Japan: Another Occupied Country

IMG_4533This is a view of the beautiful Oura Bay in Henoko, Okinawa where the U.S. military has begun construction of a massive multi-function base to include two airstrips, a deep water base to accommodate U.S. aircraft carries and supply ships.

I was fortunate to go out into Oura Bay in a boat with other visitors including reporters from the two local newspapers, one of whom ran an article with a picture of me.

IMG_4562Camp Schwb is a massive U.S. Marine base on the shores of Oura Bay. The new base will be constructed to the right of this photo. The plan is to dump tons and tons of gravel t and concrete to fill in the bay in order to extend the runways out into the bay.

As the S. Koreans destroyed the beautiful seashore in Gangjeong Village, the Japanese are doing the same to accommodate America’s plan to add more bases and military installations. In the process, America continues to displace indigenous people, take their land, and destroy some of the most remote, beautiful, pristine and sacred places all over the world.

IMG_4577This was our welcoming. The Japanese Coast Guard and national police. There were at least 20 boats with teams of Coast Guard patrolling the waters and denying our boat entry into the restricted area. Two large yachts commanded the operation.

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I spent three days in Henoko filming interviews with local mayors and activists from July 26-29. I will return to Okinawa for three more days of filming and interviewing where I will be aided by several women who are professional interpreters and a young man who was born and raised in Tokyo to a English father and Japanese mother. So, he’s fluent in both languages, actually sounds like an American. Ian Schimizu has also been indispensable, carrying my heavy bags full of equipment.

It becomes readily apparent that like S. Korea, Japan is an occupied country with some 50,000 US military personnel on more than 40 bases. But what is most alarming is the fact that 70% of the American presence is located in Okinawa.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have seen The Ghosts of Jeju and who have welcomed me with open arms and offered to assist me in any way they can.

Mariko Kurioka, a Japanese woman who was part of a team that translated Ghosts into Japanese, presented me with $2,400 from sales of the film in Japan and Okinawa.

Today, Sunday, August 2nd, I fly back to Okinawa for three more days of filming before continuing on to Hiroshima for the 70th anniversary on August 6.

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