Like many young people who grew up in this southern prefecture, film director Ryugo Nakamura has mixed feelings about the presence of U.S. military bases in his native Okinawa.
Nakamura, 20, a Keio University junior, directed and released last year a fictionalized movie portraying Okinawan youths who have equivocal feelings, unclassifiable as pro or con, about the issue.
The Dec. 13 wreck of a U.S. military's Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which crash-landed off the coast of Nago in the prefecture, reminded Nakamura of the message he put into his film that he would like everyone in Japan to think about.
“No Osprey aircraft has ever crashed, after all,” a high school student says in one scene in “Girl of the Sea.” The latest accident overturned that premise.
“Adults have opposed the deployment of Osprey aircraft because they have witnessed, over and over again, the moment when something they believed was safe turned into a danger,” Nakamura said he thought.
Every time an incident or an accident involving U.S. forces occurs, adults have invariably said, “Oh, not again!”
Nakamura said he now realizes what that means.
After the Osprey crash-landing, Nakamura saw online postings saying things such as, “I thought something like this would happen.”
But he also noticed that some young people simply retweeted articles on the accident instead of posting what they were thinking. Nakamura thought they were probably hesitating, not knowing if it was OK for them to make public their thoughts.
The dilemma, is, in fact, shared by Nakamura. He has yet to make up his mind whether to talk about the Osprey accident to people around him in the United States, where he has been studying since September.
When Nakamura introduces himself as a native of Okinawa, people smilingly point out that it is an island known for the longevity of its people.
“I just don’t know if it is OK for me to bring up the topic in front of people who welcome me so warm-heartedly,” he said.
“People like myself have grown up in an environment so close to military bases that it is very difficult for us to have any opinion of the issue of military bases,” said Nakamura, adding that he has a friend who works for a military base and an acquaintance who was born to a U.S. serviceman. “Both the views of the opponents and the views of those who accept the bases are understandable to us. We have no language to describe all that, so when asked, we say we ‘don’t know.’”
Nakamura said his movie was a projection of that mind-set of young people like himself.
The film director has yet to decide if he is pro- or anti-U.S. military bases in Okinawa.
“If you have seen an article on military bases, please take a look at that, if only for a little bit,” Nakamura said he wants to advise people. “Facing the problem together, thinking about it together--I want to believe there must be some potential that will bloom from there.”