ZAN movie about Henoko’s dugongs holds first screening in Nago

ZAN movie about Henoko’s dugongs holds first screening in Nago

A scene from the documentary ZAN (photograph provided by ImageMILL)

April 19, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 5, the Nature Conservation Society of Japan (NACS-J) and the Tokyo-based branding company ImageMILL held a screening event of the documentary film ZAN at Nago Civic Hall. The film addresses dugongs’ habitats in national natural monuments of Japan such as Oura Bay in the sea of Henoko, Nago City. Not only did the hearts of those who watched the film go out to the dugongs, their conviction to oppose land reclamation for the Futenma Air Station relocation plan’s new base was also renewed.

Zan means “dugong” in Uchinaguchi (Okinawan dialect). Tomoko Shimura of NACS-J explained, “We wanted local people to be the first to view [the documentary],” in regards to why Nago City, where construction of the new base is advancing, was chosen as the first ZAN screening location within Okinawa.

The film presented the facts that the practice of capturing dugongs for food has decreased in the postwar period, and that dugongs were historically prized as divine messengers. It also depicted fishermen’s tales and other legends about dugongs.

In addition, the film showed underwater photographs of the multitude of blue coral in Oura Bay, and of the concrete blocks now submerged in the bay.

One scene from ZAN of a concrete block submerged in Oura Bay (photograph provided by ImageMILL)

ZAN director Richard Grehan gave a greeting, saying that there are many people who are indifferent to Okinawa’s situation. He mentioned that the team simplified the subject matter in order to reach Americans and a wider audience. Each day he hopes to reach many people with the film.

Eighty-one-year-old ZAN viewer Masamtsu Nakaima of Nago City drew attention to stopping base construction with the following statement: “We cannot allow coral and creatures this magnificent to be buried. This ocean does not belong only to Okinawa; it is an asset for Japan as a whole.”

On April 5 at Nago Civic Hall director Richard Grehan (right) gives a greeting, joined by Yu Kisami who appears in the film.

Another viewer, 76-year-old Fujiko Matsuda of Teima, Nago shared her impressions as well. She said that even locals like her have only seen the beauty of the surface of the water, and viewing underwater images moved her deeply once more. In addition, she claimed an ocean so magnificent cannot be filled in for a base to be built. She went on to say, “I want everyone, both Okinawans and those outside of Okinawa, to watch [ZAN].”

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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