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Tag Archives: The Asia Pacific Journal

Makoto Arakaki: Photographs of the Okinawa Prefecture Office Sit-in

Mark Selden, editor of The Asia-Pacific Journal, notes that Okinawans have created the most vibrant and sustained grassroots movement for democracy and peace in the Asia-Pacific, comparable only to the Korean movement in intensity, longevity, and creativity. Makoto Arakaki's photographs of the late December sit-in at the Okinawa Prefecture's administration building captures the intensity of not only this latest moment in history, but also of the breadth and depth of the entire Okinawan Movement, now in its sixth decade. Okinawans, including prominent elected political leaders and journalists, successfully engaged in a 24/7 sit-in at the Okinawa Prefecture administration building to prevent the delivery of the proposed U.S. Marine Base Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before January 4, 2012 to the Okinawan Prefectural officials. Part of the EIA did reach the office in a surreptitious 4 a.m. backdoor delivery a few days before the end of the year, but not the entire document. According to sociologist Masami Mel Kawamura, the Japanese government wanted "to rob the Okinawa prefectural government of precious time for preparation of "Governor's Comments" on the EIS while distracting the media's attention. According to the EIA law and ordinance, Governor's Comments for the airport plan should be issued within 45 days after the submission of EIS while for the reclamation plan they should be issued within 90 days." The EIS alleges that the destruction of Oura Bay and Henoko to make way for offshore runways for military aircraft would not result in any significant environmental impacts to Oura Bay's biodiverse sea life, including the federally protected Okinawa dugong.

Yoshio Shimoji: “Futenma: Tip of the Iceberg in Okinawa’s Agony”

In “Futenma: Tip of the Iceberg in Okinawa’s Agony," his latest article for The Asia-Pacific Journal, University of the Ryukyus Professor Emeritus Yoshio Shimoji focuses on the root of Okinawan resentment against U.S. military bases on their islands: The U.S. violated human rights and property rights under international law when the U.S. military seized Okinawan property by force to make way for U.S. bases. Shimoji details how U.S. bases in Okinawa were established by "land requisitions...executed at bayonet-point and by bulldozer, leveling houses and destroying farms in the face of protesting farmers, mothers, children and their supporters." He adds: "...the U.S. military seized the land in clear violation of Article 46 of The Hague Convention, which states: 'Family honor and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated.' "There are presently more than 3,000 so-called “military base landowners” for Futenma Air Base alone and more than 40,000 for all bases and installations in Okinawa. " Shimoji's conclusion: "The U.S. violated international law when its military encroached upon private lands with impunity and built the base. On what legal and moral basis, then, can it demand its replacement?"

New Year 2011, Okinawa and the Future of East Asia

Satoko Norimatsu, Gavan McCormack, and Mark Selden report on the December 19, 2010 "Where is Okinawa going?" forum cosponsored by The Asia-Pacific Journal (APJ) and Okinawa University. Speakers addressed environmental, geopolitical, and economic issues and engaged in discussion with nearly 200 participants on goals and ideals while addressing contemporary challenges to Okinawa and the region. Their article charts the Okinawan challenge to last year's failure of leadership in Japan. The authors assert that Okinawan commitment to democracy and peace brought sense to a region spellbound by fear and at risk of falling into a downward spiral of militarization. Those who frame the Okinawan struggle for democracy as simply "local" are mistaken. Instead, the authors argue Okinawan resistance to military hegemony is national, regional, and global in nature, with the future of "Japanese democracy and US strategic planning for its empire of bases across the Pacific in the balance." They conclude: "In 2011 the best hope for peace and democracy in Japan and throughout the region is the continuing success of the Okinawan struggle in stalemating US-Japan plans for base reorganization and expansion."

The World Turned Upside Down in East Asia & the Pacific

Scholar Gavan McCormack describes Okinawa's stable, resilient, participatory democratic society as a beacon of hope and reason in East Asia, a region that has been rocked by unstable political leadership in Japan and the Korean peninsula. Joint war games under U.S. direction, serving to intimidate China and provoke North Korea, has transformed the area's stability of over fifty years into geopolitical volatility. McCormack concludes that, to avoid war, Okinawan spirit must spread to its neighbors.

Where is Okinawa Going? Forum at Okinawa University on Dec. 19, 2010

This forum will present and discuss Okinawan perspectives on the current situations surrounding the southernmost islands of Japan, amid the ongoing controversy over "Futenma relocation" issue, from three aspects: 1) environment and biodiversity, after the Convention of Biological Diversity (COP10) in Nagoya; 2) regional geopolitics in the wake of the Japan-China conflict over the ship collision near Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands ; 3) Okinawa-Japan-US relationship and the military base issue after the gubernatorial election. Time and Date: 10 AM - 5 PM, Sunday, December 19 Location: Classroom 3-101, Okinawa University