1997 Meeting: Women and Children, Militarism, and Human Rights, Okinawa, Japan

PeaceflagMay 1-4, 1997

Context for Meeting in Okinawa
Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence hosted this meeting.  This group helped to revitalize strong Okinawan opposition to US military bases, following the rape of a 12-year-old girl by 3 US servicemen in September 1995.  In February 1996, a women’s delegation visited the United States to speak to US audiences about the effects of US military operations on their communities: violence against women, environmental pollution, traffic accidents, noise from planes and helicopters, helicopter crashes, live-fire training. US military authorities appropriated Okinawan people’s land for bases at the end of World War II.

1997 Meeting Highlights

  • GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER—participants came from Okinawa, mainland Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and the United States. Interpreters worked in 4 languages: English, Korean, Japanese, and Tagalog.
  • VISITS TO WORLD WAR II MEMORIALS.  Many memorials commemorate 200,000 people killed in the Battle of Okinawa at the end of World War II, including memorials to teachers, farmers, workers, high school boys drafted to work with Japanese military and high school girls who nursed wounded Japanese soldiers. We learned about the horrors of this 3-month-long battle and deepened our understanding of why many Okinawans oppose militarism and war.
  • DISCUSSIONS on experiences and strategies to deal with
    US military violence against women
    Environmental and health effects of US military operations
  • – The situation of Amerasian children
  • – Base conversion and redevelopment
  • – Treaties and legal agreements between the US and governments of South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines.

PRESS CONFERENCE where a delegation read our final statement.

PARTICIPANTS DECIDED to meet again in Washington, DC in 1998.

“The US-Japan Security Treaty does not protect Okinawan women from violence by US soldiers.  It does not protect our communities from crimes they commit.  We need a completely different idea of security than the Security Treaty”
— Suzuyo Takazato, Co-Chair Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence.