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Kolloquium/Vortragsreihe zu aktuellen Themen im Wintersemester 2020/21

The 2019 Henoko Referendum: Exposing US Military Base Issue as ‘Japan Problem’, not ‘Okinawa Problem’

14.01.2021 12:15 Uhr – 13:45 Uhr

In February 2019, a referendum was held in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. It asked whether voters approved or opposed the landfill work at Henoko Bay for the construction of a new US Marine Corps base. This referendum has a significant meaning in a sense that first, it was initiated by a citizen’s group. Second, it focused on encouraging an open discussion, rather than representing either side of the opinion, on the necessity of a new US Marine Corps base among people in Okinawa. Lastly, the 2019 Henoko Referendum made conspicuous that the ‘Okinawa Problem’ which has worked as synonym of US military bases issue for a long time should be reframed as ‘Japan Problem’ because what is being questioned here is if democracy still exists in Japan. In this lecture, I, as a former member of the 2019 Henoko Referendum group, will talk about the first-hand account of the movement which is often blurred or omit in media or research articles along with introduction to the complexed US military base issue in Okinawa and Japan.

Akino Oshiro/Ufugusuku is a Ph.D student in Japanologie at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Her research focuses on the experience of local workers on US military base during the US occupation period of Okinawa. She was a member of the 2019 Henoko Referendum group.