alisa holm | 2017 Voices from Okinawa
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2017 Voices from Okinawa

This work presents the portraits and stories of eight people I met in Okinawa, Japan. Young photographer Kei, Dugong protection group member Suzuki, Hiroki, who played island songs; Kazuo, a painter, Etsuko, a writer and poet; Shizuo, a political activist; Chisato, a traveler; and Mio, a member of the Henoko Blue. I interviewed each of them to inform this project. I asked them two questions: “What is light?” and “What is darkness?”


Today post-war problems in Okinawa continue as governments in Japan and the United States turn a blind eye to local movements towards demilitarization, ignoring lawsuits, demonstrations, and international protest. The construction of a new military megabase threatens the last thriving coral reef ecosystem in Okinawa and Japan, which according to marine biologists will irremediably alter the rivers and forests of an important watershed home to thousands of species, including the threatened dugong.


These portraits are a glimpse of the humanity of people in Okinawa as they struggle with the same problems faced by oppressed people around the world.