Even if we went back to Japan, we are still forced to live with a base like this."

The construction vehicles were coming. Police and riot police were also approaching. Just as Naomi felt like joining the sit down with them, Genjiro arrived.

"Thank you, Naomi, I was watching. It was a great song with your great voice."

He said with a smile.

"Genjiro, I was worried you didn't contact me the whole time, I thought you were angry and forget about me."

Naomi said.

"Come on," Genjiro said, taking Naomi's hand. The couple left the construction vehicle gate.

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"I'm sorry, I've been so busy since the day before yesterday that I'm supposed to meet with Diet member, Kenny. We were asking him to run as a candidate for the governor."

"Met with Kenny?" asked Naomi.

"What?" Genjiro looked surprised that Naomi had called him without “-san” or “mister”.

"Oh, Kenny-kun, no, Kenny-san," Naomi hurriedly rephrased. She had a very strong impression of Kenny, the boy she met last night. Genjiro said.

"I want Kenny-san to become the prefectural governor and follow in the footsteps of the previous governor and work with the administration to stop the construction of the new Henoko base, and we are going to hold a prefectural referendum. Until now, even if anti-base politicians are elected, our voice would be distracted by the claim saying elections are not just about making one pledge but choose the candidate, so this time we will hold a single issue voting event to ask 1.4 million prefectural residents whether or not to approve construction of the new Henoko Base. I asked him to put this referendum on his promise."

Genjiro's eyes were shining. She was glad she followed him to Okinawa.

"That's great, I'm sorry. I'm unserious," Naomi said.

"No, I shouldn’t have expect you to suddenly understand everything, so why don't we go play somewhere today?" and Genjiro.

"No, I'm going to be there all day long, with you."

Naomi was uplifted. That day, Naomi sang a song during the noon and afternoon sit-ins in front of the gate, and sat down in front of the gate with Genjiro.

It was the end of the 3 p.m. sit-in. One of the participants in the sit-in, an elderly man named Inaba, asked if they would like to take a boat ride with the world's largest blue coral in Oura Bay with a glass bottom and a view of the sea. Mr. Inaba is said to be an environmentalist to protect Oura Bay. They accepted the invitation. From the sit-in site, they took a car ride for about 20 minutes, board a tour boat called a glass-bottom boat from the Shioma fishing port facing Oura Bay, and looked out over the sea under the bottom of the boat.

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The flocks of coral dazzling in the crystal clear water were so beautiful that it made them want to look at them forever, like looking at a jewel ornament. It is said to be the largest in the world and 3,000 years old. Naomi and Genjiro were impressed. They weren’t supposed to go out together that day, but just looking at this coral was enough to lift her emotion and she felt a pleasure that went far beyond the feeling of ordinary leisure.

Inaba said. If the ocean currents in Oura Bay change due to the reclamation of the new base construction, this rare coral reef would also be damaged by changes in sea temperature. Naomi thought she had to protect this coral

Back in Henoko, Genjiro left Naomi because he had a meeting with his friends. They will have dinner together at a private inn. He would stay at a private inn tonight with his activity buddies.

Alone, Naomi suddenly became curious and walked to the bar on the Stars and Stripes wall. It's about a ten-minute walk from the inn. She was seeing the buildings of the Stars and Stripes in the daytime; The coloring book of the Stars and Stripes, as faint as at night, exuded a strange feeling.

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Then she noticed that the entrance door was open. Is there anyone inside? Yes, there was something she wanted to confirm for a moment.

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Naomi went inside.

"Pardon" she said.

Inside, a middle aged man was working on what appeared to be a clean up of the things inside.

"Oh, hello, what's the matter?" the man said.

"Yes, this place was open last night, wasn't it?" asked Naomi.

"Well, we haven't been in business here for many years, it's been closed a long time ago," the man said in surprise.

"Are you sure? I came here last night, this place was open," Naomi said, not hiding her surprise.

"It's impossible, wasn't that somewhere else?" said the man.

Naomi looked inside the bar. Although it was daytime, there were no windows, only light coming in through the door, and it is a little dim inside, but the inside is quite old, but it was the same construction that she saw last night. There was a counter and a live stage. There were no tables, but instead there were lots of luggage such as cardboard. She looked up at the ceiling and saw a lantern that looked like a chandelier with a light bulb removed and hung with a stick. Then there was the jukebox, which was dusty, tattered and hadn't been used in years.

"But I came here last night, and there were a lot of American soldiers inside," Naomi said. She just couldn't be convinced.

"Just kidding, this place was closed in my grandfather's generation. The U.S. soldiers didn't come in very often. Since then, it has only been used as a storeroom. Only me or my family can get in. There are no electric lights, so you can only enter during the day. I lock it at night. Also, I'm thinking about demolishing this building because it's getting old."

The man said with a puzzled expression.

Naomi could understand that the man wasn't lying. That's exactly what the man meant. Those American soldiers and Kenny weren't the people of her time.

She looked at the wall and saw several pictures hanging on it. There was a black and white photo with a familiar face. It was the bar master she met.

"This guy is the master of the bar," Naomi pointed out.

"Oh, it's my grandfather, he's gone. It's a picture taken during the time when he was running this bar. It looks like it's before Okinawa reversion to Japan."

Another photo is of the appearance of the bar. She saw that the Stars and Stripes flag painted on the wall clearly appeared in black and white image. Next to the building was a large American-made car that gave a sense of the times.

There was also a familiar board next to the photo. Dozens of dollar bills are pinned to one board. There were about three boards. She only saw one last night. After that, many more bills seemed pinned. Are these dollar bills, a dollar bill of a U.S. soldier who did not return?

"I'm sorry, I'm leaving," Naomi said as she left the building. Naomi was convinced. She had a terrible experience. Did he travel across time and space? Time slip? Did she have such a cinematic experience?

That evening, Naomi had dinner with Genjiro and his fellow activists. Okinawan food made by my Obaa was served. Bitter Gourd Champloo, Island Shallot, Mimigar, Orion Beer and Awamori were served, all of which were delicious. To liven up the scene, Naomi also performed a song. Everyone was overjoyed by her beautiful voice and singing ability.

The activists were all highly conscious people who focused not only on the construction of the new Henoko Air Base but also on social issues such as global environmental problems and LGBT issues, and although there were aspects that did not suit Naomi, she was able to get along with them through Genjiro. She has come to look at the world through her songs and sincerely hope that she could make the world a little better. But she’s also realized that she couldn’t just sing a song.

After dinner, Naomi sat alone with Genjiro on a bench on the terrace of the inn. He grabbed Genjiro's hand and leaned over his shoulder to speak. Because he was drunk with beer and awamori, her chest gets hot when she was hanging out with Genjiro.

"I'm glad I came to Okinawa, I'm glad I followed you."

Naomi said.

"I'm glad you're with me, Naomi-san," Genjiro said with a smirk.

"Hey, let's go somewhere and have a drink together," Naomi said.

"Oh, there is no place to drink here, unlike Shinjuku. There are a few bars where locals gather, but we are not welcome," said Genjiro.

Naomi suddenly had an idea at those words. There was something I wanted to tell Genjiro.

"Hey, there's a place I want you to come with me, it's a short walk away."

Naomi stood up and tugged at Genjiro by the hand.

Ten minutes later, they were standing in front of the Stars and Stripes wall building in the dark night.

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Naomi recounted the events of the day before last night, last night, and the day. She showed him an image of Miyagi Kenny on her smartphone.

"Oh my gosh, did you go back in time in this bar?" and Genjiro.

"Yes, I have some confirmation, no doubt about it," Naomi said.

"Sure, this boy looks like Mr. Kenny, but he just looks alike, and you got drunk and wandered off somewhere else, didn't he?" he said.

"But do you think this young boy made fun of me using stories such as the Vietnam War and Okinawa reversion?" said Naomi.

"That's certainly weird, it's pretty elaborate teasing. The fact that you have an image doesn't mean you saw an illusion, so what was that?" Genjiro said, looking at Naomi with a slightly serious face.

Naomi suddenly wanted to ask Genjiro. It's something she expected Genjiro, who was more erudite than her, to explain properly.

"Hey, what kind of war was the Vietnam War?" I only knew a little bit, but what kind of things did the war bring to Okinawa and the world?"

 

To be continued to Chapter 6

17:40 Posted in Music, My novel | Permalink | Comments (0)

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