Friday, August 1, 2014

Chie Mikami's Film Shooting Diary in Henoko & Takae: 85-year-old civilian Battle of Okinawa survivor blocks concrete truck at Henoko

“It seems to me [Jp govt officials] are going to have to be ready to lock up and maybe beat up the grandmothers and grandfathers that have been resisting all these years.” - Mark Selden at the Mayor Inamine May 2014 event in NYC .
Update by filmmaker Chie Mikami at Magazine 9, a journal dedicated to the Japanese Peace Constitution. Mikami is working on a sequel to her documentary Target Village which follows the struggle of Takae Villagers protesting the construction of US military V-22 Osprey aircraft helipads in Yanbaru, the subtropical rainforest next to their village.  This new sequel also covers the related Henoko struggle to stop the landfill and construction of military port/air base in Okinawa's best biodiverse coral reef and dugong habitat.

In her work, the former television news producer touches upon all relevant themes: democracy, human rights, the history of Jp and US military occupation of Okinawa, ecological, cultural and historical preservation, and Article 9.

Mikami sees  the 18-year-long struggle in Henoko where the Japanese government is readying to use military force against residents, [including octogenarians] as the forefront of the struggle for Article 9.  People in Japan are not aware what is happening in Takae and Henoko because of a media blackout on the mainland. That is why Mikami is making documentaries, to show the public not only the Okinawan struggle, but also the richness of the natural environment, the splendor of Okinawan community,  and the Okinawan people's refusal to give up their dignity.

The video clip here shows 85-year-old Fumiko Shimabukuro blocking a concrete truck at Henoko. Mrs. Shimabukuro is a survivor of the Battle of Okinawa. She suffered burns from American flamethrowers while hiding in a small cave with members of her family and three other families.

The elder Henoko leader is also a survivor of the 1950's period of "Bayonets and  Bulldozers" when the US military used force to seize the farms and coastal lands of Okinawan owners. Camp Schwab and Futenma were both built on forcibly acquired property.  Okinawan landowners have been forced to "rent" their land to the Japanese government for US military use for decades. American bases use over 20 percent of Okinawa prefecture, and are located on the best agricultural lands (former farming villages)  and the best coastal areas (former fishing villages), as well as sacred sites (utaki), and burial tombs.

The nonviolent Okinawan democratic and peace movement also began in the 1950's, in response to "Bayonets and Bulldozers" and concomitant crimes against Okinawans. Leaders modeled the Gandhian democratic movement in colonial India; Okinawan efforts produced some effects towards  a modicum of justice. Landowners were unable to secure the return of their lands, but were able to maintain titles to their properties and thus prevent outright confiscation without some (albeit inadequate) compensation, and some promise of eventual future return.

Mrs. Shibakukuro moved to Henoko after she married, and joined the Tent City sit-in on the beach in 1996, when the plan to build a military port and air base at Camp Schwab  in Henoko was announced.

When Okinawa Governor Nakaima reneged on his 2010 campaign promise to prevent military expansion at Henoko, and approved landfill, Mrs. Shimabukuro told the media in December 2013, “This (approval) is not the end. As long as I am alive, I will continue to fight the government’s plans."

More Info:'>"An Interview with Mikami Chie: The Pretense of Justice: Okinawa’s Unneutral Struggle," Yamagata International Film Festival website, Oct. 12, 2014.


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