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The Koza Riot March 20, 2010

Posted by Elisa Hough in History, Music.
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Ryukyu Underground was the first CD of Okinawan electronic music I found, in the discount bin at Armadillo Music in Davis, oddly enough. My favorite song on it is called “Koza Riot,” which borrows a sanshin loop from a traditional song.

Today at the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum, I learned about the song’s namesake event. Take a listen and read on.

Following World War II, U.S. military forces agreed in 1952 to end their occupation of Japan under a condition that they retain control of Okinawa for the next 20 years. Left tattered after a horrific invasion that destroyed the island and killed over 100,000 civilians, Okinawa had no choice but to comply.

They shared the island with the Americans relatively cooperatively — despite hundreds of cases of rape, child abuse, homicide, robbery and hit-and-runs — until Dec. 20, 1970. On that night, Oki-U.S. tensions came to a head.

An American officer caused a traffic accident that injured an Okinawan man. Witnesses led to arguments, which led to crowds, which led to firing warning shots, which led to the Koza Riot. Over 700 fed-up Okinawans gathered, overturning and torching police cars, breaking into Kadena Air Force Base, beating up military men, throwing bottles and Molotov cocktails, and dancing traditional folk dances, leaving many injured and arrested.

In 1972, Okinawa was finally reverted to Japanese control, though with several U.S. bases remaining indefinitely. While crimes against Okinawans still occur every year, the island has remained more or less peaceful since that night — but the Koza Riot will always stand for the discrimination that occurs here.

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Comments»

1. Laserbeak - March 21, 2010

hey, that song is prtety catchy

2. Allan Hough - April 3, 2010

“Over 700 fed-up Okinawans gathered, overturning and torching police cars, breaking into Kadena Air Force Base, beating up military men, throwing bottles and Molotov cocktails, and dancing traditional folk dances, leaving many injured and arrested.”

Best sentence ever.


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