planes, or missile discharges, Japan expects the Okinawans to endure this and accept the
bases silently, because it is for the benefit of Japan. The Japanese government has bought
the lives and livelihoods of Okinawans for the price of stimulation and development.
There are also Okinawans who will sell themselves, their families, or Okinawa for money.
If this situation lasts for another 50 or 100 years, will there be any people of integrity left
Multiple Violations of the Constitution and Treaties
The present political system of Okinawa Prefecture violates the constitution of Japan.
Article 95 of the constitution contains the following restriction: If a law is drawn up that
is applicable to one single location only, the parliament cannot vote it into law unless one
half of the population of the location in question approves of it. After the return of
Okinawa to Japan, this restriction was ignored when the laws for stimulation and
development and the financing plan that only applied to Okinawa were introduced. They
were only sanctioned by the then Okinawan administration. The demand of the
Okinawans for “a return under conditions current in Japan and without military bases”
was shelved and abandoned. The Japanese government once again ignored the voice of
the Okinawans. The legal change of law in 1996 that stipulated the continued stationing
and coerced land use for military bases also occurred without consultations with the
Okinawan people. The stationing of American troops in Okinawa violates article 9 of the
constitution - respect for the sovereignty of the people - and fundamental human rights of
Okinawans as citizens, as guaranteed by the Japanese constitution, were not protected for
38 years. Peace was not realized. Does it make sense for Okinawa to continue being a
part of Japan? The Okinawans should rather create their own code of laws, stand on their
own feet and use their own strength to defend themselves.
The subjugation of the Ryûkyûs by military might, coerced incorporation into Japan, and
the convention for return to Japan are all ILLEGAL. The last for the reason that it was
not effected with the approval of its inhabitants. The so-called “disposal of the Ryūkyūs”
is ILLEGAL. The treaty stipulating the return of Okinawa to Japan (1972) is also
ILLEGAL for the following reason; according to international law, the treaty is limited to
Okinawa prefecture as a political entity. Article 4(3) decrees that the United States
voluntarily pay compensation for damages to the land and for the restoration of its
original condition before the return. However, according to a secret diplomatic agreement
and the testimony of the then diplomat Yoshino Bunroku, Japan and the USA signed a
secret treaty according to which Japan paid $4,000,000 USD and at the same date
assumed all administrative powers and legal responsibilities for these islands and their
inhabitants. The treaty mentions the power of the state, but actually the power of the
Japanese state does not extend to inside the American bases. That is to say the
Japanese-American status treaty supersedes the return treaty so that the power of the
Japanese state cannot be exercised over American troops stationed on Okinawa. Since the
terms of this treaty contain falsehoods, it must be deemed invalid and ILLEGAL.
The Decolonization of Okinawa to be Approved by the United Nations
If we cannot pin our hopes on Japan, there is no other way left for us but independence.
Legal means for independence from Japan are in existence. The United Nations was
formed in 1945 by 51 nations, but by June 2006, the number of member nations had
grown to 192. After the convention for independence of former colonies signed by the
United Nations in 1960, the number of independent nations increased exponentially. Rule
of citizens by a foreign power, subjugation and exploitation violate human rights and the
conventions of the United Nations and undermine the foundations of world peace and
solidarity. All citizens have the right of self-determination. Based on this right, all
citizens can freely determine and develop their political, economic and social status. It
will not do to use perceived lack of economic, social and educational preparedness as
pretext for delaying independence. The foreign country mentioned in the convention is, in
this case, the USA. If the disposal of the Ryûkyûs and the reversion treaty are invalid, the
term “citizens” does not refer to Japanese, but Okinawans.
In order to avoid rule by a great power and discrimination, protect one’s language and
history and live a life with self-respect, peoples have attained independence, even when
their populations amount only to a few thousand. Even if the opinion that “Okinawa
cannot be independent” is perceived as common sense in Japan, it makes no sense
globally. Tuvalu and Nauru, with populations of 10,000, Palau of 20,000, the
Micronesian confederation 11,000, Malta, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Iceland, Brunei,
Singapore, Trinidad Tobago, and East Timor are among the many countries that have
gained independence. The population of Okinawa is 139,000. Being aware that small
countries have attained independence; one wonders why Okinawa has maintained the
status quo as a colony.
In order to earn a new political status, a non-autonomous area has to execute the
following international procedure. It must explain its situation to the Special Commission
for decolonization of the United Nations, find support in the international community,
choose between full independence, free alliance with a country or integration into a large
country, hold an election and let the people decide. However, at the time of the return (to
Japan) international rules were ignored. The Ryûkyûans must declare to the world that
the “disposal of the Ryûkyûs”, as well as the treaty for the return to Japan, are illegal, and
that both the government of Japan and the United States are guilty of multiple violations
of international law. The Okinawans must make use of their right to autonomy and are
entitled by international law and the Human Rights convention to open negotiations with
the Japanese government in view of their new international status. It is the duty of the
United Nations to support Okinawans setting themselves free from colonialism.
Neither Possessed by Japan or China
To begin with, does Okinawa belong to Japan? The kingdom of Ryûkyû was constituted
when after the Three Kingdoms period, the three kingdoms were united by Shô Hashi in
1429 and existed until 1879, they are not Japanese territory. According to mythology,
Japan was created by Amaterasu Omikami, and the Ryûkyû islands were created by
Amamichû, Shirumichû – they thus differ from their mythical beginnings. If we look at
relations with Japan from an Okinawan perspective - domination, disposal, discrimination,
a battleground, the sacrificed stone (in the Japanese game of “go”), being cut loose, the
imposition of military bases; What a succession of unfortunate history. The Okinawan
culture does not exist to give variety to Japanese culture; it has value by itself for the
world’s cultural heritage. From a long view of history, the time Okinawa was a part of
Japan is short, and Okinawa’s current subordinate status is abnormal.
Chinese scholars who advocate Okinawa’s return to China have recently multiplied, but
because the kingdom of Ryûkyû had tributary relations with China in the past, it does not
follow that it needs to revert to China. In consideration of the Tibetans, Uighurs and other
minorities in China, reversion to China is nothing but a nightmare for Okinawans.
Okinawan independence does not mean a revival of the Ryûkyû Kingdom. Ryûkyû does
not belong to either China or Japan. Okinawa has learned from the post-war history and
liberation struggles of former colonies to stand on its own feet, take back its language and
teach its children in their own language as legitimate subjects in school Okinawan culture,
history, language, economy, environment, property rights, peace, and human rights as
However, becoming independent does not mean that all problems will automatically be
solved. This depends on the premise of every single Okinawan autonomously putting the
truth into practice and strengthen the underpinnings of independence through daily
The Okinawa issue is an issue of discrimination. The complete eradication of
discrimination cannot be made dependent on the Japanese Government or another
political entity that may eventually seize power in Japan, but must be deliberated and put
into practice by Okinawans themselves. They are challenged to determine whether they
want to live on their own soil as discriminated serfs, or as free and equal human beings.
From: “KAN” Quarterly for History, Environment, Civilization
Vol. 43, Autumn 2010, pp.186-195.