Current Institutional Affiliation
Multimedia Producer

Award Information

Abe Fellowship for Journalists 2010
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Freelance Video Journalist, GlobalPost
Okinawa: Military Base Politics and Women-led Activist Groups

The decades-long controversy surrounding the U.S. military presence on Okinawa, an island 400 miles south of mainland Japan, became even more heated in recent months when former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama rescinded a campaign promise to the Okinawans to completely move a U.S. Marine Corps Air Station off the island. Soon after Hatoyama’s resignation this summer, the government in Tokyo reaffirmed Japan’s 2006 pact with the United States: to keep U.S. Marine operations on the island, and relocate aircraft landing strips to a northern part of the island. This sparked even more protests among the local residents who have fought to keep military aircrafts away from their quiet, environmentally sensitive waters. A large number of the activists are elderly Okinawan women, and they’ve mobilized in a truly grassroots fashion. In April, Okinawans staged a rally that drew 90,000 people, almost one-tenth of the island’s 1 million population. This is an important example of a hyperlocal issue that could have international repercussions, since continued local opposition to the base relocation plan could affect U.S.-Japan bilateral ties and security cooperation between these two world powers. I’m proposing a 3-part multimedia report that will combine text, videos, and photos to inform the public of all sides of the debate surrounding U.S. military base operations in Okinawa. One section of the project will examine the lives of women activists who have led the protest movement.