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Anti-American activist’s prison notebooks uncovered

Date Posted: 2007-10-12

An Okinawan politician who opposed U.S. military occupation of Okinawa following World War II, and went to prison for opposing the Americans in 1954, wrote of his experiences while serving his sentence on Miyako Island.
Kamejiro Senaga, who died in 2001, was a vigorous opponent of American rule on Okinawa. He founded the Okinawa People’s Party in 1947, becoming a politician in the local assembly permitted by the American military government, the Legislature of the Government of the Ryukyu Islands. His run-in with the American occupation forces came while he was secretary general of the People’s Party and a member of the American-authorized assembly.
Senaga provided a hiding place for two People’s Party members sought by the Americans, a move that led to his conviction and prison time. He served 1˝ years of a two-year sentence. While imprisoned, Senega kept meticulous records of his thoughts in a pair of notebooks. The notebooks were found this summer has his family prepared for a 100th anniversary celebration of his birth.
Despite incarceration, Senaga kept up his calls for Okinawa’s return to Japanese control, saying there couldn’t be “peace without independence,” and called for Americans to allow Okinawa to move “from enslavement to Independence. After his release from prison, Senaga became active in local politics, being elected mayor of Naha. In 1970 he began serving seven terms in the House of Representatives. After more than 20 years in office, plagued by ill health, he retired to his Tomigusuku home village in 1990.
He died in 2001 at age 94.

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