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)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s