I know we could all go “Hell, yeah! You go girl!”, but it’s actually a rather sad story.
She was only intending to kill the husband. But she messed up pretty bad (traumatized teenage girls tend not to be criminal geniuses) and ending up killing way more people than was ever intended. Horrible situation for all involved.
The point is: She should not have been put in that situation in the first place.
Is it appropriate for me to attend protests for BLM, indigenous people, Asian-american, Latinx, religious discrimination, etc. If they're issues I'm passionate about but not really affected by?
That’s a really great question! If these are issues you care about but aren’t directly affected by - that’s solidarity work. Solidarity means working alongside impacted communities by responsibly showing up, offering your physical and emotional labor, amplifying their voices and calls to action. Here is a handy guide that we created for how non-Indigenous folks can show up in solidarity with frontline communities.
When I first got to Okinawa, I was posed with the question by practically all of my friends, “What’s with the protests?”. After having spent 7 months here and getting both sides of the story, I feel I can safely answer this question.
First off, what’s the backstory? To put it simply, Americans have a really bad reputation on the island. Not only has the U.S. tried to expand military operations on the northern part of the island (to much dismay of the Okinawans who would rather be able to use their land for their own purposes), Americans are known for being highly impulsive and reckless. As joked by one of my Japanese taxi drivers, if you see someone cutting you off in traffic or tailgating, it’s most likely an American.
This is a recipe for disaster for any who study political crises. Political distress combined with demographic tension almost always leads to demonstrations once given a spark. And as many have seen in the news, we recently got that spark and it created fire. After the rape and murder of an Japanese woman taking a stroll through the forest by a U.S. marine, Okinawans took to the gates of the U.S. bases demanding the bases be closed. One protester sign read, “Military bases on Okinawa are hotbeds of serious crimes! We demand all bases get out of our land”.
How has the U.S. and Japan responded to this? In rather unique ways, actually. Japan detained a prominent anti-U.S. base activist by the name of “Hiroji Yamashiro” based purely on suspicions of misconduct, while the U.S. has given back land to Okinawa from parts of its bases in order to appease the upset local populace. In other words, both sides heard Okinawa’s voice and responded in the way they found appropriate.
For Japan to try and silence unrest is nothing new, since in 2004 three antiwar activists were detained by Tokyo police which warranted Amnesty International to declare them “prisoners of consciousness”- a designation appropriated typically to oppressive regimes like North Korea and China. But for the U.S. to concede land is really surprising and praised by many internationals and Okinawans. We may not see a complete U.S. withdrawal from Okinawa anytime soon, given its strategic importance (something constantly toted on U.S. military sites and on its bases), but the more land given away most certainly means less Americans to stay.
However, simultaneously, the U.S. is taking a peculiar approach to dissolving unrest on their bases. In orientations and on state-sponsored newspapers (i.e. “Stars and Stripes”), the U.S. is claiming that all the protesters are paid and from mainland Japan. This isn’t true at all and merely a propaganda spat to keep their troops happy, but interesting to take note of.
Overall, it’s hard to say what will come of the conflict, but what is clear is that Okinawa wants its land back and the U.S. wants to keep its strategic position in the Pacific, and the sooner that a compromise can be reached, the better.