February 2, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
A new documentary film titled “Targeted Island Kaji kataka” captures the military base issue in Okinawa from residents’ perspectives. This is the third and the latest work of the director Chie Mikami following “The Targeted Village” and “We Shall Overcome (Ikusaba nu tudumi).” This film focused not only on Takae and Henoko, where the construction of the U.S. military base was forcibly carried out, but also on the livelihood of residents of Miyako Island and Ishigaki Island, which have been rocked by the deployment of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF). Focusing on the deep feelings of the people, who are the inheritors of island folk culture such as Angama and Pantu, the film aims to look at the base issue from a new angle.
“Kaji kataka” means “wind guard” or “bulwark” in Okinawan language. In the movie, there is a scene in which Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City says, “Once again, we were unable to be the kaji kataka that protects life.” He was speaking at the prefectural convention, which commemorated the victim of the murder case by the U.S. civilian military worker last summer. The film highlights an embedded structure in which Japan uses Okinawa as “bulwark,” and the U.S. uses Japan as “bulwark”. It depicts this theme as the background of the planned SDF deployment in these islands, the construction of the missile base, and the construction of the new U.S. military base on Okinawa Island. Stressing the lessons learned from the Battle of Okinawa – that the military base could become a target (of attack) and the army does not protect residents – the film warns of the danger of the current situation in Okinawa where militarization and fortification have become intensified.
Director Mikami said, “With the misunderstanding and brain-freeze of many, who think that the U.S. military and the SDF in Okinawa will be a deterrence, Japan is trying to provide land for the war which the United States and China do not need. It is my hope that the audience will understand that.”
In mainland Japan, there is a tendency to discredit activists in Okinawa by calling them “terrorists”, “professional citizens,” and “Chinese faction,” Mikami talked about the reason for including Okinawan folk culture in the film; “In reality, they are normal residents, and I wanted to convey each person’s thought.”
In Okinawa, a special preliminary screening will be held on February 16, 23, and March 2 at the Yoshimoto Minami no shima Panipani Cinema on Miyako Island. The film will be screened at Sakurazaka Theatre from March 11. On mainland Japan, the screening starts at the Porepore Higashinakano in Nakano, Tokyo, on March 25, and the film will be released in various places in succession.
For inquiries about Sakurazaka Theatre, call 098 (860) 9555. For the schedule of screenings in Japan, call ToFoo 03 (5919) 1542.
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)