We empathize with anxiety and sorrow of the Okinawan people: Global Times Editorial
Published: Apr 26, 2023 11:30 PM
People hold a march calling for the burden on Okinawa from hosting US forces to be lifted in Okinawa on May 14, 2022. Photo: VCG

People hold a march calling for the burden on Okinawa from hosting US forces to be lifted in Okinawa on May 14, 2022. Photo: VCG

A delegation of lawmakers from the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly of Japan submitted a resolution to the Defense Ministry, the Cabinet Office and the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on Monday and Tuesday. The resolution about peaceful diplomacy was adopted by the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, calling the Japanese government not to let Okinawa become a battlefield, but to solve problems through dialogue and diplomacy peacefully. 

The resolution not only reflects the collective voice of the Okinawan people but also represents their pursuit of peace and justice. However, it was clearly disregarded and ignored in Tokyo, just as Okinawa has been sacrificed by Japan in various periods of time in history for the sake of Tokyo's own interests. This undoubtedly confirms and intensifies the concerns of the people of Okinawa. It is important to emphasize that we understand and strongly support the peaceful and just demands of the people of Okinawa. At this time, all those who truly love peace should "stand with" them.

The Okinawa Prefectural Assembly passed the resolution on March 30. Nearly a month had passed before it was submitted to Tokyo. Apart from media coverage in Okinawa, there has been little attention paid to this matter by the mainstream Japanese media, and Japan's Ministry of Defense only offered a perfunctory response after the submission. It is highly probable that the resolution will be ignored in Tokyo like a stone dropped into the sea, and neither the Japanese authorities nor the US will make any military or diplomatic adjustments in response to Okinawan public opinion.

However, this matter has significant implications and cannot be erased or buried by deliberate disregard from the US and Japan. It reveals the truth about what is happening in East Asia, especially in the Taiwan Straits. The US and Japan can no longer use the so-called "regional peace and stability" as an excuse, as they themselves are the biggest threat to peace and stability in the region. In the court of history, this resolution is an irrefutable piece of evidence and the strongest accusation against those who undermine peace.

After the Ryukyu Islands were annexed by Japan and renamed Okinawa in 1879, its fate has become a heart-wrenching lament. Okinawa was involuntarily drawn into World War II and was used by the Japanese government as a gambit. In the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, up to one-fourth of the local population died, making it the bloodiest and most brutal battlefield in the Pacific region. This nightmare-like experience has been haunting the hearts of the Okinawan people since the end of World War II due to the presence of the US military base in Okinawa.

Despite generations of Okinawan people protesting against the security incidents, aircraft noise, environmental pollution, and criminal cases caused by the US military and strongly demanding the relocation of the bases, they have always been evaded by Tokyo and the US military. What is even more unacceptable to the Okinawan people now is that Japan and the US are intensifying their military deployment in Okinawa, further fortifying and frontlining Okinawa. Is this an attempt to permanently confine Okinawa in the nightmare of war shadows? Does Tokyo really care about the anxiety and anger of the Okinawan people?

The resolution mainly raised two demands to Tokyo. First, it should actively use diplomacy and dialogue to build peace instead of strengthening Japan's military power in the southwest islands by equipping missiles and taking other measures. Second, it should follow the principles already confirmed in relevant political documents between Japan and China to develop friendly relations and resolve issues peacefully. These two demands are not only reasonable but also righteous, leaving Tokyo with no reason to refuse them, so it can only shun them.

People in Okinawa, who have suffered from war and the shadow of war for a long time, obviously have a better understanding of the value of peace. "We must not let our children get involved in war" has become the greatest driving force for Okinawan people to fight for peace. The Ryukyu Kingdom had the reputation of Bankoku Shinryo, or a bridge between nations, in history. Although this is far beyond the reach of today's Okinawa, its tireless efforts toward being "peaceful islands" deserve respect and support from everyone. In recent years, Okinawa has been vigorously developing its tourism industry, and its tourism resources are competitive. However, Okinawan people's hearts are in pain as their beautiful small islands are being contaminated one after another by fully armed soldiers and aggressive missiles. We sympathize with their pain.