Book about U.S. military base issues in Okinawa published
December 16, 2012 Michiyo Yonamine of the Ryukyu Shimpo
A book called Resistant Islands, which looks at the issue of U.S. military bases from the viewpoint of local residents, was published in the United States this summer. Satoko Norimatsu, the director of the Peace Philosophy Centre, an organization promoting peace, and Gavan McCormack, the representative editor of the Japan Focus, an online journal that publishes articles about the Asia-Pacific region, co-wrote the book. While Norimatsu lives in Canada and McCormack in Australia, they continue to convey to the outside world information about the adverse situation that Okinawa faces. Norimatsu talked about the book during a visit to Okinawa, saying, “There are very few books written in English about the Futenma relocation issue from the viewpoint of Okinawan people. I want people overseas to know about the situation that Okinawa faces.”
Norimatsu, who is from Tokyo but now lives overseas, became interested in Okinawa in 2006. When she participated in the World Peace Forum held in Canada, a man from Okinawa raised his hand in a question and answer session. While the facilitator told him to hurry up and finish in one minute, he refused to do so, saying, “I cannot complete what there is to say about Okinawa in such a short time.” It was an awkward moment, but Norimatsu said, “I didn’t know much about Okinawa at that time. What the man said really stayed in my head.”
After the Democratic Party of Japan became the ruling party in 2009 the overseas media started to give frequent news coverage of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Seeing former mayor of Ginowan Yoichi Iha push hard for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa overseas on the web, Norimatsu thought that information about Okinawa should be conveyed to the world in English because only Japanese could access the information available in the Japanese language.
Norimatsu negotiated with the Japan Focus, with whom she had not had any previous contact, and published articles about Okinawa that were translated in English on the Japan Focus website.
Since then, Norimatsu has been publishing news about Okinawa on the web. Every time she visits Okinawa, she goes around the bases and battle sites, deepening her friendships with Okinawan people. However, feeling that people overseas have little opportunity to hear the voices of the Okinawan people, Norimatsu thought that she should convey Okinawa’s struggles to the world, and so she decided to publish the book in 2010.
With regard to her two year-writing project, Norimatsu said, “I realized how insincere my previous peace movement was.” Norimatsu later found out that the man who spoke at the forum in 2006 was Teruo Onishi, who belongs to the Council Opposing the Helicopter Base. Norimatsu said, “I now understand why Onishi-san was so angry. You cannot be properly engaged in a peace movement without knowing about Okinawa. I want to devote the rest of my life to the Okinawan cause because I had not done any work for Okinawa before.” Norimatsu intends to continue conveying Okinawa’s voice to the world.
(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)
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