Katherine Muzik diving at the Sea of Henoko and Oura Bay, July 2013
Via JT on May 2, 2014:
Your Excellency Caroline Kennedy, United States Ambassador to Japan,Read Katherine Muzik's entire letter here:
With this letter, I entreat you to help protect the marvelous coral reef ecosystem at Oura Bay (Henoko) in Nago city, northeast Okinawa, from certain destruction under the U.S.-Japan plan for military expansion.
Having lived in Okinawa and worked there as a marine biologist for 11 years, long ago (1981-1988) and more recently (2007-2011), I have dived the entire Ryukyu archipelago from Amami and Kikai in the north to Yonaguni in the south. I can therefore assure you there is no comparable reef ecosystem remaining such as the beautiful reef at Oura. It is indeed miraculous that it is still surviving. Aki samiyo (“Oh my goodness!” in Okinawan)! There is no disease nor bleaching there! It has so far avoided the troubles that continue to plague and destroy coral reefs worldwide, whether in the Pacific or the Caribbean. (I am sure that you are quite painfully aware that reefs all over the world are dying, thus making any coral reef alive anywhere a truly sacred place.)
Oura Bay is a unique and spectacular ecosystem, including mangroves, a river, a sandy beach with crabs, numerous patch reefs in shallow water (where my specialty, blue corals and red sea fans, thrive), not to mention threatened dugongs and all of the species of clownfish in Japan, shallow beds of sea grasses beyond count, and, most amazingly, a very spectacular deeper reef, nicknamed the “Coral Museum,” with countless gorgeous corals...
Crushing these beautiful and quintessential corals just must not, cannot happen...
Last July, I returned to Okinawa from here in Kauai at the request of the Okinawan Environmental Network. I was asked to dive at Oura Bay and to lend my support to its protection. During my visit I met with the mayor of Nago, who is valiantly opposed to construction/destruction at Oura...
Caroline, should you need a letter of recommendation, please ask the Emperor to vouch for my credibility. I am deeply honored to have met him and the Empress several times at their palace during the time I lived in Okinawa. He is a marine biologist too, and since his goby fishes often find their home on the branches of “my” octocorals, I collected some for him to study...
In closing, I send you words from the last monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen Lili’uokalani, who was a gifted musician, stateswoman, writer and philanthropist, but whose intent was utterly crushed by the U.S. government. She could not save her people from the U.S. invasion.
She solemnly wrote, in 1887: “You must remember never to cease to act because you fear you may fail. The way to lose any earthly kingdom is to be inflexible, intolerant and prejudiced. Another way is to be too flexible, tolerant of too many wrongs and without judgment at all. It’s a razor’s edge. It is the width of a blade of pili grass.”
Like you and me, dear Caroline, Lili’uokalani was a strong woman, so I share her words with you here, to give us strength to proceed in this endeavor. I hope you will prove to be just as courageous and strong as she was.
I beseech you for help. I know you can, and together I am sure we can prevail.