WE ARE LOOCHOO
By Dr. YASUKATSU MATSUSHIMA
UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTEE of 24 on DECOLONIZATION
Towards the Demilitarizaton of Guam
21 June 2011
I appreciate for Your Excellency Francisco Carrion-Mena, Chairperson of the Special Committee of 24, members of the Special Committee on Decolonization to give me the opportunity to speak before your Committee.
I am Dr.Yasukatsu Matsushima, an Okinawan. I was born and raised on Okinawa. Okinawa consists of 160 islands in the EastAsia Sea surrounded by Japan, Taiwan, China, Philippines and its population is about 1.4million. I will appeal that the necessity of demilitarization of Guam from the perspective of Okinawa because the militarization of Guam and Okinawa has been linked strongly by US and Japanese Governments.
2.The Brief History of How Guam and Okinawa Share the Colonization
The militarization of Guam is linked with the building of new bases on Okinawa and the moving of 8,522 US Marines, 9,000 their dependents from Okinawa to Guam. Japanese Government has paid public funds to make new bases on Guam and its Self-Defense Forces has been training with US Forces on Guam. Why Guam and Okinawa is related militarily by US and Japanese Governments? We should understand the historical background of the colonization of Guam and Okinawa. As Guam has been controlled by Spain, US, Japan and now US, Okinawa has been under the control of Japan, US and now Japan and US.
.In1879, Japanese Government annexed Ryukyu Kingdom with its military invasion and started to rule Okinawa as its colony. The Japanese Government has imposed colonialist policies, prohibiting the Okinawan language in school ..Also in Guam, Chamorros had been forced to speak English in school until 1950s. It can be called a cultural genocide.
In 1945, Japanese Government had used Okinawa as a battle ground. The number of the Okinawan fatalities reached around 150 thousand. In 1941, Immediately after Pearl Harbor, Japanese Forces occupied and controlled Guam until 1944. Many Chamorros had been massacred,killed by the Japanese soldiers and destroyed land of Guam thoroughly. Japanese Government has not done the war reparations for Chamorros until now.
During Pacific War, in Guam a lot of lands of Chamorros had been deprived by US Government to make military bases. Okinawa had been directly under the control of US Military Government. Many lands of Okinawans were taken by US Government with weapons.
In 1950s, US Marine Bases had been moved from Japanese Main Islands to Okinawa. Now US Marines will move to Guam.
In 1962, following the United Nations Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, the Ryukyu Legislature passed a resolution, stating that the US rule over Okinawa violated the principles of self-determination and non-expansion of territories prescribed in the UN Charter. This resolution was sent to all 104 member States of the UN at that time.
In 1972, the colonial administration of Okinawa was retransferred from US to Japan. The strong wishs of Okinawans to remove all US bases were ignored. Military bases and economic activities become connected each other in Guam and Okinawa, but almost benefits of base-related economies have gone out of these islands to other places. The military policies on Guam and Okinawa have been decided by US and Japanese Governments unilaterally to ignore these peoples’ claims. So the colonization of Guam and Okinawa has been very clear militarily, politically, and economically.
But Chamorros has used international networks for the decolonization by their groups such as OPI-R(Organization of People for Indigenous Rights), Guhan Coalition for Peace and Justice, We are Guahan and Chamorro Nation and so on. Also Okinawans has participated to UN organizations to resolve colonization problems. In 1996 I had participated to UN Working Group on Indigenous Peoples. Until now, Okinawans have taken part in several UN organizations to decolonize, and demilitarize Okinawa.
In 2006, Dr. Deu Deu Dien,a special reporter of UN Commission on Human Rights, came to survey military bases on Okinawa. He reported that Okinawan situation was abnormal and Japanese Government discriminated against Okinawans. In 2010, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said that US military base problems on Okinawa are racial discrimination to Okinawans.
3.Towards the Demilitarization of Guam
If US Marines will move from Okinawa to Guam, Chamorro people will face many problems such like Okinawan cases. We must understand military base problems on Okinawa because ‘Build Up’ in Guam is conditioned to that of Okinawa by US and Japanese Governments.
74% of US military bases in Japan have been concentrated in Okinawa which covers only 0.6% of all Japanese territory. Many military bases reside in small and highly populated island. That is why there are so many accidents and crimes committed by US personnels.
We have faced such serious damages as fieldfires and bomb accidents caused by live ammunition practices, planes and helicopters crashes, deafening roar, t raffic accidents, destruction of environment and historical sites, indigenous cultural heritages, infringements upon the daily life of the Okinawans and so on. From 1972 to 2010, military related criminal cases have occurred 5,705. From 1972 to 2010, accidents and incidents related to Military training have occurred 1,545.
Two of the most shocking cases are the rape case by 3 US soldiers against a schoolgirl (12years old) in 1995 and the US helicopter crash in 2004 at Okinawa International University. This helicopter belonged to Futenma Air Base.
The Japanese Government hasn’t changed the Agreement on the Status of US Armed Forces in Japan in spite of the strong outrage of almost all Okinawans. This Agreement gives the US military personnels the special privileges to refuse handing over suspects to Japanese authority and on-the-spot inspections.
In 2006, US and Japanese Governments agreed on Roadmap for Realignment Implementation of US bases. This Roadmap includes the reversion of Futenma Air Base and 5 other facilities, after the completion of Futenma Relocation Facility in Henoko, Nago City, and moving of 8,522 Marines, 9,000 their dependents from Okinawa to Guam.Futenma issue and Guam realignment are “package”. Japanese Government has been complicit in the construction of new bases in Guam by supplying large public fund ($6.09 billion) even though the big earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accidents have occurred in Japan after March 11 this year. Excuse to pay money, Japanese Government will send more their Self-Defense Forces to Guam for military training.
So much of Okinawans reject the plan of construction of new military base on coral reef of Henoko.Okinawa Pref.Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and Nago City Mayor Susumu Inafuku also refuse to accept a new base anywhere in Okinawa.
Okinawans are against moving of US Marines to Guam and the construction of new bases there because the colonial situation of Guam will be fixed so deeply and the militarization on Guam is against the process of decolonization on UNC-24.
The reduction of bases on Okinawa will promote that of Guam. I think the relationship of Guam and Okinawa is like sisters and brothers. We insist that Guam should be demilitarized on this decolonization process in UN C-24.
I appreciate Former Senator Hope Cristobal and Dr.Lisa Natividad so much for accepting me for a member of Guam delegation and giving a chance to speak in UN C-24.
Niifaiyou (Thank You)
Joseph Ada (1993) The State of the Colony, Guam Government,
Wakako Higuchi (2001) “The Japanisation Policy for the Chamorros of Guam, 1941-1944” in The Journal of Pacific History,Vol.36,No.1
Okinawa Prefectural government (2011), US Military Base Issues in Okinawa,Okinawa Prefectural Government
Political Status Education Coordinating Commission (ed.) (1996)Issues in Guam's Political Development: The Chamorro Perspective, The Political Status Education Coordinating Commission
R.Rogers (1995) Destiny’s Landfall-A History of Guam, University of Hawaii Press
Pedro Sanchez (1988) Guahan Guam-The History of Our Island, Sanchez Publishing House
Ronald Stade (1998) Pacific Passages-World Culture and Local Politics in Guam, Stockholm Studies in Social Anthropology
Robert Underwood (1998) The State of Guam’s Agenda in Washington 1997, The Office of Underwood
Yasukatsu Matsushima (2007) Micronesia - The Challenge of Islands’ Peoples for Self-governance, Waseda University Press(Japanese version)