To keep asking WHY and saying NO

In the world where we got so many problems, we tend to hear many voices like: “well, the situation will not change after all” or “there’s nothing can be done to change the reality.” We also tend not to get encouraged to ask why this is bad or why that needs to change. Unless you are bookmarking alternative news resources or following public intellectuals on twitter, it seems, you can’t get informed of “important matters”. Whether or not it is the case, what we need to do is quite simple, as the wonderful people from Egypt showed us. This historical event was achieved by ordinary people going out in the streets to fight for their rights. Even though Twitter and Facebook are accounted to have been a “help” in the Egyptian revolution, what mattered eventually was people that came out to the streets, didn’t go back inside their doors until their “NO” was heard correctly.

Okinawan people and their supporters are outside and voicing their NO as well. For quite a long time now. They never stopped saying NO since 2007. Why on the earth would you want to live next to a helicopter landing zone, Why would you wanna walk just underneath a helicopter that might crash on your house, or on your kids’ school?

Still from “Message from Yanbaru”

A short documentary film “Message from Yanbaru” (2007) shows a crucial protest against destruction of our basic right to live. The first few minutes into the film show the rich natural environment Yanbaru boasts of, the area where new US helipads are being built.

The northern part of Okinawa’s main island, surrounded by abundant forests, is called “YANBARU”. The irreplaceable habitat area of endangered spicies, many of which are listed in the Red Data like NOGUCHI GERA (woodpecker), and YANBARU KUINA (rail). There’s also a valuable water reservoirs, which provide 60% of city water on the entire island. Local District TAKAE is located in the middle of such YANBARU.

Takae is a small district with population of 150, 20 % of which are children under 15 years old.

Still from “Message from Yanbaru”

Takae residents surely live surrounded by such beautiful nature. In the film children run about cheerfully and the grandpa feeds his goats their favorite mulberry leaves. Their life suddenly changes in the summer of 2007 when Japan and US began bringing on a construction of 6 new helipads that are closely located to residential houses, the community center and schools in Takae. They soon start their sit-in protest, forming human chains and having talks with the local Defence Agency workers, many of who are also Okinawans. One manager from the Agency in the film cannot even help showing his sympathy to protesters’ calls. He probably is an Okinawan also. Naturally the Agency must have thought the manager was too soft, and now assigns a new guy who acts much more aggressive on people.

After the police intervenes and the Agency finally stops their aggressive operation, Mr. Teruo Ohnishi, a former schoolteacher, starts a conversation with the Agency personnel. This actually doesn’t sound like a conversation, since the Agency guys just stand there speechless. Mr. Ohnishi’s story is a message to all of us. Because we all need to know how the whole movement originates to a long history of oppression in Okinawa. Mr Ohnishi mentions how rapes on girls are caused by US soldiers, and how, for dacades, human life is not permitted in large part of the Okinawan land because of the presence of US military. His message tells us how the Takae protest springs out from a very basic account of human rights.

The film “Message fom Yanbaru” will soon be available with English subtitles. Please check back for updates.

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