Editorial: Government responsible for structural discrimination behind “dojin” remark

October 20, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

At the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area, where helipads are being built, a riot police officer from the Osaka Prefectural Police Department yelled out “dojin,” a derogatory term for “aboriginal,” at protesters opposing the helipad construction on the other side of the fence. The Osaka Prefectural Police Department acknowledged the incident and announced that the officer’s remark was “regrettable.”

The “dojin” remark deeply hurt not only the protesters, but also the hearts of the people of Okinawa. The remark also damaged people’s trust in the police. The supervisors of the riot police squad should make a clear apology to the people of Okinawa, and the department should strictly punish the officer who made the remark on the basis of the Police Law and defamation laws.

The riot police officers at the scene are sent in from all over Japan. The officers’ supervisors also bear responsibility for the discriminatory remark, and must be held accountable for failing to make the officers understand Okinawa’s base issues and the reality of the protesters opposing the construction, and to guide and supervise them to take a neutral position in carrying out their professional duties.

Yelling out “dojin” at protesters on the other side of the fence does nothing to quell their actions, and rather serves as a provocation. Perhaps it reflects the intent of the Abe administration and the Okinawa Defense Bureau, who believe that any hindrance to the construction must be removed.

Okinawa Peace Movement Center leader Hiroji Yamashiro, who allegedly cut the wire of a fence in the training area, was arrested at the advisory of an Okinawa Defense Bureau employee. The arrest has been criticized as a shot taken by the Defense Bureau that reveals its wish to demoralize the protest movement.
The actual leaders of the police activities oppressing the protest movement are the Okinawa Defense Bureau and the Japanese government. The government is resorting to every means possible to achieve the helipad construction, from sending in large-scale riot police forces, conducting unjustified vehicle inspections, removing citizens and newspaper reporters, and sending in Self-Defense Force helicopters,.

It is clear that police activities that deviate from the “fair and impartial” imperative set forth in the Police Law are being carried out at the will of, or under the guidance of, the Japanese government, which considers the helipad construction its absolute priority.

Discrimination against Okinawa is a historical issue. First came the Ryukyu Disposition, followed by the use of Okinawa as a bulwark to stave off an attack on the mainland during World War II, and then allowing the U.S. military occupation of Okinawa after the war and the concentration of U.S. bases here.

The construction of a new base in Henoko and construction of helipads are being carried out against the backdrop of structural discrimination, rooted in history, against Okinawa by the Japanese government.
Okinawans expressed oppositions to the bases in the gubernatorial election, Nago mayoral election, Prefectural Assembly election, and multiple national elections. Government policy that tramples on the will of the people and pushes forward forcefully with the construction of bases can only be called a form of structural discrimination.

Okinawa is not a colony of Japan. The Japanese government’s discriminatory policies are responsible for discrimination against Okinawa and by extension the “dojin” remark at issue. As long as structural discrimination against Okinawa is not remedied, there will be no end to fruitless confrontation.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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