Gorbachev’s message to Okinawa: Okinawa for the people, not for the military

A message for Okinawa from Mikhail Gorbachev

Knowing now about the presence of nuclear weapons in Okinawa during the Cold War era, as revealed in a recent NHK program, my heart aches with concern that there could still be nuclear weapons stored in Okinawa. It is essential that the truth be disclosed to the residents of Okinawa.

I have always stood up for nuclear disarmament and ultimately a complete abolition of nuclear weapons. At the same time I have argued against the use of military force in resolving international disputes.

At the Soviet-US summit in Geneva in 1985, we (President Reagan and myself) issued a joint statement that said, “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” and disseminated it throughout the world.

From this perspective I have invariably supported the struggle against military expansion in Okinawa by the people of Okinawa, and I will support it from here on out.

Okinawa’s rich nature and distinctive culture make it unique in this world. Therefore the islands of Okinawa must be for the people, not for the military.

Other than the natural, cultural, and touristic resources, Okinawa is also blessed with its geopolitical location, which I believe allows it to be a terminal for international human and cultural exchange as well as trade.

It is my sincere hope that Okinawan people take advantage of this rich environment and aim for peaceful development of the islands, for the sake of future generations.

I wholeheartedly agree with the Pope’s words in January this year: “We need to shift from the culture of war to culture of peace.”

Mikhail Gorbachev
January 23, 2018

English translation by Satoko Oka Norimatsu, with assistance by Erin Jones, translated from Japanese in the Russian to Japanese translation.

Original article published in Ryukyu Shinpo (Okinawa) in Japanese, 2018/01/31.

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