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Yasukatsu Matsushima

Author:Yasukatsu Matsushima
1963年琉球石垣島生まれ。石垣島、南大東島、与那国島、沖縄島にて育つ。

その後、東京、グアム、パラオ、沖縄島、静岡、京都、滋賀にて学び、働き、生活する。

著書に『沖縄島嶼経済史―12世紀から現在まで』藤原書店、2002年
『琉球の「自治」』藤原書店、2006年
『島嶼沖縄の内発的発展―経済・社会・文化』(編著)藤原書店、2010年、
『ミクロネシア―小さな島々の自立への挑戦』早稲田大学出版部、2007年
『琉球独立への道』法律文化社、2012年
『琉球独立論ー琉球民族のマニフェスト』バジリコ、2014年
『琉球独立ー御真人の疑問にお答えします』Ryukyu企画、2014年
『琉球独立宣言ー実現可能な5つの方法』講談社文庫、2015年
『民際学の展開ー方法論・人権・地域・環境の視座から』(編著)晃洋書房、2012年
『琉球列島の環境問題ー「復帰」40年・持続可能なシマ社会へ』(編著)高文研、2012年
『3・11以後何が変わらないのか』(共著)岩波書店、2013年
『島嶼経済とコモンズ』(編著)晃洋書房、2015年
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Okinawa is a Japanese Colony 1  

オスプレイが沖縄に配備されようとする中において、「沖縄は日本の植民地である」という私の英文論考を何回かにわたりご紹介したいと思います。

アメリカ在住の金子エリカ様に翻訳していただきました。金子さんは、金子マーティンさんのお母様であり、かつて琉球について研究をされており、現在の琉球の現状に深く心を痛めている方でもあります。翻訳についてお世話になり、心より感謝申し上げます。




Okinawa is a Japanese Colony

Yasukatsu Matsushima

(translated by Erika Kaneko)
From: “KAN” Vol. 43, Autumn 2010


We are not treated as equals
My love for Okinawa is boundless. Okinawa is my mabui (spirit) and my body. I was
born on the island of Ishigaki and grew up on the islands of South Daitô, Yonaguni and
Okinawa, among the peoples, cultures and the seas of these islands.
It has become customary to use the name of the main island of the group, Okinawa,
interchangeably and as representative of the whole Ryûkyû chain. In historical contexts,
it stands for the independent Kingdom of Ryûkyû. We Ryûkyûans call ourselves
Uchinanchū (we, us, ourselves) and the Japanese Yamatunchū (those from Yamato/
Japan). Even when I moved to Tôkyô to enter University and lived in a dormitory, I could
not forget Okinawa. The contrary, my love grew even deeper. When the Yamatunchû
asked, “Where do you come from? What is your nationality?” and I replied, “I am from
Okinawa”, they gazed at my face with puzzled curiosity. I repeatedly faced this kind of
encounter, I had never before experienced in Okinawa.
Throughout my primary, middle and high school years, I had a Japanese education and
spoke Japanese, although I am Okinawan. In 1972, when the USA “returned” Okinawa to
Japanese administration, I was a third grader. At the time, I had an unforgettable
experience. A teacher identified one of the students who had said something in our
language by placing a “dialect label” around his neck and punishing him, because the
school authorities were enforcing the rule that all speak Japanese. This was also
customary in pre-war, (Second World War) contexts. I experienced with my body what it
meant to be under Japanese rule.
Although we are Japanese citizens, have a Japanese education and speak Japanese, the
Japanese never acknowledge us as equals and treat us as foreigners. Among the
Okinawans in the dormitory, some friends were so shocked by this treatment that they
left school. It was the Japanese who made me conscious of my complexion, facial
features and language. I read and discussed with my friends the books written by the
fathers of Ryûkyûan studies Iha Fuyû, Higashiona Kanjun and Yanagita Kunio, who
espoused a thesis, alleging the cultural and historical identity of Japan and Ryûkyû - the
so-called “same ancestor theory”. If we were one people and one culture, how do we
explain the historical fact that Japan did unspeakable things to us?
An irresistible quest from the core of my being to solve questions, asking things such
as,“What is the Okinawa issue ?” and ”Why Okinawa? ”, made me decide to enter the
2
path of scholarship. My primary subjects were comparative studies of the Ryûkyû
archipelago and other Pacific islands and island economies. I confirmed my view that all
islands are equal in their mutual relationships and learn from each other. I am Okinawa!
When Okinawa or Okinawans are appreciated, I am happy, and when they are
discriminated against and insulted, I feel sad and angry.
This is not a sign of a shallow local patriotism, but an expression of our determination to
prevent yet another period of colonization. Ever since the US military occupied Okinawa
56 years ago and turned administrative power over to Japan 38 years ago, the Japanese
government and the Japanese people have turned a blind eye to threats to the lives and
livelihoods of the Okinawan people and ignore the stabilization of this dire colonial
situation. It can be said the Okinawa issue is a discrimination issue and I want to find a
way to liberate us.
From Serfdom To illegal Annexation
Okinawa became a subject of discrimination from the very moment it was incorporated
into Japan, as it’s southernmost part. In 1609, Shôgun Tokugawa Iyeyasu permitted the
feudal fief of Satsuma to attack the Ryûkyûs. After the rout, King Shô Nei of Ryûkyû
was taken prisoner and forced to face Iyeyasu at Sumpu castle on his way to surrender in
Edo. The Ryûkyû government was exhorted to send tributary missions to Edo and fulfill
its tributary obligations to Japan. The mission was humiliated by being paraded in front
of the population of Edo as foreigners in outlandish garb, accompanied by garish music.
This kind of reception was also customarily meted out to envoys from Korea.
For the kingdom, modern times started in 1609. The Satsuma fief separated and
administered the Amami Ôshima islands directly, enforced a monoculture of sugar cane,
introduced serfdom and taxed relentlessly. Satsuma officials were stationed at Shuri
castle to ensure total control of the kingdom, collect taxes and siphon off the kingdom’s
proceeds from trade with China. At the time, the Western Imperial powers were
expanding their colonies in the Asia- Pacific region.
At the same time, Japan strengthened its relations with the West and staked out its own
territory. To augment it, Japan unilaterally claimed the Ryûkyûs. In 1879, Japan subdued
the Kingdom by military force, and demoted the kingdom to the Ryûkyû fief and the king
to chief of the fiefdom, exiling him to Tôkyô. The Japanese government called this the
“disposal of the Ryûkyûs”, and continues to use this discriminatory terminology in
schoolbooks to this day. It is not justified to treat the conversion of the Japanese fiefs into
prefectures on the same level as the independent kingdom of Ryûkyû, which had treaties
not only with China, but also with Western powers and was internationally recognized as
an independent state. The Ryûkyû government and people have never agreed to be part of
Japan. No treaty transferring sovereignty to Japan is in existence. The annexation of the
kingdom cannot be justified either on moral grounds or under international law. IT IS
INVALID. Japan has divested the kingdom of its diplomatic, commercial and
autonomous rights. Ryûkyû is entitled to demand their restoration.
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