‘Academic society’ disappoints

I read with both great interest and deep disappointment the July 11 article “Okinawans explore secession option“: interest because of the subject matter, and disappointment because of factual and interpretive problems with the article itself and because of the nature of the “academic society” introduced in it — the Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans. I would like to focus on the last point.

Another name for an academic association (gakkai) is a learned society. It should not be a movement but one that scientifically studies matters. The scientific method is about inquiry; it does not begin with a conclusion but a question.

It has been the failure of pacifist scholars over the past two decades (if not four decades before) to provide forward-looking and realistic solutions to problems that similarly continue to doom Okinawa and its relations with mainland Japan to a downward spiral. (Indeed, the understanding of the issues by the so-called pacifists, who are actually often quite violent and lawbreaking, to begin with are imprecise and incorrect at best.) Because of this, they have been part of the problem and not the solution.

Blending political movements and so-called academic societies only further blurs the situation, and makes it more difficult for those, like myself, who are seriously concerned with studying about Okinawa and providing solutions to better things.

It appears that this new association takes fundamentalism to the next extreme, which does not bode well for Okinawa or its relations with the mainland or, for that matter, U.S.-Japan-Okinawa relations and regional peace and prosperity

As a visiting researcher at the same university at which the co-founder of the above association teaches, I would argue that the political nature of the “academic association” dooms itself from the start. Free thought and scientific inquiry must be guaranteed; only then are people really free.

robert d. eldridge
chatan, okinawa

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.