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American activist refers to Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty with U.S. military presence intact as “fraud”

American activist refers to Okinawa's reversion to Japanese sovereignty with U.S. military presence intact as “fraud”

On May 15, 1972, at Yogi Park in Naha, Sharon Danann (left) delivered a speech with a U.S. Army sergeant at the protest rally held by the Okinawa Reversion to the Fatherland Council.

May 15, 2012 Chota Takamine, Correspondent of the Ryukyu Shimpo

On May 15, 1972, the day of Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty, an American woman delivered a speech with a U.S. Army sergeant at a protest rally held by the Okinawa Reversion to the Fatherland Council at Yogi Park in Naha. Sixty-one year-old Sharon Danann, an anti-war activist, who currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, maintains her interest in Okinawa by contributing articles about it to a newspaper for working people in the United States. With regard to the current situation of Okinawa, which recently marked the 40th anniversary of its reversion from U.S. rule to Japanese sovereignty, Danann delivered a message to the people of Okinawa, saying, “On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of reversion, I wish to congratulate you on the clear vision, courageous spirit and amazing organizing in continuing to oppose the fraud of reversion in leaving the U.S. military presence intact.”

In her speech at the protest rally 40 years ago, Danann called Okinawa’s reversion to Japan without the return of the U.S. military bases humiliating, and claimed that she would whole-heartedly support the Okinawan people’s struggle. Danann looked back on that time, saying, “I was bringing solidarity to the rally from antiwar GIs.”

Sharon Danann

Danann said, “There was an overall sense of disappointment and even outrage at how little had changed in the reversion without the land going back to the Okinawan people and the bases being closed.”

Protest rallies and demonstrations against crimes committed by the U.S. military personnel were held in various locations of Okinawa, and Danann and antiwar GIs participated in those. She said, “We really respected Okinawan people’s movement. It was huge.” She said that she had learned a lot through exchanges with Okinawan people.

After going back to the United States, Danann became engaged in various movements such as the GI Antiwar Movement, the Labor Union Movement and the Woman’s Liberation Movement. While working in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor, she works on race issues and anti-war movements.

Danann stays interested in issues regarding Okinawa, contributing an article about the protest rally against the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa to the Workers World newspaper on June 10, 2010 in which she explains the issues behind U.S. military bases in Okinawa. Danann also contributed an article about the protest rally against the screening of school textbooks by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to the paper on October 22, 2007.

Danann said, “The Okinawan people have set a bold example of insisting the U.S. occupiers leave and return Okinawa to Okinawans. As someone who rallied and marched with you 40 years ago, I support your struggle whole-heartedly. Now is the time to flex our muscles as a worldwide movement against imperialism, militarism and domination, joining hands around the globe. Onward to victory! Chibariyoo!”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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