Hayao Miyazaki joins politicians and CEOs donating millions to protest U.S. military in Okinawa

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RocketNews 24:

As you may know, Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most outspoken proponents of anti-war policy in Japan. As you may also know, Okinawa is home to a plethora of American military bases, and has been a hotbed of controversy for decades.

However, what you may not know is that Miyazaki and Okinawa have finally officially teamed up to protest the American military presence. The director announced on May 7 that he will officially join the Henoko Fund,” a group of politicians and CEOs who are putting their money where their mouths are and donating hundreds of millions of yen to prevent the relocation of the Futenma Air Base.

If you’re new to the topic of American military bases in Okinawa, here’s the super quick rundown: Okinawa used to be known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, which existed as its own entity for hundreds of years. It was subsequently invaded by mainland Japan in 1609, begrudgingly annexed as part of Japan in 1872, and then completely devastated during World War II when it became a battlefield between Japanese and U.S. soldiers, resulting in one-third of the entire civilian population being killed.

The U.S. occupied Okinawa following the end of the war, leaving its influence all over the island. People drove on the right side of the road (instead of the left as in mainland Japan), dollars were used as the official currency, and military bases were set up all over as well. When Okinawa was returned to Japanese rule in 1972, the roads and money went back to normal, but the bases stayed behind. After hundreds of thousands of lives lost and generations of war, you can imagine that the Okinawan people were getting very tired of the whole military thing.

And that sentiment has continued up to today. Despite the fact that Okinawa makes up less than 1% of Japan, it is home to over 75% of all U.S. military bases in Japan. This makes the Okinawa people feel like they’re getting the brunt of U.S. bases dumped on them while the rest of Japan dodges the responsibility.

▼ That’s a lot of military presence on an island merely 65 miles (105 kilometers) long and five miles (eight kilometers) wide.

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Though general protests against the U.S. bases are held often, one of the most controversial topics is the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. It is currently located in Ginowan City, but it was proposed to be moved to the coast of Henoko in northern Okinawa, away from the residential area. While the intentions behind the proposal may be sound, the Henoko coast is home to coral reef and critically endangered dugong. Many feel building a military base there would be a further insult to Okinawa, symbolically crushing beautiful parts of the island with more military installations.

And that brings us to the recently established Henoko Fund. Okinawan politicians, CEOs, organizations and individuals have teamed up to sponsor ads and demonstrations against the relocation of the airbase, marking the first time that the private sector has officially become involved in the protests, so far raising over 100 million yen (US$834,064).

Up until now there have been seven other high-profile joint representatives sponsoring the Henoko Fund, but Miyazaki is by far the most well-known. Considering the anti-war messages in his films and the fact that he was quoted last year as saying“demilitarization in Okinawa is essential for peace in East Asia,” his ideals fit in perfectly with the rest of the group.

Other members of the Henoko Fund have said they’re very happy to have Miyazaki as a joint representative, and they hope that having him will help broaden their group’s appeal and further their cause, both inside and outside of Okinawa.

Universal Studios to open theme park in Okinawa

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RocketNews 24:

For folks in the Kanto area, theme parks tend to mean Tokyo Disneyland, and for people in the Kansai area, they mean Universal Studios Japan, or USJ for short. But what about Okinawan residents? We suppose they could just fly to Osaka or Tokyo if they get bored with their beautiful beaches and old-lady idol groups, but they don’t have much actually in the prefecture.

However, it looks like things are going to change for theme-park-ride-starved Okinawans: It was revealed today that USJ is planning to open a second park on the tropical island!

Of course, things are still in the very early planning stages for USJ Number 2, and a location hasn’t even been decided yet. But there are a few details that have been released.

First, it looks like the theme park will be smaller in scale than USJ in Osaka–which seems sensible. Okinawa’s population is just over 1.4 million, while there are over 18.7 million people in the Osaka metro area–not to mention all the theme park lovers coming from farther out.

Unfortunately, that smaller scale will bring another downside for Harry Potter fans: The themes won’t include movies! Obviously, we don’t know what themes will be included, but Okinawans can always hope they change their mind.

▼And USJ Osaka just built a new Jurassic Park area too!

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As for why USJ has chosen Okinawa, where you would think the beaches, castles, hiking, and diving would be enough to keep anyone busy, it seems that USJ is looking to expand. It turns out that they’re simply running out of room in Osaka and started looking elsewhere, including outside of Japan. In the end, they decided on Okinawa thanks to the government’s enthusiasm and offer of support. What exactly that support would be is unclear, though we imagine it’s easier to build a theme park when the locals actually want it built there!

Obviously, Okinawa has a much smaller population than the mainland, but they do see plenty of tourists. In 2013, for example, 6.4 millions tourists visited Okinawa, and while we’re sure beaches are great, we can only imagine beaches and roller coasters are an even bigger draw! And with plane tickets from Narita Airport in Tokyo to Okinawa coming in at just over 30,000 yen (a bit more than US$247), we can see this working out as a great destination for people who want to get away–but not too far away.

▼Even minions need a vacation sometimes!

View image on Twitter

But before you start strapping on your sandals and getting in line, we should point out that Glenn Gumpel, the CEO of USJ, emphasized that this was all still in the planning stage.

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Despite claims in Adidas press release, new endorser Jeremy Lin isn’t first Asian American to play pro ball in the United States

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Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin sometimes is mistakenly called “the first Asian-American player in the NBA.”

Adidas did so in a news release issued Monday about Lin’s joining the Germany-based brand for a sneaker contract, leaving Nike. The mistake was repeated on this blog.

But five other Asian Americans in professional basketball in the U.S preceded Lin:

  • Wataru “Wat” Misaka, who is Japanese-American, played for the New York Knicks in the Basketball Association of America in the 1947-48 season. The league merged with the NBA after the 1948-49 season.
  • Raymond Towsend, who is Filipino-American, played for the Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers, from 1978 to 1982.
  • Corey Gaines, who is African-American and whose mother is of Japanese descent, played for the then-New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks, from 1988 to 1994.
  • Rex Walters, who is Japanese-American, played for the then-New Jersey Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat, from 1993 to 2000.
  • Robert Swift, who is American and whose father is half Okinawan, played for the Seattle Supersonics and Oklahoma City Thunder, from 2004 to 2009.

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Despite claims, Jeremy Lin isn’t first Asian American to play pro ball in the United States

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20 Delicious “sea monsters” eaten in Asia…

1. Red Frog Crab

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Tastes like: the most succulent, springy crab you’ll ever have.

Eaten in the Philippines, Japan, and all around Southeast Asia. The meat is semi-translucent and lighter than most Atlantic crabs.

2. Triggerfish

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Tastes like: a fish that bench-presses 300 pounds.

In Chinese, they’re called “flayer’s fish” — peeling its rough and stony skin is a chore, but the firm and sweet meat makes it worth it. Eaten in all forms around the Pacific Rim.

3. Miscellaneous Whelks and Sea Snails

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Tastes like: savory rubber bands with a dollop of chalky innards.

I bought bagfuls of these at movie theater concession stands the way you’d buy popcorn. Dig the flesh out with a toothpick, or suck it out of the hole. Great in a spicy wine broth.

4. Sunfish

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Tastes like: swordfish, but even drier and tougher.

Often found stuck gruesomely in the propellers of boats, or snared as bycatch in fishermen’s nets. In Japan and Taiwan, they’re sometimes eaten as sashimi or in a spicy basil stir-fry.

5. Giant Clam

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Tastes like: between clam and octopus.

Warning: Giant clam is ecologically threatened in many parts of the Pacific, so make sure it’s sourced responsibly. Otherwise, it is (or was) a staple in Filipino and Polynesian cuisine.

6. Mantis Shrimp

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Tastes like: a crawfish’s creepy cousin.

Never mind that mantis shrimps have the most sophisticated eyes in the animal kingdom, or claws that can crack some aquarium walls. They taste great sautéed in a bed of garlic and peppers.

7. Chinese Swamp Eel

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Tastes like: a slippier, chewier, springier unagi.

Cooked in chives and rice wine. A signature dish of Shanghainese and Southern Taiwanese cuisine.

8. Jellyfish

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Tastes like: if a squid mated with a cucumber.

Jellyfish is almost always dried and cured before it’s prepared as food. Eaten in Japan, Korea and China. Great in a drizzle of sesame oil and vinegar.

9. Slipper Lobster

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Tastes like: lobster.

Looks like a facehugger. Tastes like Pacific lobster (which is prawnier than Maine lobster). Found heaped in mountainous abundance in fish markets across Southeast Asia.

10. Sea Cucumber

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Tastes like: a tenderized and marinated rubber tire.

Soaring demand for it in China has sparked gang wars in Mexico and illegal overharvesting in Alaska.

11. Beltfish

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Tastes like: yikes.

Eaten from Korea to Pakistan. An often unbearably fishy staple of Taiwanese school cafeterias.

12. Mudskipper

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Tastes like: slimey fish

Often stewed in a light ginger chicken broth in Southern Taiwan. I’m not sure anyone else eats them.

13. Porcupine Fish

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Tastes like: chewy jelly (skin) and plain old whitefish (flesh).

The skin of porcupine fish can be boiled and marinated in fish skin salads. The flesh makes a good Okinawan tempura.

14. Parrotfish

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Tastes: light and flakey.

Called loro in the Philippines, and often grilled or stewed with onions. Also eaten in Hong Kong and southern China.

15. Horseshoe Crab

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Tastes like: plastic (apparently).

According to this report, the roe is a delicacy in Thailand and Malaysia and sometimes added as an ingredient to spicy som tam salads. Otherwise, there’s not much flesh to eat.

16. Penis Fish

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Tastes like: firm and crunchy.
Looks like: well, now.

A type of worm that burrows in ocean beds. Most often eaten raw with soy sauce and sesame oil in Korea.

17. Skate

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Tastes like: a surprisingly mundane whitefish.

Grilled in banana leaf in Indonesia. Fermented like lukefisk in Korea into one of the most hellish-smelling delicacies. Often eaten in French cuisine too.

18. Angler Fish Liver

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Tastes like: witchy foie gras.

Mostly eaten in a light drizzle of shaved red ginger, scallions, and ponzu soy sauce in Japan.

19. Rabbitfish

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Tastes like: between fish jerky and fish and chips.

Served dried, fried, spiced with garlic and pepper, and with a side of eggs and rice in Filippino dansilog.

20. Hagfish

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Tastes like: very chewy.

Only eaten in Korea, and often found waggling in the frayed corpses of whales and sharks on the ocean floor. When threatened, a single hagfish can release enzymes and turn a barrel of water into pure slime. When grilled, it reportedly tastes mild and chewy.

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20 Delicious “sea monsters” eaten in Asia…