The G8 Summit of Heads of governments of industrial countries took place in Nago City (Okinawaprefecture) on July 21-23. The fact that the summit was celebrated in Okinawa made news, but its vital contents, overshadowed by the big propaganda chorus on Information Technology (IT) Revolution, lacked substance. On the other hand, Group 77 (a group-name designated after 77 developing countries that gathered in 1964 at the first UNCTAD --UN Conference for Trade and Development--) had celebrated their first summit in Havana last April. Nevertheless, the appeal they made to cancel the debts of developing countries was not given international attention. This issue is a reflection on the Okinawa Summit from 3 main points that the mass media did not sufficiently cover: Okinawa and the American military bases, drop international debt and ban all landmines.

Hiyama Hiroko (Middle School Teacher, Naha City)
1st grade girl of my middle school wrote the following about the G8 summit during the composition lesson: "I could see some neighbors planting flowers, along the road, as volunteers. I heard with some astonishment that they were preparing for the coming of the summit. The heads of industrial countries are going to meet in Okinawa, but what does it matter to us? After all, they are not going to talk about Okinawa. On the other hand, I came to think that the Okinawa summit is a unique opportunity to let people in the world know our situation in Okinawa."
kinawa is the land that became a hard-fought battlefield during the Pacific War. It is a small land unknown to the world. There the G7 Summit was going to take place. In that small island, about 6,000 government officials and journalists from Japan and 32 other countries gathered together. Okinawa caught the attention of the world. As a result of the summit, a new movement started to appeal to the world about the history, culture and natural environment of Okinawa, as well as to inform the world about the painful situation Okinawa faces because of the excess burden of American military bases.

kinawa wishes to develop from an island of military bases to a multimedia island, from a military center to a keystone for building peace and a healthy environment for the 21st century. Let's broadcast to the world the wish of Okinawa, profiting from the opportunity of the summit, an event that might never take place again in a period of 1,000 years. Hoping that maybe a miracle will happen, let's draw a future image of an Okinawa rid of all military bases. NGOs and citizen groups organized events that narrated dreams of a global future in a full climax.
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Uses of the Summit Facilities after the Festival

he three-day Okinawa summit provided a wonderful occasion to the international mass media to broadcast to the whole world the uniqueness of the Okinawa culture, its beautiful scenery and the hospitality of the Okinawa people.
he summit was an occasion to dig up the historical traditions of Okinawa to pay high respect to "rare people" coming from the outside, and to assist all those adrift on the sea treating them warmly. The interpreter volunteers and the preservation of the hospitality spirit that came to a climax on the occasion of the summit give hope that the quality of such services will increase. Thus, Okinawa will under grow great changes in the future.
he use of the facilities that cost 2,980,000,000 yen, built by Okinawa, is a matter of concern. The International Shinryokan, the site of the summit, merged with the convention facilities as a seaside resort and has became actively involved in attracting international conferences. The International Media Center, that fulfilled the role of serving national and foreign journalists attending the summit, has been transferred to the multimedia pavilion of Nago City that holds a common center for communications and broadcasting facilities. It has been equipped as a center for information on international oceanic environment issues. Besides its use for research om oceanic ecological situations, the center is planned to actively support economic development in fisheries and the tourist industry.
Sending Messages of Peace

he day before the summit 27,000 people made a human chain around Kadena airbase demanding the readjustment and reduction of American military bases. An island that holds less than 1% of all national land has approximately 75% of all military American bases stationed in Japan. The foreign press reported successively about the incidents and accidents provoked by the American military and the realities surrounding those who have to live side by side with the military bases.
evertheless, one must recognize that there is no common consensus with regard to the public opposition to the bases. In the middle school where I teach we held a public debate under the title "American Bases are not needed". I felt that a great variety of opinions and views were offered at that time. Preferably, I want to hope that, by making efforts to know objectively the facts and continue patiently a healthy dialogue the awareness for peace can be further deepened.
resident Clinton was the first American head of state to pay a visit to Okinawa, right after the return of Okinawa to the main land in 1972. Clinton spoke at the Peace Memorial of the city of Itoman and made appeals on the importance of the American military presence in Okinawa. He mentioned that the people of Okinawa did not desire to bear such a burdensome role for the 55-year period after the War and that Americans have the responsibility of behaving as good neighbors. On the other hand, although President Clinton declared that he would try to reduce the American military presence in Okinawa, there was no talk on the concrete steps to reduce or readjust the bases. As a result, the population fears that the military bases will stay there forever.
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t the same time, 18 different organizations from inside and outside Okinawa published a common declaration. The official statement offering peace, ecology, health, welfare, and human rights as priorities, presents the following action program:
  1. Eradicate poverty and re-structure the unjust international economic system.
  2. Drop the debt of poor countries.
  3. Thorough legislation to regulate the genetic rearrangement of crops and environmental hormones.
  4. Ecological programs to meet illegal deforestation, destruction of the Ozone layers and global warmth.
  5. Stress direct dialogue between NGOs and heads of governments.
Stress direct dialogue between NGOs and heads of governments.
he common statement of local NGOs from Okinawa states that, "Peace for the next 1,000 years starts from Okinawa". In other words, there is a need to transform economic structures into ecologically sustainable systems and to readjust and reduce military bases. The participation of a large number of NGOs in the action to make a human chain of Kadena airbase has brought a new dimension to the issue.
The Summit was held in our Village

e rushed out of our homes when the TV cameras reported that the heads of state were passing in front of our houses by car. Primary school boys were shouting, "That's Schroder's car". An old woman neighbor said joyfully, "I have something to report to my old husband in heaven: I've seen with my own eyes Blair, the English Prime Minister, passing in front of our house". In Yomitan village Clinton suddenly got out of his car to shake hands with people standing on both sides of the road. Such happenings of the different heads of government became daily conversation at home those days.
fter Clinton's speech at the Monument of Peace, a lady, unable to remain indifferent at the sight of the President shaking hands with people and perspiring all over, wiped his forehead with her handkerchief. Those were frightened moments, because when the guards saw the pictures sent by helicopters, they thought the President had been hit and that it was already too late to react. A full alert defense network was laid with 22,000 police and more than 100 patrol boats.
t the invitation of some towns, the heads of government of Germany, England, Canada and Italy together with the chairman of the European Union visited those towns and received very warm receptions. They amused themselves playing ice hockey together and they scored points playing judo. They entertained each other cordially with shouts of joy. On the other hand, a teacher standing by at the road where the summit leaders were passing said in a low voice, "every Sunday children and teachers are rounded up to keep the surroundings clean. This is forced labor under the name of volunteer service".
here is a strong feeling that, although $750,000,000 had been spent to hold the summit, the results have been practically none. In spite of it, many citizen groups took advantage of the summit to hold international conferences and public meetings that dealt with human rights, the environment, women and economic issues. Citizens discussed world peace and military bases, from various angles, and looked for world visions as we enter the 21st century. All these events constitute big historical assets for the future of Okinawa. The Okinawa summit produced other side effects, like the children and the high school students' summits. Thus, the children of several small islands of Okinawa were given the opportunity of looking at global situations. Should people ask me to refer to the origin of the demands for peace, I would say that it is most important to generate in children an inclination for international exchange programs that are locally rooted. After all, children are the ones to live an unclear 21st century and to build up the future.