Special exhibit reflects on 50 years since the Koza Riots, open through January 2021

Special exhibit reflects on 50 years since the Koza Riots, open through January 2021

The city’s historians pose in front of an exhibit wall containing photographs and witness testimonies from the day of the Koza Riots, on October 13 at Histreet in Okinawa City.

October 16, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

December 20, 2020, will mark 50 years to the day since a riot broke out in Okinawa City (former Koza City) following a U.S. serviceman striking an Okinawan in a car accident; in what became to be known as the Koza Riots, protesters set fire to U.S. military vehicles. On October 13, Histreet—an Okinawa City gallery for postwar culture and history, opened its special exhibit titled, Reflecting on the ‘Koza Riots’ 50 Years Later. The exhibit shines light on the aftermath of the riots which broke out half a century ago in Koza City, and the impact it had on the local residents. The exhibit will run until January 31, 2021.

Histreet has mounted three special exhibits since 2010, but the current exhibit will be the first to focus on social conditions and local sentiments following the Koza Riots. The exhibit portrays Koza City on December 20, 1970, using large maps indicating where vehicles were set ablaze and locations where locals clashed with military police. Through photographs and firsthand accounts given by residents and police officers, the exhibit paints a vivid picture of the incident.

The exhibit offers context to then-High Commissioner James B. Lampert’s statements relating to the delay in transporting poisonous gasses; it also underlines the ambivalence that was felt towards the series of off-limits orders issued by the U.S. military, which lead to a stagnation in local economic activities.

Yoichi Hiroyama, a historian for the city, pointed out: “Different people had different takes on the Koza Riots and military presence in Okinawa.” He added, “I hope that this exhibit of historical records presenting the situation and social conditions of the day, will encourage each and every visitor to think about the Koza Riots and how it shaped Okinawa.”

Admission is free. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For inquires, call 098-929-2922. 

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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