Okinawan descendants abroad create petition in support of Governor Tamaki

Okinawan descendants abroad create petition in support of Governor Tamaki

Governor Denny Tamaki


November 9, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


On November 7, Okinawans descendants abroad issued “A Statement by Diasporic Okinawans in Support of Governor Denny Tamaki.” Governor Tamaki opposes the construction of the new military base in Henoko, Nago City, which is associated with the relocation of the U.S. military Futenma Air Station.

The statement was issued in preparation for the governor’s first visit to the U.S, which is to take place between November 11 and 15 local time.

The hope is to call on diasporic Okinawans to sign the petition online, which will lead to grassroots movements that may persuade the U.S. public opinion and government.


The petition was started by nine diasporic Okinawans, including Jane Yamashiro, Emma Tome, and David Kim. They also worked with diasporic Okinawans in South America to create English, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese versions of the statement on, a petition website.

An Uchinaguchi, or Okinawan dialect, version will later be posted. As of November 7, about 600 people have signed the petition.


One of the creators of the petition, New York University East Asian Studies Assistant Professor Annmaria Shimabuku explained the significance of the statement. She said, “(The statement) appeals to the historical memory and reality of ordinary Uchinanchu around the world.

It tries to deepen the concern about the new Henoko base construction.” She also added, “Uchinanchu abroad, who felt that Okinawan issues and military base issues have been restricted by right or left ideologies, were encouraged by Governor Tamaki, who has a diverse background, and are now able to get involved. We hope to start a movement that says, ‘No to Henoko.Don’t underestimate Okinawa.’”


The statement emphasizes that “the overwhelming will of the people who oppose the plan to construct the new Henoko base holds significant meaning” in Okinawa, which is politically divided regarding the existence of U.S. military bases.

The statement also introduced the words by the previous Governor Takeshi Onaga, who had said that what is important is “Identity Not ideology.”

The statement also points out, “The fact that Denny Tamaki is the first mixed-race governor in Japanese history is a watershed moment since mixed-race individuals and their Okinawan mothers have often been negatively associated with the bases”


(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)


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