Why we can’t “share the Mauna”

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Photo from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, July 20, 2019

By Robert Kajiwara

In response to the outpouring of organic support in favor of protecting Mauna Kea and stopping the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), the TMT project has recently begun airing a paid advertisement on both television and radio.

One of the biggest problems with the ad campaign is its attempt to convince the public that the Mauna is big enough for everybody to share.

Imagine for a moment that an armed thief broke into your home, held you and your family hostage, and insisted that he was going to occupy your house from now on. The thief says you and your family can stay in a small corner of the house, but that he and his gang are going to do with the house as they please. When you resist, the thief says that “the house is big enough for all of us to share.”

What would your response be? Would you agree with the thief, and say “yes, let’s share the house?”

Any sensible person would scoff at this scenario, for a thief has no right to “share” a house that he stole. Rather, the thief must return the house to its rightful owners, pay for damages, and then immediately vacate the premise. So too should the United States do with the Hawaiian Islands.

Contrary to popular belief, the United States does not have any legal claim to any part of Hawaii. In 1893 the U.S. participated in an armed invasion of the peaceful and friendly country known as the Hawaiian Kingdom, which began their long illegal occupation of the country that has lasted for the past 121 years. Under both international law, as well as the United States’ own law, territory can only be acquired by a treaty of annexation, of which there is none in the case of Hawaii.

Without a proper treaty of annexation, the United States has no rightful or legal claim to the Hawaiian Islands. This was acknowledged by many Americans at the time, including President Grover Cleveland, who insisted that the U.S. had committed an illegal and immoral crime against a friendly nation, and that the U.S. should immediately leave Hawaii. Unfortunately President Cleveland’s term in office expired, and the imperialist William McKinley took office, ignoring the legalities of the situation, and turning America down a path of overseas colonization and imperialism. This would cause the U.S. to be involved in many regime-change schemes and wars, from the Spanish-American War, to World War II, and lasting to the present day with the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the landmark Lance Paul Larsen vs. the Hawaiian Kingdom case in 2001 the Permanent Court of Arbitration indicated that the Hawaiian Kingdom still retains legal standing as the government of the Hawaiian Islands. In 2018 United Nations independent expert Dr. Alfred de Zayas stated that Hawaii is an independent country and should be recognized as such. The United States government itself confessed to its sins in the 1993 Apology Resolution, though it did not offer any remedies.

Thus the issue regarding Mauna Kea and the TMT has never been about room or space, though this does not change the fact that the TMT would have an enormous footprint on the sacred mountain. The issue is about jurisdiction. The United States does not have the lawful jurisdiction or the moral right to build anything in the Hawaiian Islands, and certainly not on highly sacred land such as Mauna Kea. Only the Hawaiian Kingdom, a constitutional monarchy with officials elected by and for it subjects, retains the lawful right to decide on behalf of Hawaiian nationals what gets built in Hawaii.

This information is not new – Hawaiian nationals have been saying these things since 1893. It just so happens that with all of the commotion surrounding Mauna Kea that these issues have been receiving more attention among the general public.

The United States should immediately return the entirety of the Hawaiian Islands to the Hawaiian Kingdom government, pay full reparations for the damages they have caused over the course of the long 126 year incursion and occupation, and vacate the Hawaiian Islands. This is the only way the U.S. can atone for its crimes and truly become a peaceful, democratic nation. How can America claim to be a land of the free and home of the brave, a country of liberty and democracy, if there remains a major ongoing crime against a peaceful and sovereign nation?

This is also the only way Hawaii can regain its proper place as a world-class nation, how Hawaiians can heal, and how all of the local people of Hawaii can prosper.

For more information about what an independent Hawaii would look like, please visit HawaiianKingdom.net.



Robert Kajiwara is a Ryukyuan (Okinawan), Nahua Hawaiian singer-songwriter, writer, and baseball player. He has been featured in over 60 news and media publications in more than 15 countries, including The Associated PressBBC WorldThe South China Morning PostJapan Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and many others. He is president of the Peace For Okinawa Coalition and a Special Envoy of Ke Aupuni O Hawaii (the Hawaiian Kingdom) to the Lewchew Islands (Ryukyu) and China. Kajiwara has spoken at numerous venues, including the United Nations, the United States Capitol Hill, the Japan Diet, Yale University, Okinawa International University, University of the Ryukyus, and many more. For more information, please see his website, RobKajiwara.com.

Ph.D. in History – Liberty University (in progress, 2022 expected graduation date)
M.A. in History – University of Nebraska at Kearney (2019)
B.A. in History – University of Hawaii at Manoa (2015)
A.A. in Teaching – Leeward Community College (2014)

Published Writings:
Occupied Okinawa: The United States of America and Japan’s Desecration of Okinawa’s Democracy and Environment (2019)
Ryukyu – Okinawa Impressionism (2018)

Robert Kajiwara asks UN to investigate human rights violations in Okinawa






Robert Hernandez Kajiwara

The Peace For Okinawa Coalition

c/o International Committee for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

#443 94-245 Leoku St.

Waipahu, Hawaii 96797



The 41st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
The 41st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

June 25, 2019

Thank you Mr. President. We noticed in the oral report by the High Commissioner that there was no mention of self-determination, which is crucial to the peaceful settlement of disputes regarding territorial sovereignty. A complaint on this matter was filed to the Human Rights Council on February 16, and on June 4 we received a request for further information.

Since time immemorial Okinawa was an independent nation known as Ryukyu. In 1879 Japan illegally annexed Ryukyu against the will of Ryukyuans. Japan shortly after did the same to many other countries, such as Korea, China, and the Philippines. After World War II all of those nations were given back their independence – except Ryukyu.

During World War II Japan used the Battle of Okinawa as a cover to commit genocide against Ryukyuans, during which Japanese soldiers purposely murdered thousands of Ryukyu civilians, and forced thousands others to commit suicide. Overall at least 140,000 Ryukyuans were killed during a timespan of just a few months, amounting to between one-fourth to one-third of the population.

Today Japan is once again preparing to sacrifice Ryukyuans by placing an inordinate amount of military forces in Ryukyu, which comprises less than 1% of Japan’s total territory, yet contains 70% of its military. In the event of another attack from one of Japan’s enemies, Ryukyu will again be annihilated.

Ryukyuans have long been peacefully protesting and trying to reverse this inordinate amount of military build up in our home islands. We urge the Human Rights Council to support Ryukyu in this matter; hence, it will be sending a message to the world that peaceful actions are the Council’s priority and violence is not the only action that gets the Council’s attention. The very foundation of the UN must not be undermined and rendered obsolete. Therefore, we strongly urge the Human Rights Council to assist Ryukyu and to ascertain the fact that Ryukyuans have suffered from prejudice, discrimination, and genocide. Your time and consideration are much appreciated.


Robert Kajiwara


The Peace For Okinawa Coalition

Circulation: 200,000

c/o International Committee for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas

Hawaii’s Police Should Follow Okinawa’s Example

Police at Mauna Kea TMT
Police at Mauna Kea Photo from of Hawaii News Now

As the issues surrounding Mauna Kea rage on, Hawaii’s police have been put in a difficult position. Many of them feel it is wrong for them to forcefully remove and arrest Hawaiian protectors of the Mauna, especially the kupuna. Yet they also have families to provide for and can’t risk losing their job.

So what should Hawaii’s police do?

They might want to look at Okinawa as an example.

In Okinawa, which is experiencing something very similar surrounding the construction of a military base at Henoko, the Okinawan police were put in almost the exact same situation. They were ordered to forcefully remove, harass, and arrest Okinawa’s peace and environmental protectors, the majority of whom are elderly.

How did they respond?

The Okinawan police ended up siding with Okinawa’s protectors, refusing to lay a hand on them. Because the Okinawan police force did this as a whole, none of them (to the best of my knowledge) lost their jobs or were punished.

Instead, Prime Minister of Japan sent in Japanese police, who have brutally mistreated the Okinawan protectors.

But that’s besides the point.

The point is, Okinawa’s police refused to harm the Okinawan peace protectors. They did the right thing, and it forced the Government of Japan to further demonstrate their human rights violations, prejudice, and discrimination against indigenous Okinawans. And the Okinawan police were even able to keep their jobs.

Now Hawaii’s police have a choice to make. If they make their choice in unison not to harm Hawaii’s protectors, they may be able to keep perform their kuleana for Hawaii and their kupuna, while also keeping their jobs safe.