July 28, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki took the stage during the final day of Fuji Rock, Japan’s largest outdoor music festival, held at the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata prefecture on July 28. The session took place at the festival’s Atomic Cafe stage, where the topic centered on Okinawa. During the discussion session, the governor made a case against the new military base construction at Henoko, Nago City. The talk was followed by Gov. Tamaki’s acoustic guitar performance, which enraptured the crowd.
Wearing a T-shirt and a guitar strap, Gov. Tamaki performed “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. After his solo performance, Tamaki was joined by YOH, a member of the popular Okinawan rock band ORANGE RANGE, and together performed Bob Dylan’s version of “All Along the Watchtower.”
During the preceding discussion session, journalist Daisuke Tsuda served as the moderator, and welcomed the governor, Jinshiro Motoyama (representative of the civil organization, Henoko Referendum Council) and YOH to the stage, to discuss Okinawa’s current situation. Gov. Tamaki touched on his roots and his father’s background as a U.S. military soldier, and commented: “What hasn’t changed in the 74 years since World War II and the 47 years since Okinawa’s reversion to Japan, is that U.S. military bases continue to be present [on Okinawa].” Tamaki explained that U.S. bases came to be concentrated in Okinawa, because opposition and conflict against hosting U.S. bases arose in the main islands of Japan after the war. He added, “This is not the legacy we pass down to our children.”
YOH said about the ongoing protests in Henoko and Takae: “It’s not a pleasant trip to make, but you start to realize things by going there. What’s worse is letting information overload stopping you from thinking about the issues.” Motoyama, who was at Fuji Rock all three days, reflected on his time lobbying the prefectural referendum and said, “I realized that many of us don’t think we can influence the government’s actions. I pushed for the referendum because I wanted to show that the people want change.”
Gov. Tamaki was a popular radio show host before he was elected as a Diet member in 2002. He also played in a band, and wrote lyrics for Okinawan artists. The governor loves rock music, and he often plays his guitar to unwind at the governor’s residence in Naha City, since assuming his post in October.
Atomic Cafe is a music stage launched in 1984, to protest against nuclear energy and power. The stage was discontinued in the 90s, but was re-launched at the 2011 Fuji Rock Music Festival, after the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Atomic Cafe is located at the NEW POWER GEAR Field/AVALON every year, an area powered entirely by new energy. This year’s theme was Okinawa and self-regulation.
(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)