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Monday, January 26, 2015

A Letter to Okinawa's Governor Takeshi Onaga from Fifteen International Scholars and Researchers 世界の15人の識者・研究者から翁長知事への手紙

On January 23, fifteen international scholars and researchers, mostly among those who signed the International Okinawa Statement in January 2014, which opposed construction of the new marine base in Henoko, Okinawa, and called for swift return of US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station. They are also editors and contributors of the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, which has been publishing articles on Okinawa for over a decade. See bottom for the English version of the letter. 1月23日、昨年1月の辺野古新基地建設反対と普天間基地返還を求めた世界声明の呼びかけ人ら15人が、沖縄県知事翁長雄志氏に手紙を送った。この15人は全員、この10数年英語で沖縄を発信してきたオンライン英語ジャーナル The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focusアジア太平洋ジャーナル:ジャパン・フォーカス』編集・執筆陣でもある。沖縄の新聞での報道(手紙の日本語版全文を含む)と、下方に手紙の英語版を紹介する。

琉球新報1月25日1面より Ryukyu Shimpo, January 25, Front Page
沖縄タイムス1月25日2面より Okinawa Times, January 25, Page 2

沖縄タイムス1月25日6面より Okinawa Times, January 25, Page 6

Mr Takeshi Onaga, Governor

Okinawa Prefectural Government

1-2-2, Izumizaki, Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Phone: 098-866-2080  Fax: 098-866-2467

January 23, 2015

Dear Mr Onaga,

We write to you as representatives of the group of international scholars, artists and peace advocates from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, who in January 2014 issued a statement opposing the plan to build a new base in Henoko and calling for a swift return of Futenma Air Station. We all have some connection with Okinawa through our research on aspects of Okinawan society, politics, and history, and over more than a decade we have been writing and publishing to the world articles on Okinawa  in English in the online Asia-Pacific Journal – Japan Focus (

In our January 2014 Statement, we criticized the decision by former Governor Nakaima to turn his back on popular sentiment and agree to reclamation. We drew attention to the injustice of the heavy burden of military bases on Okinawa, and declared our opposition to the construction of a new base at Henoko. Then, in November, popular Okinawan sentiment against any new base was reaffirmed with your election to the Governorship, promising to “not allow the construction” of any new base at Henoko. When you visited the site and declared your opposition to construction, it gave huge encouragement to those who had been so long engaged in unremitting struggle to save Oura Bay and Henoko.

That was just over two months ago. Now we can scarcely bear to watch as preliminary construction proceeds at Henoko and as clashes between riot police and protesting citizens, often involving injuries to protesters, occur on an almost daily basis. We understand that the forces involved are Okinawan prefectural police, and that they are under the direction of the prefectural public safety committee appointed by you as Governor. It should be possible for you as Governor to make use of your authority to order those police forces not to use force against citizens protesting at Henoko. We urge you to order the immediate withdrawal of the riot police and their substitution by traffic police. We also ask you to call immediately for the Coastguard to cease its violent security operations.

It is reported that you have decided to set up in late January a commission to investigate the decision to allow reclamation, which will then conduct its proceedings by meeting on a fortnightly basis and by April at the earliest report its findings: cancelation in the case of flaws being identified in the administrative process, or revocation otherwise. We also understand that in April or after, you are planning to lead a prefectural delegation to carry the Okinawan case against base construction directly to the Government of the United States in Washington.

However, the main reclamation works are about to commence. There is little time. We fear it is becoming too late.

Authority to stop the works rests with the governments of Japan and the United States and with you as Governor, who can either cancel or revoke the reclamation license. Should you not exercise that authority to cancel or revoke, there will be no point in your visiting the United States. But if your commitment to cancel or revoke is clear in advance of that visit to the United States, the visit then becomes meaningful and we would do whatever we can to support it.

The people of Okinawa elected you their governor based on their sense that Okinawa must not be further discriminated against and that a base that would destroy the natural environment must not be built. Scrutiny of the legal process is obviously important, but if the legal process is emphasized too much are you not adopting the same way of thinking as Mr Nakaima, who said that licensing of the reclamation was “in accord with legal criteria?” We believe that the people of Okinawa placed their faith in your political resolve rather than in investigation of the law.

Until such time as you as Governor decide to either cancel or revoke, the government of Japan is steadily continuing its works in accord with the permission granted by your predecessor. If once Oura Bay is destroyed by the dumping of sand and concrete, it will be too late. We urge you to demand at once that the works be stopped pending the decision by the Investigative commission, and that Commission loses no time in making its recommendation, and that you then decide upon cancellation or revocation.

If there is no cancellation or revocation and this base is actually constructed, it would mark the first time in history for a new base to be constructed with Okinawa Prefecture’s consent, leaving a dark stain for future generations.

We may be criticized for expressing views from outside but our goal is the same as that of you, Governor Onaga, and the majority Okinawan people who elected you. It is to stop the construction of a base at Henoko. We for our part intend to continue our efforts to have the Governments of Japan and the United States abandon base construction. 


No New Bases in Okinawa! Global Voices

Herbert Bix, Emeritus Professor of History and Sociology, State University of New York at Binghamton

Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut

Mark Ealey, Translator of the Battle of Okinawa literature based in New Zealand

Norma Field, Professor Emerita, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

Joseph Gerson, Ph.D., American Friends Service Committee

Laura Hein, Professor of Japanese History, Northwestern University

Paul Jobin, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Paris Diderot

John Junkerman, Professor of Waseda University, Filmmaker

Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, American University

Gavan McCormack, Professor Emeritus, Australian National University

David McNeill, Journalist, Instructor at Sophia University

Katherine Muzik, Marine Biologist

Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Director, Peace Philosophy Centre, Canada

Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus, Brown University

Mark Selden, a Senior Research Associate in the East Asia Program at Cornell University
(In the alphabetical order of family names)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. I was hoping this would be done ever since reading Doug Lummis's article a few days ago. This needs to be shared widely.