Intellectuals in Okinawa assert that the Senkaku Islands should be shared

Intellectuals in Okinawa assert that the Senkaku Islands should be shared

On January 10, at the Press Club in the Okinawa Prefectural Government office, Okinawan intellectuals held an emergency press conference to discuss the Senkaku dispute.


January 11, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 11, at the Press Club in the Okinawa Prefectural Government office, Teruo Hiyane, professor emeritus of the University of the Ryukyus, Ishihara Masaie, professor emeritus of the Okinawa International University and other prominent intellectuals held an emergency press conference. They asserted that the governments of Japan, China and Taiwan should avoid making the Senkaku Islands dispute the cause of military tension, and that these nations should share the islands in the spirit of coexistence and cooperation. They announced a plan to launch an organization early this year in which intellectuals based in the prefecture will make policy proposals on issues related to Okinawa, including the Senkaku Islands dispute. They aim to get 100 people to take part in the organization.

Kenichi Uezato, professor emeritus of the University of the Ryukyus, Tetsumi Takara and Ikuo Shinjo, both professors at the University of the Ryukyus, Hiroshi Nakachi, professor at Okinawa University and Satoshi Gabe, a lecturer at the Okinawa University and Hiroyuki Teruya, professor at Okinawa International University, put their names to the statements.

In the statements, they pointed out that the Senkaku Islands used to be part of the living environment of the fishermen of Sakishima Islands and Taiwan, and were not disputed islands before the establishment of modern nation states. Okinawan intellectuals stated that Chinese patrol ships entering waters around the islands has caused tension between Japan and China, and that the issue was used as an excuses by the U.S. and Japanese governments to deploy the Osprey aircraft to Okinawa and the Self-Defense Forces to the Sakishima Islands, and that these acts are unacceptable to local citizens. They asserted that the Chinese government should cease such provocative acts, and that the Japanese government should not reinforce the level of Self-Defense Forces in the Sakishima Islands on the pretext of defending the Senkaku Islands.

In the statements, they asserted that the governments of Japan, China and Taiwan should make the islands into a demilitarized zone, seeing them as a symbol of coexistence, cooperation and friendship, holding academic discussions about historical issues among the countries, and establishing a consultative organization to prevent incidents from occurring within waters around the islands. They will send the written statement to organizations related to the governments of China and Taiwan in Japan and to the U.S. Consulate in Naha.

In the organization that will be established this year, they plan to hold academic discussions and lecture meetings. They also aim to launch the project so as to inherit the spirit of the One-foot Film Movement, an organization of Okinawan locals that purchased the Battle of Okinawa footage filmed by the U.S. military, that is scheduled to cease operations in March.

At the press conference, Hiyane said, “The Japanese government’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands is an act that strongly evokes feelings of territorial nationalism between Japan and China. As those who experienced the Battle of Okinawa, we sense that the dispute could lead to something akin to that conflict.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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