Saturday, May 30, 2009

Take Action!

Posted below is a link to a petition to protect the Okinawa Dugong.
Please sign for the petition and support them!


Save the Dugong Campaign Center (SDCC)(http://www.sdcc.jp/) is collecting signatures on the petition which calls for the implementation of the recommendation to the Japanese and the US government.


The English version is here:
Call for Immediate Implementation of the IUCN Resolution



Sample Letter:

The following below is a sample letter to send to U.S. politicians.
Please feel free to alter the sample letter to address your representatives in Congress and support people in Okinawa!


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Dear Representative/Senator _________________:



I am writing to urge you to oppose expansion to the American military presence abroad, especially in areas such as Okinawa, Japan where there is no active conflict and where the base presence causes irreparable harm to the society and environment in which it exists.


The large peace community in your constituency would like to see you adopt the issue of reducing or eliminating the American military presence on Okinawa and urge your fellow representatives, senators, and cabinet members to work to remedy this dire situation. There are many concrete steps that could be taken, including:

1. Cancel the construction of the new airfield in Nago City and heliport in Higashi Village, which will not only imperil the citizens of Okinawa but also destroy large areas of subtropical forest and coral reef.


2. Call for the return of Futenma base to Okinawa without condition. The current plan merely trades Futenma base for new, costly development.

3. Advocate for further reductions in the military presence in Okinawa, including the return of all bases south of Kadena, a policy which has already been agreed upon but has yet to be carried out.


The U.S. government’s support and resources could go a long way to support sustained peace in Asia, protect the environment, and promote sustainable development in Okinawa. I urge you to oppose any expansion to the American military presence in Okinawa and continue to advocate for policies that do not increase violence and inequality but rather create the necessary steps towards improving the living conditions for Okinawans and creating a lasting peace in Asia.


Sincerely,

________________________________



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National:

White House Contacts
Comment Line:202.456.1111; Fax: 202.456.2461
Obama: president@whitehouse.gov
Biden: vice.president@whitehouse.gov
White House: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20500
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

In Oregon:

Senator Ron Wyden
DC: 202.224.5244; Fax: 202.228.2717
Portland: 503.326.7525; Fax: 503.326.7528
Eugene: 541.431.0229
http://wyden.senate.gov/contact/

Rep. David Wu, 1st District
DC: 202.225.0855; Fax: 202.225.9497
Portland: 503.326.2901: Fax: 503.326.5066
http://www.house.gov/wu/email.shtml

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, 3rd District
DC: 202.225.4811; Fax: 202.225.8941
Portland: 503.231.2300; Fax: 503.231.2300
http://blumenauer.house.gov/index.php?option=com_email_form&Itemid=206

Friday, May 29, 2009

Organizations

[Okinawan NGOs in the U.S.]

Okinawa Peace Network of Los Angeles
http://www.uchinanchu.org/


[Environmental Organizations]

Save the Dugong Campaign Center (SDCC)
http://www.sdcc.jp/
They are collecting signatures on the petition which calls for the implementation of the recommendation to the Japanese and the US government.
Please sign for the petition and support them!!
The English version is here:
Call for Immediate Implementation of the IUCN Resolution

Dugong Network Okinawa (Japanese ONLY)
An organization that -- along with the Save the Dugong Foundation, Save Life Society, and Earth Justice -- filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense to protect the dugong's ocean habitat from destruction caused by the construction of a floating airbase atop Okinawa's coral reef. In January 2008, a federal court ruled against the Department of Defense.
http://www.ii-okinawa.ne.jp/people/higap/

International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN)
"ICUN," the International Union for Conservation of Nature, adapted recommendation to protect the Okinawa dugong on Oct, 14 during the world conservation congress
http://www.iucn.org/index.cfm

EarthJustice
http://www.earthjustice.org/our_work/cases/2003/okinawa_dugong_proposed_airbase.html

Save the Dugong Foundation
Representatives: Yoshiki Tamaki, Sadao Ikehara, Shintoku Kamura
Secretary :Takuma Higashionna
48 Setake, Nago-shi, Okinawa-ken
905-2266 Japan
Tel/Fax:+81-980-55-8587
E-mail:jughon@oregano.ocn.ne.jp

Save Life Society
"Save Life Society" was formed by the elders mostly in their 80's and 90's to prevent construction of the monstrous air base, which will be offered to the U.S. Marine Corps based on Japan U.S. Peace Treaty, in the coral sea of Henoko, Nago, Okinawa, Japan. The air base has allegedly been planned by the Japanese and US governments. We, therefore, set up a sit-in camp in front of the fishing port of Henoko in 1996 in order to be prepared for any future development of the controversial project.
http://www.geocities.jp/nobasehenoko/

World Wide Fund For Nature Japan
For contacts: Shin-ichi Hanawa
Nihonseimei Akabanebashi Bldg. 6 Fl.
3-1-14 Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo
〒105-0014 Japan
E-mail: LDN02770@nifty.ne.jp
http://www.wwf.or.jp/activity/wildlife/lib/yanbaru0706e.pdf


[No Helipad in Takae Organizations]

Residence’s group of No Helipad(Japanese only)
http://takae.ti-da.net/

Voice of Takae (New base)
http://nohelipadtakae.org/files/VOT-en.pdf

Project Disagree
http://okinawaforum.org/disagreeblog/english/


[Women's Organizations]

Women for Genuine Security
http://www.genuinesecurity.org/partners/okinawa.html


[International Organizations]

Hawai'i Okinawa Alliance (HOA)
http://hoa.seesaa.net/


[Information about U.S. base issues in Okinawa]

Okinawa Prefecture -- Military Base information
http://www3.pref.okinawa.jp/site/view/contview.jsp?cateid=14&id=592&page=1

Japan Policy Research Institute
www.jpri.org

People's Plan Japonesia

http://www.ppjaponesia.org/

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Okinawan's Women and Environmental Movements

Okinawan Women's Anti-Base Movement
Among all of the many problems stemming from the U.S. military bases, the issue that has occurred most frequently over the past 50 years involves “transgressions against women” (Takazato, 1996, p. 135). Sexual violence against women has resulted in pregnancies, murders, mental disorders, and prostitution (Mackie, 2003). While these are generally seen as crim
es against individuals, Okinawans perceive them as a “crisis of sovereignty” (Angst, 2001, p. 246). Local feminist groups have engaged the issue as a threat to Okinawan identity and self-reliance, taking their cause to the United Nations International Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995 (Mackie, 2003). Here Okinawan women’s groups were able to bring international attention to the issue of sexual violence in relation to the American military presence in Okinawa and learn organizing skills to further the issue among Okinawans and internationally (Mackie, 2003).
Picture by Makishi


'Peace Caravan' to the U.S.
In 1996, these groups set out on a ‘P
eace Caravan’ to the United States, networking with human rights groups, women’s groups, and environmental groups to raise awareness among American people about the negative impact of the American military presence on Okinawan land (Mackie, 2003). Outside of the U.S., these groups, including Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, have organized with anti-military women’s groups in Korea, Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico (Takazato, 2004; Cooley & Marten, 2006).

Environmental Movement
Since the 1995 rape scandal, public protests have emerged over hit-and-run accidents, other sexual assault incidences, and environmental concerns such as “toxic wastes and dumping, deforestation and vegetative denudation, and the destruction of coral reefs and coastal habitat” (Taylor, 2006, p. 7). In 1999, Okinawa Prefecture requested that it be allowed to conduct an environmental assessment of U.S. military firing ranges, a demand that was rejected in 2003 by the U.S.-Japan Joint Committee (Taylor, 2006). Environmental movements in Okinawa are very diverse and loosely organized, but generally maintain strong connections with the anti-base movement.


Anti-New Base Movement in Henoko, Nago
The environmental mov
ement that has gained the largest support in Okinawa and internationally surrounds the issue of new base construction off the coast of Nago City in Henoko. Part of the SACO agreement mandated the transfer of the Futenma Marine Air Station heliport, which was previously located in a heavily populated town, to a remote area in northern Okinawa. However, the plan to move the base threatens to destroy the coral habitat of the endangered dugong, a manatee-like marine mammal that is a Japanese Monument (Cooley & Marten, 2006). Despite a citizen referendum in 1997 voting against the base expansion in Nago, a 2004 poll by the Asahi Shimbun finding that 81 percent of Okinawans oppose the base relocation, and a court ruling preventing the move, the Japanese government and U.S. military have attempted to move forward with the heliport construction (Arasaki, 2001; Taylor, 2006). The Japanese government briefly withdrew the construction plan in 2005 due to local and international pressure, but quickly reversed their decision in May 2006 under pressure from the U.S. military (Conference Opposing Heliport Construction, 2007).


The Okinawa Dugong Law Suit
Because of the strong link between Okinawa’s coastal and reef habitat and both Okinawans’ cultural identity and the tourism industry that makes up a large part of the local economy
, preservation of the marine environment is a major issue. It has become even more important in recent years because of the proposed base expansions out onto the coral reef and studies that have shown that between 75 and 90 percent of Okinawa’s coral has already died (Taylor, 2006). Within this context, a strong movement to save the dugong and the coral reef of Henoko has emerged. The coral reef off the coast of Nago City is one of the few remaining live coral areas on the eastern coast of Okinawa, and the last remaining habitat in Japan for the dugong and other endangered endemic species (Taylor, 2006).

Organizations like the Save the Dugong Foundation, Dugong Network Okinawa, the Committee Against Heliport Construction, and others have led an increasingly vocal movement against the base expansion, in cooperation with international organizations such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund (Tanji, 2008). This movement culminated in a lawsuit filed by many of these groups, in conjunction with the environmental law firm EarthJustice, in the U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco against the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Secretary of Defense. The lawsuit contended that the DoD violated the National Historic Preservation Act by not accounting for the endangered dugong in its environmental assessment of the Heliport relocation (Conference Opposing Heliport Construction, 2007). The lawsuit, Okinawa Dugong v. Rumsfeld C-03-4350, was found in favor of Okinawan in January 2008 (Tanji, 2008). However, the U.S. military and Japanese government have ignored the ruling and attempted to move forward with construction under the name of ‘investigation’ (Tanji, 2008).



A Long-Term Sit-in Protest in Henoko
While the environmental organizations have attempted to work within the political system by filing the lawsuit, they have also utilized methods of noncooperation and intervention by organizing a sit-in at Nago City (Makishi, 2001). Currently, the sit-in at Henoko has continued for more than 1,800 days, supported by local citizens and even mainland Japanese who travel to Okinawa to volunteer in the effort (Tanji, 2008).



Sources:
Angst, L, I. (2001). The Sacrifice of A Schoolgirl: The 1995 Rape Case, Discourses of Power, and Women’s Lives in Okinawa. Critical Asian Studies, 33, 243-266. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Routledge.
Arasaki, M. (2001). The Struggle Against Military Bases in Okinawa: Its history and Current Situation. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 2, 102-108. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Routledge.
Conference Opposing Heliport Construction. (2007). Save the Dugong and All Lives: Dugong Lawsuit and Recent Development in the Construction of a New U.S. Military Base in Henoko, Oura, Bay, Okinawa. Okinawa: Conference Opposing Heliport Construction.
Cooley, A., & Marten, K. (2006). Base Motives: The Political Economy of Okinawa’s Antimilitarism. Armed Forces and Society, 32, 566-583, Retrieved April 7, 2009, from Ebsco Electronic Journals Service.
Mackie, V. (2003). Feminism in Modern Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Makishi, Y. (2001). Okinawaha Moudamasarenai. Tokyo: Koubunken.
Takazato, S. (1996). The Past and Future of Unia, Sisters in Okinawa. In AMPO- Japan Asia Quarterly Review & C. Bunch (Ed.), Voices from the Japanese Women’s Movement, 133-143. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
Takazato, S. (2004). Violence Against Women Under Long-Term U.S. Military Station in Okinawa. U.S. Military Bases in Japan, 11-13. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
Tanji, M. (2008). U.S. Court Rules in The “Okinawa Dugong Case.” Critical Asian Studies, 40, 475-487. Retrieved April 7, 2009 from EBSCOHost.
Taylor, J. (2006). Environment and Security Conflicts: The U.S. Military in Okinawa. The geographical Bulletin. 48, 3-13.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Current Okinawan Movements

Current Okinawan movement
Within this framework of nonviolence, Okinawans have continued to build capacity and struggle to end the military occupation of their land. The norms of antimilitarism and nonviolence, established by Okinawa’s culture and history, lead Okinawans to “resent and actively oppose the presence of U.S. bases” (Cooley & Marten, 2006, p. 570). Since the U.S. military rule continues to be the primary perpetrator of environmental, social, and economic injustices, “all struggles carried out by Okinawan people had to take on the nature of an anti-U.S. and anti-base struggle” (Arasaki, 2001, p. 103). Based on these injustices and stimulated by continued devastation, Okinawa’s nonviolence movement has reacted strongly to incidences including the rape of a 12-year-old school girl in 1995, environmental contamination and destruction of critical habitat, failure to live up to agreements, and continued expansion of the military presence (Taylor, 2006).


One-Tsubo Anti-Base Movement
In 1982, a new movement was launched by anti-base activists called the One-Tsubo Anti-Base Movement (tsubo is a Japanese unit of area equivalent to 36 square feet). The group bought small lots of base land from the original landowners and refused to renew lease contracts. The movement continues to this day under the slogan: ‘Military land back to us for use for our production and daily lives’ (Arasaki, 2001). The purchase of these small plots of land serves as both a clever tactic to oppose the base presence and a symbolic gesture that connects each protestor with the land (Cooley & Marten, 2006).


Okinawan as an Indigenous Minority
The subject of land ownership in Okinawa is tightly linked to Okinawans’ identity as an indigenous minority, and has historically been viewed within the contex
t of subjugation by mainland Japan and the U.S. While Japan has been increasingly forced to acknowledge naturalized Koreans and Ainu (an indigenous group from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido) as minorities within the largely homogenous Japanese society, recognition of Okinawans as an indigenous minority has been almost completely refused (Kingston, 2001). This issue of ethnic discrimination is seen in light of mainland Japanese and American subjugation and linked to the imposition of military presence and poverty on Okinawa (Taylor, 2006; Minority Rights Group International, 2008).



1995 Protest

In 1995, the abduction and gang-rape of a 12-year-old school girl prompted much anger and acti
on, including a protest of more than 85,000 people, demands by women’s groups to publicize crime and increase protection for women, calls by landowners for return of their land, and a promise by Governor Masahide Ota to pressure Japan to eliminate the U.S. military presence in Okinawa (Johnson, 1999; Angst, 2001). In addition to protests on the islands, peace activists told their grievances at United Nations conferences, U.S. congressional hearings, and to other peace groups in the U.S. (Cooley & Marten, 2006). As noted by Arasaki (2001), the movement in 1995 was characterized by a “struggle for peace, human rights, and self-reliance” (p. 107).


Governor Masahide Ota
In response to the 1995 rape case, Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota launched an aggressive political campaign against the U.S. military presence, demanding the military leave Okinawa entirely by 2015. He organized Japan’s first-ever prefecture-wide referendum, which was overwhelming supported by nearly 90% of voters. Ota refused to sign land lease renewals in 1996, effectively making the U.S. base presence illegal (Cooley & Marten, 2006). This action resulted in overt and covert pressure by the Japanese government on Ota, eventually leading to a supreme court hearing in which the Japanese government overruled Ota and signed the lease agreements in his place (Arasaki, 2001; Cooley & Marten, 2006). So, despite massive popular support and Okinawa prefectural government support to reduce and remove the base presence, the major power holders in the struggle ignored local control and upheld the base presence.


Sources:
Angst, L, I. (2001). The Sacrifice of A Schoolgirl: The 1995 Rape Case, Discourses of Power, and Women’s Lives in Okinawa. Critical Asian Studies, 33, 243-266. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Routledge.
Arasaki, M. (2001). The Struggle Against Military Bases in Okinawa: Its history and Current Situation. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 2, 102-108. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Routledge.
Cooley, A., & Marten, K. (2006). Base Motives: The Political Economy of Okinawa’s Antimilitarism. Armed Forces and Society, 32, 566-583, Retrieved April 7, 2009, from Ebsco Electronic Journals Service.
Johnson, C. (1999). The 1995 Rape Incident and The Rekindling of Okinawan Protest Against the American Bases. In C. Johnson (Ed.), Okinawa: Cold War Island, 5-9, 109-129, 215-232. Cardiff, CA: Japan Policy Research Institute.
Minority Rights Group International. (2008). World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous People: Japan: Ryukyuans. Retrieved April 28, 2009 from UNHCR Refworld, http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/49749cfdc.html
Taylor, J. (2006). Environment and Security Conflicts: The U.S. Military in Okinawa. The geographical Bulletin. 48, 3-13.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Components of Okinawa's Movement

Environmental Justice and Indigenous Rights

Nonviolent environmental justice movements and struggles for indigenous rights, two important components of Okinawa’s movement to expunge the American military from their land, have historically been closely entwined (Hibbard et al., 2008). Indigenous people are often characterized by a status as a national minority with no centralized institutions and a worldview that “includes a custodial and nonmaterialist attitude to the land and natural resources” (Burrowes, 1996, p. 138). This relationship between indigenous people and their land frequently has a spiritual dimension, serves as a source of cultural identity, and allows the creation of sustainable management of complex ecological systems if left unimpeded (Zunes et al., 1999; Burrowes, 1996). Since the issue of the American military presence in Okinawa is commonly spearheaded by indigenous people and contains many elements of environmental degradation and species loss, understanding Okinawa’s nonviolent anti-military movement within the context of an environmental justice and indigenous rights movement is constructive.


Feminism and nonviolence

Another useful framework for understanding Okinawa’s anti-base movement is in relation to the feminist perspective of nonviolence, since many of the movement’s organizations are run by women and many of the issues, like sexual violence, disproportionately impact women in the community. There is some evidence that empowerment of women is associated with a “reduced tendency to engage in armed conflict” (Cortright, 2006, p. 186). Moreover, the collective leadership style of feminist organizations, in which “power begins in the private share of social relationships and thus is not conceptualized as zero-sum but as limitless and collective,” is in itself a form of alternative institution and a direct threat to the power system established by military rule (Stall & Stoecker, 2007, p. 203). Particularly in military conflicts, women are both relied on and unequally burdened with the violence and impact of conflict (Bunch, 2004). Military societies commonly subordinate women and legitimize the use of women as “sexual machinery in order to achieve the goals of the nation” (Takazato, 1996, p. 136). In Okinawa, this has resulted in hundreds of reported rapes (often of children) and a large prostitution industry.


Sources:
Bunch, C. (2004). Feminism, Peace, Human Rights and Human Society. Feminist Politics, Activism and Vision, 76-85. L. Ricciutelli, A. Miles, & M. H. McFadden (Ed.), Toronto: Inanna Publications and Education Inc.
Burrowes, R, J. (1996). The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense A Gandhian Approach. New York: State University of New York Press.
Cortright, D. (2006). Gandhi and Beyond: Nonviolence for an Age of Terrorism. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
Hibbard, M., Lane, M, B., & Rasmussen, K. (2008). The Split Personality of Planning: Indigenous Peoples and Planning for Land and Resource Management. Journal of Planning Literature, 23, 136-151. Retrieved April 28, 2009. from Ebsco Electronic Journal Service.
Stall, S., & Stoecker, R. (2007). Toward a Gender Analysis of Community Organizing Models: Liminality and the Intersection of Spheres. Community Organizing and Community Building for Health, 196-217. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
Zunes, S., Kurtz, L, R., & Asher, S, B. (2007). Nonviolent Social Movements: A Geographical Perspective. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Special Action Committee on Okinawa

Special Action Committee on Okinawa

The Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) was created in November 1995 with the goal of reducing the burden of U.S. military bases in Okinawa (Okinawa Prefecture, 2008). The bilateral U.S.-Japan committee was created in response to a challenge to the legal authority of the U.S. military occupation by local community activists and Okinawan politicians, and was intended to develop plans to reduce the size of U.S. bases and move existing bases to less populated parts of the island. SACO was supposed to review the Status of Forces Agreement regulations and develop a plan to return more than 12,000 acres of land to the Okinawa prefectural government, intending to ease civilians’ concerns over safety and noise pollution (Cooley & Marten, 2006).


The SACO final report, released in December 1996, called for the return of 11 facilities, totally more than 12,800 acres – approximately 21 percent of the land used by U.S. forces. Additionally, the report called for noise pollution and night flight reduction, and the relocation of live artillery training and parachute drop training to mainland Japan (Okinawa Prefecture, 2008; Difilippo, 2002).


While the SACO process seemed promising, many Okinawans distrusted the committee, and their concerns were realized by a decade of continual delays (Cooley & Marten, 2006; Mulgan, 2000). In October 2005, Japan and the United States finally reached an agreement to reduce the Marine force on Okinawa by 40 percent over a period of six years. Nonetheless, even if this agreement is honored, more than 11,000 Marines and thousands of other military personnel will still be posted on the island (Cooley & Marten, 2006). While the SACO proposals were supposed to be completed within five years, many have yet to begin. These include the relocation of the Futenma Marine Air Station heliport to an area near the town of Nago City in the northern part of Okinawa Island. The most recent accord, in October 2005, now claims that the project will be completed by 2011 – a decade longer than originally planned – despite a 1997 referendum by the citizens of Nago City against the proposed base expansion in their area (Cooley & Marten, 2006; Johnson, 1999; Arasaki, 2001). The disregard of the citizen referendum in Nago City is only one example of the way Okinawa’s political legitimacy is marginalized by Japan and the United States over issues of America’s military presence.


Sources:
Arasaki, M. (2001). The Struggle Against Military Bases in Okinawa: Its history and Current Situation. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 2, 102-108. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Routledge.
Cooley, A., & Marten, K. (2006). Base Motives: The Political Economy of Okinawa’s Antimilitarism. Armed Forces and Society, 32, 566-583, Retrieved April 7, 2009, from Ebsco Electronic Journals Service.
DiFilippo, A. (2002). The Challenges of the U.S.-Japan Military Arrangement: Competing Security Transitions in a Changing International Environment. New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc.
Johnson, C. (1999). The 1995 Rape Incident and The Rekindling of Okinawan Protest Against the American Bases. In C. Johnson (Ed.), Okinawa: Cold War Island, 5-9, 109-129, 215-232. Cardiff, CA: Japan Policy Research Institute.
Mulgan, A, G. (2000). Managing the U.S. Base Issue in Okinawa: A Test for Japanese Democracy. Japanese Studies, 20, 159-177. Retrieved April 9, 2009 from Routledge.
Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Sacrifice of A Schoolgirl

1995 Rape Case

Many incidences of violence against the Okinawan people by military personnel have taken place since the bases were established. Among these, the rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl in 1995 is important because o
f the reaction of the Okinawan people and the resulting actions taken by the U.S. and Japanese governments. In the town of Kin in September of 1995, three American soldiers abducted the young girl at knife-point, put her in their rental car, beat her, bound her with duct tape, and gang-raped her (Angst, 2001; Cooley & Marten, 2006).


The incident was “transformed into a symbol of national subjugation,” a representative of the plight of Okinawans who are “routinely ignored” by both mainland Japan and the United States (Angst, 2001, p. 247). This event led to large protests against the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, as well as outrage, by former prefectural governor Ota Masahide and others, at the central Japanese government’s treatment of Okinawa on issues related to U.S. military bases (Mulgan, 2000). The resulting public outrage, both at the incident itself and the U.S. officials’ decision to refuse to turn over the perpetrators to Okinawan authorities for more than three weeks, also led to the establishment of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (Cooley & Marten, 2006; Angst, 2001; Okinawa Prefecture, 2008).

Sources:
Angst, L, I. (2001). The Sacrifice of A Schoolgirl: The 1995 Rape Case, Discourses of Power, and Women’s Lives in Okinawa. Critical Asian Studies, 33, 243-266. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Routledge.
Cooley, A., & Marten, K. (2006). Base Motives: The Political Economy of Okinawa’s Antimilitarism. Armed Forces and Society, 32, 566-583, Retrieved April 7, 2009, from Ebsco Electronic Journals Service.
Mulgan, A, G., (2000). Managing the U.S. Base Issue in Okinawa: A Test for Japanese Democracy. Japanese Studies, 20, 159-177. Retrieved April 9, 2009 from Routledge.

Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division


Impact on Okinawan Citizens

Violent Crimes
Resentment among Okinawans primarily focuses on social problems affiliated with the military bases: accidents that injure Japanese citizens and property, noise pollution from aircraft, environmental contamination, and violent crimes perpetrated by American soldiers (Karan, 2005).

Since the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, there have been 4,716 reported criminal cases, including sexual crimes and murders, involving U.S. soldiers. More than 110 women have reported sexual assault since 1990, and sexual assault is
generally highly underreported (Karan, 2005). Cases of rape were especially prevalent during the Vietnam War, when three or four women were strangled to death yearly. The young age of many Marines and the seclusion offered on the bases lead to common occurrences of date rape, and fear of retaliation and public humiliation often results in the victims’ silence. So, while the Status of Forces Agreement assures the safety of U.S. servicemen on and off the bases, citizens of Okinawa have been the targets of violence since the bases were established (Takazato, 2004).


Accidents and Noise
Between 1972 and the end of 2001, 157 aircraft-related accidents have occurred, threatening the lives a
nd property of the people of Okinawa (Military Base Affairs Division, Okinawa Prefecture, 2008). Regulations established by the U.S. military regarding protocol for aircrafts, which have been enforced following civilian complaints in San Diego and elsewhere, has been regularly ignored in Okinawa (Makishi, personal communication; Okinawa Prefecture, 2008).

The Okinawa Prefectural government is concerned about the health impact of the frequent noise pollution, in addition to the hazards posed by aircraft crashes, petroleum oil and lubricant leaks, red silt outfl
ow from construction, and mountain forest fires sparked by live-fire exercises. Aircraft noise has been found to exceed levels set by the Environment Agency in many spots near Kadena Air Base and Futenma Air Station, with school classes in the area often being interrupted by the sound of low-flying military aircraft (Military Base Affairs Division, Okinawa Prefecture, 2008).

Environmental Concerns

The land and marine environments of Okinawa are continually threatened by active bases and development to accommodate base expansion. Construction on undeveloped land has destroyed huge swaths of Okinawa’s forests and mountains, threatening several endangered species and the overall biodiversity of the islands. The Status of Forces Agreement includes no environmental protection clauses, and the Japanese government does not have the right to inspect U.S. military bases or land. Instead, the agreement frees the U.S. military of any obligation for cleanup of environmental contaminants (Sunagawa, 2004).

Military training activities harm the environment through destruction of land during bombing exercises, possible radioactive pollution from depleted uranium weapons, and unexploded ordnance. Training exercises at Camp Hansen have causes frequent forest fires, leaving the surrounding mountains bare and contributing to soil erosion and species loss (Military Base Affairs Division, Okinawa Prefecture, 2008). Upkeep of facilities, aircrafts, and vehicles results in leaked petroleum products, heavy metals, solvents, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), and other harmful chemicals. These pollutants contaminate the soil, air, and water table (Sunagawa, 2004). Sites that have been returned to Okinawa, including Onna Communication Site, have been found to be polluted with PCB and other toxic industrial chemicals (Military Base Affairs Division, Okinawa Prefecture, 2008).

Aircraft noise also raises environmental concerns because several studies have found that noise affects animals’ reproductive systems and behaviors (Karan, 2005). This effect, coupled with the devastating impact of development on land and building reclaimed land atop coral reefs, presents a serious environmental crisis. The Nago City heliport project and other base expansion projects threaten birds such as the unique and endangered yanbarukuina, several species of insect, and plants including the gajyamaru (banyan) (Environmental Assessment Watch Group for the Dugongs in Okinawa, 2004). Other expansion projects such as the development of Henoko, which build out onto the barrier reefs surrounding the island, pose a threat to the endangered dugongs (an herbivorous, manatee-like sea mammal that lives only in the area of Southeast Asia from Okinawa to Australia) and the coral itself (Environmental Assessment Watch Group for the Dugongs in Okinawa, 2004). It is estimated that upwards of 90 percent of Okinawa’s coral reefs have died since the military bases have been established (Karan, 2005).

Sources:
Environmental Assessment Watch Group for the Dugons in Okinawa (Japanese)
Makishi, Y. (2001). Okinawaha Moudamasarenai. Tokyo: Koubunken. (His website is in Japanese)

Karan, P, P., (2005). Japan in The 21st Century: Environment, Economy, and Society: Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.
Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division
Sunagawa, K. (2004). Environmental Problems Caused by U.S. Military Bases. U.S. military Bases in Japan, 14-15. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
Takazato, S. (2004). Violence Against Women Under Long-Term U.S. Military Station in Okinawa. U.S. Military Bases in Japan, 11-13. Retrieved April 7, 2009.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

U.S. Military Facilities and Areas

Occupation of land
Japan hosts 105 U.S. military bases, occupying more than 125 square miles. The largest concentration of bases is in Okinawa prefecture, where nearly 11 percent of the land area of the islands is taken by the U.S. military’s 38 facilities. These facilities are host to nearly 50,000 military personnel, including more than 27,000 soldiers – nearly a quarter of the entire U.S. military presence in Asia (Takazato, 2004; Cooley & Marten, 2006). Kadena Air Base, on the main island of Okinawa, is the largest U.S. military base in the Pacific, and hosts U.S. Marines for deployment and training (Karan, 2005).

Okinawa Island, the main island in the archipelago, surrenders 20 percent of its land to the military (Takazato, 2004). While Okinawa prefecture makes up only 0.6 percent of the land area of Japan (roughly the size of metropolitan Tokyo), 75% of the land area of Japan used by the U.S. military is located in the prefecture (Cooley & Marten, 2006; Sunagawa, 2004; Okinawa Prefecture, 2008).

So, aside from the argument that the American military presence violates human rights as established in the Japanese constitution, the unequal burden placed on Okinawa raises iss
ues of the disproportionate distribution of social, environmental, and economic costs of the U.S. military presence in Japan and should be viewed as a form of institutionalized discrimination (Mulgan, 2001).


Sources:
Cooley, A., & Marten, K. (2006). Base Motives: The Political Economy of Okinawa’s Antimilitarism. Armed Forces and Society, 32, 566-583, Retrieved April 7, 2009, from Ebsco Electronic Journals Service.
Karan, P, P., (2005). Japan in The 21st Century: Environment, Economy, and Society: Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.
Mulgan, A, G., (2000). Managing the U.S. Base Issue in Okinawa: A Test for Japanese Democracy. Japanese Studies, 20, 159-177. Retrieved April 9, 2009 from Routledge.
Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division

Sunagawa, K. (2004). Environmental Problems Caused by U.S. Military Bases. U.S. military Bases in Japan, 14-15. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
Takazato, S. (2004). Violence Against Women Under Long-Term U.S. Military Station in Okinawa.
U.S. Military Bases in Japan, 11-13. Retrieved April 7, 2009.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The History of Okinawan Response

The History of Okinawan Response
The struggles of local Okinawans against the U.S. military presence has existed as long as the bases themselves, and takes many forms – from the reversion of the country to Japan to modern feminist critiques of the unequal burden placed on women by the bases. These movements have been informed by a wide variety of ideologies, objectives, and concerns, but a common thread to all has been a philosophy of nonviolence (Arasaki, 2001). From the first anti-military movement in 1951 through to the modern struggles, Okinawans have fought for recognition and justice without weapons and in a spirit that eschews violence.

1951 Return to Japan Movement
The first major people’s movement, advocating for the return of Okinawa to Japan, used as its slogan: ‘We want to return to the country of the Peace constitution.’ Okinawans were upset at Japan achieving independence with a pacifist constitution while aba
ndoning Okinawa to a militarized existence under the rule of the United States (Arasaki, 2001). The movement began in 1951, and despite gathering signatures from the vast majority of Okinawans asking for reversion to Japan, leading agricultural land-use protests, and rallying against the use of Okinawa as a starting point for American bombings in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, the governments of the U.S. and Japan ignored the people’s will until 1972 (Arasaki, 2001; Arasaki, 2005; Shimada, 2004; Johnson, 1999).

Okinawan People's Struggles Against the Expansion of Military Base
Throughout the 1950
’s, the expansion of military bases pushed farmers to organize and fight for the survival of their way of life. Displaced farmers formed alliances and turned their issue into an island-wide struggle against the military expansion. The movement subsided only after achieving some victories – including assurances of land ownership and large increases in land rent prices (Arasaki, 2001).

The Withdrawal of the B52 Movement during the Vietnam War
Anti-military movements
were especially prevalent during the Vietnam War, with direct action on the part of students’ and citizens’ movements frequently being directed at the bases (Muto, 2004). In November of 1968, a fully loaded B52 bomber crashed immediately after taking off from Kadena Air Base, sparking a large campaign to withdraw B52 bombers from Okinawa’s military bases. This incident marked the first time the Union of Military Base Workers (Zengunto) spoke out against the bases, and a coalition of over 140 labor unions, women’s groups, and other community organizations, known as the Prefectural People’s Joint Struggle Coalition for Life, was formed (Shimada, 2004).

The organized struggles of Okinawans against the military presence on their land since the 1950s have garnered recognition, in Japan as well as internationally, of the issue of military occupation and the plight of Okinawa at the hands of the American military. Within Japan, the movements have “produced a grudging recognition of minority rights as well as an instructive model of participatory politics for other local residents’ movements to follow” (Mulgan, 2000, p. 160). And, as the issue continues to present problems for Okinawa, the movement has expanded to develop rigorous opposition on environmental, community safety, and cultural grounds. Organizations such as the Association of Anti-Base Landowners, Save the Dugong Foundation, the Union of Military Base Workers (Zengunro), and Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence continue to use nonviolent direct action methods to work toward restricting and eliminating the U.S. military presence on Okinawan soil (Shimada, 2004; Makishi, 2001).

Sources;
Arasaki, M. (2001). The Struggle Against Military Bases in Okinawa: Its history and Current Situation. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 2, 102-108. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Routledge.
Arasaki, M. (2005). Okinawa Gendaishi. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten.
Johnson, C. (1999). The 1995 Rape Incident and The Rekindling of Okinawan Protest Against the American Bases. In C. Johnson (Ed.), Okinawa: Cold War Island, 5-9, 109-129, 215-232. Cardiff, CA: Japan Policy Research Institute.
Makishi, Y. (2001). Okinawaha Moudamasarenai. Tokyo: Koubunken.(His website is in Japanese)
Mulgan, A, G. (2000). Managing the U.S. Base Issue in Okinawa: A Test for Japanese Democracy. Japanese Studies, 20, 159-177. Retrieved April 9, 2009 from Routledge.
Muto, I. (2004). U.S. Military Presence in Mainland Japan and Okinawa. U.S. military Bases in Japan, 1-2. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
Shimada, M. (2004). U.S. Bases in Okinawa. U.S. military Bases in Japan, 1-2. Retrieved April 7, 2009.

The U.S.-Japan Military Relations

Modern Influence on the U.S.-Japan Military Relations

Although Okinawa returned to Japanese rule for twenty years after the World War II ended, American military bases were unchanged, still outside of both Japanese and Okinawan control. Okinawa became an American military colony apparently legitimized by the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty in 1972 (Johnson, 1999). The continuing military presence of Okinawa left many Okinawans feeling that they were disproportionately bearing the burden of the U.S.-Japan Security Agreement. The reasons commonly given for the continued occupation include the inability of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to launch offensive attacks, possible aggression from the secretive North Korean regime, and containing China during the Cold War (Karan, 2005). The political issues surrounding U.S.-Japan-Okinawan relations -- along with the social and environmental impacts of the U.S. military presence on the islands – led to the radicalization of many Okinawan institutions, organizations, and people (Cooley & Marten, 2006).


In 1951, the United States and Japan signed the largely unilateral San Francisco Peace Treaty, which gave the United States “use of [Japan’s] land, air, and naval forces, facilities, and areas” (Muto, 2004, p. 1). The original treaty was modified in 1960 into the Status of Forces Agreement in an attempt to make the agreement more bilateral. However, the revision met with much public criticism because the Japanese government was still given very little influence over the U.S. military presence in Japan and the overseas deployment of troops from Japan (Kingston, 2001).


The 1960 Status of Forces Agreement has continued to serve as the legal justification for the American military presence in Okinawa and elsewhere in Japan. And, although the agreement stipulates that the U.S. is responsible for military expenditures on U.S. bases in Japanese territory (with the exception of pay for Japanese workers, utilities, and relocations performed at the request of Japan), the Japanese government has since 1978 been increasingly covering the costs. In 2001, Japan contributed more than $6 billion in ‘host nation support’ (Muto, 2004). The host nation support, known as the ‘sympathy budget’ (omoiyari yosan), is paid in addition to the expenditures Japan has been required to cover, which totaled nearly $15 billion in 2000 alone (Kingston, 2001; Karan, 2005).


The agreements in 1952 and 1960 are ideologically located within the unique context of U.S.-Japan defense relations. Specifically, Japan’s postwar constitution, which was instituted under strong pressure from the U.S. government, prohibits Japan from maintaining a standing army with offensive capacity. This pacifist provision, Article 9, has been reinterpreted since its inception to allow Japan to create the Self-Defense Forces, but still requires U.S. protection in cases other than direct invasions of Japanese territory. This arrangement, where Japan must remain deferment to United States interests, creates an unequal power distribution that taints all U.S.-Japan military relations. Military issues in Okinawa are further complicated by the trilateral nature of relations between the U.S., mainland Japan, and the Okinawa prefectural government. These three groups “constitute three distinct actors, each with separate identifiable interests” (Cooley & Marten, 2006, p. 572). Historically, Okinawa has been marginalized by Japan while being placed at the center of U.S.-Japan military relations as the “keystone of the Pacific” in U.S. military strategy (Yonetani, 2003, p. 245 [in Hein & Delden]).


Sources:
Cooley, A., & Marten, K. (2006). Base Motives: The Political Economy of Okinawa’s Antimilitarism. Armed Forces and Society, 32, 566-583, Retrieved April 7, 2009, from Ebsco Electronic Journals Service.
Johnson, C. (1999). The 1995 Rape Incident and The Rekindling of Okinawan Protest Against the American Bases. In C. Johnson (Ed.), Okinawa: Cold War Island, 5-9, 109-129, 215-232. Cardiff, CA: Japan Policy Research Institute.
Karan, P, P., (2005). Japan in The 21st Century: Environment, Economy, and Society: Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.
Kingston, J. (2001). Japan in Transformation 1952-2000. England: Person Education Limited.
Muto, I. (2004). U.S. Military Presence in Mainland Japan and Okinawa. U.S. military Bases in Japan, 1-2. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
Yonetani, J. (2003). Future “Assets,” But At What Price? The Okinawa Initiative Debate. In L. Hein & M. Selden (Ed.), Islands of Discontent: Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power, 243-272. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefeild Publishers, Inc.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Impact of WW II

The Battle of Okinawa
Due to Okinawa’s unique location in relation to Japan, China, Korea, and Southeast Asia, the islands were seen as a strategic asset during World War II. In late March of 1945, the battle of Okinawa started and continued until the conclusion of the U.S. military occupation on July 2nd. The battle for control of Okinawa Island, known as the “Typhoon of Steel,” destroyed many of the Ryukyu kingdom’s cultural treasures and resulted in the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II with the deaths of more than 230,000 Japanese, American, Korean, and Chinese soldiers, civilians, and forced laborers (Allen, 2002).

The war inflicted great tragedies on people in Okinawa such as rapes by both Imperial Japanese Army and American soldiers, the mass murder of Okinawan civilians by the U.S. solders, and the order of self-determinations and mass suicides (shudan jiketsu) by desperate Imperial Japanese Army due to their suspicion of American spies among the civilians (Huber 1990; Arasaki, 2001). After the United States gained control of the island, they began to construct military bases as a foothold to invade the rest of Japan (Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division, 2008).


Occupation
by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands
World
War II ended in Japan a few days after atomic bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. Once Japan laid down its arms, the U.S. military took control of Okinawa and instituted “The United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR), a form of military government (Johnson, 1999). Under USCAR control, 85 percent of local inhabitants’ lands and agricultural plots in Okinawa were taken away by the armed military power to create the military bases all over the islands in a project called “gun and bulldozers” (Arasaki, 2001). Generally, the rents for utilization of the bases and subsidies to neighboring regions were minimum, and local inhabitants were often removed and repositioned by armed force (Karan, 2005).

In 1951, American and Japanese governments signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty, ending occupation for mainland Japan in 1952, but that treaty divided Okinawa from Japanese independence and the USCAR occupation of the island sustained for twenty-one years after mainland Japan achieved their sovereignty (Cooley & Marten, 2006; Muto, 2004; Shimada, 2004). In the peace treaty, Okinawa was used as a “bargaining chip” to accomplish a main island Japan independence from the U.S. occupation, and the islands were left as an American colony until 1972 (Hein & Selden, 2003).

During the USCAR regime, American military bases were reinforced and extended for use in the Korean and Vietnam Wars (Shimada, 2004; Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base
Affairs Division, 2008). Karan (2005) argues that the American military bases in Okinawa were used as the most significant port for the solders and supplies set off the frontlines during the Vietnam War. She continues that most of the U.S. military bases in Japan were either former Imperial Japanese military bases taken over after 1945 or new bases that were constructed during the Korean War (1950-53).


The USCAR administration was terminated in May1972 due to the U.S. and Japanese governments’ agreement of the Okinawa reversion to being a Japanese prefecture with strong Okinawan local support (Allen, 2002; Johnson, 1999; Hein & Selden, 2003).


Sources:
Allen, M. (2002). Identity and Resistance in Okinawa. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Arasaki, M. (2001). The Struggle Against Military Bases in Okinawa: Its history and Current Situation. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 2, 102-108. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Routledge.
Cooley, A., & Marten, K. (2006). Base Motives: The Political Economy of Okinawa’s Antimilitarism. Armed Forces and Society, 32, 566-583, Retrieved April 7, 2009, from Ebsco Electronic Journals Service.
Hein, L., & Selden, M. (2003). Culture, Power and Identity in Contemporary Okinawa. In L. Hein & M. Selden (Ed), Island of Discontent, 1-35. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Huber, T, M., (1990). Japan’s Battle of Okinawa, April-June 1945. Leavenworth Papers, 18, Retrieved April 7, 2009.
Johnson, C. (1999). The 1995 Rape Incident and The Rekindling of Okinawan Protest Against the American Bases. In C. Johnson (Ed.), Okinawa: Cold War Island, 5-9, 109-129, 215-232. Cardiff, CA: Japan Policy Research Institute.
Karan, P, P., (2005). Japan in The 21st Century: Environment, Economy, and Society: Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.
Muto, I. (2004). U.S. Military Presence in Mainland Japan and Okinawa. U.S. military Bases in Japan, 1-2. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division
Shimada, M. (2004). U.S. Bases in Okinawa. U.S. military Bases in Japan, 1-2. Retrieved April 7, 2009.







History of Ryukyu Kingdom

Ryukyu Kingdom
Prior to Japan annexing the islands in 1879, Okinawa was ruled by the Ryukyu kingdom (Allen, 2002). The Ryukyu rulers enjoyed economic prosperity -- trading with Japan, China, and Southeast Asia – and maintained peaceful diplomatic relationships with their trading partners for centuries (Hein & Seldon, 2003). Today, the most tangible physical representation of the Ryukyu kingdom is Shuri Castle, which was constructed in approximately 1427 as a royal residence, seat of government, and religious center. Shuri Castle maintained these functions in 1879, when it became part of Japanese army barracks. The castle burned during the battle of Okinawa, and was partially reconstructed in 1992. In 1999, the castle was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Hein & Seldon, 2003).

The Ryukyu kingdom traded with China, Korean Peninsula, Siam (Thailand), Malacca (a state in Malaysia), Luzon (the largest island in the Philippines), among others, from the 14th century until its annexation by Japan near the end of the 19th century. This relationship resulted in a great deal of Chinese, Korean, and other Southeast Asian countries influencing the culture of Okinawa, especially with respect to local language, custom, clothes, food, music, ceramics, and textiles (Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division, 2008). In 1609, the Ryukyu Kingdom was invaded by Japan’s Satsuma domain, which allowed the Ryukyu king to retain power and cultivated the trading relationship with Japan’s mainland (Allen, 2002). In consequence of the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Meiji Government altered the Ryukyu Kingdom into Okinawa prefecture in 1879, known as the “Ryukyu Disposition” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2009).

Sources:
Allen, M. (2002). Identity and Resistance in Okinawa. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Selden (Ed), Island of Discontent, 1-35. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Ryukyu Kingdom (Okinawa Prefecture)
Early History of The Ryukyu Kingdom and its Relationship with China and Japan (Okinawa Peace Network of Los Angles)

Introduction to Okinawa

Okinawa Prefecture
Okinawa prefecture is a string of islands in the far south of Japan’s territory. It is composed of 160 dispersed islands -- 48 inhabited and 112 uninhabited -- in the Asian Pacific Sea and East China Sea. The islands span about 1,000 kilometers (630 miles) from east to west and 400 kilometers (250 miles) from north to south (Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division, 2008). There are approximately 1,310,000 people in the prefecture, of which 1,150,000 people live on Okinawa Island, the biggest island and home to the prefecture’s capital city, Naha. It is about a 2 hour and 30 minute flight from Tokyo, 1 hour and 30 minutes from Shanghai, China, and 1 hour from Taiwan to Naha Airport (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2009).


Geography

The size of Okinawa prefecture is 2,266.9 square kilometers, the 44th biggest in Japan; however, the range of Okinawa prefecture is massive and the most widely dispersed among all of other Japanese prefectures (Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2005). It is located at 24 to 27 degrees north latitude and 122 to 128 degrees east longitude, southwest of the main island of Japan. Other famous beach resort destinations that include Hawaii, Florida, and the Bahamas are found in the identical latitude zone as Okinawa (Geographical Survey Institute, Government of Japan, 2009).


Climate
Okinawa is the only Japanese prefecture existing in a subtropical ocean climate with a rich natural environment including deep green oceans and white sand beaches. The average temperature is 23 degrees Centigrade (77.3 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the year, and the average lowest temperature in the year is 16 degrees Centigrade (68.9 degrees Fahrenheit) (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2009). Compared to the climate on the main island of Japan, there are not four clear seasons since they have long summers and warm winters affected by the Black Stream (kuroshio) in the Pacific Ocean (Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2005).


Economy
Oki
nawa’s subtropical ocean climate is suited to growing sugar cane, vegetables, fruits, house plants (for trading in the flower industries) and other unique islands plants. In stockbreeding, pigs were the mainly produced product, but beef is becoming more common in Okinawa. Both inshore and offshore tuna and bonito fisheries, as well as prawn and seaweed farming are widespread in Okinawa (Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division, 2008).
About 87 percent of the economy in Okinawa is supported by the tertiary industry focused on service divisions. Tourism is an especially significant industry, with approximately 4,120,000 tourists visiting Okinawa each year mainly from mainland Japan, China, Taiwan, and Korea to enjoy the beautiful nature and the unique Okinawan culture. Following the islands’ industrial development, the construction industry has been rapidly growing in the past 30 years (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 2009).


Sources:
Okinawa Prefecture Tourist Information
Okinawa Prefecture Government of Military Base Affairs Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan