Kinkomokuzetsu: Column

February 6, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

Just half a day after the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper reported the story about the Okinawa Defense Bureau official’s injudicious remark regarding the submission of the Henoko environmental impact report, national papers and news service agencies delivered the story to the world through their own English language news sites. In this Internet age, news is relayed at incredible speed.

On their websites, American media organizations are reporting issues related to the U.S. military bases in Okinawa with increasing frequency, including the matter of the relocation of Futenma. That trend is testimony to the fact that Okinawan affairs have attracted international attention.

Conveying information about the issues of Okinawa through social networking services is also rapidly gaining momentum. Members of the “Making Okinawan Voices Heard in America” delegation, which visited the United States last month, attracted further attention by passing on information of their activities through Facebook on a real-time basis.

The Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper launched an English language news website last May in order to make the current situation in Okinawa better known to the outside world. It is difficult to deliver genuine information to the world via Tokyo about the lot of the Okinawan people, who have been struggling with the excessive burden of U.S. military bases, and the continuous tug of war involving Okinawa and the U.S. and Japanese governments. In that context, they thought why not deliver the information direct from Okinawa? That was the main motivation behind launching the website.

However, it goes without saying that Okinawa has more issues on the table than just U.S. military bases. It needs to let the world know about its performing arts and culture that are unique to Okinawa and the various festivals on each island, plus its rich natural environment. It is also important to pass on information that could promote Okinawan companies that aim to expand their businesses to the Asian economic sphere.

Our ancestors in the Ryukyu Kingdom became engaged in overseas trade and acted as a catalyst among several countries in the spirit of Bankoku Shinryo, the international bridge between countries. Now the issue is how can their descendants play the same role? We think that the international community asks this question of us.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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