“Neglecting Uchinanchu,” Robert Kajiwara petitions the UN

“Neglecting Uchinanchu,” Robert Kajiwara petitions the UN

Robert Kajihara giving a speech on February 20 at a rally in the Diet building.

February 21, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 20, Robert Kajiwara gave a speech at a rally in the Diet building. Robert Kajiawara is a fourth-generation Okinawan American singer-songwriter who created a petition addressed to the U.S. White House in hopes of halting the new base construction in Henoko of Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture.

He criticized the lack of response both by the Japanese and American governments despite collecting 210,000 signatures.

He also made it clear that he escalated the situation to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) since “Uchinanchu are being neglected.” Looking back on the history of Okinawa, Robert points out that in the background of the bases being concentrated in Okinawa is “Japan’s long (history of) ethnic prejudice against Uchinanchu.”

Robert said, “The unfair Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement should be revised.” He also said one of reasons why the agreement has not been reconsidered is because there is a “Not In My Backyard” mentality by those outside of Okinawa. U.S. military facilities being concentrated in Okinawa “Is fine because it is not their problem.”

With that in mind, Robert expressed his concerns should the new base construction continue. He said, “If situations like this continue, then the people of Okinawa will need to consider independence or expanding their autonomy.”

During the conference with Diet members that preceded his speech, Robert talked about the Referendum in Okinawa and the casting and counting of the votes on February 24.

Regarding the significance of this, he said, “This is not the end, but the beginning. This will be the renaissance to renew our understanding of Okinawa’s history, culture and language.”

U.K. rock band Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May sent a message that read, “You must succeed.” Musician Ryuichi Sakamoto said via a video message, “It’s ridiculous that the national policy involves shoving the heavy burden of housing the bases on Okinawa.”

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

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