Former president Gorbachev writes letter to encourage Okinawan people

Former president Gorbachev writes letter to encourage Okinawan people

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union.


April 22, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Ryukyu Shimpo has received a letter from Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union who led to the end of the Cold War and won the Nobel Peace Prize. In his letter, Gorbachev encourages Okinawan people to resist against militarization. His letter to Okinawan citizens marks 15 years since he first visited Okinawa.

Gorbachev wrote, “But today, to my great regret, we again are speaking about growing instability, terrorism, about military conflicts, militarization and arms race. The world did not take the chance given to all of us after the end of the Cold War. ”

“That is why I welcome the struggle of Okinawan citizens for peace, against militarization of the Island, and for the transformation of Okinawa into an even more attractive place for Japanese and foreign tourists from around the world,” he stressed.

The letter refers to his visit to Okinawa: “I had just turned 85 years old. This is a solid age. I often recall the long-livers of your Island and I’m trying to follow their example (drinking tea with goya, for example).”

“Every day when I come to my office my mood lifts when I see the photo taken many years ago in Naha City.”
Gorbachev visited Okinawa in November 2001, invited by the Naha city government commemorating the 80th anniversary of its municipal system. He gave a lecture titled “Peace and Stability in the 21 Century”.

He has visited Okinawa three times. He also gave a lecture at the Ryukyu Forum hosted by the Ryukyu Shimpo.

(English translation by T&CT)

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The full text of the letter is below:
Dear citizens of Okinawa, Dear Governor Onaga,
Dear president Tomita and journalists of The Ryukyu Shimpo,

15 years passed since I first visited your wonderful Island. I and my colleagues fondly remember that very first visit and of course all trips that followed. In general, I was particularly impressed by the meetings with citizens of Okinawa. We learnt a lot of interesting facts about your rich history and culture. As the founder of The Green Cross International, I highly appreciate and welcome your activities to preserve environment.

I remember the theme of my lecture during that first visit – “Peace and Stability in the 21 Century”. At that time all of us were full of hopes that we would be able to come to a new secure and prosperous world. But today, to my great regret, we again are speaking about growing instability, terrorism, about military conflicts, militarization and arms race. The world did not take the chance given to all of us after the end of the Cold War. That is why I welcome the struggle of the Okinawan citizens for peace, against militarization of the Island,and for the transformation of Okinawa into an even more attractive place for Japanese and foreign tourists from around the world.

I had just turned 85 years old. This is a solid age. I often recall the long-livers of your Island and I’m trying to follow their example (drinking tea with goya, for example). Every day when I come to my office my mood lifts when I see the photo taken many years ago in Naha City. The photo shows a small girl musician in national clothes in my arms. I consider it as a symbol of intergenerational ties. Using this opportunity, I convey greetings and best wishes to this girl and in her person to all Okinawan citizens.

Sincerely yours, Mikhail Gorbachev

April 5, 2016

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