Abe plan for sovereignty day fete irks Okinawans

by Reiji Yoshida

Staff Writer

When Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that his government plans to hold a state-hosted ceremony for the first time next month to commemorate the 1952 restoration of Japan’s sovereignty and the end of the Allied Occupation, he probably believed it would be a glorious day to remember.

But he was apparently ignorant of the fact that the people of Okinawa regard April 28 as “the day of infamy” because the prefecture continued on for another 20 years under U.S. control. His plan was quick to raise local ire.

On Friday, the Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo, the largest papers in the prefecture, both carried articles on their websites criticizing Abe for celebrating the day despite Okinawa’s postwar hardship under U.S. occupation.

Although the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which took effect on April 28, 1952, officially ended World War II, Okinawa was separated from the mainland and the U.S. military occupation of the prefecture continued until 1972.

“It is a nice day because (Japan) became independent” again, but “it was a day when Okinawa was deserted (by Japan), too,” Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima was quoted as saying Thursday by the Okinawa Times.

“It’s only natural (the Okinawan people) have various feelings, such as resentment and bitterness,” he told the paper.

During Friday’s Cabinet meeting, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga rushed to tell his colleagues it is important “not to forget Okinawa’s history of hardship” and to keep trying to reduce the prefecture’s U.S. base burden.

  • seetell

    To the Japanese and American governments, Okinawa is a piece of land in a great location to serve Japanese security and American hegemony. The Okinawan people are more a nuisance than an asset to these governments and are either ignored or placated by lies and deception.

    Where are the human rights activists in the UN, US, and mainland Japan. The largest difference between Okinawans and Tibetans is the lack of US troops in Tibet. The world hates Chinese troops in Tibet but holds its collective tongues at the continued Japanese-sanctioned occupation of Okinawa by American troops.

    • Robert Amstadt

      America does not occupy Okinawa or any other part of any other country. Japan, like Germany, was dominated by a fascist-military thug cabal which caused the deaths of millions of innocents. That is why US troops were in Okinawa from 1945 until the present day. They could not remain without approval of democratically-elected Japanese governments.

      • seetell

        Democratically elected like Hatoyama? Who was humiliated by Obama for trying to implement his (and Ozawa’s) campaign manifesto (which certainly helped the DPJ to be elected) to remove some of the troop burden from Okinawa and create a “more equal” relationship between Japan and the US. When even a democratically elected politician runs afoul of American interests, the results are never good. Ask Hatoyama – and Allende and Mossadegh to name two more.

        As for Japanese government approval of the ongoing American presence, perhaps you did not read my entire comment. They are certainly included in my criticism.

        Your definition of “occupy” might not pass the smell test on Okinawa. But you do bring up an interesting point as for the reason these troops are in Japan. According to you, it is because the Japanese are a “fascist-military thug cabal” which can not (apparently) be trusted (even though the US has been trying for decades to get Japan to repeal Article 9 so that Japanese forces can join in on American wars). That’s funny because the Japanese have been assured by its government and the Americans that those troops are there to protect the Japanese from the evil Chinese and North Koreans (and before that communism and the equally evil Soviet Union). So, if you are correct, you confirm my claim that the Japanese are being deceived by both governments. And your reason sounds a lot like occupation. On the other hand, if what the Japanese believe is correct, then you are just making stuff up. Which is it?

      • Yuriko

        18 percent of Okinawa is a US base. While their rule is not that of a Nazi it does not make it right as well. The problem is America is forcing Japan to host the bases. They want a new base and the people of Okinawa say NO!

    • Jaycasey

      Your comment shows a perhaps willful ignorance of the relative situations in Tibet and Okinawa and is quite an insult to Tibetans as well as Americans. If you want to equate the burdens faced by Tibetans with those faced by Okinawans I could only pray that you get a chance to experience the life of a Tibetan in your next reincarnation. You’ll be begging for the life of an Okinawan. It is not inconceivable that if the US bases left Okinawa that you might get the opportunity to experience the fate of Tibet when the Chinese claim the islands someday.

      Of course Okinawa is burdened with military bases and I understand their frustration. I think everything possible should be done to lessen the impact. But unlike most winners of wars the US gives back territories. Imperial Japan did not willingly do that. The Russians have not. You should give credit where credit is due.

      • seetell

        Historically, the Chinese have always respected the sovereignty of the Ryukyu Kingdom (Okinawa). Not so for the Americans. In 1853, prior to forcing Japan to “open”, Commodore Perry stopped off in Okinawa, seized land for housing and livestock, forced the islanders to build a storehouse for coal, threatened his way into Shuri Castle, the royal residence, and (among other things) planted an American flag there, the symbolic act of conquerors. As a side note, a sailor from one of the American ships raped a local women during that visit. Villagers defended the woman and were punished for that by Perry who then gave the woman some cloth as compensation for the crime against her.

        As for today, the crimes continue by American troops. And despite your claim that America gives back its territories, it seems to be doggedly holding on to Okinawan land. Perhaps your perspective comes from the US education system and media.