The Japanese island of Okinawa is perhaps the most beautiful place I’ve ever been blessed to visit. Okinawa’s people, peaceful history (before the stationing of Japanese troups there during World War II, there was no culture of war or even indigenous weaponry on the island), culture, geography and language (which pre-dates the Japanese language, and is thought by many linguists to form the basis for Japanese, along with Chinese languages) are all unique and wonderful. The only stain on this idyllic place are U.S. military bases.
The small island bears the heaviest burden of U.S. bases of any part of Japan (even though the island is closer to Taiwan than to Tokyo). Many Okinwans feel doubly oppressed, by the Japanese and U.S. governments, with the placement of U.S. bases causing severe social, environmental, agricultural and financial problems on the island. (Many Okinawans also feel it ought to be independent of Japan.) Peace Action has been proud to stand with our sister group Gensuikin and other peace movement, civic and governmental allies in Okinawa in calling for the removal of U.S. bases, especially the Futenma Marine base (the last two years, our Organizing and Policy Director, Paul Kawika Martin, and Peace Action of New York State Executive Director Alicia Godsberg have also travelled to Okinawa to support organizing efforts there).
This week, Okinawa peace-makers are runnning an advertisement in the New York Times, bringing their demands to a larger international audience. Please take a moment to read and learn more, (and here is the website with even more information) and circulate the ad to friends you think might be interested in learning more and supporting the cause of peace for the people of Okinawa.