To: Joseph Biden, Jr., President of the United States
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, 20500, USA
Dear Mr. President,On 24 December of last year, we learned from Okinawa’s newspapers that our islands are again threatened by war. US and Japanese government officials had made it known to news reporters that in the event of a “Taiwan incident”, the “southwestern islands” (meaning mainly Okinawa) will become attack bases aimed at China.
In the Asia-Pacific war, Okinawa was the site of the only land battle inside Japan. In the Battle of Okinawa, called a Hell on Earth, everything was destroyed, Okinawan non-combatants could not escape, and one in four lost their lives. This experience led to our resolve that this must never be repeated. However, when the war ended we were placed under US military occupation, our land was confiscated by force, and Okinawa became a land of military bases. Since then we have opposed the bases and aspired to become an archipelago of peace, but even after we reverted to Japan in the hope of coming under the protection of Japan’s Peace Constitution, our voice has not been heard. Today, of all the US bases in Japan used exclusively by the US military, 70% have been forced on Okinawa.
In Okinawa we have the expression, “Nuchi du Takara” (“Life is a Treasure”). This spirit is expressed in our memorial to the war dead, Heiwa no Ishiji (Cornerstone of Peace), where the names of all who died in the Battle of Okinawa, be they soldier or civilian, American, British, Korean, Taiwanese, Japanese or Okinawan, ally or enemy, are carved in a forest of stones. We believe this valuation of life, and of the peace that protects it, is shared by Taiwanese, Chinese, Americans and Japanese. The Taiwan Issue must not become the justification for launching a world-scale disastrous war. Settle it by peaceful negotiations.
We are still struggling to heal the wounds inflicted on us 77 years ago. You should not fight this war anywhere, but especially, not here. We have no connection with this war. Inflicting war on non-combatants in Taiwan, China, Japan or the US should be considered a war crime, but inflicting war on people who, like the people of Okinawa, are not even a party to the war, should be considered a special category of war crime. If the parties to this prospective war are indeed thinking of designating Okinawa as a battleground – an area where war will be legal – please know that we, who live here, refuse that designation.
Signatories to Presidential Letter
- No More Okinawa-Sen (Battle of Okinawa)
- Nuchi du Takara (Life is a Treasure) People’s Alliance
- Ishihara Masaie
- Gushiken Takamatsu
- Douglas Lummis
- Miyagi Hitomi
- Yamashiro Hiroji