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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
Yasukatsu Matsushima

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Okinawa is a Japanese Colony 2

The Kingdom of Hawaii was in a similar position. It was an independent kingdom unified
by King Kamehameha I., who promulgated a code of laws and signed treaties with
Western countries. Westerners in control of the economy of Hawaii, with the support of
the American navy, instigated a coup d’état against the kingdom’s last ruler, Queen
Liluokalani, who claimed autonomy. They proclaimed the Republic of Hawaii, took
leadership and steered US Congress to recognize Hawaii. In 1992, Hawaiians objected to
their delegates in congress that Hawaiian voices had not been taken into consideration at
that time. The 103rd Congress of the USA admitted the illegality of the procedure and
issued a formal apology. During the same year, President Clinton visited Hawaii and
delivered and signed a personal apology to the Hawaiians.
Japan never apologized, or offered compensation for the “disposal of the Ryûkyûs”. In
consequence, Ryûkyûan officials were forced to seek exile in China, where they appealed
for help, even by means of suicide, and continued the movement for “independence for
the Ryûkyûs” until after the Sino–Japanese war. In connection with mediation efforts by
US President Grant, Japan offered China the Miyako and Yaeyama islands of the
Ryûkyûs in return for trading rights in China equal to those of the Western Powers. China
refused to sign such a treaty. The Japanese government was de facto dividing the island
chain and abandoning the islands for monetary profit.
After the takeover by Japan, the Ryûkyûans were subjected to forced assimilation,
discrimination and exploitation. In education, the Japanese language was severely
enforced. Japanese enterprises and Japanese businessmen ruled the island’s economy. In
the 1920s, starvation - the so-called “Sago Palm Hell” - forced the population to migrate
to other parts of Japan or abroad. Enduring discrimination was typified by an incident at
Ôsaka Tenōji in the year 1903, when Okinawans were displayed to visitors of the 5th
Industrial Exposition in cages, together with the original inhabitants of Taiwan (classified
as ”savages”), Ainu, Koreans, Chinese, Javanese, and Indians etc. This incident
engraved discrimination deeply into the hearts and memories of Okinawans.
At the time of the battle of Okinawa at the end of the Second World War, Okinawans of
all ages were recruited for Japan’s “holy war”. Okinawans were killed by the Japanese
military and driven into mass suicide. The Japanese government seeks to deny the forced
mass suicides to this day. This is not a past that can be forgotten simply as “the past.”
Instead of protecting the civilian population of Okinawa, the Japanese military often used
them as human shields. The Japanese military only operated to protect Japan.
The 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty divided Okinawa once more from Japan. In return,
Japan gained independence. Okinawa belonged to no one and nobody protected her
human rights. She was placed under the military dictatorship of the US Military High
Commissioner. In order to build military bases, Okinawan lands were requisitioned. This
meant destroying and wiping out the landowners’ harvests, livelihoods, cultures and pasts.
For the Okinawans, their land is where they live, where they celebrate their ritual feasts,
it is part of their souls and their bodies. This land has now been taken away for a span of
65 years. There are instances of American soldiers who have killed or harmed Okinawans
escaping punishment by simply being returned to America. The responsibility for this
4
colonial status of Okinawa lies not only with America, but also with Japan, which put up
Okinawa for sale in return for its own independence.
Okinawa, which is situated at the most remote end of Japan, can be sacrificed like the
cut-off tail of a lizard. Whenever Japan faces an inconvenient situation, it makes use of
Okinawa, historically as negotiator with China, or as a commodity to sell, as a place to
fight her battles or to establish military bases. For Okinawans to become a part of Japan
means being put in the position of a perpetual victim.
Post- Reversion Economic Aggression and Stabilization of Military Bases
After the administrative reversion to Japan, the Japanese government promulgated
ambitious economic development plans for Okinawa for which it reserved great sums of
money. First, the legal system of Okinawa was assimilated to that of Japan, the
infrastructure consolidated and subordinated, and large enterprises were encouraged to
take affirmative action to diminish discrimination. In consequence, the appropriation of
land by Japanese corporations, buy-outs of local companies, and streamlining, were
facilitated, and indiscriminate development increased. Many local companies folded
under the pressures of competitive markets. The numbers of those out of work increased.
The tourist industry and its profits multiplied, but the great majority of profits were
siphoned off by the head offices in Japan. The same holds true for construction,
communication and other branches of industry.
During the time I lived in Naha (from third grade to the time I entered university), the
city’s Kokusai Avenue was a place where local merchants sold daily necessities and
Okinawans strolled about, met their friends, and had a good time. But now this is a street
of Japanese tourist offices and Japanese tourists, a street from where the island lifestyle
of Okinawa has disappeared. The same is true for other areas, where tourism and the
quest for profit are dominant. Japanese tourists enjoy themselves to their heart’s desire,
but the living space of Okinawans has become even more restricted.
Japanese enterprises economically dominate the construction, media and communication
industries, among others. The proliferation of call-centers is remarkable. About 90% of
employees are female. They lead an insecure, underpaid and overworked existence under
upper echelon bosses from Japan. The tourist industry is similarly structured. Many
Okinawans work as seasonal workers in factories in Japan. The Okinawan labor market is
known for low wages and jobs where people are easily dismissed.
The stimulation and development plan of the government was intended to narrow the
economic gap between Japanese and Okinawans, but since Japanese enterprises claimed
leadership rights in terms of conception and execution, the gap has widened all the more.
The government’s stimulation and development plan was also linked to the consolidation
of American military bases in Okinawa. The Okinawans, who had been made dependent
on the stimulation and development plan, were threatened with a decrease in aid money
(the “stick” in the “stick and carrot” approach), if they expressed opposition to the
military bases, or were led to expect increases in aid, (the “Carrot”) if they agreed to land
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