The Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans established
May 16, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo
On May 15, the Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans (ACSILs) was established to promote scholarly research in order to achieve the independence of people who identify their ethnic roots as being in the Ryukyuan Islands. The planning committee and scholars of the ACSILs announced this at a press conference held in the Prefectural Government Office. Using the U.S. military bases as an example, the committee members pointed out that independence from Japan would be the only way to resolve the problems that Okinawa faces. They stated, “We would like to achieve Amayuu (to live peacefully) as a distinctive group of peoples.” They call for people to come forward to help work towards their aim of islands without military, but with the right to self-determination.
A symposium focused on “Demilitarization and Decolonization” that was held last year at the Okinawa International University in Ginowan to mark 40 years having passed since Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese administration motivated those gathered to establish the ACSILs.
Scholars agreed that Japanese, who make up the majority of the nation’s population, continue to decide the destiny of the Ryukyus in a unilateral manner. The planning committee held several preliminary discussions in order to establish the Association.
In keeping with the Right to Self-determination in International Covenants on Human Rights, the ACSILs takes a stance that “It is only for the Lew Chewans to determine the status and future of the Ryukyus.” For that reason, having ethnic roots in the Ryukyuan Islands is a prerequisite for membership.
The ACSILs plans to hold an academic conference twice a year. The first one will be held this October. They expect to host active discussions involving various people from disciplines including law, economics, history and linguistics. The ACSILs plans to collaborate with regions such as Guam and Taiwan that also seek independence.
At the press conference on May 15, associate professor of Okinawa International University and a member of the planning committee, Masaki Tomochi, emphasized the significance of the ACSILs using the example of the forced Osprey deployment. He said, “Coercion by Japan and the United States has occurred and will continue to occur in the Ryukyus. The establishment of ACSILs represents our responsibility to future generations.”
Professor of Ryukoku University Yasukatsu Matsushima pointed out that “There is the example of the Aland Islands in the Baltic Sea which have maintained a stable relationship with their neighboring countries by becoming politically neutral and demilitarized.” He argued, “The militarization of the state will no longer be a requirement for a sovereign country in the 21st century.” Matsushima expressed his opinion that independence and removal of military bases from Okinawa will lead to the easing of tensions in the Asia Pacific and will help create peace.
Establishment of the ACSILs Prospectus (Abstract)
Lew Chewan peoples who trace their ethnic roots to the islands of the Ryukyus are a distinctive group of peoples. The Ryukyus were once a sovereign state named the Ryukyu Kingdom with diplomatic relations. In 1879, the Ryukyu Kingdom was overthrown and annexed to Japan by the Meiji Government. The Ryukyus have been colonized by Japan and the United States ever since, becoming the object of discrimination, exploitation and control by both the Japanese and U.S. governments. While the Japanese people continue to enjoy the benefits of the “Peace and Prosperity of Japan” by sacrificing the Ryukyus, the Lew Chewan peoples continue to live in fear of war.
The Lew Chewan peoples are legal agents entitled to exercise the right to self-determination. Only the Lew Chewan peoples can determine the future of the Ryukyus. By gaining independence from Japan and removing all military bases from our islands we Ryukyuans wish to achieve our long sought-after wish of sovereign islands with peace, hope and friendship with other countries, regions and nations of the world.
With our stated aim of independence from Japan, we hereby establish the Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans. Members of the Association will be limited to Lew Chewan people who have ethnic roots in the Ryukyuan Islands and conduct scholarly research in various disciplines. Members are all Lew Chewan people who aim to achieve the independence of the Ryukyus.
We hereby establish the Association in order to achieve “Amayuu” that allows us to live with peace, freedom and equality as a distinctive group of peoples. We call for the participation by all Lew Chewans who seek independence.
(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)
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