2021: Article 9 - Presentation 1

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Article 9 of the Japanese
 Peace Constitution and Peace
 in Asia -Prayer from Okinawa
 ー 沖縄からの祈り ー
The 7th Global lnter-Religious Conference on Article 9  
of the Japanese Peace Constitution

Presentation 1
Rev. KAMOSHITA Yūchi , Nipponazan-Myōhōji Temple

I was born and raised in Tokyo. Both my parents worked and I never felt poor financially. I had good friends and almost never felt lonely.

My first acquaintance with Okinawa was as a first year junior high school student when we stayed at a seaside resort with relatives. Although I don’t remember the details, I do very much remember being impressed when I went scuba diving for the first time. The second time was sometime in high school and I remember wanting to savor a resort experience.

It’s strange when I think about it now, but at that time I didn’t know a thing about the issue of military bases. And the Battle of Okinawa didn’t even enter my mind.

One could just say that I was young; but 1996, when I was in 7th grade, was the year after The Cornerstone of Peace memorial had been completed in Mabuni, and the year that the decision was made to “relocate Futenma [Marine Air Station] to Henoko” under the “Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO).” SACO had been created due to the rape of a young Okinawan girl by three U.S. servicemen.

After graduating from high school and leaving Japan, I wandered around several countries, went to India and there encountered Buddhism and Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence. I then became a monk and resided in India for seven years.

I started living on Okinawa in about 2013. I had an interest in social issues when I returned to Japan, and had come to Okinawa to help with a symposium held by Inter-faith Article 9 Association. In 2013, construction of Henoko in Nago City had not yet begun, but there was a movement against the construction of a U.S. military helipad in Higashimura Takae. Residents set up tents in front of the base and risked their lives trying to stop construction work. Day after day, many people from outside of Okinawa stayed over in Takae to support the movement, working together to somehow stop construction. I was very drawn by the way these people from a variety of backgrounds came together to work for a single purpose. And while in Okinawa, they studied its history and learned how unjust Japan had been to Okinawa up to that time. It was for all of these reasons that I decided to settle in Okinawa. 

Landfill work started in Henoko in July 2014, and subsequently, the people of Okinawa Prefecture also put up their tents in front of the base and started blocking construction trucks from entering. To obstruct ocean construction as well, a canoe team and protest fleet began taking action. The Henoko opposition movement has expanded across the country, and even the world. ....

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