The protesters sing a song titled Give Us Back Okinawa

The night of January 10th, the Okinawa Defense Bureau suddenly restarted the construction work in Henoko. At 10PM the ODB deployed over 100 riot cops from the Okinawa State Police in order to protect their route to transport heavy machinery and building supplies into the Camp Schwab of the U.S. Marine Corps.

We condemn ODB’s sneak attack on the Okinawan people and their ongoing repressive measure to silence people through the use of police force.

The people are sitting, standing and blockading to delay the work, battling the cold wind and rain. People are on the ground and in the sea. Please support their efforts by spreading the word, emailing and calling the offices (list of numbers below).

If you can go to Henoko, HERE IS THE TRAVELING DIRECTIONS. Safe travels!

If you cannot be there, here’s a list of things you can do, via local group Project Disagree


Okinawa Defense Bureau

Phone: (+81)-98-921-8131

Fax : (+81)-98-921-8168

Ministry of Defense, Japan


Cabinet Secretariat, Japan




US Embassy in Tokyo

Phone: (+81)-3-3224-5000

Fax: (+81)-3-3505-1862

Caroline Kennedy, US Ambassador to Japan

John McCain, Chairman of Senate Armed Services Committee



Okinawa State Police
Complains: (+81)-98-863-9110 (24hrs.)



Action in NYC: US Out of the Asia-Pacific Region! No to the TPPA!

Asia-Pacific community organizations in NYC and across the US will hold actions on Friday, April 25 to protest the so-called US “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The actions are timed with President Obama’s visit to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines beginning this week.

What: Rally Against Increasing US intervention in Asia-Pacific Region & the TPP

When: Friday, April 25, 6:30pm

Where: Times Square US Armed Forces Recruitment Station (43rd Street & Broadway)

Who: Asia-Pacific Not For Sale- a recently-formed network led by CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, BAYAN USA, and Nodutdol for Korean Community Development; and various supporters
Facebook event page:
The usage of the word “pivot” as a policy term to describe the US strategic agenda in the Asia-Pacific region was first introduced by former US Secretary Hillary Clinton in October 2011. Months later in January 2012, President Barack Obama and then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced a shifting of US military forces to the Asia-Pacific region.
At the same time, the Obama administration has been leading top-secret negotiations with big multinational corporations and 11 other countries in East Asia, Southeast Asia and along the Pacific Rim on a multi-lateral trade agreement that has been dubbed “NAFTA on Steroids”. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) stands to be the largest “free trade” agreement in history, and the most vicious against labor, the environment, and people’s rights.
US-based Asian-Pacific Islanders are building a broad movement to oppose increased US economic, political, and military intervention in the Asia-Pacific region. We demand our tax dollars be redirected towards resolving the worsening domestic economic crisis, rather than on increasing intervention abroad. We also recognize and stand in solidarity with the peoples of the Asia-Pacific region who have long been resisting US intervention and hegemony.

Put That Sticker On!

Support the struggles against US military in Okinawa – wherever you are – by purchasing stickers!

Shop here:

Two designs are available:

1) WHY US BASES IN OKINAWA? -Dugong version


2) WHY US BASES IN OKINAWA? – Save Takae version


All the proceeds will be sent to the group in Takae, Okinawa who are keeping the front line of blockade 24/7 in northern Okinawa.

Shop here:


From Postcard Campaign to Save Henoko:


“SUPPORT THE GOVERNOR: POSTCARD CAMPAIGN TO SAVE HENOKO & OURA BAY” is an ongoing grassroots campaign whereby Okinawans are sending postcards to Governor Nakaima to demonstrate their support for his goal to save Henoko & Oura Bay. This beautiful and beloved eco-region situated in a quiet part of northern Okinawa’s coastline is a thriving biodiverse habitat of Okinawa’s critically endangered dugongs and other unique (including newly discovered) marine wildlife. It is adjacent to the subtropical rainforest of Yanbaru .

Now is the final stage of Okinawa’s struggle for Henoko & Oura Bay. the US and Japanese governments are pushing forward their plan to construct a massive US military base there with force. Last March, Okinawa Defense Bureau (Japan Defense Ministry office in Okinawa) submitted to Okinawa prefecture their application for reclamation of the sea off Henoko, while all 41 municipalities in Okinawa and the Governor oppose the plan. The Abe administration is now putting strong pressure on the Governor, so we should support him. To express our support, we encourage you to write the Governor a postcard.

Please write him: “We support you ! “ “No More Bases ! ” “Save Henoko!” “Save Okinawa Dugong” “Stay strong”

The address:
Govenor Hirokazu Nakaima
Secretariat Division
Okinawa Prefecture
Izumizaki, Naha
Okinawa,   900-8570   Japan

When you write to him, please take a photo of your postcard and email it to okinawaor[at] We will upload it on our blog.

“The mountains and the sea are connected – No to the landfill.”

“Please take are of your health, save the sea of Henoko!”

“For the future generations”


Dear Friends Who Disagree,

I haven’t updated in a while – since the nuclear explosions in Fukushima, Japan. Today, the struggles in Okinawa continues and even seems to escalate from time to time, unfortunately. But our friends in Takae are on the ground protecting the line to stop the operation.

I have started sending fax to Okinawa Defense Bureau on weekly basis. Okinawa Defense Bureau is the governmental agency that contracts and operates Takae helipad construction under the direction of Japan’s Ministry of Defense. Despite continued resistance by means of non-violence by the people in Okinawa for over 5 years, the ODB continues to ignore the voices of the residents and forcibly constructing the helipad.

Faxing is very effective, say activists in Okinawa who have been untiringly updating me on-the-ground info about the construction. OK. Let’s fax our messages to ODB today.

I have an easy access to fax, so I’ll be your fax courier. Please send your message to whyusbasesinokinawa<at> along with

1) your message (in doc, pdf, jpg…)

2) your name

3) email address

4) mailing address if you wish to receive ‘why us bases in okinawa?’ sticker (it’s cute and dugong)

I will be responsible to forward your message to Okinawa Defense Bureau. You’ll receive a confirmation email and a sticker if you desire.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Your WUSBIO pal

This is a Struggle of Discourses

Original translation from Japan – Fissures in the Planetary Apparatus
Original text in Japanese from Project Disagree

The rapist remark made by Satoshi Tanaka, the Chief of Okinawa Defense Bureau, was taken up to be investigated as fast as ever, after reported in Ryuku Shinpo on November 29th 2011, and its progress was made into an unprecedented spectacle hour by hour. As a result, Tanaka was suspended from his position on the same day, due to his “An Inappropriate Remark That Insults Women and Okinawans” (Okinawa Times, online, November 29th).

This incident cannot be treated merely as an inappropriate remark. Worse than this is the Japanese government whose response is nothing but replacing, localizing and minimizing of the real problem. Osamu Fujimura, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, spoke of Tanaka’s suspension, but his words were hardly out of his mouth or the tip of his tongue, when he stated he would “set forward” the planned construction of military base in Henoko and a submission of the environmental assessment related to the construction before the end of the year. To borrow Tanaka’s problematic tongue, Fujiwara’s statement implies “rape [yaru]” Okinawa. Tanaka’s remark was not in the least an unfortunate slip of the tongue that revealed his personal view, but it was a straightforward expression of the fact that Japan’s imposition of US military bases on Okinawa is itself a rape of the Okinawan people. In the land that suffered numerous rapes by US soldiers, a killing by military vehicle, a Marine Corps helicopter crash on a university campus and the occupation of the site thereafter, and so on1, Japan finally revealed its true picture as a rapist of Okinawans.

This remark was made in the context of a series of events affecting Okinawa in recent days: 1) the state of lawlessness in Yaeyama region, where a textbook with right-wing ideology was coercively selected; 2) and, resulting unconstitutional state where the school districts that oppose to the selection was threatened that they pay for the textbook2; 3) a manifestation of national border by the alignment of the Self-Defense Force in Yonaguni Island3; 4) the exclusion of Okinawa’s voice in Japanese government’s refusal to revise the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement.4 Against this, it is necessary for us to protest in a diffusing and continuous manner.

And finally, it is the current situation in Takae that is most explicitly conveying the core of this problem.

It was reported that, shortly before making his problematic remark, Tanaka touched on the current helipad construction in Takae: “honestly I am not convinced as to why people are protesting against the construction we are promoting for the reversion of more than half of the northern drill base of US military.” On the other hand, the Defense Bureau has been criminalizing Takae protestors by putting SLAPP lawsuit against them: evidently, as if abusing the judicial system wasn’t enough, it is now putting pressures on Okinawa Prefectural Police to oppress the protesters by force. Although this much came to be clearly seen in our eyes today, after Tanaka’s rapist remark emerged in the public, the Defense Bureau forcefully attempted to carry out the construction in Takae.5

Therefore, our protest against the chief of the Defense Bureau should not stop at denunciation of his rapist remark; this problem should not be concluded as his personal error and slip of the tongue. It is only after seeking to silence, ignore and deny our resistance that they are preparing to tell us: “[the construction was reached] upon an agreement with you”.6 This is the structure of rape itself. Hence we will continue to say: “we have not agreed.”

Let us question first: what goes on in the party hosted by the Defense Bureau for an informal talk with press personnel? What kind of off-record conversations are exchanged? We ought to confirm the fact that it all took place in a particular space: where the press expects to catch “important stories with the help of alcohol” from the mouths of defense bureaucrats, who in return expect to enable themselves to control any information leak as a result of creating and maintaining a kind of accomplice between two parties. Only in this kind of space did emerge such a misogynic remark.7

It was reported that Hirota Nakaima, the governor of Okinawa Prefecture, expressed: “my mouth would get sullied” in order to explain his refusal to make a comment on the case. His naïve choice of words with which he might have intended a sharp blow must be criticized as a structure of the second rape discourse. What is it that is sullied by rape? The countless bodies that were violated, lying on top of another in the Postwar history of Okinawa, have always been sealed and forced to be silent, precisely by the word: “sullied.” The time is now for us to break the seal of the gloomy history, and for us to weave our words of resistance and liberation expressively and excessively.

Without reservation we strongly object the phallocentric discourse that this report suggests. We cannot afford to overlook the fact that, through the use of words such as ‘sully’, ‘rape’ and ‘sexual relations’, what the media objectified and portrayed as the violated was none other than ‘women’, as if it was a matter of course. Numerous media reports and statements stood on the side of male, excused themselves from the fear of being raped themselves by inserting the phrase: ‘they disdain women’, and thus exposed their phallocentrism that only by mentioning rape on women the magma of anger is supposed to arise. We need to distance ourselves from the discourse that also appropriates the 1995 rape of a young Okinawan girl. When we refer to the 1995 incident, it is no longer enough to point out the same repeated slip of the tongue or to stereotypically condemn ‘sexual discrimination.’ What we learned from it were a fundamental question on military and sexual violence, a new movement that emerged within a movement, and a link of movements created by opening up to the outside of Okinawa.8

Therefore, in times like this, let us remember that concrete words of protest always come from timely voices of women, and not from the ‘magma of anger.’ But whenever we make protests properly, the space of phallocentric discourse that exists within the society of Okinawa seeks to undermine them9. ‘We will protect you’ = ‘we will always rape you’ — this double structure eloquently tells us the fact that the Security Treaty in Okinawa itself is an imperialism and at the same time the rapist structure. We must remember always and repeatedly to raise our voice that creates fissures and cracks onto the structure. And it is in such moment that the word ‘women’ starts operating actively and having its meanings.

We are in the midst of a struggle of discourses.

Unless we break down the realm of US Imperialism exposed by Kevin Maher’s remark and Japanese imperialism exposed by the bureaucrats’ remark — and unless we break down the phallocentrism complicit with these imperialisms — we cannot deepen the meaning of our anti-military base struggles in Okinawa.

Project Disagree

November 29, 2011


1 Research documents include: Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, 沖縄・米兵による女性への性犯罪(U.S. Military’s Sexual Viiolence Against Women in Okinawa)” April 1945- June 2001, Vol. 6. On the US military helicopter crash in Okinawa International University, see Ariko Kurosawa ed, “沖国大がアメリカに占領された日:8.13米軍ヘリ墜落事件から見えてきた 沖縄/日本の縮図 (The Day Okinawa International University was Occupied by U.S.: A Microcosm of Okinawa/Japan Seen Through 8.13 U.S. Helicopter Clash)” Seidosha, 2005
2 Regarding Yaeyama Textbook issues, see
3 Regarding JSDF deployment in Yonaguni, see
The term “manifestation of national border” came from the chapter 11 of Osamu Yakabi’s “沖縄戦・米軍占領史を学びなおす:記憶をいかに継承するか(Reexamine the Battle of Okinawa and the History of US military Occupation: How We Inherit the Memory)” Seorishobo, 2009. He analyzes that the occupation governance of the US military embodied a national border between Yonaguni and Taiwan that is far detached from the sense of reality shared among the people who live in the regions, and “reconstructed a new national border while advocating an internal security within Okinawa.” We must keep in mind these words of Yakabi’s in order to examine the context of the deployment of JSDF in Yonaguni today.
4 An important focal point of the US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement in 2011 was the revision of the regulation on prosecuting on-duty military personnel who cause traffic accident. Although a revision of the Agreement was considered following the death of Koki Yogi by run over by a U.S. Military vehicle in January 2011, the Japanese government went no further than stating “a revision of implementation.” Meanwhile, however, the gap between Japan and the US over the understanding of the jurisdiction has become clarified. See 「軍属裁判権は接受国優先 米法に明記」Okinawa Times, December 1, 2011
5 See What is Going On In Takae, Toson of Yanbaru:
6 On November 17th, the same day he made the rapist remark, Tanaka, while having mentioned the bitter history of Henoko that it had to accept the hosting of Camp Schwab, stated: “a resolution has been reached among the locals to accept the new construction, as long as the conditions posed by the local residents are recognized.”
7 Ryukyu Shimpo’s initial report quoted Tanaka: “Nobody would say ‘ I will rape you now’ before raping someone.” But we wonder if actual rapes are rather accompanied by such serious blackmailing as ‘I’ll kill you if you tell others’ or ‘I’ll revealed your secret to others.’ In other words, Tanaka’s words themselves are based upon the rape myth, which reveals the presence of misogyny. We must therefore point out and criticize the complicit relations in the alcohol-induced informal discussion, wherein the reporters ‘acknowledged’ Tanaka’s words as a metaphor of rape, based on the rape myth.
8 Following the 1995 incident,Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence was founded and has since been establishing a network of anti-militarization internationally.
9 It is necessary to recall these statements that follow:
“I am going to speak up as a victim. I was raped by US soldiers when I was a sophomore in high school. They threatened me with a knife on my way home and took me to a park near my house; there I was raped by three US soldiers. I was really frightened. I thought to myself: ‘it’s all over, I’m going to die.” No matter how hard I tried to scream for help, I could not let my voice out. Then a soldier said to me, ‘I can kill you.’ He did not say ‘I’m going to’ but ‘I can’.” (An Open Letter to [then] Governor Inamine, Okinawa times, July 9t, 2005)
“I felt like dead when the incident happened. We were again crushed by the Foreign Minister’s statement, and simply said, we felt like we were being told to die.” “I interpreted the minister’s remark as an order for us to stay quiet even after we became victims of a crime. I think this is what a second rape is.” “Do people exist for the sake of a nation? Or does a nation exist for the sake of its people? Historically, the military has never protected the people in Okinawa. But they still insist that the people are living in a peaceful society. If that’s the definition of Japanese citizens to you, your definition would make Okinawans non-citizens, would it not?” (The Last Letters to Machimura [then] Foreign Minister, Okinawa Times, July 15th, 2005)
Okinawa Prefectural Assembly held its second day of public hearing on February 26th. Among the speakers was Kyoko Higa, who stated on the issue of 1995 rape of a girl, that the “Governor Nakaima is committing a second rape with his words,” which was met with a protest by both the ruling party and the administration as “inappropriate.” The Assembly remained idle for 4 hours from shortly after 5pm. The state of idle had not occurred since the regular assembly on June 2006, and it was the first time since Nakaima came in office. Higa apologized: “I have made an inappropriate remark that ruined the governor’s personality, and degraded the assembly;” she withdrew her remark, and the matter was settled. Earlier the governor stated: “whether protect the security of the whole Asia or protect the safety of a girl – this is not a matter of comparison”; then Higa made a remark: “the governor is lacking the sense of responsibility as the highest official who is supposed to protect human rights of his people.” Then she added: “he is committing a second rape.” (Ryukyu Shimpo, February 27, 2008)


Atoms for Peace is Dead – Reexamining Okinawan Contemporary History Through Post-311 Fukushima

from Japan – Fissures in the Planetary Apparatus

Atoms for Peace is Dead – Reexamining Okinawan Contemporary History Through Post-311 Fukushima

Chiyo Wakabayashi

Given that it is over a thousand kilometers distance from Fukushima Daiichi, the society of Okinawa at the moment does not appear to suffer much effect from the nuclear accident. Even though a small amount of radioactive substances must be flying over through the sky, the islands of Okinawa are excluded from the “nuclear plant map” of Japan, repeatedly broadcasted on TV, since the prefecture does not host any nuclear plants. The absence on the map might have given an impression to the rest of the nation that Okinawa is the only safe zone, free of radiation in the country. At the same time, due to the fact that we see almost no changes in the routine lifelines or on a material basis, it is undeniable that Okinawans tend to resonate and internalize such images of their home unconsciously.

We ought to be cautious, however, of this uncanny sense of peacefulness. Day by day I find it crucial that we delve into our imagination to further examine this matter.

Nuclear energy is part of the development of nuclear technology, which originated in the development of military technology in the mid-20th century. As revealed in the course of the current disaster, the exclusiveness of electric companies, atomic industries and the national policy on nuclear energy entails characteristics of having been “established by the political force without waiting for a technical maturity,” and having “always carried militaristically touchy elements within”[2] So it is that, even if Okinawa does not suffer direct damage from the Fukushima disaster, it is inseparable from the problems that have arisen from 3/11, and it should not be exempt from our attention in that regard.

It is important to acknowledge that nuclear issues exist at the core of the problematic of Okinawan contemporary history, and therefore it is crucial to reexamine it through the experience of 3/11 and Fukushima as a moment. That is to say, thinking through the unbearable anxiety shared among the people in the disaster-stricken area, their distrust towards the state, capital and science, and their cries from the threat forced upon their lives is indispensable for strengthening and deepening our recognition of recent history, and drawing a longer line of temporality from the past to the future. It is necessary that we stay sensible and conscious of the common horizon of recognition.


Since the 1950s US military bases in Okinawa have been deemed A-bomb bases, as US presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Nixon publicly called them. They have held nuclear-armed missiles such as Nike Hercules, and hosted nuclear marine propulsions for a call at a port, causing the problems of radioactive cobalt-60 (i.e., the exposure of base workers to radiation, as Kenzaburo Oe reported in his well-known reportage Okinawa Notes, published in 1970). Meanwhile, as the secret agreement on Okinawa Reversion has been gradually revealed, suspicion persists in nuclear weapons having been carried on and stored in the bases even after 1972, the year of reversion. Furthermore, after the recent incident of a US Marine helicopter crash at the Okinawa International University in 2004, a radioactive material–strontium-90–was detected at the site on the campus[3].

Such rapports of nuclear weapons’ presence with military bases have had a great impact on Okinawa in various contexts: its history, politics, society and culture. If I mention but an example of the US oppression on local residents during the 1950s, it is the first Ryukyu University Incident in 1953, that was triggered by a photo  exhibition entitled “Atomic Bomb Exhibition,” organized by a group of students, who had been shocked by a magazine article on the atomic bomb victims from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They organized it without a permit from the US military government and were later indicted[4]. While media censorship on A-bomb damages had already been called off on mainland Japan, Okinawans still had to mute their voices and opinions regarding the issue. This epitomized the primal position of Okinawa during the US military occupation that separated Okinawa from Japan under Article 3 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan. (The treaty was concluded in 1951, but this merely embodied a transformation of the wartime occupation into permanent military control.) During the same period when the strategy of mass retaliation, namely, Eisenhower’s “New Look” developed its dependence on nuclear weapons, what the US mostly feared was that Okinawans could take Hiroshima and Nagasaki incidents as their own issue, instead of distant events, and thereby pay attention to the problems of their islands under US “exclusive rule,” and develop criticisms against it upon realizing the present social contradiction that military presence is deeply embedded in their livelihood.
Around the same time on mainland Japan, the Lucky Dragon No. 5 incident caused by the hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll brought strong opposition against nuclear weapons as well as US military strategy. Unlike in Okinawa under US military rule, on mainland Japan the people were able to organize nuclear disarmament movements on a grassroots level and extensively linked the movements for the First World Conference against Nuclear and Hydrogen Bombs, held in Hiroshima in 1955. However, the social movement was weakened thereafter during the course of clearing Japan’s “nuke allergy” by way of introducing a “Faustian contract” (Peter Kuznik) on the peaceful use of atomic energy, namely, Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” doctrine[5]. Okinawa’s difference from Japan is equal to the difference between Article 3 of Treaty of Peace with Japan and the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty. That is to say, the southern islands were kept in a “stateless” status under US exclusive rule — instead of being ruled by the UN acknowledged trusteeship of the US — under the bizarre international law. At the same time, it is a reflection of the Janus–faced characteristics of US nuclear strategy: mass-retaliation by nuclear weapons and “Atoms for Peace.” It was half a century later that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident revealed the true substance of the matter by having blown one of these two heads away.

As is widely known by now, the main concern for the US during the process of Okinawa Reversion was to maintain the free use of the military bases, and ultimately the operation of nuclear bases. This is the core of the vital importance the US has sought in Okinawa since around 1950, as insisted by the so-called Ryukyu Working Group consisting of the Department of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Department of Defense, while it was considering a concrete negotiation for the Reversion of Okinawa.

‘Vital’ is a more essential and active word than ‘Keystone’ that the US used to describe Okinawa military bases. ‘Keystone,’ implying a stationary architectural structure, is used to describe a support for the body of US military strategy. On the other hand, ‘vital’ comes from a Latin word vita or vitalis, an adjective used for life-forms. The expression to describe Okinawa as ‘vital’ is often seen in US official archives, first of which was Douglass McArthur’s speech in March 1948. At the meeting with George F. Kennan, then-Director of Policy Planning at the Dept. of State, McArthur stated that “Okinawa has vital importance” and if enough “air power” is deployed there, the US will be able to defend not only the Japanese archipelago but also Northeast to Southeast Asia as well as the entire western Pacific[6]. Although McArthur did not mention the term nuclear weapons then, his emphasis on “air power” meant that in the context of post-Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.

Following the success of Russia’s 1949 atomic bomb test, the outbreak of the Korean War led the US to start installing nuclear weapons on overseas bases in and around Europe. Furthermore in the 1950s, following again the success of the Russian hydrogen bomb test, the US began nuclear deployment in Asia during the time of tension between mainland China and Taiwan over the crisis of the Taiwan Straits. By the time Eisenhower was leaving the government at the end of the 50s, US bases in Guam, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Okinawa hosted approximately 1,700 on-the-ground nuclear weapons, almost half of which (approx. 800) belonged to Kadena Air Force Base where the bombers under Strategic Air Command (SAC) were stationed. Curtis LeMay, the chief of USAF and SAC and also the planner of the WWII bombing strategy against Japan, including the Tokyo Air Raid, had great confidence in delivering nuclear weapons to oversea bases as well as tactics of using them.

It was around the time of the Korean War that McArthur’s view of Okinawa’s vital importance attained a realistic ground vis-à-vis nuclear weapons. In early March 1951, McArthur requested the Truman administration order an attack with nuclear weapons on North Korea and its areas bordering with China. As of the end of March, the lieutenant general George Stratemeyer of USAF announced that the nuclear facility in Kadena Air Base was ready for actual operation, in other words, except for nuclear capsules, the main construction of atomic bombs had been completed by then. In early April, Truman fired McArthur; it is said that his insistence on the nuclear attack was the reason for his dismissal. However, six months later, USAF performed a simulation A-bombing on North Korea named “Operation Hudson Harbor,” launching B-29 from Kadena Air Base to drop a mock A-bomb filled with TNT gunpowder[7].

Thereafter in the 60s especially during the Vietnam War, it was said that the US performed atomic bombing drills, and as mentioned by the farmer Shoko Ahagon who fought the land struggle against compulsory expropriation by the US Forces in Ie-jima Island, such drilling was performed over and over again in the US rifle training center in Maja-village, built on land forcibly taken from the locals. And this drilling triggered the local residents to develop further oppositional consciousness for their anti-US base movement. Later Ahagon walked into the mock atomic bombing site and collected remains of the bombshells, which are now displayed at the Nuchidutakara [life is treasure] Anti-war Museum in Ie-jima Island[8].

Fundamentally, the basis of all land struggles in occupied Okinawa, including the dispute of Ie-jima in particular, has been non-violent direct action, civil disobedience by the residents. They have always fought “not to let them use their land for killing,” criticizing the pro-military policy and calling to bring back the land for life and productions. While the US forces are composed as a giant military machine that possesses highly destructive murderous weapons such as thermo-nuclear bombs, the people of Okinawa have always fought bare-handed against it, as they often call it. Although Raymond Williams said: “military technologies are an important element of structuring social order,” the social order in Okinawa under US occupation was embodied by the distance between nuclear weaponry and hoes and sickles.[9] Many of those whose land was taken by the military sought to make a living by taking jobs at the bases, calling them “military labor,” but such jobs only gave hoes and sickles to the people to pick up rocks and dig unused bombs out, in providing the labor to construct facilities and runways — the state-of-the-art weaponry.
The vital importance of Okinawa for US forces was also carved into the livelihood of Okinawans, in other words, the maintenance of their financial stability, labor and land. In addition, out of numerous American corporations that were involved in building Okinawa military bases, included were the contractors for construction of domestic nuclear facilities since the Manhattan Project.

In the numerous Okinawan post-war testimonies, the name “AJ Company” is often mentioned by the people reminiscing about their military labor. The base construction in Okinawa began with a joint venture of Guy F. Atkinson Company and J. A. Jones that exclusively contracted the projects from the US military. Founded in 1910, the Atkinson Company grew rapidly during their contract for a nuclear production facility in Hanford, WA. The Hanford nuclear facility had produced Plutonium, which was used for Trinity, the first test of the Manhattan Project, as well as for the A-bomb “Fat Man” dropped in Nagasaki. Jones Company had participated in construction of the nuclear research facility in Oakridge TN. The merged company of Atkinson and Jones was not only contracted for Okinawa bases but also by General Electric when it replaced Dupont for a plutonium facility in Hanford. Another contractor for Hanford, Morrison-Knudsen Co. also participated in Okinawa base construction[10].

To date no exact official document has been found  concerning the involvement of the above US contractors in the construction of nuclear facilities in Okinawa, aside from the projects in Hanford or Oakridge. However, the US military had already been nuclear-armed at the time of the Okinawan constructions, and at the time of the negotiation for the Reversion of Okinawa, the US assigned Kadena and Henoko stations as their nuclear storage facilities. The establishment of the extremely controlled society (aka. plutonium economy) forced almost 1,500 households to move out of the Hanford vicinity, for the realization of Manhattan Project and later for the production of plutonium, the ultimate nuclear substance, all of which were planned and pursued by the US Army Engineering Corps. Similarly in Okinawa, for the vital importance of the bases, the Army Engineering Corps forced many civilians to move off of their land and work for the US contractors of aforementioned history.


Shortly after the 3/11 earthquake, NHK Okinawa repeatedly reported that the US military had announced that the Marines were ready to be dispatched to the affected area for disaster rescue, just awaiting for a request from the Japanese government. Under the name of “Operation Tomodachi [friendship],” the US Forces with Marines began sending a nuclear aircraft carrier to the coast of Fukushima. The garish impression the operation gave to the public, blended later with another garishness: the killing of Osama Bin Ladin, performed as if a public execution. Together they seem to have impressed the Okinawan public with a sign of US decline, rather than a fear of its magnitude of power.

Many Okinawans are aware that Operation Tomodachi is more a deception staged for the benefit of the US government and Japan-US alliance than a genuine project for humanitarian aid. It is also thought to be an excuse for the US military to legitimately gain access to public airports and air facilities for their military use. But it makes us question more fundamental characteristics of the military itself: i.e., as epitomized in Eisenhower’s Janus-faced nuclear strategy, it is difficult to believe that their basis of humanitarian aid comes from ‘good will’, while they unfold indiscriminate massacres in Iraq and Afghanistan, and commit crimes on a daily basis in Okinawa. Not to mention that Kevin Maher, who branded Okinawans as “stupid” when he was the US consul general of Okinawa, took charge in mediation for the operation. (Then, in May, he turned to be a business consultant in a company, working for nuclear fuel recycling industries, in which Richard Lawless, the former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs during the Bush administration, is one of the executives.)

The situation does not seem unproblematic at all. Since the 2000s, Lieutenant General Wallace C. Gregson and the Okinawa Marine Corps deputy assistant chief of staff Robert D. Eldridge have been aiming to “strengthen the Japan-US partnership and develop a maritime base jointly for US and Japanese forces to support humanitarian aid and rescue work,” at the same time as constantly placing emphasis on “humanitarian aid” and “disaster relief” in the magazine issued by the Marines in Okinawa[11]. Furthermore, at the Okinawa Policy Council’s Subcommittee on Burden Reduction, meeting shortly after 3/11, the Defense minister of Japan Toshimi Kitazawa proposed use of the airports in Miyako and Shimoji Islands as “international base stations in case of a large scale disaster emergency.” Although the Ministry of Defense insists that Kitazawa’s statement was solely a response to the proposal of Okinawa Prefecture for its role for “International contribution by the establishment of disaster relief base in Asia-Pacific region,” the US-Japan alliance seems to take advantage of the confusion at the scene of fire, a move to which we need pay attention, as it is veiled under the seemingly contradictory plans for the base relocation: unifying Kadena and securing Henoko[12].

Ever since 3/11, the contemporary history of Okinawa has been at a crucial turning point. As the struggles against building new Marine air stations and bases in Henoko and Takae continue, this past April 2011, on their visit to Okinawa for inspection of Futenma Relocation issues, the United States House Committee on Armed Services was met by more than 22,000 plaintiffs of the third Kadena Noise Pollution case. Kadena Air Base has been a symbolic element of vital importance of Okinawa bases. In addition, in synchronicity with Kadena plaintiffs, the landowners of Camp Schwab in Henoko that has been said to have nuclear storage and of Camp Hansen that hosts a simulation facility for contra-guerilla urban warfare, are raising their voices against renewal of the land contract. These are, as it were, Okinawans’ time-lagged response, their rejection against the terms: “return to Henoko” and “deterrent” used in the campaign for the military realignment during the Hatoyama administration. At the same time, I have to stress, an optimism in action observed in the people’s movements intervening in the history of militarization is the very element that has been moving forward the contemporary history of nuclear-burdened Okinawa.

On May 7th 2011, in a Ustream live broadcast from the massive anti-nuke demonstration in Shibuya Tokyo, we saw young people scream: “We don’t need nuke plants,” “Save children,” “Right to live, No to profit,” along with a sound system truck that hung a banner in big letters, “’Atoms for Peace’ is Dead.” All these seem to tell us that at the moment the people in Japan are facing crisis and fissures of their history, in which they are struggling to find a new identity and common consciousness of the world. The Japanese people, who have long identified themselves with a pessimism of the world internalized in the state policy and covered themselves with a cynicism, are about to experience changes confronting the abyss of the history. Okinawa too ought to see and ascertain the changes as such. Let us all go forward together for “’Atoms for Peace’ is Dead” and beyond.


[1] This article was originally published in Impaction, No. 180.

[2] 高木仁三郎『市民科学者として生きる』(岩波書店、1999年)88ページ。

[3]See 黒澤亜利子編『沖国大がアメリカに占領された日—8・13米軍ヘリ墜落事件から見えてきた沖縄/日本の縮図—』(青土社、2005年)。 Concerning the effects of strontium-90, the Kyoto University professor Hideaki Koide has detailed a number of times.

[4]On this incident, see琉球大学教授職員会・大学人九条の会沖縄編『琉大事件とは何だったのか』(高良鉄美/琉球大学大学院法務研究科、2010年)を参照(県外の一般書 店では入手困難。インターネット書店では、Books Mangrooveで取扱。[])。

[5] Peter Kuznick, “Japan’s Nuclear History in Perspective: Eisenhower and Atoms for War and Peace,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists: Web Edition, 13 April 2011. [].

The problematic consciousness about the historical process through which nuclear power was introduced to Japan’s civil society is now shared within the de-nuke movement as the origin of 3/11 by way of historical investigations and documentaries.

See Yoshihiko Ikegami, “Introducing Postwar History in the Nuclear Accident Debate,” Japan: Fissures in Planetary Apparatus, 7 May 2011 [])、And Peace Philosophy Center Blog, 14 May 2011([].

[6] “Conversation between General of the Army MacArthur and Mr. George F. Kennan,” 5 March 1948, FRUS, 1948, VI, pp.699 – 702; “Conversation between General of the Army MacArthur, Under Secretary of the Army Draper, and Mr. George Kennan,” 21 March 1948, ibid., pp. 709 – 710.
Robert S. Norris, William M. Arkin and William Burr, “Where They Were,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, November/December 1999, pp.26 – 35.

[7] Bruce Cumings, “Spring Thaw for Korea?,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, April 1992, pp.14 – 23.


[9] Raymond Williams, “The Politics of Nuclear Disarmament,” in E. P. Thompson, ed., Exterminism and Cold War (London: Verso, 1982).

[10] 『沖縄文化研究』(法政大学沖縄文化研究所、第29号、2003年)所収の拙稿「ジープと砂塵」等を参照。Also see: Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, July 1948, ”Atomic Energy 1948: A Business Week Report”.

[11] Concerning Gregson et al, see a journal supported by the Ministry of Defense,『Securitarian』557〜559号(防衛弘済会、2005年)

In 2004, Eldridge commented on the deployment of the US Marine Corps in 『沖縄タイムス』, in which he stresses a must to appreciate the efforts of the US Forces stationed in Okinawa as well as the significance of military capabilities for the success of disaster rescue.

「米海兵隊の支援活動に対してフィリピンの被害者をはじめ同政府の反応は大変感動的で、感謝ばかりである。(中略)沖縄ではフィリピンの被害者への 同情があれば、フィリピンでの苦痛を救済するための在沖米軍の努力を支持すべきである。それ以下は、すでに正当性を失った「一国平和主義」の延長にすぎな い。少なくとも「軍事利用」の定義が広すぎ、常識からすれば軍による人道支援活動はその解釈内に入らない。この規模の震災・人道支援活動を成功するのに は、海兵隊のような軍という組織しか、能力(訓練、経験、指揮統制、物資、運搬)とその好意を持っていない。」(『沖縄タイムス』2004年12月19 日)

In passing, before he joined the Marines in Okinawa, Eldridge was a scholar of international politics; in Kobe University he studied with Makoto Iokibe, the president of National Defense Academy of Japan and the chairman of the Recovery Committee of the Great Disaster of Eastern Japan.

[12] 『琉球新報』2011年5月24日。