Dr. Satoshi Shirai, Kyoji Yanagisawa question Japanese sovereignty at East Asia Community Institute Symposium, “The system of concentrating bases in Okinawa is designed to hide the problem from mainland Japan”

Dr. Satoshi Shirai, Kyoji Yanagisawa question Japanese sovereignty at East Asia Community Institute  Symposium, “The system of concentrating bases in Okinawa is designed to hide the problem from mainland Japan”

(Clockwise from the top right) Dr. Satoshi Shirai, Kyoji Yanagisawa, Dr. Hiromori Maedomari, and Hiroji Yamashiro

May 6, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

The East Asia Community Institute Okinawa (Ryukyu) held a public symposium titled, “Calling into question democracy in Japan – is Japan really an independent, democratic nation?” at the Ryukyu Shimpo Hall in Izumizaki, Naha May 5 (with support from Ryukyu Shimpo Co. Ltd.).

Kyoto Seika University Professor Satoshi Shirai headlined the speakers, and his lecture centered on the issues of the relocation of MCAS Futenma to the Henoko neighborhood in Nago as well as the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), stating among other things that Japan has failed to establish sovereignty in their relationship with the U.S. Around 400 people attended the lecture, listening with rapt attention.

Dr. Shirai indicated, “U.S. military bases are concentrated in Okinawa, in a system designed to hide the problem from mainland Japan.

The original reason for the bases, for ending the Korean War, is something the current powers-that-be have a distaste for.

Democracy on the mainland is becoming a shell of itself. Okinawa may be the only place in Japan where democracy is still functioning.”

Hiroji Yamashiro, head of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center, spoke about the 1947 “Emperor’s Message,” in which Emperor Hirohito expressed a hope that the United States would occupy Okinawa for an extended period of time, suggesting, “The message that sacrificed Okinawa continues to tie us down even to this day.

I wish I could ask the emperor to apologize to Okinawa and withdraw the message.

We need to raise our voices from here.” He then sang a song calling for people to participate in a protest in front of Henoko gate, exciting the crowd.”

Former Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Kyoji Yanagisawa said, “To ignore the will of the people in the name of national security is to have one’s priorities backwards.

The arguments of Okinawa’s geographically superiority and ability to deter aggression are no longer viable.

There are plenty of options beside military power.”

Okinawa International University Professor Hiromori Maedomari touched on the incident wherein a part from a U.S. military helicopter on Futenma Dai-ni Elementary School, commenting, “The Japanese government is unable to restrict the U.S. aircraft, forcing the children to run for cover.

Germany and Italy (both similarly defeated in World War 2) is enforcing their nation’s laws on the U.S. forces stationed there, and are moving to retake their national sovereignty.”

He proclaimed that Japan needs to solidify their sovereignty in relation to other countries.

Opening remarks were given by Okinawa governor Denny Tamaki.

Audience members listening intently to lecturers. May 5, Ryukyu Shimpo Hall in Izumizaki, Naha

Voices of solidarity from the audience as Yuzo Takayama and Lima Tokumori share their efforts to tell the world about the situation in Okinawa
Also at the symposium held by the East Asia Community Okinawa, Yuzo Takayama, who has a YouTube channel that features videos about the Henoko base issue, and Lima Tokumori, who campaigned in support of Denny Tamaki in last September’s gubernatorial election, both stepped up to the microphone to speak.

Takayama opposes the falsehoods and misinformation that swirls around the base issues in Okinawa, and continues his work providing easy to understand facts about these issues.

At the symposium, he reflected on the problems that have plagued MCAS Futenma since 1995.

“The voices of Okinawa have been completely trampled. Okinawa should be the ones to decide Okinawan matters. We must continue to raise our voices.”

Tokumori spoke about getting youth voters in their teens and 20’s to think about the future and get involved in last year’s gubernatorial election.

“I want to pass over the Japanese government and bring or message of peace from Okinawa. I want to engage people in other regions struggling with similar issues, and turn that angry energy into something positive.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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