February 8, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
One woman in her 60s has been making her way from Naha to attend protests in front of the U.S military base Camp Schwab in Henoko, Nago. Her two daughters are married to former U.S. soldiers, one of which is currently employed as a civilian on one of the bases. The woman continues to participate in protests despite her family’s situation because of her mother, who had suffered through the Battle of Okinawa and suffered from it even after the war had ended. The woman is against the bases because she feels that they will lead to war. Her strong belief is clear in her words: “I will stop the construction of the base. I will not give up.”
The woman’s mother and grandmother frantically ran to escape the fires during the war. The woman’s grandmother later passed away from pneumonia. Traumatized by war, the woman’s mother was unable to tell anyone for 30 years that she did not shed a single tear even when her own mother had passed away. The woman said, “(Because of this,) my mother had suffered for the remainder of her life because she thought there was something wrong with herself.” It was war that had tortured her mother to the end of her days. Because of this, the woman’s resolve to never let war happen again eventually led to opposing the bases.
When her daughters were young, the woman would take them with her to participate in protests, like encircling the bases. However, her two daughters eventually married U.S. soldiers. The woman initially strongly opposed it, but ultimately allowed it since “individuals are not the same as organizations.”
However, the woman’s view changed after her grandchildren were born. “I don’t want any of my family members having to take part in war,” she said. Her two sons-in-laws accepted her wish and left the military. One currently works on the base in Okinawa as a civilian who transports materials.
Sometimes, her son-in-law who works on the base passes by in front of the gate when she is protesting. She shows him a forced smile when he later says, “You were there (protesting in front of the gate), weren’t you mother?” She told us with a cheerful smile, “The situation complicates things, but for my children and my grandchildren’s sake, I won’t let (them) construct the base. If our generation runs away from this, it would set a bad example for the younger people.”
(English translation by T&TC and Chelsea Ashimine)