The resumption of land reclamation to build military bases is causing grief in Okinawa Prefecture. And in the face of a possible Taiwan contingency, residents are concerned about the threat of their islands becoming a battleground once again.

But Okinawa is not downcast or standing still. New initiatives are being launched by its government and younger generation to ease regional tensions, including the rivalry between the United States and China — the reason behind a growing military presence in the prefecture.

“One more hardship in Okinawa's history of suffering.” These were the words, on Jan. 10, of Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki — who I have worked with closely for the past decade (the think tank I founded has provided counsel to the Okinawan government on several projects). On that day, the Okinawa Defense Bureau began reclamation of Oura Bay for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Henoko, in Nago city.