Activist Shinako Oyakawa recently used her first participation at a United Nations gathering in New York to highlight Okinawan issues in the context of a broader struggle for the rights of indigenous people around the world.

"We really have to make it an international issue because it is related to so many other indigenous peoples' problems, and colonization is happening under the table," she said on the sidelines of the international body's 17th Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues last month.

"Both the Japanese and U.S. governments are violently pushing through construction of new military bases at Henoko and Takae," said the Ph.D. candidate at the University of the Ryukyus and executive member of the Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans.