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  • Undying Colonialism:A Case Study of the Japanese Colonizer
  • Kōya Nomura (bio)
    Translated by Annmaria Shimabuku (bio)

1. Introduction

Colonialism is not over. This is the most important meaning of postcolonialism. That the Japanese still continue to practice colonialism is made clear by the fact that 75 percent of U.S. military bases in the Japanese state are the burden of Okinawa and Okinawa alone. Moreover, Japan justifies this act in the name of democracy.1 Democracy is guaranteed by the Constitution of Japan. Therefore, Japanese democracy and the Constitution of Japan are not in a conflictual relationship with colonialism.

There are few if any Japanese who advocate "equal distribution of U.S. military bases amongst all Japanese nationals as an alternative to forcing them onto Okinawans only."2 But this should come as no surprise. Concentrating U.S. military bases on Okinawa is a way for the Japanese to escape their share of the burden at the expense of Okinawans. It unmistakably serves the interests of the Japanese. Therefore, it is nothing but a convenient lie when the Japanese say the "disparate temperamental attitudes" toward [End Page 93] the concentration of U.S. military bases in Okinawa is akin to the "difference in temperature" (ondosa) between the two geographical locations, as if these unequal conditions could be chalked up to a simple natural phenomenon.3 The reality is completely opposite: it is a relationship of interest where the Japanese always seize benefits at the expense of the Okinawans. It is a relationship of colonialism. There is no proposition for the Japanese more tantalizing than this one, and it is the reason why they cannot relinquish their colonialism. It is no wonder why conservative Japanese quite honestly say to Okinawans, "Put up with the bases! Shall we give you some money? You people must be so distressed." This is a very easily understood arrogance.

What is not so easily understood are the "progressive" or "conscientious" Japanese. They have the nerve to say, "All Japanese nationals should be equal." If that is the case, then shouldn't we expect them to bear equally the brunt of the U.S. military bases? I often hear voices that declare, "I oppose U.S. military bases in Japan! I oppose the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty!" While they have carried on repeating this phrase, 60 years of sticking Okinawans with bases have gone by, and even more years will probably go by in the future. How will they take responsibility for having forced bases onto Okinawans for so long? Do they propose to have Okinawans put up with them for the eternal and everlasting future? Moreover, do not all Japanese, whether they support or oppose the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, enjoy the benefits of not having to bear the burden of military bases?

They also say, "Let's build an alliance [rentai] with Okinawa." If an Okinawan then responds, "The best alliance is to bring bases back to Japan and equally share the burden of them," then he or she is immediately labeled the "enemy of alliance." How is it they can label Okinawans the enemy while proposing to "build an alliance with Okinawa"? At that point, quite expectedly, the words "I oppose relocation of U.S. military bases from Okinawa to Japan" start to ring in my ears. Isn't it that sort of opposition that forces bases onto Okinawans in the first place?

I often hear the line, "I love Okinawa." If they love Okinawa so much, then wouldn't they surely relocate at least some of the U.S. military bases to Japan?

Or is it that the Okinawa they love is the one with all those bases?

Even though this is merely one simple question from one Okinawan, [End Page 94] I have yet to meet one Japanese who is able to give one decent answer. Rather, Japanese who are not even willing to hear this question make up the overwhelming majority. Yet, if Okinawans themselves go so far as to say, "It pains me to transfer the suffering of Okinawa someplace else," they soon find themselves being celebrated by the Japanese. Why? Because there are no words...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1539-6630
Print ISSN
1532-687x
Pages
pp. 93-116
Launched on MUSE
2012-11-13
Open Access
No
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