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20 July 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 3 "Tinsagunu Hana (Phoenix Flower)"

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 checked her smartphone. She was curious if she hadn't received anything from Genjiro. There were no recorded message, no incoming calls, and no emails. He hadn't left her any messages since last night. Did he dump her completely?


Come to think of it, she didn't know much about Genjiro. He aspires to be a human rights lawyer and said that he wants to take the initiative in dealing with local issues in Okinawa, so she knew that he had a strong sense of justice. Was he something too serious about this issue, or did she look unserious and make him angry?


Naomi was having breakfast at the inn thinking about how to deal with him. It's almost 9 a.m. and the other guests have finished their meals and headed to a sit-in in front of the gate. Alone, while eating the prepared breakfast, she watched the morning news on the TV in the cafeteria.


This was the news of the upcoming gubernatorial election. This was the biggest problem in Okinawa. It has to do with the construction of the new Henoko Air Base. Although the base was a relocation destination for Futenma Air Base, it had the function of a military port that was not found at Futenma Air Base, and it was called a "new base" locally because it was rather a reinforcement of the functions of the U.S. military base. That is what she learned from Genjiro.


The former governor died suddenly of illness before completing his term until October, but the search for a candidate for governor to inherit the former governor's will, "Preventing the construction of the new Henoko Air Base, closing the U.S. Marine Corps Base Futenma and relocating it outside the prefecture," has become the hottest topic in Okinawa prefectural government. Both the prefectural government’s assembly ruling parties and the opposition parties, whose position was promoting the construction of the new base receiving support from the Japanese central government, are proceeding with the selection process.


The ruling parties must choose candidates to oppose the construction plan. The news report picked up one person who was considered a leading figure. This was Kenny Miyagi, one of the members of the National Assembly (Diet, Parliament) in Okinawa Prefecture constituencies. He was a man over sixty years old, with a dark skin, and dignified look.


Naomi knew him very well. That's because he was famous as the first member of the Japan Congress to inherit the blood of a Black American. His mother, who was Okinawan native, and his father was a U.S. military officer stationed in Okinawa before Okinawa returned to Japan in 1972. The two separated before they could get married. His father returned home shortly after Kenny's birth. He never saw his father and grew up with his mother. He moved to the mainland from his high schoolhood and was once active as a musician.


After that, he returned to Okinawa because he wanted to contribute to his homeland, Okinawa and became a member of the prefectural assembly, and then became a member of the Diet from Okinawa. Because of his mixed race and dark skin, Naomi have heard stories of hardships that he has continued to be discriminated against both in Okinawa and on the mainland. She once heard Yuriko Koike, a former member of the Diet and current governor of Tokyo, hurl insults at a Diet committee meeting when she was a Diet member, such as "Do you speak Japanese?"


Kenney said in an interview with a TV reporter.


"I have a dream, a dream to contribute to Okinawa and to turn it into a better island. Because of that, I even became a member of the Diet. And now may be the time to meet your expectations even more. I'd like to consider it carefully."


The news reported his comment as a positive response. Naomi had a fondness for Kenny. She thought the it was great a leader who had the idea of overcoming such discrimination while experiencing it and contributed to society by making use of such experience. In the United States, Mr. Obama, who was of mixed Black and White descent, once became President. However, there was also a backlash that followed with the inauguration of a white supremacist named Donald Trump as president.


Still, she thought there shouldn’t be any racism anywhere in the world.


She decided to spend time alone in her room, playing guitar and singing. Genjiro didn't pick her up and she was bored all day. She didn’t even bother to go to the gate and participate in the sit-in. She sympathized with the anti-base movement, but She didn't feel like going to the front of the gate unless she was with Genjiro.


Then an old woman who ran the inn came to her room. She was called "Obaa (Grandma)" and liked by everyone.


"Naomi-san, you said you were good at music. Why not you play and sing Okinawan music."


"Obaa, yes, with pleasure," she replied.


The old lady was a very good-natured old woman. She delights the guests of the inn and cook delicious meals in the morning and evening. She was an old woman born in Henoko and raised in Henoko, and had been campaigning against the construction of a new base in Henoko since 20 years ago.


The old woman took out an Okinawan shamisen called Sanshin. Unlike the guitar that Naomi usually played, there were only three strings. It was an instrument that has been peeled off the skin of a snake and stretched on the surface. Naomi had played the Edo-style shamisen, but this was her first time playing the Sansin.


The shamisen uses Bachi tool to play three strings, while Sanshin is played with claws made of buffalo horns on the fingers. So it seems to be similar, but it is a completely different instrument. Of course, it was also completely different from a guitar.


She was taught how to make sounds. From her youth to middle age, Obaa was active as a performer and singer of Sanshin of Okinawan folk songs.


She received substantial coaching from Obaa with such experience. She had a great time. She completely forgot that she had been swept away by Genjiro and immersed herself in the world of Okinawan folk songs, Sanshin performances, and songs.


She learned one song and lyrics that could make use of Naomi's singing voice. It was " てぃんぐさぬ花, Tingusanu flower." It is the most famous song of Okinawan folk songs. It was also a folk song recommended by Obaa. Tingusanu means "phoenix flower" in Okinawan. The tone was smooth and one could sing slowly, and feel that the sound was gentle and melted in heart.


Translation of the Lyrics

"The phoenix flower is something that dyes fingernails.

The teachings of our parents are ingrained in our hearts."


"The clusters of stars in the sky can be counted if you count.

There are countless teachings from parents ."


"Ships crossing the ocean at night use the North Star as a mark for direction.

For me, parents are the mark."


It was an Okinawan dialect, but she was able to sing it well without completely understanding the meaning. It was not like a typical love song, but a song about parent-child affection like a message to a child who teaches and learns from his parents. She felt like her repertoire has increased again. Just as she was in a very good mood, a loud noise suddenly reverberated through the inn, as if to interrupt her performance.


It was the sound of a bomb exploding. The sound was so loud that it reverberates not only in the inn but also in the entire Henoko village, vibrating the building.


"Oh, it's started again, it's a U.S. Army exercise."


Naomi shuddered. Is such an exercise to be held near where private houses gather? Can't believe it. Was that what it meant to live side by side with the U.S. military?


She also heard what sounded like a helicopter. She opened the window and looked out, and she saw an aircraft flying with wings that looked like a helicopter but looked like an airplane propeller.


"It's an Osprey," said the old woman.


Flying over Naomi's head. The altitude was very low. How dangerous. It was often possible to fly in such a dangerous way. She heard that the Osprey crashed a little further away from Henoko two years ago.


Although it was deployed at Futenma Air Base, if it flew not only to takeoff and landing, the risk of an accident did not change even in Henoko. The Osprey was a flying aircraft that multiplies the functions of a helicopter and an airplane, but it is said that there are structural defects and crashes are very frequent. It is said that dozens of such aircraft were deployed in Okinawa.


What exactly is Okinawa? Even if you think of it as a resort island rich in nature in a tropical country, the living environment may be destroyed by the presence of a U.S. military base.


It took about an hour until the Ospreys and exercises stopped and became silent. To Naomi, who was disgusted when she was interrupted from practicing Okinawan folk songs, the Obaa said,


"Please, why don't you sing Kacharshi this time by playing it in Sanshin? It's fun because it's a dance song."


She said to her to change the feeling.


Naomi learned Kacharshi. It was also an Okinawan folk song, but this was rather a fun song that could be used for parties and the like. The lyrics of the song were in Okinawan and tempo was so fast that she didn't understand them at all, but she somehow learned to play and sing them, learned how to dance, and then she danced with Obaa’s instruction.


The day was spent by learning Okinawan folk songs.


After dinner, Naomi wandered around the streets of Henoko with the Sanshin on her shoulder straps. She drank a little awamori and got drunk. The Okinawan specialty sake that was served at dinner, Awamori, had a high alcohol content and even a single cup was enough to make her drunk.


She walked through the village of Henoko while also getting drunk and cold. Isn't there a place like a square where she could rest quietly? She remembered that there was a hill where she could see the sea. She heard from the guests that it was dark outside so she could not see the sea, but she could see the shining starry sky. She headed in that direction.


But on the way, she passed the Stars and Stripes Wall building. She stopped suddenly. It reminded her of last night. It was a strange experience. She wondered if it was still open. When she was practicing folk songs at lunch, she told Obaa about this bar, and Obaa said,

"Come on, that’s strange. There used to be a lot, but now a lot of them are closed. The number of U.S. soldiers is far smaller than in the past, and there are enough only in the schwab, so there are fewer customers because they don't go outside."


Last night, however, the interior was crowded with dozens of U.S. soldiers. And they were talking about going to Vietnam. Was it because there was a special event? Or did she get drunk and have a vision?


With that thought in mind, Naomi walked past the bar to the hill where she could see the sea, but she heard people gathering and making noise from the building on the Stars and Stripes Wall. Naomi headed for the entrance door and put her hand on the knob to open it.


Just like last night, the bar was crowded with young American soldiers. Is this place still open tonight? Naomi walked inside with an instrment.


A young man's voice said, "Naomi, nice to see you again." It was Jimmy. Naomi smiled widely.


"What's the matter, you didn’t come back from all of a sudden last time."


"You mean, last night?"


"I think it was last week, and I came tonight because I was finally off training."


Eh, it's been a week? It never made sense to her.


"What do you have? Is it an instrument?" asked Jimmy, looking at him curiously.


"Yes, it's a traditional Okinawan instrument called Sanshin," Naomi said.


"Wow, will you play this and sing something tonight?" Jimmy said happily.


"Of course," Naomi replied happily.


To be continued to Chapter 4. 

07:30 Posted in Music, My novel | Permalink | Comments (0)

19 July 2022

The Rise of "White America" Roe vs. Wade Overturned!

Last month US Supreme Court made a historic decision, overturning Roe vs. Wade ruling 1973. The court's ruling leaves abortion rights to be determined at the state level. Several GOP-led states have already moved to enact statewide bans. 

Next target may be gay marriage, sodomy law and voting rights for people of colour. 

American society is moving counter-clockwise recently. 

Kind of "Back to White America" movement in which Conservative White American traditions should be considered norm. 

Surely many liberal Americans oppose such movement especially among people of colour. 

So they try to move things back to their norms. But conservative White Americans have already determined their own norms and would never listen to other opinions. 

Even almost half a century passed since Roe vs. Wade ruling, this conservative Christian fundamentalist value still persists in American society. After all this is the core value of American society. 

Rather than creating further division within the society, why not establish a new nation within the continent like Native American tribe territory. Establish "White America"! 

Maybe somewhere in between deep South States such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. That would be a new state where only conservative White Christian Americans can be residents and live happily everafter without bumping progressive ideas such as feminism, religious freedom, racial equality, LGBTQ rights and etc. 

It doesn't matter what is right or wrong. What matters is whether you feel comfortable or not. Life is short. You can't deal with so many fusses. 

"White America" may be the realistic and practical solution for America sadly. 

13 July 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 2 "Soldier Boy"

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 Issue? 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 Chapter 1 first. 


When Naomi got to the counter, a middle-aged man who seemed to be an Okinawan who seemed to be a master was making a cocktail. Naomi talked to him.


"Excuse me, do you have anything?" Beer or whiskey?"


The middle-aged man looked at Naomi with surprised eyes.


"What did you come here for?"


He replied. When she was surprised with his reaction, a young American man from the side said,


"Oh, Great looking girl," he said to Naomi.


Naomi was good at English conversation. Her English grades in high school were excellent. It has to do with singing, too. She studied hard to learn English songs. The experience of spending time in Europe to learn singing was also a factor in improving her English skills.


Naomi smiled back involuntarily. A tall, blonde young man was standing beside her. Instantly, the man hugged her. He put his hands on her ass.


She said, "Stop, don't touch me." What a guy! She tried to pull her body away, but the man's arms were far stronger. Then, another hand entered from her side, pulling Naomi and the man apart.


"Don’t be rude to this lady" said another tall, brown-haired man.


The blonde man frowned and left. Naomi looked up at the brown-haired man who had saved her. He was young and very handsome. His face was like a Hollywood actor. She fell in love with him unexpectedly.


"Thank you," she said.

The young man said, 

"Are you alright?" Everyone gets drunk and engaged. It's dangerous for a beautiful woman like you to hang around a place like this" said the man. "This is the bar for American soldiers."

"Really?" Naomi was surprised.


"It's unusual for a woman like you to come. Do you work here? Or a tout?"


Was she seen as a prostitute? Naomi felt weird.


"No. I came for a drink" said Naomi. 


"Well, I'd like to know you. I’m Jimmy. What’s yours?"


She introduced herself with a big smile.




"It's a good name," Jimmy said.


Yes, Naomi is used as a female name not only in Japan but also in the United States. Naomi involuntarily thought about switching from Genjiro to Jimmy.


Then she heard someone banging on the jukebox. He was another young American boy in this bar.


"Hey, Master, is this broken? I put a coin in it because I wanted to listen to “Soldier Boy”, but it doesn't move."


The master went to the jukebox and hit it as well. The music never played. Naomi looked towards the stage. There was a set of bands there. There were drums, piano, and guitar, and a microphone at the front of the stage.


Naomi knew the song “Soldier Boy”. It is a pop song that became a hit in the 1960s by the Shirelles, a vocal group of four Black women in the United States. She also remembered the lyrics. It was easy to sing even with a Japanese girl because of simple English texts.

The songs of the early days of rock and pop in the 50s and 60s were easy to sing even by singers whose native language is not English because the lyrics were not complicated and the tone is smooth.


Naomi looked at Jimmy and smiled, wanting to show him and his friends her speciality, so she headed for the stage.


She picked up the guitar and headed to the microphone. She switched on the microphone.


"Soldier Boy, Oh my little Soldier Boy," shouted out the opening phrase of the lyrics.


The gazes of the American soldiers suddenly focused on her. Naomi then continued to sing "Soldier Boy" while playing guitar. The lyrics were something like "You are my first and last lover, my heart would chase whatever battlefield you go to," a song about love for soldiers on the battlefield.


Quickly Jimmy came up to the drums and played with the tune of her song and guitar. It was a bit rough, but it fit the tune. Naomi's beautiful voice echoes throughout the bar. The American soldiers were attracted to her all at once.


Some said, "This is our song." The place was filled with excitement. Naomi was also intoxicated by the atmosphere of the place.


She then sang a song that became a hit in Japan and the United States at the same time, "Ue Wo Muite Aruko (Let's Walk Upwards)" by Kyu Sakamoto, and the English title released oversea was “Sukiyaki”. The lyrics were all sung in Japanese, but it was a big hit in the United States.


This was also a very good response. Why were today's young people moved by listening to such old songs? The best songs were those that last for generations, so it was only natural.


"Bravo," Jimmy exclaimed, and the others applauded.


It's like receiving a huge standing ovation on an overseas tour. Oh, glad she was a singer.


When she finished singing, there was a loud applause. Soon after, another oldies song came from the jukebox. Shirelles' "Mama Said" was played. Apparently, only "Soldier Boy" had a breakdown.

Naomi put down the guitar and got off the stage and headed for the counter with Jimmy.


"Great, beautiful," came the jubilant voices from those around them.


"Thank you, thank you," she replied.


Jimmy smiled and said to Naomi.


"I'll get you a drink, Master."


"Oh never mind, I'm here to drink for myself. Thank you for the drums," Naomi said.


"I’m an amateur drummer, but you're a professional singer."


"Oh not yet" Naomi said.


The master, a middle-aged man, said to Naomi.


"On the House, it's a treat from the bar," handing Naomi a glass of whiskey.


The master had a look of overjoy.


"You're a singer, aren't you? Why don't you work for this bar? I made a stage, but I couldn't find a good singer. How about ten dollars a night?"


"Ten dollars?" Naomi took a sip of her whiskey. It was true that this is a place with a lot of American soldiers, so using US dollar sounded reasonable but it was not usual to pay a Japanese woman like her in dollars? In fact, “Ten dollars” was also very cheap.


"Why dollars?" asked Naomi to the master.


"Oh, are you from Naichi? I figured out from the way you speak. This is Okinawa. Money is spent in dollars" said Master.


"You use the yen daily, US dollars are for Americans?” said Naomi.

"Okinawa is still separated from the Japan. Didn’t you come here without knowing that?"


Well, Naomi became more confused. Jimmy interrupted.


"Naomi, do you live here in Okinawa?"


"I'm from Tokyo, on vacation."


"On vacation, from such a distance."


Then the master interrupted.


"From Tokyo? did you come with the Reversion to Homeland Council?"


Reversion to Homeland Council? It was an unfamiliar term to her.


"What are you talking about?"


Naomi had just downed her whiskey. She felt the drunkenness come around.


"I'll be the next one to treat you," Jimmy said.


The master offered Naomi a cocktail.


"Don't worry, Jimmy. I'll pay for it myself. How many dollars?" Naomi said. As she was about to take her purse out of her pocket though she never had any dollar bill, the master said,


"Don't worry, Everybody pays more and more like that. Drink as much as you want."


Master fingerpointed to a huge drum can in front of the counter. U.S. soldiers were throwing dollar bills to it.


"It's a hassle to pay for every single order, so they throw it in and drink as much as they want. Before they go to the battlefield and die."


Naomi understood. But it was amazing that the bar was making a big sales. Soldiers from Camp Schwab? It was true that fighting is still going on in Afghanistan.


"Jimmy, are you going to the battlefield, too?"


Naomi asked, and he said,


"Yes, we're training here for the battlefield in Vietnam."




That Vietnam, that Vietnam in Southeast Asia? She wondered if they were at war right now. She certainly learned about the Vietnam War in history class in schooldays.


Naomi couldn’t get what the Council for the Reversion to Homeland, Vietnam mean, these people were making fun of her?


"Look at today's newspaper, it's about the people in the council," Master said as he held out the newspaper to Naomi.


It was a local newspaper called "Okinawa Times". The headline was "Met with Prime Minister Sato in Tokyo: The Council for the Reversion to Homeland Returned to Okinawa" Naomi quickly opened the newspaper and looked at the other pages.


"South Vietnam: Intensifying Fights with the Liberation Army: Deploying More U.S. Ground Troops"


Naomi looked curiously at the newspaper's publication date. "August X of 1968" That was fifty years ago.


"Why do you keep such an old newspaper?"


She asked the master,


"What are you saying, this is today's newspaper."


He replied with a serious look. He didn't seem to be joking.


But she couldn’t believe it. However, this place looked different from the twenty-first century she knew. The soldiers gathered in the bar and drank, but the clothes they were wearing are a little outdated even though they were young. They wore shirts and jeans pants, but the design looked like the old era. Maybe it was not a big thing, she thought. She never knew about the most recent American fashion.


Naomi thought it was because she drank too much and got drunk. Is that why she was hallucinating?


She thought she should get out of this bar and touch the outside fresh air. She felt good about singing, but drank too much. As she left the counter and headed for the door. Master and Jimmy called her behind back, "Are you okay?"


Naomi found herself indeed drunk. Her steps were a little wobbly. Then she walked out the door. She stopped on the side of the road, a short distance from the bar.


Compared to the inside, She could breathe a clear air. It was August, so it was humid, but she could feel the sea breeze at night. She stood there for a few minutes. It was really quiet outside compared to the bar inside.


She was relieved to feel that the drunkenness had cooled down slightly. Naomi decided to return to the bar. She thought about drinking soda water. She placed her hand on the door knob and tried to open the door.


She couldn’t open it. It was locked. Was this bar closed while she was outside? She knocked on the door. She put her ear to the door but couldn’t hear anything.


The bar closed while Naomi was out for a few minutes. But it was weird. Inside were dozens of young noisy American soldiers. They must have gone out too. If that was the case, she would have noticed that, too.


Maybe she got drunk and fell asleep standing? So she didn't notice people leaving? What she thought a few minutes long may have been hours.


Or maybe she had been standing there dreaming since she had come near this bar? Something strange happened no matter how she thought about it. She wondered if there were so many American soldiers coming to this bar. Uttered unfamiliar words like “Reversion to Homeland” and “battlefields in Vietnam”.


In any case, Naomi felt that she was not in a decent mental state. She thought should hurry back to the inn and rest, she wondered if she had a terrible hallucination from the shock of being turned away by Genjiro and from drinking too much. She also wondered if the handsome Jimmy was also a phantom.


Naomi returned to the inn leaving the Stars and Stripes wall.



To be continued to Chapter 3

12:08 Posted in Music, My novel | Permalink | Comments (0)

12 July 2022

Novel: "Henoko Bar, Stars and Stripes" Chapter 1 "Children Who Don't Know about Wars"

The novel is based on this issue and my own experience.


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 Issue? What was 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.


Translation of this Japanese novel



August 2018

Naomi Yamaguchi was walking on the streets at night in the Henoko district of Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture in a slightly drunken state. She had just come out drinking at a bar. Coming from Tokyo, she didn't seem to be welcome here. Not because she was from Tokyo, but because she was part of an activity that wasn't welcomed by the residents of the area.

Naomi was a singer from Tokyo. She was twenty-six years old. Although she was born and raised in Yokohama, she had lived and worked as a singer who sang while playing guitar and piano in live houses and cabarets. She liked to sing since she was a child. She’s been learning singing seriously since kindergarten and piano and guitar since elementary school.

She has overwhelmed the surroundings with her outstanding sense of sound and vocal volume. Naomi was said to be talented. In addition, she was a beautiful woman who could even become an actress and model that she recognizes by herself and others. In addition to her work as a singer, she also made money by modeling for magazines and advertisements.

She traveled to Europe for about three years to learn singing. She stayed in England for about a year. While studying traditional music such as opera, canzones, chansons and Scottish folk songs, she was a singer with a wide range of genres and sang songs such as contemporary rock and ballads. She loved learning and singing any song in the world.

Naomi was a singer who sold beautiful voices, but she was an unknown singer who worked at ordinary live houses and cabarets. Then came a big opportunity for her. The manager of an entertainment production company who visited the live house approached her about signing a contract. It promised to debut on a TV show with big sponsors and in music sales. Not only as a singer, but also because of her good looks, he recommended her about being able to work as an actress.

She got on it because it was a very attractive opportunity, but it was a trap. The manager was a middle-aged man who looked like a con, but he was really a con man. He invited her to talk about the contract at a bar in Shinjuku Kabukicho, Tokyo's downtown, and took her to a private room in the back of the bar, where he let her drink more and more alcohol. When Naomi started to get drunk, he suddenly hugged and kissed her.

She screamed loudly, but she was drunk, and caught up in the couch that she couldn’t resist. Just when she thought she was in a helpless situation, an unexpected savior appeared. A tall young man kicked the door of the private room, pulled the manager away from her, and punched him in the face. The manager collapsed to the floor and fainted.

He saved her from the brink of crisis. It was as if she had been saved by a knight on a white horse, and she fell in love with the young man at once.

The young man's name was Genjiro Shimabukuro. He was a young man from Okinawa prefecture. He was a graduate student a little younger than her. He has a fierce countenance. He hoped to become a lawyer while attending a law school in Tokyo.

Naomi wanted to do something to thank him for his help, and Genjiro asked her if she could go to Okinawa with him. Genjiro occasionally returns to his hometown of Okinawa to join the anti-U.S. military base struggle. There, he said, she could use her talent as a singer. Naomi was of course happy to oblige.

Naomi had never been to the Okinawa island before, but she was excited. Speaking of Okinawa, Naomi had a strong image of a resort island. She could go there with a young man like a knight on a white horse.

On a plane from Haneda Airport, Genjiro Shimabukuro and Naomi Yamaguchi arrived in Okinawa, a midsummer coral island.

Genjiro taught her history of Okinawa as a native man. Some of the facts were overlapped with the knowledge she already gained in history classes in schools.

Okinawa had been an independent kingdom until late 19th century like Hawaii in US but the kingdom was annexed to the mainland Japan. In 1945, when Japan surrenderred to the US, Okinawa was occupied by the US military and had been under US control until 1972. 


Genjiro was from Ginowan city of Okinawa Prefecture, where Futenma Air Base is. He took Naomi around the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Base, which occupied the land in the middle of Ginowan City, surrounded by wire mesh and explained the anti-base activities he was involved in from the observation deck of the park where the entire Futenma base could be seen.


Futenma Air Base was built after the war by the U.S. military confiscating private lands. Helicopters and aircrafts take off and landing make terrible noise, and the surrounding area is a densely populated urban area. It is also very dangerous when an accident occurred.

In 1996, the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed to return the land, but with terms attached. The idea was to build a base with the same function in another location on the same main island of Okinawa.

For residents living in Ginowan, this would lead to the elimination of the noise and risk of accidents, but for the people of Okinawa Prefecture as a whole, the burden of the base would remain unchanged. It is not fair to think that more than 70% of all U.S. military base and facility area in Japan, are placed in Okinawa which accounted for only about 1% of the total area of Japan.

The majority of Okinawans insisted that if the Futenma Air Base was to be relocated, it should be outside of Okinawa Prefecture. But the Japan government continued to adhere to the policy of relocation within the prefecture.

The relocation site was determined to be Henoko on the east coast of Nago City, located in the northern part of the main island of Okinawa. It was home to Camp Schwab, a U.S. Marine Corps training base. It was a base with a beach facing the coast, and the idea was to reclaim the beach and build two runways.



The Henoko area around Camp Schwab had far fewer people than Futenma Base surrounding area and it was like a village lined with private houses and small shops, and it had the atmosphere of an idyllic country town. Compared to Tokyo, it was much quieter. She went to Henoko with Genjiro. It was about an hour drive from Futenma. It was a different world for Naomi, a city woman.

It sounded reasonable to claim that it was safer than Futenma because it was not a densely packed and the village was facing the coast, but in fact it had other various problems. Even though there were fewer people than Futenma, there were people living there. More than 1,000 people had taken up residence around Camp Schwab.

The Henoko sea, which would be reclaimed in the area, was home to rare coral reefs and the endangered marine mammal dugong. There are many problems from the viewpoint of nature conservation.

More recently, a problem had emerged that it might be impossible to complete even if the land was reclaimed because of the deep soft ground in the reclaimed sea area. In that case, it was impossible for Futenma Air Base to be returned. For these reasons, Okinawa Prefecture revoked the approval of the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the prefectural authority, for a landfill, which was the owner of the construction work. However, the Ministry of Defense has restarted the construction with the court invalidating the prefecture’s revocation.

The installation of seawalls to reclaim the coast of Henoko is progressing steadily. The sea was surrounded by a seawall wharf and sediment was poured into it.

After the relocation plan was announced, people from inside and outside Okinawa Prefecture gathered in Henoko and campaigned against the construction.

From the beach, where the revetment for reclamation could be seen, tents had been set up to monitor the construction. She looked out to sea from the tent.


It was a truly beautiful sea that shined in the light green color typical of Okinawa. The sea was separated by a seawall wharf. The beach is fenced on the border with the base.



When constructing a seawall or injecting sediment, activists took kayaks from the beach to the construction site at sea to protest.


On the road side of the Camp Schwab entrance gate on the land side, a larger tent was set up to accommodate hundreds of people. From there, they could monitor the construction vehicles entering the base, and when the construction vehicles entered, they sat in front of the gate and took action to prevent them.



Naomi looked at the Camp Schwab surrounded by wire mesh. Is this what a U.S. military base were? There were also U.S. military bases on the mainland Japan. Like Yokota Air Base in Tokyo and the naval base in Yokosuka, but these were located in the suburbs and were not conspicuous.

She was amazed at the sight of the line-up of wire mesh fence, as if intimidating to a small island like Okinawa. While driving from Futenma Air Base to Henoko, she saw a wire mesh fences one after another. It was a base island.



Naomi was to perform her singing proudly in the tent in front of the gate. After making speech to nearly a hundred activists gathered in the tent, Genjiro introduced her and she responded to a request to sing a song about the peace movement against the bases of war.

She brought a guitar. She was asked if she could sing a song about peace, and then suddenly came up with Gilleaux's "戦争を知らない子供たち, Senso Wo Shiranai Kodomotachi (Children Who Don't Know War)".

The lyrics were something like, "We are the generation born after the war, that we grew up not knowing war, so we are children who know only peaceful times and do not know about wars."

Since the song was released in 1971, it seems that the song reflects an era in which the younger generation did not know about the war but adults still had strong memories of the 2nd world war. Nowadays, even adults did not know about war.

But inside the wire mesh fence, youngsters trained for war and wage war all over the world. More recently, it had also sent troops to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The base for training such soldiers was Camp Schwab. If Futenma Air Base was relocated, it would become a base for a complete battle and attack position.

Naomi's singing voice impressed the audience. Everyone clapped and cheered, "Lovely, thank you." She was glad she came. It was a different atmosphere from the live house and cabaret customers.

That evening, Naomi and Genjiro went to a private inn in Henoko where activists from outside the island were staying. She stayed there, and Genjiro would drive to his parents' house in Ginowan tonight and drive back tomorrow. Naomi said to Genjiro.

"Hey, I've come to Okinawa for a while, so I want to try scuba diving, and surfing. Wiil you take me somewhere to do these tomorrow and you should know some good places because it's your home island."

Instantly, Genjiro's face changed. It turned angry look.

"Did you come to Okinawa with such a feeling? Activities are serious and desperate! Not a leisure. I'm leaving. I don't know about tomorrow. Suit yourself."

He said and quickly left the inn.

Naomi felt like she was pushed aside. She was stunned. Just when she thought she had been lured by the knight on the white horse, she was shoved away by the knight.

Maybe she was being sloppy. Speaking of Okinawa, she came here with the feeling of a resort vacation. She knew he was passionate about the anti-base movement, but she was not sure because she only just gotten to know him. Naomi was outraged that she had just learned about the Henoko base issue and that it was impossible for her to know everything about this issue immediately.

After having dinner at a private inn, she decided to take a walk around the town of Henoko at night. She was trying to change her mood. Unlike Shinjuku in Tokyo, it was really quiet. It's the middle of summer, but the nights were much cooler than in Tokyo. Is it because of the sea breeze? But it's quiet and dark, and there's nothing but street lamps or private house lights. Isn't there somewhere to drink? Even if there was no cabaret, she searched around for a bar or something.

She entered a bar about a three-minute walk from the inn. There was only one house. There was a small electric sign, so it looked like a bar where locals gathered. She went inside. There was a counter, and it seems that a middle-aged woman was a master.

There were already elderly male and female guests sitting there. She heard chatter. He had an accent in his language and was identified as a local.

Naomi asked, "Can I order a beer?" "Yes, please," the female master replied, pulling out a large mug of draught beer. It was a local Orion draft beer.

After a while, a customer at the counter spoke to Naomi.

"Aren't you the one who sang in the tent in front of the gate at lunchtime?"

said an old man.

"Yes, that's right."

"So you're a protestor of the base, are you from the Naichi?"

said an elderly woman.

"Naichi?" asked Naomi, startled by the unfamiliar words.

"Oh, the mainland" said the man.

"Yes, I'm from Tokyo."

When she answered, the atmosphere in the store suddenly changed.

"Oh god, you're coming from far away to do something, and we're in trouble."

"Are you not opposed to the construction of a new U.S. military base?"

Then the woman sitting beside him replied.

"We've lived with U.S. bases all our lives. We used to have a lot of U.S. soldiers, so there were a lot of bars open around here.

Now, the number of U.S. soldiers who come to train has decreased much to the point where they can meet the needs at the facility inside the Schwab base, but if a new U.S. military base is built, many soldiers and their families will live there, and we will also be able to make money.

We are annoyed that people say they are against the base. I want you to know that!"

Naomi was surprised to hear such things. She had already learnt the fact that there used to be a lot of bars for U.S. troops. While driving from the tent on the beach to the gate on land daytime, she passed through the village of Henoko, and at that time she saw a building with a large Stars and Stripes painted all over the wall of a two-story building with no window.


Picture of the Stars and Stripes in a building was like a bar billboard. It was like a painting that seemed to lure American soldiers, but the painting was faded as if it had not been used for a long time. In the surrounding area, as the man said, there were several buildings that looked like the remains of a bar that was once open. Traces of a flashy exterior were seen, but the houses were already abandoned.


"When was the past you are talking about?" asked Naomi.

"I think it was from before Okinawa reversion to Japan (1972)" to the end of that war."

said an old man.

"That war?"

"It was a big war that the U.S. was having before you were born, and a lot of American soldiers came to Schwab for training and dropped a lot of money."

What kind of war was it in what era? What was the war that America was at before I was born? Naomi thought in her head.

"So, go back mainland and don’t stir this town anymore."

The man said, and the old lady at the counter, the female master all nodded, and the mood turned grim.

Naomi got upset. After downing the beer, she put the money on the counter and quickly left the bar. Is this how they treat customers? Following Genjiro, she was treated badly twice overnight.

The intention to change her mood resulted in even worse.

There seemed no other bar where she could drink, and it was her nature to drink as much as possible at times like this. Then she wandered around the streets of the quiet and dark Henoko village.

She arrived at a building. This was the Stars and Stripes building she noticed in the daytime. In the dim light, she could see a wall of Stars and Stripes paintings, with a bar-like entrance door. However, she thought that it was a place like other buildings around there, that were no longer open and were already abandoned for demolition.


It was ridiculous to expect a fancy bar to drink freely in a country town like this. Naomi thought she had to go back to the inn. At that moment, a sound was heard from the Stars and Stripes building. She could hear the sound of people gathering and faintly the music.

Oh, she thought it might be open for business, so she opened the front door. The door was opened. The inside was crowded. There were a lot of tall young men.

People drinking at the counter, sitting at tables, and standing in empty spaces. Oh, they were all white men, and they all spoke in English. Oh, weren't they American soldiers? The bar was full of energy.

So, why were the American soldiers from Camp Schwab gathered here? Wasn't that different story from what the local people at the bar she went in were talking about earlier ?

Well, okay, Naomi thought she would get a drink there, and headed to the counter. In addition to the counter and table seating, the bar had a stage for live performance. The ceiling was high and there were big electric lights like chandeliers hanging.

It was gorgeous and had a nice atmosphere. Interior was a far cry from a hazy appearance from outside. Music was playing. It came from a jukebox? There was a record inside, and one put a coin in it to play music. Even such antique thing was placed. The song just playing was one of the oldies. Naomi knew this. It was Platters' "The Great Pretenders."

Naomi was surprised that such a great bar was open in Henoko.


To be continued to Chapter 2.