An Interview with Mikami Chie (Director)
The Pretense of Justice: Okinawa’s Unneutral Struggle
Q: You currently live in Okinawa. When creating this film, what position did you want to take?
MC: Because of my father’s work, I’ve lived in many places. However, I think of Okinawa—the place where I’ve lived the longest—as my home. With this work, I didn’t just film Okinawa as this one place, but rather, as a concerned party and somehow who considers it home, I put in 120% of my efforts into capturing its problems.
Q: I heard that this film was originally only broadcasted in Okinawa. What were the details concerning filming?
MC: Okinawa is being cheated by Japan on many points, like the relocation of the Futenma base. To the extent that Okinawa is being given the runaround, there’s also the concern that if we cannot get the Osprey aircraft withdrawn, it will spell the end of the Okinawan resistance movement. Before the deployment, I made a thirty minute film to play online across the country. That film ended with Ashimine Gentatsu distractedly saying “If everyone in Okinawa opposes it, we will be ok.” A few weeks after that, the Ospreys were stationed in Okinawa. But I didn’t feel like adding that to the original film to create an hour-long version. However, the unprecedented occupation of the base by locals in opposition wasn’t really covered by any news station besides the one I work for. Directly after, I heard from a student at Okinawa International University where I lecture, that most people didn’t even know that the police and citizens came to clash at the base. I was shocked. Rather than let it be forgotten, I added footage of the occupation of Futenma base and the arrival of the Osprey aircraft, and created an hour-long version. That is the archetype of this film.
Q: In extending the film, what kind of scenes did you add?
MC: One was footage of the nonviolent sit-in. This activity was a protest, but it was also a blockade. If it is just played briefly without showing what happened before and after, people will misunderstand the action. However, I trust in the people who come to see this film, that they will know there is a problem, and I want them to see how things currently are in Okinawa.
Q: Did you see this movie not as something filmed neutrally, but rather as a film for those who want to express the same things as you?
MC: The camera men and reporters who worked on this film cried while reporting. That’s because they are involved. Do those of us who live and raise our children on an island with Ospreys flying overhead—do we have to show that actually, for this movie, we’re objective? Further, the major premise of journalism is not that we have a privileged perspective or that we stand between those with and without privilege, in a neutral position. Clearly, it takes courage to depict the opinions of minorities, and there are many films that present several opinions to achieve a neutral shape. However, this film was made by the people of Okinawa for the people of Okinawa. Who does one make a neutral film for? I’m often criticized for only presenting people who oppose the base, however, people watching this film are waiting for those in agreement to show themselves. That is the logic behind viewing the film. Who wants to be convinced by making visible an obvious villain? Rather, I want to expose the true shape of what makes the children of Takae cry.
(Compiled by Iwata Kohei)
Interviewers: Iwata Kohei, Nishiyama Ayuka / Translator: James Almony
Photography: Omiya Yoshiyuki / Video: Omiya Yoshiyuki / 2013-10-12