The Truth About Okinawa and the Media’s Right Not To Report
Behind the Scenes at Okinawan People’s Press Conference
【ニッポンの新常識】Common Knowledge Revisited 106
[In order for foreign readers to understand the following column, some background is probably necessary.
For many years the U.S. Marines have had use of a huge (7,500 hectare) jungle training facility on Northern Okinawa. Some years ago, the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed that the U.S. would return about 4,000 hectares of the area to Japanese control. To do that, the helipads located on the portion to be returned needed to be rebuilt on the portion not to be returned. Anti-U.S. base activists have obstructed this construction for some time, but late last year the Japanese government decided to move forward forcefully with the construction.
The location is in the Takae area of Higashi-son (Higashi Village), the municipality just north of Nago City. A majority of the local residents are in favor.
However, protestors from other areas of Okinawa, mainland Japan (especially Kansai), China, Korea, and Australia joined a few locals in violent protests, all documented on YouTube. See, for example:
Those who are not in favor want to have the training area abolished altogether, not just reduced in size.
One of the prominent groups to join the demonstrations was Norikoe Netto, a citizens’ organization dedicated to eradicating hate speech and racism against Korean residents of Japan. Shin Su-gok is a third-generation Korean resident (non-citizen) of Japan, and is the nominal head of this organization. This organization has participated in anti-U.S. base demonstrations in Japan on the theory that the existence of the U.S. military bases is discrimination against the so-called Okinawan ethnic minority, a distinction which is not supported either in fact or in public opinion.
The situation became so bad that Tokyo and Osaka sent in riot police to support the Okinawan police.
The Japanese mainstream media has largely ignored this issue, and the Okinawan media has run false reports about it.
Tokyo MX Television ran a segment in “News Girls” on January 2nd which detailed the way these violent protests are having a negative impact on the local population. It also reported the involvement of outsiders and pointed out that they are being paid (but pointedly did not criticize the fact that they are being paid). For your information, payments are made through a special fund called the Henoko Kikin (Henoko Fund), which is thought to be largely sponsored the by the Chinese Communist Party.
In addition, Norikoe Netto offered payments for people (presumably their members) to go to Okinawa, stir up trouble, and post it on the internet. These facts were reported in the MX program.
The return of 4,000 hectares was completed on December 22, 2016.]
An “Okinawan People’s Press Conference” decrying suppression of the free speech of Tokyo MX Television was held on the 24th of last month at the Japan National Press Club in Uchisaiwai-cho, Tokyo. Akira Shinohara, author of the best-seller “The Inconvenient Truth about Okinawa” (Shincho Shinsha) was the moderator, and former Lower House Diet Member Mio Sugita and I also were on the panel.
The course of events is as follows. On January 2nd, MX aired a segment of “News Girls” which reported that professional protestors speaking Kansai dialect and Korean residents of Japan were included among the anti-U.S. military base protestors in Okinawa. In response, Shin Su-gok, the nominal head of the citizens group “Norikoe Netto” filed a complaint with the Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization (BPO) alleging “human rights violations,” and an investigation was begun.
In the complaint, the comments of three Okinawan residents [contained in the report] were treated as false. Outraged at this turn of events, these three residents came to Tokyo and held a press conference.
Naha resident Mr. Yasunori Tedokon, under the name “Bogey Tedokon,” has for several years been exposing the abnormality of the demonstrators on YouTube and elsewhere.
Mr. Keiji Yoda, who runs an environmental friendly farm in Higashi-son, Kunigami-gun [in northern Okinawa] and operates a coffee shop called “Canan Farm,” suffered damage to his business time and again from illegal checkpoints set up to obstruct construction vehicles in the Takae region of Higashi-son.
Nago resident Masako Ganaha, as the managing director of the “Prefectural Residents Association to Reform the Ryukyu Shinpo and Okinawa Times [the two main Okinawan newspapers],” is working to breathe new life into the closed local news media environment.
The following is the text of a flyer distributed at the “Hottokenai, Takae. Naichaa Daisakusen Kaigi [Cannot Ignore Takae. Non-Okinawans’ Grand Strategy Meeting]” held by Norikoe Netto.
“Let’s send ‛special operatives’ to Takae in Okinawa and take control of our own media. Link ourselves up with Okinawa. (1) We will provide 50,000 yen, the approximate cost of airfare. Otherwise, please be on your own. (2) Upon arriving in Takae, please send out SNS messages on Twitter, Facebook, etc. or live twitter broadcasts. (3) Upon return, please provide a 1,000-word report. The report will be posted on Shin Su-gok’s or Norikoe Netto’s Facebook page. More details at the strategy meeting.”
I will not offer any critique about this.
The fact that one of the editors who attended the press conference posted the following comment: “Ganaha, who got together a group of liar pipeheads (also translated as ‘head of a penis’), should be thankful that we took time to attend this excuse-making session. You are simple traitors and should keep in mind your status as the filth (also translated as ‘sewage)’ of this nation” has become a hot topic on the internet.
This is the statement of someone who opposes so-called “hate speech.” We can only laugh in response.
The Sankei Newspaper reported the press conference, but the other major newspapers, wire services, and local newspapers who left their name cards at the registration desk exercised their “right not to report.” This is the current sad state of the Japanese media.