Prime Minister Abe’s re-interpretation of the peace clause: Okinawan people concerned changes could provide a way to war

May 16, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

On May 15, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his willingness to review interpretation of the constitution to exercise the right to collective self-defense. Many residents living near U.S. military bases and survivors of the Battle of Okinawa were alarmed by this, concerned it puts Japan on the road to war. On May 15, 1972, Okinawa was returned from the United States’ military occupation to Japan’s sovereignty and its pacifist constitution. On the same day, 42 years later, Japan`s peace doctrine is now up for debate. Participants from all over the country joined the 5.15 peace march in Okinawa, voicing their view that the constitution and democracy of Japan are being trampled on.

Jumei Kinjo, 85, a survivor of compulsory mass suicide on Tokashiki Island during the Battle of Okinawa, said, “The government is trying to regain the ability to use force abroad. It’s an act of changing the essence of the constitution, which promises no more war,” he said. “The use of force leads us to war. As one of those who have experienced the war, I am absolutely against the use of force.”

Toshie Asato, 93, lost 11 family members, including her husband and two children, in the battlefield on the southern part of the main Island of Okianwa during the war. She said, “Japan is following the path of war again.” In her mind, the government’s recent moves over the constitution are reminiscent of Japanese militarism education during pre-war and war times. She stressed, “We should warn the people that the government will deceive the people, and we should tell the future generations not to repeat the tragedy,” she said. Asato continues to try to protect Article 9 of the constitution through her work as a storyteller of the war experience.

Kiku Nakayama, 85, the chairwoman of the Shiraume Alumni Association of the Okinawa Daini Women’s High School, said, “We can’t agree with an idea of building world peace through military power. Even if the geopolitical situation is severe, it is the politician’s role to get over the difficulties.” During the Battle of Okinawa, Nakayama and other students of the school were assigned by the Imperial Japanese Army to serve as nurse-aides to wounded soldiers.

” Prime Minister Abe is increasingly talking to the Japanese public in a persuasive way. I worry that the young people will comply with his intention,” she said.
“We should let the youth know the truth as much as they are able to understand it.”

(English translation by T&CT)

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