I finally decided to start a blog specifically for my musings about baseball. It’s something I’ve thought about doing several times in the past, but always thought it wasn’t truly necessary. But now I’ve finally decided to do it. So for those interested in baseball, and in particular, for those interested in Seattle Mariners baseball, please check out my new baseball blog, linked below. 🙂
Rob Kajiwara is an Asian / Native American – Hawaiian singer/songwriter, visual artist, baseball player, and human rights activist. For more information, please check out his website at www.RobKajiwara.com
In 1881 Hawaii’s King Kalakaua traveled to Japan on what would be the start of his world tour, becoming the first reigning monarch in history to circle the globe. He proposed to the Meiji government the idea of putting together a federation of Asian – Pacific nations with the purpose of mutual aid in the face of Western imperialism, and he asked Japan to head it. Kalakaua hoped that this would protect Hawaii from the West, but to no avail. Japan gave it some thought, but ultimately politely declined Kalakaua’s idea under the belief that its best interests lay in forging stronger ties with and emulating the West, rather than siding with other Asia-Pacific nations.
King Kalakaua (bottom center) with two of his ministers (standing left and right respectively) posing with three representatives of the Meiji government during their meeting in Japan.
Japan’s decision to follow the West would have tragic, world-changing consequences. Similar to the West, it would continue acquiring colonies by force (Japan had already forcefully annexed Ryukyu beginning in 1872 and coming to completion by 1878), using propaganda to instill Japanese nationalization upon the people they conquered, building up its industry and military, and committing numerous human rights violations, including some of the most horrific acts in recorded history. All this, of course, would culminate in Japan’s participation in World War II, or as it is known in Japan, the Asia-Pacific War, causing the deaths of tens of millions, and forever tarnishing Japan’s international image, particularly with Asian countries.
But what if Japan had agreed to Kalakaua’s idea of an Asia-Pacific Federation back in the 1880s? Rather than emulating the West, what if Japan had instead embraced its own unique culture and society and had forged stronger ties with other Asia-Pacific nations in a show of peaceful resistance towards Western imperialism?
Though we’ll never really know the answer, we can still speculate.
In addition to Hawaii and Japan, the Asia-Pacific Federation probably would have included nations such as China, Korea, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Siam/Thailand, Laos, Tahiti, and many other Pacific Island nations. Some of these nations were already experiencing Western colonization by the 1880s, but the formation of this Federation might have helped them gain self-determination much sooner than they actually did.
This Asia-Pacific Federation still would have struggled to maintain itself against the West, but these nations collectively would have been much stronger than they were separately. I dare say most, if not all, of the member nations would have benefited under the Federation. Hawaii would likely still be independent today if the Federation had existed. Much of the bloodshed of the Asia-Pacific War would have been avoided, including the Battle of Okinawa and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan likely would have continued its rapid industrialization and militarization, but instead of colonizing others, it probably would have used its strength to defend its allies from Western intrusion. Notably, the contentious relationship between Japan and China might have played out much differently under this scenario. As the head of this Federation, Japan’s economy probably would have boomed, and rather than alienating much of Asia through warfare, it would have gained the respect and admiration of its fellow Federation members, and it’s international relations would likely be quite different today.
Alas, it was not meant to be.
By the time Kalakaua approached Japan with this idea, they were already well on their way to Westernization. Had Kalakaua talked to Japan earlier – say, in 1871 – things might have played out differently.
Kalakaua was a visionary, a man ahead of his time, who did his best to protect his people from Western colonization.
Rob Kajiwara is a Ryukyu / Nahua – Hawaiian composer, writer, visual artist, baseball player, and human rights activist. www.RobKajiwara.com
I have a stalker here in Okinawa: my relative. He’s two decades older than me, and was born with down syndrome. When I first started spending significant time here, I thought he was nice, and I considered him a good friend. He helped me adjust to being in a new country and culture. He helped me set up my Okinawan cellphone, would cook for me, introduce me to people, and was generally helpful. I wanted to be nice to him since he’s my relative, and because I needed friends being in a new country, and also due to his disability.
After a while though, things began heading really down hill. He would call me a lot, and was coming over to my apartment several times every day – 6:00 am, 8:00 am, 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm. Worse, he would take things from my apartment (without asking) over to his house, and he would bring things from his house over to my apartment. My apartment doubles as my office, and I would have trouble concentrating with him coming over and changing things so frequently. Not to mention I got really tired of him coming over and ringing the doorbell incessantly at six a.m. every morning. So I started ignoring him and not opening the door. This caused some problems, since occasionally when other people came to the door, I would mistakenly assume it was the stalker, and not answer, only to meet up with them later and have them mention that they stopped by.
For those of you unaware, I live in Hawaii, though I often travel for work to Okinawa, so much so that I have my own apartment here in my ancestral village of Nakagusuku. Last year the village made me an official cultural ambassador for them as part of a cross-cultural training program specifically for overseas descendants of the village. Being a yonsei (fourth generation descendant) from Okinawa, I still have a lot of relatives here. In fact, I’m related to much of the village.
So one day I was talking with my aunt, the stalkers mom, and we agreed that she would nicely ask him to stop coming over to my apartment so much. A few hours later, I was heading out to eisaa (Okinawan folk dance) practice, when I found the tires on my bike had been punctured. This was a big deal, since my bike is my main form of transportation in the village, and the bike shop is all the way in the next town.
I realized that the stalker had very likely been the culprit, and was about to tell my aunt and uncle, but to my surprise, they had already concluded it was him. Apparently he had done things like this before to other people.
The next day my aunt drove me to the bike shop to get my tires fixed. And that night, the stalker once again punctured my brand new tires.
In addition to the tire vandalism, he had also turned off the boiler to my apartment on several different occasions.
And he stares at me. A lot. Before I just thought of it as harmless, but now it seems much creepier and possibly even dangerous.
Eventually I yelled at him and told him that I have hidden cameras installed on my apartment, and that the next time he comes here I’m calling the police. He hasn’t been back to my apartment since, though he still tries to connect with me elsewhere around the village. I do my best to avoid him.
This has been one of the worst parts of my experience in Okinawa so far. It has had a huge impact on my lifestyle while I’m in Okinawa, since I now purposely will go out of my way to avoid him, and thus has significantly minimized my interactions with my aunt and uncle, who I previously spent a lot of time with. Thus, Okinawa has gotten much more lonesome for me.
Nevertheless, I think cutting him out of my life was the right thing to do. Prior to him puncturing my tires, I thought of him as a nice, if misunderstood, relative. Now, though, I just think of him as a creepy old stalker. I don’t care if we’re related or not – I’m not afraid to cut off toxic people. It’s not that I’m even mad at him anymore, I just don’t think it’s healthy for either of us for him to be around me. He has an unhealthy obsession for me to the point where he steals my things, and tries to manipulate and control me, and there’s nothing good that could possibly come out of me renewing my friendship with him.
More on the stalker, and my other experiences in Okinawa, coming later.
Rob Kajiwara is a Ryukyuan, Nahua – Hawaiian composer, writer, visual artist, baseball player, and human rights activist. www.RobKajiwara.com
By H.E. Leon Siu and Rob Kajiwara
70,000 people protest the construction of the new military base at Henoko Bay, Okinawa. Photo taken August 11, 2018, courtesy of AP.
November 8, 2018.
The “Hanauma Bay of Okinawa” is under grave threat of destruction as the Japanese government and United States military continue construction of a new military base that, if completed, would pave over Henoko – Oura Bay in spite of the overwhelming peaceful resistance by the Ryukyu / Okinawan people.
The protests of the late Okinawan Governor Takeshi Onaga, elected on the basis of stopping the construction of the new military base, were largely ignored by both the governments of Japan and the United States, respectively. Governor Onaga had previously rescinded the permit for the landfill of Henoko – Oura Bay, removing any legal jurisdiction for Japan’s central government to continue with the construction. Then, on August 8th of this year, Governor Onaga suddenly passed away due to complications with pancreatic cancer. The intense stress of attempting to stop the base construction is said to have been a prominent factor in his sickness, as well as the illnesses and premature deaths of several of Okinawa’s previous governors. Onaga is being hailed as a hero of the Ryukyu / Okinawan people.
Henoko-Oura Bay is home to hundreds of rare and endangered species. Photo courtesy of Okinawaiken.org.
In a spot election to fill the vacant role of governor, the Ryukyu / Okinawan people overwhelmingly elected Governor Onaga’s handpicked successor, Denny Tamaki, in what has been termed the “biggest landslide victory in the history of Okinawa.” Tamaki, whose mother is Okinawan and father American, believes his American heritage will help him convince the U.S. government to stop the construction of the base, though Tamaki speaks little English and has never met his father. Tamaki’s election is being called a major step in the self-determination of the Ryukyu / Okinawan people.
The Japanese central government, however, has continued with the base construction despite Tamaki’s victory and Onaga’s revocation of the landfill permit. Japan’s Ministry of Defense filed a lawsuit using the Administrative Appeal Act demanding the Japanese government’s other Ministries review the revoked landfill permit, while also filing a petition to override Okinawa’s revocation. Rather than wait for the result of the petition, the Ministry of Defense has pushed through with the construction anyway.
“Without a doubt, this is the behavior of a conquerer,” wrote Ryukyu’s largest newspaper, the Ryukyu Shimpo. “It brings into doubt the foundation of Japan’s democracy.”
Henoko – Oura Bay is one of the few remaining habitats of the endangered Okinawan dugong. Photo courtesy of Science Magazine.
The landfill is the most hotly contended part of the construction, since it is the most environmentally destructive. If continued, it will destroy the natural coral reef of Henoko – Oura Bay, home to hundreds of rare and endangered species, including the Okinawan dugong. Clearly the Japanese government is hoping that by pushing through with the most controversial part of the construction before any legal measures can be completed, the Okinawan people will see resistance to the base as futile and give up their protests.
According to the Ryukyu Shimpo, the Administrative Appeal Act was passed with the intention of aiding private individuals against government organizations. For the Japanese central government to refer to itself as a private individual and file a lawsuit against Okinawa Prefecture is “a heavy-handed strategy many legal scholars consider illegal.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has avoided responsibility in the matter by stating that this is “an issue between the Japanese central government and Okinawa Prefecture.”
H.E. Leon Siu is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hawaiian Kingdom. In 2017 he became the first Hawaiian nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. www.hawaiiankingdom.net
Rob Kajiwara is a Hawaiian Kingdom Special Envoy to China and the Ryukyu Islands. www.RobKajiwara.com