in Okinawa will remember the 73rd
anniversary June 23 in an unprecedented tense atmosphere – an ongoing construction
work at Henoko for a new military US base and deployment of the Japanese Self
Defense Forces in the archipelagoes. Meanwhile, discriminatory talks and
expressions, including ‘dojin (=an uncultivated man)’, are full on the social
networking service sites. Can we, those who live in the major islands,
righteously meet face to face with people of Okinawa?
MEET PEOPLE OF OKINAWA WITH GENUINE SINCERITY
23 – it sounds to me regretful. Twenty years ago I visited Okinawa for the
first time, but I had not even remembered that the day marks mourning for people
Average Japanese Citizen
June 23, 1983 – a festive event was held in the main islands of Japan to
celebrate opening of the Shinkansen rapid railway service which extends to the
Tohoku region. I have learned later about the episode. Doesn’t the country
commemorate August 6 (Hiroshima), August 9 (Nagasaki) and August 15
(the end of WWII) in a similar dimension? I reconsidered myself - I am one of average
Japanese citizens who live on, forgetting about truths and memories of Okinawa.
I will tell you stories.
have a friend who was a high school teacher. His first encounter with Okinawa was a harsh blow. His daughter wanted to study in
a university in Okinawa, of which he was very
glad. One day an instructor of the preparatory school asked him to come and
talk. The father was told: ‘is it all right that your daughter will study in Okinawa? Even if she graduates from a university there,
she will not be able to have a good job in Japan, frankly speaking.’
female teacher at his high school scolded him; ‘you are not a good father as
you will send a daughter alone to a dangerous place’.
living in the main islands have a kind of idea on Okinawa.
It reflects their stance toward the World War II and democratic values. How
could I face directly and earnestly the view on Okinawa
that average Japanese residents of the bigger islands have? What has changed
and what has not changed?
Underground Unexploded Bombs and Human Bones
the war fought in Okinawa every one of four residents was killed – this fact is
alive today as substantiation in the society of Okinawa.
you arrive at Naha
Airport, you will see a
poster telling ‘Don’t bring in unexploded materials aboard’. In the
construction sites, in the central and southern districts of the island, in
particular, blind shells as big as a man are found as well as bones of human
beings. An operation to neutralize shells is done twice a month on the average
even today. Inhabitants in the vicinity leave home temporally and owe the
partial cost. The impacts on people’s life are considerable. It is said it
takes another 70-80 years to clear up all shells underground. Bones of unidentified
people cannot return home.
you walk around in the cities, you will find vacant lots left away, overgrown
with weeds, here and there. It is because nobody knows to whom the lands belong
as a property: official documents were burnt and all family members perished in
the war. City authorities face difficulties when they commit in development
plans and projects. Inside the US
military zones, however, such a problem is absent. The Japanese state
authorities have redrawn clear lines to certify the boundaries for a purpose to
support the US
military as a host nation.
Okinawa was Abandoned
Arasaki Moriteru, who died last March unexpectedly, comments on Okinawa from a perspective of the history of Japan-US
the last years of the Asia-Pacific War, Okinawa
was made a sacrifice in order to defend the emperor and the main islands. The
sovereign right to administer the Okinawa
Islands was renounced to host the US troops in
order to ensure sovereignty on the main islands and stay alive the emperor
system. The legacy still remains intact, which builds up the socio-economic
structure of the islands.’
must remember June 23 sincerely and solemnly so that people in the main islands
meet people of Okinawa in a renewed, right manner.
June 19, 2018