Detained at Kansai Airport

Update (3/17/2019): It should also be noted that I was last in Okinawa / Japan in November for another conference, and I had no problems at all. The White House petition came out in December.


Being Detained for 110 Minutes at Immigration at Kansai Airport, February 19, 2019

All time is written in Japan Standard Time.

I arrived at the immigration center in Kansai Airport. The lines were very long. After waiting for a long time, I finally got to the desk where the immigration officer asked for my passport and immigration slip. I handed them to him. He looked at them and at his computer. Then he asked me “Are you really a tourist?”

I explained that no, I’m not a tourist, I’ve come to Japan for a conference. I told him that I’m Uchinaanchu and I go to Okinawa a lot, so I don’t need to do sightseeing. But the conferences are volunteer and I don’t get paid for them, so I just use a tourist visa. I explained that I wasn’t sure which box on the immigration form to check, since I came here because I was invited to speak at conferences and events. He asked me where will I stay. I told him that I’m staying in a hotel in Tokyo for two nights and I’ll be speaking at the Diet to members of Parliament. And I told him that after that I’ll be going to Okinawa and staying with my relatives at an apartment. I had already written the address on the immigration slip.

He called his supervisor, and asked me to wait. The supervisor came and escorted me to the side-room. This was at approximately 6:50 pm. I was told to wait in the room. I asked why, but did not receive a response. I asked other immigration officers why I was being held in the room, but again did not receive any concrete answer. They simply told me to wait. This room had several tables and chairs, along with an immigration officer watching in the back. There were a couple of other “detainees” in the room.

I thought it was very strange. I had been to Japan many times before, but this was the first time I had ever been taken to a different room for immigration.

I took out my cell phone and called Professor Hoshin Nakamura. I told him about the situation. I hung up, then began taking video of myself, explaining the situation on camera in case something should happen to me. The immigration officers saw this and got very angry at me, and began trying to get me to turn off my phone. I asked them why. They said I can’t use a phone in the office. I asked them why I was here, but they wouldn’t explain. They told me that I might be deported back to Hawaii, or that I might have to stay in the immigration center. I kept asking them why. Finally, one of the officers said that they were “checking my passport.” I asked, “Checking it for what?” I did not receive a response. I tried to call Professor Masaki Tomochi, but the line was busy. I pulled out my laptop, and logged onto Facebook messenger and twitter. I told some people on messenger what was going on. I also left posts on twitter to let people know. Later, I called Professor Tomochi again and told him what was happening. He said that Professor Nakamura had just called him and explained it to him. The immigration officer was still yelling at me and he threatened to take away my phone, and even threatened to call the police. So I handed the phone to him and let him speak with Professor Tomochi. They spoke a little, and then the phone was handed back to me. Professor Tomochi told me to just remain calm.

I hung up the phone, since the immigration officers were taking me to a different room. This room was smaller than the first. There was one small desk, with one chair on which the immigration officer sat, and another chair on which I was told to sit. There was a speaker from which an English translator spoke.

A second officer (the supervisor) stood next to the other officer, who was sitting.

I was told to delete any and all photos and videos of the immigration office, and that if I post or share any videos of photos from the immigration office online or with anyone that legal prosecution may be taken against me.

They proceeded to interrogate me. They told me again that I might be deported back to Hawaii or that I might have to stay in the immigration center. They asked me why I came to Japan. I explained that I came to give speeches at conferences and events, and that many people were expecting me. They asked me what type of conferences and events. I told them that it was about Henoko and Okinawa. They asked me where the events would be located. I told them that there were many events scheduled, and that I would be doing an event the next day (February 20) in Tokyo at the Diet. I told them I am staying in Tokyo until the 21st, and then I am going to Okinawa and staying there until March 11. They asked if I have fliers for the events. I showed them some of the fliers. They asked me if I am getting paid for the events. I told them that no, I would not be getting paid, since these were volunteer and non-profit events. I told them that I don’t need a work visa to be doing these events, and that I always use a tourist visa to participate in conferences. I explained that even the Department of Justice of Japan told me that all I need is a tourist visa to do conferences. (I had gone to the Department of Justice at Okinawa Prefecture last year to discuss my visa options.) I asked them again “Why am I here? What’s going on?” They said, “We want to know if you’re working in Japan.” I told them, “I’m not working in Japan. I already told you I’m here for volunteer conferences.”

They proceeded to ask me the same questions over and over and over again. “Why did you come to Japan? What are you doing here? What type of events are you doing?”

I told them that my connecting flight to Tokyo is soon and that I need to get going.

They said, “That’s not our problem.”

Then they continued to ask me the same questions again and again.

At this point I realized that they were probably trying to purposely waste my time so that I’ll miss my flight to Tokyo.
I told them again that I am scheduled to speak at the Diet in Tokyo tomorrow, and that many people including members of Parliament, were expecting me. They didn’t listen. I explained this to them many times, but they didn’t seem to care.

They asked me to write my detailed schedule for them. They wanted to know all of the events that I was going to be doing, and everything I was going to do for every day of my trip. I told them that I was going to be in Okinawa / Japan for three weeks and that I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do for every day.

They asked me where I’ll be staying. I explained to them that I’ll be staying for two nights in a hotel in Tokyo, and then in Okinawa I’ll be staying with my relatives in an apartment in Nakagusuku. I wrote them the address.

They asked me why I go to Okinawa a lot. I told them that I am Uchinaanchu and that I have many family and friends in Okinawa. They asked me why I go to Nagoya a lot. I told them that I usually only go there for layovers, since there are no direct flights between Okinawa and Hawaii.

Again, I asked them why I was being detained, and they said it’s because last year I “came to Japan for six months.” I told them that no, I didn’t come to Japan for six months straight. I told them that my visa is usually a tourist visa, and that a tourist visa is only good for 90 days, and that I’ve never overstayed my visa, so I’ve never stayed for longer than 90 days at a time.

At around this time, the supervisor left and the other officer continued to interrogate me, asking me to write my detailed schedule.

Later the supervisor came back, and he asked me if I know Senator Teruya Kantoku. I said yes. He said that Senator Kantoku had just called them and vouched for me. Suddenly the officers became much friendlier to me. They took me out of the “interrogation room” and back to the larger room. They told me to wait a bit.

The supervisor came back and explained nicely that they didn’t want to do this to me, but that they were simply following Japan’s procedures. He apologized several times about this. I got the feeling that they truly didn’t want to detain me, but that they probably had received orders from above.

Finally, he asked me “Last question – are you going to be part of any demos?”

I said, “Yes, I’m going to be part of the peace demonstrations.”

Finally, they gave me back my passport, and allowed me to leave. Everyone else was already gone.

All together I was detained in the immigration center for approximately 110 minutes.

Thankfully, my connecting flight to Tokyo was delayed, which allowed me to make my flight.

Later, I found out that the police went to the Nakagusuku Village Office to investigate me. They also went to the home of my relatives.

The press asked the police why they did this, and the police stated that they did it for my own safety, since sometimes right-wingers attack anti-base activists. But people in Okinawa find the police’s explanation unbelievable, since if the police really wanted to protect me, they would have contacted me directly, which they never did.

Later, when I had a meeting at the U.S. Consulate, they told me that the treatment I had experienced was “very likely” due to my involvement in Henoko, Okinawa, and the White House petition. I asked them for advice on how I might be able to avoid problems like this in the future, but they told me that they can’t get involved in Japan’s domestic procedures. They basically said that they can only help me if I were to be arrested.

Ed Case – Is he racist?

A couple weeks ago I contacted Representative Ed Case (Democrat – Hawaii) to inform him about the petition to the White House to try to save the coral reef at Henoko, Okinawa, and asking for his response. (The petition currently has over 208,000 signatures!)

 

This was the letter I sent him:


URGENT: National Security Issue – Requesting Immediate Attention

Dear Representative Ed Case,

I am writing to inform you of an urgent situation that may have a detrimental impact on U.S. national security and overseas interests. This pertains to the U.S. military base that Japan is building over the bay at Henoko, Okinawa. The Okinawan people are overwhelmingly opposed to this base for a variety of reasons, including cost, security, feasibility, economic, environmental, historical and cultural significance. The bay is home to a natural coral reef that contains hundreds of rare and endangered species, and is second in diversity only to the Great Barrier Reef. Losing this bay would be an environmental disaster, not only for Okinawa, but for the world as a whole.

Governor of Okinawa, Denny Tamaki, recently visited Washington hoping to speak with you and other Washington officials about this, but he was prevented from doing so by the Japan central government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has long shown racial prejudice against Okinawans.

The Okinawan government has revoked all permits for the construction to legally continue, though the Japanese central government has ignored these requirements, in a move that many legal scholars are calling illegal. Okinawa originally scheduled a referendum to be held on February 24th to allow the people their democratic right to vote on the matter, but Abe has pushed forward with the construction anyway in the hopes of crushing the will of the Okinawan people before the referendum, while passing the blame on America. The landfill is occurring as I write this.

I believe this to be an urgent matter of America’s national security interests. To continue with the landfill and construction before the democratic referendum is held will greatly insult and anger the Okinawan people; will cause many Okinawans to become disillusioned with democracy; will lead to an increase in anti-military sentiment among Okinawans; will likely cause irreparable damage to America’s relationship with Okinawa; and may increase calls for Okinawa to regain its independence from Japan. However, by stopping the landfill at least until after the referendum, many of these issues can be avoided.

Additionally, this base would cost America billions of dollars every year to maintain, with many engineers worried about whether the ground at the construction site is even stable enough to hold the base. Many military experts agree that this marine corps base would not improve America’s security, since the marines would not be used in the event of a conflict in Asia, and instead the base would only serve to heighten tensions with both China and North Korea, causing them both to bolster their militaries.

On December 8th, I started a petition at WhiteHouse.gov in an attempt to bring this issue to your attention so that you may review it more thoroughly. In just 10 days the petition reached the threshold of 100,000 signatures required to guarantee a response from the White House, and currently has over 170,000 signatures, despite having zero press coverage from U.S. media, and despite heavy censorship from the Abe administration. I am writing to you now to inform you of the urgency of the situation.

I believe this requires your immediate attention. The people of Okinawa, as well as supporters all over the world, are now looking to you to ensure that democracy is carried out for Okinawa, that this precious part of the environment is protected, and that more peaceful, friendly relations are built in the Asia-Pacific region.

I believe that my experience and position as an Okinawan-Hawaiian cultural ambassador may provide an alternative perspective and allow me to help bridge the gap between Okinawa and the U.S.. Please let me know if you have questions, or if I may be of any assistance.

Happy new year, and thank you for your hard work!

Sincerely,

Robert Kajiwara

Okinawan-Hawaiian Cultural Ambassador

 


This was his response:

 

 


 

Dear Mr. Kajiwara: 

Mahalo for contacting me in opposition to a new U.S. military base at Henoko Bay in Okinawa.

As you know, this is a difficult issue involving assuring our ally Japan’s security in Asia, deferring to Japan on internal government decisions, and addressing Okinawa residents’ concerns. While Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga opposes the new base, Japan’s national government believes that the U.S. military presence should be relocated from crowded urban Futenma to Henoko Bay. In addition, in December 2016 Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the central government’s plans for moving U.S. troops to the less populated part of the island. I generally believe that some continued U.S. military presence on Okinawa is critical and trust that the national and provincial governments will be able to work out a satisfactory solution as to where.

Thank you again, and please continue to let me know of your views. Please also sign up for regular updates from me and my office through my e-newsletter and social media outreach at https://case.house.gov/contact

With Aloha, 


Congressman Ed Case 
Hawai’i-First District 

 

 


He clearly did not even take the time to read my letter or the petition. His response was probably a generic reply regarding Henoko or Okinawa that he sends to everyone who writes to him expressing concern or opposition to the military presence there. Case seems to not even be aware that Takeshi Onaga is no longer the Governor of Okinawa, but in fact tragically passed away on August 8th, 2018.

Further adding to the feeling that Case merely had an assistant send a generic letter is the fact that he wrote, “I generally believe that some continued U.S. military presence on Okinawa is critical…”

Nowhere on the petition or in my letter did I ever say I was against all of the U.S. military presence in Okinawa. Rather, I very specifically stated I was against the base being built at Henoko and that I believe the base is unnecessary and very problematic. Case addressed an issue that I did not bring up, but he failed to address any of the issues that I did ask him to address. This carelessness suggests he, in fact, pays no attention to the Okinawan people, and since Okinawans make up a large portion of the local population of Hawaii (some 100,000), one could say that he cares little for the local people. The petition currently has over 200,000 signatures, which is roughly 20% of the population of Hawaii, and Case effectively ignored everyone who signed. 

Just a few days before I received this letter, Case had a strange incident in which he announced publicly that he “feels like an Asian in a white man’s body.” He has been panned by Asians (and non-Asians) for this weird and seemingly racist remark. The fact that he did not even realize that Governor Onaga had passed away more than five months prior, and was not aware of the name of the new governor of Okinawa, further adds to the feeling that Case is racist and does not understand Asian and/or Pacific Island people. Considering that the vast majority of the population of Hawaii is Asian and/or Pacific Islander, this seems to be a serious problem.

ed case
Is Ed Case racist? Does he actually care about Asian / Pacific Islanders?

Senator Angus King (Maine) remarks about Okinawa

Mr. Jon Olsen, a supporter of both Hawaiians and Okinawans, contacted me today to let me know about a response he received from one of his U.S. Senators, Senator Angus King, of Maine. The response was regarding a letter that Mr. Olsen had sent asking the Senator to create a Government Accountability Office to investigate any construction work that may occur on U.S. bases in Okinawa.

The letter is part of a letter-writing community campaign started by Veterans For Peace – ROCK. You may send the letter if you like at the link below:

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-your-representative-and-senators-to-create-investigation-before-another-base-is-built-in-okinawa

 

senator angus king.jpg
U.S. Senator Angus King (Maine)

 

Mr. Olsen gave me permission to post the reply he received from Senator King publicly.

Here is Senator Angus King’s response:

 

Dear Jon,

The U.S.-Japanese alliance represents one of our most important
relationships in the Pacific, and as a member of both the Senate Armed
Services Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence, I receive
regular updates on our bilateral relationship and related military
operations. U.S. service members have been stationed on the island of
Okinawa since World War II, and the island provides a key strategic
location for U.S. military capabilities that act to ensure the
security of our regional Allies and partners, including Japan, Taiwan,
and South Korea, while deterring aggressive behavior from potential
adversaries.

I am aware that the U.S. military presence and relocation of Marine
Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma in Okinawa has been a source of
disagreement in Japan, and I recognize the perspective of
representatives of Okinawan communities. You may be interested to know
that, in 2017, my staff met with members of the Okinawan Assembly to
hear their perspectives on this issue, firsthand. Central to my
understanding of this issue is that the planned relocation of MCAS
Futenma to Camp Schwab in the more remote area of Henoko, is the
result of a bilaterally formed Special Action Committee on Okinawa
(SACO). In fact, the relocation represents a broader U.S.-Japanese
joint effort to reduce the base-related burdens on local residents,
and the Supreme Court of Japan has ruled against Okinawa Governor
Takeshi Onaga’s efforts to block the relocation.

Since the relocation plans of MCAS Futenma are the result of bilateral
collaboration between the U.S. and Japan, and I believe that the U.S.
military presence in Okinawa is strategically important, I do not plan
to call for an investigation of the Henoko Base construction plans at
this time. While I know this is not the course of action you desire, I
am thankful for this opportunity to explain my assessment of the
situation. Should issues related to Okinawa come before the Senate
Armed Services Committee or Select Committee on Intelligence for
consideration, I will keep your perspective on the issue in mind.

Best Regards,
[image]
ANGUS S. KING, JR.
United States Senator

 

 

 


 

Don’t like Senator King’s response? Let him know: https://www.king.senate.gov/contact

@SenAngusKing