KAPAA — Kosuzu Abe said she has come to Kauai to fulfill a debt of gratitude to the Hawaiian people and to share the story of Okinawa.
Her tale is embodied in the documentary film, “The Strangled Sea,” which will be shown for free tonight at the Kealia Farm Market up Kealia Road off Kuhio Highway opposite the north end of Kealia Beach.
The show starts at 7 p.m. followed by a question-and-answer session with Abe, an activist and professor of social sciences at the University of Ryukyus.
Topics of conversation will include the U.S. militarization of Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Okinawa.
“I’m here to share what the people are doing in protest of the militarization,” Abe said.
Abe moved from mainland Japan to Okinawa in 1999 after getting a teaching job at the university and she said she was naïve of the people’s resistance to U.S. militarization when she moved to the island.
“I saw reality really fast,” she said.
In 1996, the Japanese courts approved plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma airbase from its location to the northern part of the island.
The Okinawan people oppose the plan because they want the base closed completely and because the relocation puts coral reefs and other resources in jeopardy.
Protests started in 2004, Abe said, and for a while Okinawan law enforcement policed the resistance. But, in 2014, the Japanese government sent their own mainland force to act as riot police.
“It became more violent after that and it’s culminating,” she said. “There are police that are cracking down on the protesters in the streets.”
The people of Okinawa simply don’t want military bases there, she said, for many reasons — including that it makes them a target for battles between countries like China and the United States.
The people of Hawaii have been very helpful to the resistance movement in Okinawa, Abe said, and that’s why she’s here to express gratitude.
“The Hawaiian people, they helped us understand the whole environmental assessment process and helped us see how we can become involved in that,” Abe said. “For that, we are thankful.”
But it’s not just Okinawa that Abe is worried about. Her goal is to connect with places experiencing similar U.S. militarization — like Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
“The people don’t want these bases,” Abe said. “The bottom line is no relocation, anywhere. Just close them everywhere in the islands.”
In addition to the showing of “The Strangled Sea,” tonight’s event will feature an illustrated presentation of “Threatened Natural Wonders” by marine biologist Katherine Muzik.