(July 23, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo)
On July 22 the Ryukyu Shimpo selected an international group to receive the Ryukyu Shimpo Ikemiyagushiku Shui Award.
The group selected had released a 2014 Okinawa statement signed by 103 international scholars, peace advocates and artists opposing construction of a replacement facility in Henoko for Futenma Air Station.
An award ceremony and commemorative symposium will be held on September 15 at Ryukyu Shimpo Hall.
The statement was released in January 2014. As of January 28 of that year there were 103 signatories and supporters of the statement, including the linguist Noam Chomsky, Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone, historian John Dower, and political scientist Johan Galtung.
This statement criticized the Abe administration for forcing through construction of a replacement facility in Henoko, and former Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima for approving the land reclamation permit.
It began with the words, “We oppose construction of a new US military base within Okinawa, and support the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment.”
In its international signature campaign this statement later gathered 15,000 signatories.
This award’s selection committee was comprised of former professor at the University of the Ryukyus and former Vice Governor of Okinawa Mikio Higa, professor emeritus at Waseda University Keiko Katsukata-Inafuku, and professor at the University of the Ryukyus Masaaki Gabe.
It is the committee’s aim to select an individual or group that aligns with the purpose of the award, which is raising international awareness of the challenges that Okinawa faces and contributing to breaking the deadlock over Okinawa.
The committee appreciates that, “The significance of John Dower and other international scholars disseminating information about Okinawans’ popular will opposing the replacement facility is huge.”
The Ryukyu Shimpo established the Ikemiyagushiku Shui Award in 2008 for the purpose of disseminating information about the challenges that Okinawa faces.
In doing so, the newspaper is honoring the spirit of its former president Shui Ikemiyagushiku and carrying on his work of raising awareness of Okinawa’s public sentiment, which he pursued in the postwar period during the U.S. occupation of Okinawa and following its return to Japan.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)