Sunday, May 21, 2017

The issue of Okinawa is also the issue of the whole Japan: 45th anniversary of Okinawa’s “Return to Japan”

On May 14, 2017, a rally and a demonstration questioning the 45th anniversary of Okinawa’s “Return to Japan” were held in the Shinjuku district, central Tokyo. TAMAKI Ai (photo), a 22-year old postgraduate student at Ryukyu University in Okinawa, appealed, “45 years ago, I was not born and even my parents were small. They often told me that people in Okinawa drove on the right (Japan had and still has a left-hand traffic rule) and used the US dollars before the return. What has changed in Okinawa since the 27-year US rule and the 45-year Japanese rule? While Okinawa has only 0.6% of the whole area of Japan, 70% of US military bases concentrate in the small prefecture. Violence of US soldiers has killed local Okinawans and Ospreys of the US military have crashed. Why does Okinawa have to suffer from the heavy burden of the US bases even 72 years after the end of World War II? I would like to ask these questions”. Tamaki continued, “You may say you are tired of or fed up with something political like the US military or security. But is the issue of Okinawa only that of Okinawans? It is the issue of the whole Japan, and your issue, isn’t it?”



“Slave labor” in the backyard: Introduction of a video “Technical interns, beware!”

“Slave labor” in the backyard: Introduction of a video “Technical interns, beware!”

This 15-minute video clearly depicts what is going on in the backyard of Japanese society. These young Burmese girls came to Japan as technical interns with the following contract: Dressmaking at 120,000 Japanese yen per month, from 8am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday with Sundays off. Each of them paid 800,000 yen to a local organizer. However, the president of their workplace took too big of a cut, and they actually received only 50,000 to 70,000 yen a month. In addition, they had to work from 8am to 10pm everyday almost without holidays. They had to live in an old and dirty apartment (photo). It is painful to hear their testimonies. They had no choice but to escape this terrible situation in a year, but the “local organizer” has sued them in a court in Myanmar (Burma) as a breach of contract. In this video, IBUSUKI Shoichi, their attorney, clearly explains that the “technical internship” program carried out in the name of international contributions is actually “modern-day slavery”. (M)