Behind Bars

Remember Noriko Nagata, Free Fumiaki Hoshino

By Mike Daly

Forty years ago, on November 27th, 1971, fierce demonstrations occurred in Tokyo’s Shibuya District protesting the reversion of Okinawa from the U.S. Military to Japanese control, because the reversion made permanent the U.S. bases on Okinawa. Those demonstrations were led by Fumiaki Hoshino, and in them, a teacher named Noriko Nagata lost her life. One police officer also lost his life. At that time, global antiwar demonstrations were occurring to stop the Viet Nam War, and the Okinawa events were of great importance because it was from Okinawa that much of the U.S. Napalm B air war against Viet Nam originated. When news of Noriko’s death came to Europe and the U.S., she became a symbol of resistance to millions of people. Napalm was a particular source of interest on Okinawa, because it was from there in 1945 that the firebombing of Kobe and Tokyo launched, in which nearly 200,000 civilians were intentionally burned alive.

Japan first invaded Okinawa in the 1600s, and its presence there was always resisted by the people of the islands who longed for independence. During World War II, both Okinawa and the much smaller island of Iwo Jima were critical to the Japanese war efforts in Southeast Asia, and in 1945, U.S. forces leaving the Philippines engaged the Japanese military in horrible battles. The fierce nature of the fighting convinced the U.S. High Command that to take the Japanese mainland, Napalm B and Nuclear weapons would be employed.

So when the Korean and Viet Nam wars employed Napalm B, the Okinawan and Japanese people rose up in great numbers to end these wars. And in the protests, which took Noriko Nagata’s life, the Japanese government eventually chose to scapegoat the leader of the demonstration, Fumiaki Hoshino, with false charges of murder of the police officer. Without any credible evidence and without due process, Hoshino soon found himself in Tokushima Prison with a life sentence.

This story is of major importance today for several reasons. The current Occupy Movement is in fact, a mirror image of the Occupy movement, which has long existed in Okinawa to force out U.S. military bases. The relationship of Napalm B to these events is relevant today because it was produced in 1942 by private capital operating with Harvard University; this is the prevailing model of the one percent today. And most of all, the antiwar aspect of this story is fundamental because permanent war, or state terrorism, is the central strategy of the unprecedented wealth transfer we have seen in the last three decades by the one percent.

For these reasons I believe it is critical that the global Occupy and the global Antiwar movements rally to demand justice for Fumiaki Hoshino. This is precisely the set of events that can unite millions of people.

On November 28th, a delegation representing a broad spectrum of the California Labor, Occupy and Antiwar communities demonstrated at the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco, and demanded a new trial leading to the permanent release of Fumiaki Hoshino back to his family. This delegation calls for universal support for this effort.

U.S. Committee to Free Fumiaki Hoshino
P. O. Box 720027
San Francisco, CA 94172

—November 2011