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Masako Ganaha: Okinawa’s Rising Voice on the Global Stage

By Hiroyuki Kawase

Masako Ganaha has earned the nickname “Joan of Arc” for her unwavering defense of Okinawa’s interests, even confronting seasoned politicians for her cause.

Masako Ganaha made a sensational debut at a citizen’s rally in Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture in February 2013. The rally called for the relocation of the United States Marines’ Futenma airbase from Ginowan City to Henoko in Nago City.

During that time, there was strong opposition to the relocation of US military bases in Okinawa. But the media paid little attention to the conservative-organized rallies.

After influential local figures made their speeches, Masako Ganaha took the stage. And the audience of over 1,000 people erupted in applause. At the time, she was a relatively unknown 23-year-old. With her black hair tied back neatly, she had an innocent, demure appearance.

But she boldly declared her views, saying, ​​”The relocation issue remains unresolved because of the anti-American activities led by the media.” She continued, “The situation has worsened because conservative politicians started opposing the US bases by imitating the rhetoric of the progressive parties.”

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