Rob Kajiwara

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Robert Kajiwara (also known as Rob Kajiwara) (Japanese: ロバート カジワラ, ロブ カジワラ, Chinese: 魏孝昌) is a writer, actor, musician, and activist of Ryukyuan and Hawaiian descent.[1]

Robert Kajiwara
魏孝昌 ロバートカジワラ
Rob Kajiwara with shisa.jpg
NationalityRyukyuan, Hawaiian
EducationBA in History, MA in History
Alma materUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa University of Nebraska at Kearney
OccupationWriter, Musician, Actor
OrganizationKaji Music, LLC

The Peace For Okinawa Coalition

Ke Aupuni O Hawaii
Height190.5 cm (6 ft 3.0 in)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • sanshin

Personal Life[edit]

Kajiwara is a fourth-generation Ryukyuan living in the Hawaiian Islands.[2][3] His great-grandparents migrated from Nakagusuku Village, Okinawa, to Hawaii during the early 20th century where they worked on sugar cane plantations. He is also known by the Chinese name 魏孝昌 (Wèi xiàochāng), following the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom tradition of having multiple names, including a Chinese name.[4]

Kajiwara is Nahua on his paternal side.

He is distantly related to Yeiki Kobashigawa, who is also descended from Nakagusuku, Okinawa.


Kajiwara speaks English natively. He is conversant and/or literate in several other languages, including the Okinawan language, Chinese Mandarin, Okinawan-Japanese, the Yaeyama language, the Miyako language, Hawaiian, and Hawaiian Pidgin.[5] Kajiwara advocates for the revival of the indigenous Ryukyuan languages, and other endangered languages.


Kajiwara briefly attended and played baseball at Green River College in Auburn, Washington before dropping out. He later graduated summa cum laude from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a B.A. in History, Asia/Pacific focus. Kajiwara then received an M.A. in History from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.[6] He is currently working on a Ph.D. in History at Manchester Metropolitan University where he is researching the history of Ryukyu-China cross-cultural exchange.[4]

His Masters thesis was revised and published as the book, Occupied Okinawa: The United States of America and Japan's Desecration of Okinawa's Democracy and Environment, which also describes Kajiwara's personal experiences as a Ryukyuan.

Music & Film[edit]

Musically, Kajiwara performs in the genres of American / British pop, Hawaiian music, and traditional Ryukyuan music, sometimes combining elements from all four.[7] He plays piano, guitar, and the traditional Ryukyuan musical instrument, the sanshin, which he inherited from his great-grandfather.[8] He cites the Beatles and Elton John as heavy influences.[9]

Kajiwara is a student of Nelson Del Pino, an artist developer based in the Seattle-Tacoma area.[10] As an actor, he studied the Meisner technique.

In 2019 Kajiwara announced during concerts in both Tokyo and Okinawa that he is being featured in the upcoming pop musical / romantic comedy film More Than Just a Brick in the Wall, which has a $39,000,000 budget.[11] The film is inspired by the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night, the Zhang Yimou film Happy Times, and the Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do! It is expected to be released later in 2020. Alan Rickman had originally expressed interest in playing a major role in the film before his passing in 2016.


Kajiwara has been an outspoken advocate of the preservation and promotion of indigenous history, culture, languages, and rights.[12][13][14] He is a frequent speaker at events held by Ryukyu or Okinawan independence groups.[15][16] In 2017 he was made a cultural representative of Nakagusuku Village.[2] In 2018 he was named a Special Envoy of Ke Aupuni O Hawaii, a Hawaiian sovereignty organization.[17]

Kajiwara believes there are five basic elements that make up the Ryukyuan identity: culture, history, language, environment, and national identity.[18] He argues that "an independent, neutral, and demilitarized Ryukyu can resume its role as a center of peace in the Asia-Pacific region."[18][19]

On December 8, 2018 Kajiwara started a petition calling for a stop to the construction of the military base being built at Henoko, Okinawa.[20][21] The petition gained 100,000 signatures in its first ten days, and currently has over 210,000 signatures total.[22][23]

In January 2019 he, along with many other peace activists from around the world, founded the Peace For Okinawa Coalition.[24] The Coalition has called for greater cooperation between Okinawa, Hawaii, and Guam, to support each other in their shared goals. They condemned the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea as well as Governor of Hawaii David Ige's handling of the situation.[25]

In July 2019 Kajiwara spoke at the United Nations 41st Human Rights Council, asking for an investigation into Japan's human rights violations against Ryukyuans.[26]

Detention by Japan Immigration Bureau[edit]

On February 20, 2019 while entering Japan from Hawaii at Kansai International Airport, Kajiwara was detained by immigration for 110 minutes.[27][28] Kajiwara was scheduled to speak at the Japan Diet the next day about the Henoko military base construction.[29] According to Kajiwara he was interrogated and threatened to be denied entry into Japan before the Okinawan congressman Teruya Kantoku personally intervened on his behalf. Critics of the Shinzo Abe administration called this an attempt to interfere in peace activism.[30] The Kansai immigration bureau responded they had "no particular agenda" in the detention.[31] The next day the Japan police did an investigation on Kajiwara in Nakagusuku, Okinawa interviewing Kajiwara's relatives, friends, and associates. Kajiwara's supporters and critics of the Abe administration condemned the investigation, calling it harassment and intimidation.[32] The police stated that they wanted to protect Kajiwara from potential attacks or harassment from far-right Japanese neo-nationalists who favor the Henoko military base, though Kajiwara and others dismissed such claims, stating that the police never interviewed him directly and did nothing to protect him from potential threats.


  1. ^ NEWS, KYODO. "Okinawan-Hawaiian activist seeks U.S. support in halting air base work". Kyodo News+. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  2. ^ a b "Nakagusuku Village Monthly Periodical". Nakagusuku Village. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  3. ^ "Fourth-generation Okinawan-American petitions President Trump to halt Henoko construction". Ryukyu Shimpo - Okinawa, Japanese newspaper, local news. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  4. ^ a b "Rob Kajiwara Bio". Official site of Rob Kajiwara. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  5. ^ Worldwide Uchinaanchu Must Unite NOW!!, retrieved 2020-01-11
  6. ^ A Message for the University of Hawaii Regarding Mauna Kea / TMT, retrieved 2020-01-11
  7. ^ Asylum, Warlock (2019-04-07). "Peace For Okinawa Benefit Ep by Rob Kajiwara". Warlock Asylum International News. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  8. ^ Abbasi, Zaib (2019-04-03). "Exclusive Interview with 'Rob Kajiwara'". Music & Entertainment - MuzEnt. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  9. ^ "Pop/rock composer, singer-songwriter". Official site of Rob Kajiwara. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  10. ^ link, Get; Facebook; Twitter; Pinterest; Email; Apps, Other. "Maestro Nelson Del Pino". Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  11. ^ "Kaji Music, LLC". Kaji Music, LLC. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  12. ^ ""Neglecting Uchinanchu," Robert Kajiwara petitions the UN". Ryukyu Shimpo - Okinawa, Japanese newspaper, local news. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  13. ^ Hibbett, Maia (2019-05-16). "In Their Fight to Stop a New US Military Base, Okinawans Confront Two Colonizers". ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  14. ^ 報道制作局, 琉球朝日放送. "署名集めたロバートさん 玉城知事と面談". QAB NEWS Headline (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  15. ^ "Human Rights". Official site of Rob Kajiwara. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  16. ^ "New Military Base Increases Calls For Okinawa's Independence". Honolulu Civil Beat. 2019-02-20. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  17. ^ "Robert Kajiwara". The Hawaiian Kingdom. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  18. ^ a b Kajiwara, Robert (2019). Occupied Okinawa: The United States of America and Japan's Desecration of Okinawa's Democracy and Environment. Kaji Books.
  19. ^ International, Ekaterina Blinova Sputnik. "New US Base in Okinawa Will Ruin Trump's China, N Korea Diplomacy – Activist". Retrieved 2020-01-13.
  20. ^ "Rally at White House backs 200,000 signatures urging halt to Henoko base construction". Ryukyu Shimpo - Okinawa, Japanese newspaper, local news. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  21. ^ "Landfilling in Okinawa: Challenge to Trans-Pacific Democracy". The Yale Globalist. 2019-04-08. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  22. ^ Press, By Associated; Feb. 24, 2019 (2019-02-25). "Okinawa referendum rejects relocation for U.S. military base". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  23. ^ "Queen guitarist Brian May takes on US military over Okinawa base". South China Morning Post. 2019-01-09. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  24. ^ "Peace for Okinawa Coalition". Peace for Okinawa Coalition. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  25. ^ "Peace For Okinawa Coalition Condemns Governor's Actions". Big Island Now | Peace For Okinawa Coalition Condemns Governor’s Actions. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  26. ^ Ryukyu / Okinawa Robert Kajiwara 6/25: Human Rights Council, retrieved 2020-01-11
  27. ^ Tanaka, Chisato (2019-02-21). "American activist against the Futenma relocation plan questioned at Kansai airport for two hours upon arrival". The Japan Times Online. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  28. ^ "US man who petitioned to halt Henoko landfill questioned 2 hrs by Japan immigration". Mainichi Daily News. 2019-02-21. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  29. ^ ""Neglecting Uchinanchu," Robert Kajiwara petitions the UN". Ryukyu Shimpo - Okinawa, Japanese newspaper, local news. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  30. ^ Retrieved 2020-01-11. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ hermesauto (2019-02-22). "Abe to ignore controversial Okinawa referendum on US base move". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2020-01-11.
  32. ^ "ロバート梶原さん「容疑者扱い」 辺野古署名呼び掛け人の関係先を沖縄県警が訪問". 琉球新報 (in Japanese). Retrieved 2020-01-11.

Further reading[edit] (Japanese)

External Links[edit] Official Site

The Peace For Okinawa Coalition

ロバート カジワラ (Japanese) (French)