Okinawa university students appeal to U.N. Secretary-General to visit Okinawa

Okinawa university students appeal to U.N. Secretary-General to visit Okinawa

(From left) Okinawa International University sophomores Hiroto Ishikawa, Wataru Nakamoto, and Mitsuteru Nakamura and adjunct professor Shoko Oshiro holding a copy of the letter that they sent to the United Nations Secretary-General, on March 7 in Naha

March 9, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

“Please look at what’s happening in Okinawa.”

That is the message of a letter sent by around 40 students at Okinawa International University to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who will be visiting Japan in August.

The Secretary-General plans to attend the nuclear bomb victim memorial and peace ceremony to be held in Hiroshima, which suffered from the nuclear bomb.

The students proposed that he also visit Okinawa during his trip.

The letter expresses their honest feelings: “the scars of the Battle of Okinawa still remain,” and “our university is side by side with danger.”

The authors of the letter were mainly sophomores in the Department of Society and Regional Culture who took a course on peace philosophy.

In the course, students engaged in active discussion amongst themselves about what peace means in Okinawa, where the Battle of Okinawa took place and where military base issues are ever-present.

Adjunct professor Shoko Oshiro, who oversaw the course, suggested to the students that they convey their thoughts to the U.N. Secretary-General.

Mitsuteru Nakamura, 20, of Chatan, said, “A U.S. military helicopter crashed on Okinawa International University.

I want [the Secretary-General] to know the kind of danger we are living side by side with.” Hiroto Ishikawa, 20, of Naha said, “The scars of battle and military bases remain in Okinawa even now.

Human rights that ought to be protected are not being protected.” Wataru Nakamoto, 20, also of Naha said, “A prefectural referendum was held about the Henoko [base construction], but construction is proceeding as if nothing had happened.

I want [the Secretary-General] to know this preposterous truth about Japan.”

Reading the students’ letter, Professor Oshiro expressed hope, saying, “I could feel their passion.

That’s why I didn’t edit it at all. I think that way their feelings will be conveyed even more honestly.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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