"Der verwundete und zu Boden gefallene Mensch, ist das nicht Jesus selbst?" (Pfr. SEKI, Kyoto, 2002)
"Anerkennung verweigern nicht zuletzt viele Christinnen und Christen" (M. Sonntag)
"Ich bin doch ein Mensch" (Kalligraphie aus der Befreiungsbewegung der Buraku)
2008: Okinawa, Buraku und Kirche
Kommissionen des Kyodan (Vereinigte Kirche Christi in Japan) haben seit 1997 gemeinsam die Probleme diskutiert - bis im Jahre 2002 die Synode des Kyodan allen Gesprächen ein Ende machte.
Der folgende Beitrag wirft ein Schlaglicht auf die Situation heute.
Aiming For Solidarity Within a Discriminatory Society. Rejection by Okinawa
By Kyoko Matayoshi
Background: In 1997, the BLC called for mutual cooperation and understanding between Kyodan committees working on discrimination related issues and the Hokkaido and Okinawa districts. Three such consultations were held, but at the 2002 Kyodan Assembly, the Yasukuni Emperor System Information Center and the Gender Discrimination Task Force, both participants in those consultations, were done away with and the Okinawa District indicated it was "distancing itself from the Kyodan." This has thrown into question the Antidiscrimination Consultation as well as the solidarity the BLC was calling for. It is within that context that the following article was written for the BLC newsletter.
In considering the issue of "solidarity", I want to relate that to "rejection." From the standpoint of being able to confirm one's place in the grand scheme of things, there is a need to step back from the situation for a while. Up through the 2002 General Assembly (the 18th following the union between the United Church of Christ in Okinawa and the United Church of Christ in Japan), I have observed my fellow Okinawans, both lay and clergy, make numerous appeals and organize "caravans" to visit churches and discuss bringing to reality a rethinking of the union. The net result of that effort was a taxing of the time and energy from that needed by the local churches for their own development. When the Kyodan leadership ended its discussions on rethinking the union, we lost respect for the Kyodan, which had been working with us to encourage us and listen together to the voice of God through the Scriptures.
Since then, the Okinawa District has taken the position of “distancing itself from the Kyodan." From 2004, the district has been continuing a discussion within the framework of “The Task Force on the Future Church of Okinawa." The topics of these district-wide meetings have included: The Church in Okinawa, The Church and State, The Church as an Open United Church, The Confession of Faith of the United Church within Okinawa, A Church that Reaches Out with the Gospel, The Church Operating Under the Assembly System, Financial Independence, The Sacraments, The Assembly System of Church Government and Clergy and the Laity, The Identity of the Church, etc. These have been very helpful exercises, and we hope to further a common understanding on these topics with the laity in each church. In order to find our way in this, however, we need sufficient time, and thus we are stepping back from active participation in the Kyodan.
Our stance of distancing ourselves from the Kyodan has been an inspiration to the Okinawan people, who feel uncomfortable in their relations with Japan. When we look back at the history of the relationship between Okinawa and Japan, there was the "Okinawa Boom," when we were forced .to accept more US bases, and likewise, when we've been told to "Uphold Article 9" (of the Japanese Constitution), and even when we were told by someone that they "really loved" Okinawa, we felt marginalized and our identity and pride was taken from us.
I have been an active member of the women's group "Kamadu" (meaning "oven" in Okinawan) in the city of Ginowan, where the Futenma military base is located, since 1997. As part of that, I participated with the women of the city of Nago in the politics of their citizen's referendum on accepting the base in their city area, where the government wants to relocate it. While rejoicing in the negative vote by the citizens there, I continued to participate in various efforts to get .that base dismantled. With a banner saying, "We want to sell the Futenma Base", we went to Tokyo to deliver our message. In order to impress on people the size of this base, with a circumference of 11 km and located in the heart of the city, we surrounded it with colorful "Peace message flags." We also held a regular "Friday meeting" in front of the American consulate demanding the base be moved to a different part of Japan. It was in the midst of those activities that on August 13, 2004 a US military helicopter crashed into the campus of Okinawa International University. It was an accident that was like a "last warning" that seemed to mock all of our efforts. On the first anniversary of that incident, we gathered early in the morning at the fence surrounding the base and tied black ribbons to it, silently praying in our tears as we held a "funeral for the Futenma Base."
"How long would we have to continue these efforts?" was a question on everyone's minds. But our resolve to push on was further strengthened, as we felt our demand that the agreed-to move be not to just another part of Okinawa but somewhere else was fully justified. It was the Japanese who had signed the joint security treaty with the US and who thus had the responsibility to host US military bases. Some have protested that we "'shouldn't foist our pain on to someone else." We, however, are the ones who bore the brunt of the "Battle of Okinawa" in the name of national defense. And in the more than 60 years since then, we have continuously been in what amounts to a "war zone" of military bases. So, who is it that has forced this on us? It is often expressed, "The Okinawans have accepted military bases." The government, mass media and even conscientious Japanese have used this "Okinawa has accepted the bases" mantra to avoid their own responsibility in forcing this upon us, thus relieving themselves of the responsibility of hosting the bases themselves. So, can we talk about "solidarity" between people who live their daily lives without the pain of military bases being forced upon them and those who have lived with that for over 60 years? So the decision to stop seeking such solidarity with Japan and the Japanese and to distance ourselves from the Kyodan is the natural culmination of these last 10 years. There is a book by the title of “Okinawa Rejects Military Bases," but from our perspective, we could change that to say, "Okinawa rejects the Japan and Japanese who force military bases on I us."
On September 29, 2007, we gathered together with 110,000 people for a rally to peacefully listen to the experiences of ordinary people as part of the "Okinawan Citizen's Gathering to Demand a Retraction of the History Textbook" (referring to the official textbooks whitewashing Japanese military responsibility for the mass death of Okinawan civilians). Among our banners were ones that read, "Retract the History Textbook," "Don't Erase the Facts of History!", "Teach Children the Truth!", and the one we held, "Military Orders are Still in Effect! Look at the Military Bases Forced Upon Us!" We can see the way we are actually thought of in the slogans, "The 'mass suicides' were not ordered by the military but were done of their own accord" (not calling them what they really were, forced mass deaths), with the textbooks now teaching that, and "Okinawa accepts the military bases." Therefore, the question is, "Is Okinawa simply a colony of Japan?"
Aus: "Crowned With Thorns" Nr. 48, März 2008.