I know most of you won’t be able to make it, but I thought I would pass this on so you know what Okinawa is presently up against, especially Nago where the US wants to build a new base. Okinawa is saying, “Enough already. You’ve already taken much of our valuable land. Don’t take anymore.” Seems, again, Japan and the US aren’t listening. Please watch this video.
We received email from Okinawa Prefectural Government representative to the Japan Diet Ms. Keiko Itokazu. She will be visiting Hawaii April 26-30, with Nago Councilwoman Kumiko Onaga, Yomitan Councilwoman Kikue Tsuhako, and Chatan Councilwoman Hideko Tamanaha. Keiko Itokazu works closely with Governor Onaga in Okinawa and has been working hard for Okinawa democratic rights as well as having Ryukyuans/Okinawa represented in the United Nations as a world indigenous people. She has been steadfast in leading the movement to recognize the discrimination Okinawa has experienced throughout history as well as what Okinawa is going through today.
Event: Okinawa prefectural government representatives to discuss critical issues
Date: April 27, 2015, Monday
Place: University of Hawai`i Manoa, Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, in the Halau Haumea (2645 Dole Street, next to the dorms)
Sponsors: Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies UH Manoa, Hawai`i Peace and Justice, Oceania Rising, and Ukwanshin Kabudan.
Cost: Free and open to the public as an educational presentation
She is an outspoken advocate for democracy in Okinawa and is one of the leading politicians fighting to raise Okinawans as equals to the rest of Japan. Her strong spirit and understanding of Okinawa history, culture and identity has helped to make a strong alliance with the majority of politicians and representatives of Okinawa, including Governor Onaga.
Okinawa Prefectural Representative Itokazu and others will be visiting with Governor Ige as they represent Governor Onaga and Okinawa with their message of the current situation in Okinawa. They will also be researching Hawaii’s models in energy self-sustainability and also Hawaiian revitalization of language and culture. Their objective is to collect more information on helping Okinawa’s future in becoming more self-sustainable while revitalizing Ryukyu’s language, culture, and identity, and to spread Okinawa’s message of living and working for peace.
They have asked to meet with the Hawai`i community, especially Hawaii’s Uchinaanchu, so that they can explain the current situation in Okinawa, which has brought the governor to proclaim a state of emergency. They are coming to seek support, whether it be active, passive, or just to discuss and connect, and would like to educate our community since the outside media has kept much of the detailed news from Okinawa out of the mainstream. They would like to get the message out that the war in Okinawa that began 70 years ago is not over and is affecting the lives and culture of the people. Due to the overwhelming majority of the population in Okinawa strongly voicing their opposition to Japanese government actions to force another base on Okinawa, the Japanese government is punishing Okinawa through economic sanctions and suppression. The Okinawa people have followed the legal and peaceful means of expressing their opposition through the re-election of Nago Mayor Inamine, election of Onaga for governor by over 100,000 votes over Nakaima, and electing all four prefectural representative seats to the Japanese Parliament with representatives who oppose the Henoko base construction.
The situation Okinawa is facing now is not only about the base issue, but also, just as important, the protection of sacred sites and the endangered sea life and wildlife of Oura Bay (designated as one of the last pristine sites for coral in the world) and the Yanbaru forests in and around Takae. For those of us who are concerned about culture and history, many historical sites, sacred sites, and indigenous species are in danger of becoming just a memory if anything at all. The beautiful and endangered blue coral, walking coral, Zan (Okinawa Manatee), yanbaru Kuinaa, Ryukyu woodpecker, and many others depend on the preservation of these areas to survive. They have all been recognized as endangered and are on the wildlife protection lists, but all this is being ignored. Our Okinawa songs, dances, and chants that have been passed down through our ancestors, speak of places such as Tiimaa and Kanuchaa, which will be changed forever or even destroyed. If places such as these disappear, the stories connected to our past will disappear, followed by loss of our history, then forgetting about our ancestors. Should we forget about our ancestors, we throw away our roots. We deny who we are. We must understand that this is also a cultural issue, which affects us through our blood connection to our “island home.” It is our “kuleana,” our responsibility to at least listen with our ears, then listen to our heart, for it is in our hearts that the voices of our ancestors live.
Please make time to come listen and discuss with these Okinawa Representatives on Monday, April 27, at 6:30pm at University of Hawai`i Manoa’s Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, in the Halau Haumea (2645 Dole Street, next to the dorms).
This event is free and open to the public as an educational presentation sponsored by Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies UH Manoa, Hawai`i Peace and Justice, Oceania Rising, and Ukwanshin Kabudan.
Parking is available right off Dole Street, in zone 22, parking structure next to the Hawaiian Studies Center, and open parking (zone 7) next to KCHS. Parking in the structure is $5, and next to the Hawaiian Studies building is $6. If you do park outside the structure, in zone 7, please pay and get your parking tickets from the attendant.
*Do NOT call the Center for Hawaiian Studies. For Questions or information, please call 845-5192
The Okinawa government has pledged to help the Hawaii Okinawa Community with the new building project in Waipio despite the situation they are facing and drastic deduction of monies from the Japanese government. Okinawa is coming to Hawai`i to ask for support and connect with the Hawai`i community in their time of need. The Okinawa Kenjin Kais in California and South America have been supporting Okinawa and actively educating their local communities and members. Let’s show Hawaii’s support! Please come to show our appreciation for Okinawa’s continued support of our Hawai`i community.
See you on the 27th!
Should the YouTube video above — about the beginning of the Henoko preservation movement (there are 4 parts) — not work, please search for “Henoko, sit in on the sea” on youtube.