ACSILs holds forum on Ryukyu independence in New York

ACSILs holds forum on Ryukyu independence in New York

University of Illinois professor emeritus Koji Taira discusses Okinawan independence from Japan in New York University, New York on September 27.

September 29, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo Sakae Toiyama reports from Washington DC

On September 27, the Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans (ACSILs), an organization engaged in interdisciplinary research aiming to achieve Ryukyuan independence from Japan, held a forum at New York University in New York. The five speakers presenting at the forum were ACSILs co-representative and Ryukoku University professor Yasukatsu Matsushima, University of Illinois professor emeritus Koji Taira, Okinawa Association of America president Shingi Kuniyoshi, Okinawa International University professor Masaki Tomochi, and University of California, Riverside professor Annmaria Shimabuku. The speakers discussed the issue of Ryukyuan independence from various angles.

Professor Matsushima described the history of US base construction in Okinawa and the current situation, and then discussed the grounds for and methods to achieve independence. He stated, “In order to remove all the US bases from our island, Okinawa should become an independent nation.”

Professor Taira, an economist and proponent of independence, talked about the history of the Ryukyus and discussed Ryukyuan independence from a global perspective. Kuniyoshi, who has worked on environmental clean-up of U.S. base land after it has been returned, talked about how the U.S. Department of Defense deals with environmental clean-ups, including the legal framework, disclosure of information, and record-keeping. He noted as issues relating to the U.S. bases in Okinawa the lack of an environmental restoration program and the need to better manage dangerous substances and deal with pollution caused by leakages.

Professor Tomochi discussed the history and culture of the Ryukyus as an independent nation. Referring to the current issues of the relocation of MCAS Futenma to Henoko, Nago and the forced deployment of the MV-22 Osprey, he emphasized that today, Okinawa remains a colony of the United States and Japan.

Professor Shimabuku advocated for Okinawan sovereignty from the perspective of legal philosophy. She proposed the potential for independence based on the idea of relocating MCAS Futenma outside of Okinawa and the movement of the Okinawan diaspora.

Forum attendees asked questions about the proportion of people in Okinawa who support independence, the prevalence of Uchinaaguchi speakers in Okinawa, and the possibility for solidarity with Ainu people.

(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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