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Japan has always turned a blind eye to Okinawa’s fate. Amnesia reigns in the media, in people’s memories, in the history books. This is where one of the greatest tragedies of the Second World War took place, during the last land battle fought between the Japanese and the Americans, which killed a third of the local population and resulted in almost the entire cultural heritage of Okinawa being completely destroyed. How has this people – despite their suffering and the fact that to this day, they still live surrounded by American military bases – managed to remain resilient and persevere in their fight for decolonisation, in turn becoming such an inexplicable place that fascinates even the Japanese?

As a Westerner used to debates and confrontation, I am baffled by the passiveness of the people of Okinawa. How can they endure and accept all this? The Okinawans appear to hardly flinch at the countless blows they have faced: The tragedy of the Battle of Okinawa, where a quarter of the population was massacred, including a large number of “suicides”; the numerous military bases currently still dotted across the island, which means they share their land with almost 50,000 US soldiers; the disastrous Japanese policies that, to this day, govern Okinawa, etc.

Convertibles, in this archipelago filled with contrasts in its unique set-up, I gradually discover that a deep-rooted spirit of resistance does prevail. A strength, which intrigues me and I find hard to fathom. It seems really quite exceptional to me that this “spirit of Okinawa”, where values of mutual aid and tolerance, inspired by ancient traditions survive, within a contemporary society driven by profit and efficiency.

Daniel Lopez

Produced by Thelma Film (CH) and Kukuru Vision Inc. Camera : Gosuke Tsuchida, Carlo Varini. Sound : Tsuguaki Toma, Denis Séchaud. Editor : Salvatore Dardano.

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