Student’s web-available documentary highlights lack of information about Henoko in America

Student’s web-available documentary highlights lack of information about Henoko in America

Kaiya Yonamine

June 26, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Yukiyo Zaha

Kaiya Yonamine, a second-generation Okinawan-American high school student living in Portland, Oregon, completed a documentary titled “Our Island’s Treasure”. Her intent is to communicate the issues surrounding construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility in Henoko, Nago City, to the United States and the world. In March this year Yonamine visited Okinawa, recording the situation in Henoko and the thoughts of Uchinanchu who oppose the FRF construction. She included messages from young people of the United States and Okinawa, using English and Japanese subtitles to convey their messages. Yonamine distributed her call for action, “Rise for Henoko,” over the internet and social media.

In August last year Yonamine participated in a protest demonstration in front of Camp Schwab with her Naha-born mother, Moe, 41. Yonamine fully recognized the disconnect between Henoko, where soil is being dumped into the richly biodiverse ocean and people who experienced war adhere to their protest demonstrations with grieving hearts, and the United States, where there is a striking deficiency of information on Okinawa. She decided to make “Our Island’s Treasure” in order to convey the current circumstances in Okinawa and make connections with young people bridging national borders.

One scene from Kaiya Yonamine’s documentary “Our Island’s Treasure” with Japanese subtitles

The documentary is about 30 minutes long, and it starts off with scenes of Yonamine asking her American high school friends, “What do you know about Henoko?” Additionally, she gathered the following types of questions from American high school students: “How do the bases in Okinawa impact you?” “How do you feel about the destruction [in Henoko]?” and “What message do you have for American youth in this fight for Henoko?”

Throughout the documentary Okinawans answered the Americans’ questions in interviews, including Okinawans in their teens and 20s, Henoko resident Fumiko Shimabukuro, and Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki. The film also addresses the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the Battle of Okinawa, the construction of U.S. military bases in the postwar period, and the overlarge share of the military base burden on Okinawa.

One scene from “Our Island’s Treasure” with English subtitles

Yonamine said, “I want to bring American high school students and young Okinawans together, and create a method to expand consciousness about this crisis.”

This documentary can be viewed at this URL:

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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