Ten years since U.S. helicopter crashed into Okinawa International University: Students hold a symposium at university
August 13, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
Ten years have passed since an American military helicopter crashed into Okinawa International University on August 13, 2004. On August 12, university students discussed the issues of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa at events held at the same university and other places in Ginowan.
Participants spoke candidly and exchanged opinions, pointing out the heavy burden of military bases as an “injustice.” One of them said, “I object to the building of the new base because I do not want to be dragged into a war or drag others into a war.” As ten years have passed since the incident, remembering the incident has become an important issue. Youth who had gone down to the construction site of the new military base being forced onto Henoko, Nago city were present at these events. They spoke with passion about facing the problems Okinawa has today.
At the Okinawa International University, a symposium “Just Peace-Students Discuss ‘Ichimadin ikusayu’ (When Will War End?)” was held. Foreign intellectuals who have made statements against building a new military base at Henoko, Joseph Garson (American Service Friends Committee), Peter Kuznick (American University) and Satoko Noritmatsu (director of the Peace Philosophy Center) were invited to the symposium. Four students took the podium. About 130 people, mostly students, went to the symposium. Centered on military base issues, the symposium suggested ways for students to make their opinions heard and how to proactively learn about the reality on the ground.
International Christian University third-year student Jinshiro Motoyama, 22, who was born in Nodake, Ginowan city, criticized the widely-opposed construction of a military base in Henoko on the basis that “peace” is when people solve conflicts through arriving at a mutual agreement.
“By expressing my views, I take action,” said Kansai Gaidai University third-year Yoshino Taira. She presented a parody of a television commercial she made to spread awareness and stir up interest among her peers about the Henoko military base problem.
Kyoto-born Meio University second-year Shion Manabe, who organized a screening of the film “The Targeted Village” at her university, said, “I think that it is unusual that only Okinawa has to bear the burden of a heavy concentration of military bases.”
University of the Ryukyus fourth-year Motoki Tomoyose, born in Okinawa City, stressed, “I do not want to become neither a victim of war nor an oppressor.”
Kuznick responded to a question from one of the students on whether or not America is a democracy. He said there was a time when it was, but now it is imperialist. Kuznick went on to say that Okinawa has been made to bear the burden of that change. Another audience member asked to Garson what peace is. He replied to the Okinawan saying, the belief that “life is a treasure” brings real peace. Norimatsu said, “I am touched by the profundity of the ideas shared by the students who took action.”
The symposium was organized by the Okinawa International University Peace Studies seminar and the cross-generation peace promotion group “New Wave To Hope.”
(English translation by T&CT and Lima Tokumori)
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