Links

Thursday, May 2, 2019

#SavetheDugong: Okinawa Dugong flags for Children's Day 2019 at Wansaka Oura Park, Okinawa


These beautiful  Okinawa Dugong flags for Children's Day at Wansaka Oura Park were made by Mr. Takuma Higashionna, who has memories of swimming with dugongs in the Sea of Henoko, and who is one of the Dugong Lawsuit plaintiffs. The federal lawsuit, initiated in 2003, is now on appeal at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The plaintiffs have challenged a plan by the  U.S. and Japanese governments to landfill not only Okinawa's last intact, healthiest, and most biodiverse coral reef, but also the Okinawa dugong's most important seagrass feeding ground, despite appeals by Okinawans and their worldwide supporters for 23 years to save the world-class natural cultural heritage ecoregion.

The Japanese government, so far, has ignored a democratic referendum that took place in February this year, in which an overwhelming majority of Okinawa voters opposed the destruction. The Okinawan people are fully supported by Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki, who succeeded Govenor Takeshi Onaga.  The late Governor Onaga won the governorship, after a campaign supported by the All-Okinawa coalition that bridged conservative and liberal political parties.  Their focus was and is shared Okinawan unity, dignity, and cultural heritage.

Peter Galvin, co-founder of the Center for Biological Diversity, tells us that dugongs, gentle marine mammals (salt water relatives of manatees), EW revered by native Okinawans, and celebrated as “sirens” that bring warnings of tsunamis. The dugong is listed as an natural monument of national cultural significance under Japan’s Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties. Under the U.S. National Historic Protection Act and int. law, the U.S. must avoid or mitigate any harm to places or things of cultural significance to another country.

Mr. Higashionna told Americans while at court in San Francisco that "The U.S. government must realize that the Okinawa dugong is a treasure for Okinawa and for the world.”

Dugongs (also related to elephants as well as manatees) can live for 70 years and grow to nearly 1,000 pounds. In the transparent aqua waters of  Henoko Bay, vast herds of dugongs once grazed peacefully on underwater fields of sea grass. But after decades of active U.S. military war training in the region, possibly fewer than 50 last dugongs now struggle to survive in the formerly idyllic Okinawan islands  — once dubbed the “Galápagos of the East” for its rich biodiversity. Recent surveys showed 3 dugongs living in the Sea of Henoko. Tragically, one was killed in March, and washed ashore covered with abrasions and injuries.

Every year in Okinawa (and Japanese) people display carp flags from late April to early May in celebration of children’s day, which marks the end of Golden Week, a series of holidays that start on April 29, Showa Day, the birthday of former Emperor Showa, who died in the year 1989, May 3, Constitution Day, May 4, Greenery Day and May 5, Children's Day.

30日 4月 2019
ジュゴンのぼりin わんさか大浦パーク
今年で5回目になります。手作りジュゴンのぼり、4月29日にわんさか大浦パークにあげてきました!
今年も、地域のこどもたちや名護市内の保育園のこどもたちに、絵を描いてもらいました。ありがとうございました!!
ジュゴンが大浦湾に戻ってこられますように、と願いを込めて!
かわいいジュゴンたちをぜひ見に来て下さいね!感想もよろしくお願いします。

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

#risewithhenoko: "Our Island's Treasure" tells the story of Henoko Okinawa's elders' struggle to save their sacred coral reef and dugong ecosystem


“Our Island’s Treasure" tells the story about the indigenous Uchinanchu people's fight to protect their sacred dugong and coral reef ocean in Henoko, Okinawa from Japanese government landfill and construction of an offshore US military training airstrip and port (over an ecoregion covered with quicksand pits which will take years to reinforce, if possible, and an earthquake zone).

Frustrated by the lack of media coverage of the Okinawan 22- year struggle to save Okinawa's last intact, healthiest and most biodiverse coral reef and best dugong ecosystem, mother and daughter team, Moe and Kaiya Yonamine, made and sold thousands of cookies and paper cranes to raise funds to pay for flights and to stay in Okinawa.  They went to Henoko to support their elders

"This is one of the most biodiverse ocean regions on the planet and [Japanese and U.S. governments'] destruction is being done against the democratic will of the Okinawa people who voted vehemently against it," explains Moe Yonamine.

"Nonstop, our island’s people—with their bodies—are blocking construction trucks on land at sit-ins and die-ins, and—with their bodies—on kayaks, are blocking construction ships in the ocean — mostly led by hundreds of now elderly child survivors of the Battle of Okinawa," Yonamine adds.  (The air, sea, and ground fighting between Americans and Japanese in Okinawa was the bloodiest battle in their 4-year war in the Asia-Pacific.)

Kaiya Yonamine, a 17 year-old, 2nd generation Uchinanchu living in Portland, Oregon, released this trailer yesterday, on Earth Day.

"This documentary aims to show the fight of the elders and youth on the ground fighting to protect our ocean in Henoko and the interviews taken just weeks ago while we were there. Singing along with an old island song that I sang to her as a little girl,  and one that my grandmother sang to me, she shares  it in our indigenous language and with our indigenous instrument," says Yonamine describes the beautiful song in the video trailer.

Please watch and share her trailer and HELP DISRUPT THE MEDIA SILENCE on the Sea of Henoko (not just a "less populated area in the north") but, instead, Okinawa's last intact, healthiest, most biodiverse, millennia-old coral reef, and best dugong seagrass habitat. Okinawans and their worldwide environmentalist, peace, and democracy supporters have been working for 23 years to save the Sea of Henoko.

Okinawan American  Moe Yonamine is a teacher in Portland and a co-founder of Global Uchinanchu Alliance グローバルうちなんちゅ同盟, which seeks to deepen connections between Overseas Okinawans and Okinawans living in their homeland (which includes the sea and all animals and plants living in the sea).

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Okinawa Dugong Lawsuit Judge asks why US govt did not consult with environmental experts and Okinawans about Landfill, Construction Impact on Okinawa Dugong Cultural Heritage

Today, the Okinawa Dugong Lawsuit Judge why the U.S. govt did not consult with environmental experts and Okinawans about loss of Henoko dugong habitat when planning landfill and offshore training airstrip construction at Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site:
Environmental groups told a federal judge Thursday that in order to justify forging ahead with a new military base on Okinawa, the Department of Defense did a cursory job of evaluating effects on the endangered Okinawa dugong.

Earthjustice lawyer Sarah Burt said the Pentagon did not consult native Okinawans or the Okinawa prefectural government about the base’s potential harm to dugong populations that feed in the area, or about how the loss of habitat might impact Okinawan cultural practices.

“The affected communities are the traditional communities that hold the cultural beliefs and spiritual practices surrounding the dugong and they were not consulted in this case,” Burt told U.S. District Judge Edward Chen at Thursday’s hearing to determine whether an environmental challenge to the base can move forward.

Burt said the department is required under the National Historic Preservation Act to consult with the Okinawan government and affected communities, but instead hired contractors to speak with the Japanese government and outside academics...

[Federal District Court Judge Edward] Chen first dismissed the case in 2015, ruling the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction raised political questions the court lacked the authority to hear. At the time, Chen seemed fatalistic about the base’s construction and the court’s inability to offer the plaintiffs any effective relief...

But last year, the Ninth Circuit [Court of Appeals] ruled the plaintiffs have standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief over the base, and that neither set of claims present political questions that prohibit judicial review...

...Chen seemed open to hearing from local cultural practitioners regarding anything the Department of Defense’s finding of no adverse impact [dumping landfill over dugong feeding grounds on the critically endangered mammal's survival] might have left out or ignored.

He also asked the government why it didn’t at least give the environmental groups a notice and comment period. Surely that wouldn’t offend America’s strategic partners, he suggested.

“Is it arbitrary and capricious to not even be told about the process?” Chen asked Justice Department attorney Mark Haag.
The Mainichi's coverage, "Legitimacy of Okinawa base relocation questioned in US court," provides a summary of the history of the lawsuit (initiated in 2003), and closes with responses from Burt and Peter Galvin, co-founder of one of the American plaintiffs, Center for Biological Diversity:
Judge Chen is taking seriously his obligation to review what the Department of Defense has done," she said. "I'm hopeful that we have been able to convince him that the very purpose of the statute is informed decision making in partnership with local communities."

"I was able to make the case for the people of Okinawa and the dugong. So now we wait," she said.

Peter Galvin, director of programs at the Center for Biological Diversity, emphasized the need for a big win.

Noting that the construction has already driven the resident dugongs from the area, Galvin warned that once the landfill is placed and the seagrass and coral are covered, serious damage will be irreversible.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

TUESDAY - May 22, 2018 - ZAN screening at Diet Members' Office Bldg of the Lower House - Public welcome!


ZAN: In Search of the Last of the Okinawa Dugong will be screening tomorrow, Tuesday, May 22, at the Diet Members' Office Building of the Lower House in Tokyo

Tokyo-based Irish director Richard Grehan and producer/narrator Yu Kisami's beautiful, award-winning documentary is a tribute to the scientists, environmentalists, and local Okinawans who have spent the past 2 decades working to save Henoko's dugong and coral reef ecosystem, Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site. Through their insights, ZAN shows us the meaning of the Okinawan value of "Nuchi du Takara" (All life, including the life of nature, is precious).

Earlier this month, the Center for Biological Diversity, a co-plaintiff in the Dugong Lawsuit, screened ZAN in Berkeley, in conjunction with a letter Okinawa Governor Onaga sent to the US Dept of Defense (DoD) requesting that DoD consult, under the U.S. National Historical Preservation Act [NHPA], with the Okinawa Prefectural Government regarding the impact on the dugong from the planned offshore expansion of US military training base in Henoko

Last week ZAN was one of the featured selections at the Endangered Species Film Festival in Missoula, Montana. 

After tomorrow's screening at the Diet, there will be a discussion with the director, Rick Grehan.

Please contact umi@nacsj.or.jp to reserve your seat.
Date: Tuesday, May 22 17:00-19:00
Place: Diet Members' No.1 Office Building of the Lower House
Capacity: 60 people

Application/inquiry: Tel: 03-3553-4102 Email: umi@nacsj.or.jp

5月22日(火)、衆議院議員会館にて『ZAN』の特別上映会が開催されます!一般の方々も参加が可能です!
辺野古新基地建設にかかわる問題について、1人でも多くの国会議員に現状を認識いただくため、衆議院議員会館で『ZAN』の特別上映会が開催されます。上映後、リック・グレハン監督との意見交換も合わせて実施されます。
・日時:5月22日(火)17:00-19:00
・場所:衆議院第一議員会館1F 国際会議室(最寄り駅:東京メトロ永田町・出口1)
・参加費:無料
・定員:60名(お申し込み下さった方に16:30からロビーで入館証を配布します。)
・申し込み・お問い合わせ:日本自然保護協会 Tel: 03-3553-4102 Email: umi@nacsj.or.jp
衆議院会館にて国会議員に『ZAN』を見ていただく貴重な機会です。皆さまのお申し込みお待ちしております。

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Earth Day 2018 - The Sea is the Treasure of Life - Miracle of Oura Bay and Yanbaru



Beautiful Henoko coral reef and dugong sea underwater photographs and music via One Peace Okinawa (events ongoing this weekend at Earth Day Tokyo/アースデイ東京) with photography by Takuya Nakamura: "A Miracle of Oura Bay and Yanbaru - About Precious Nature" and music by Milk (Maitreya) singing "The sea is the treasure of life."
Most of Okinawa's coral reefs have been lost because of coastal construction and global warming. Miraculously, coral reefs are still thriving in the sea of Henoko and Oura Bay where nutrients and fresh water from Yanbaru's subtropical rainforest and living tidelands continue to the sea. Does anyone really want to build a base by landfilling this magnificent sea, a treasure of life?
"The Sea is a Treasure of Life" by Milk (Maitreya)

Island treasure Coral sea

A cradle of life
Nurturing creatures
Breakwaters to protect the island
Treasure chest in the sea
Jewels spun over a thousand years
Miracles connecting life.

Coral reefs are treasures of the earth...
The sea and the forest are connected...
The living guardian rainforest of the sea...
The sea and the land are connected...
There is no border between them...

The sea is the treasure of life...

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Alicia Bay Laurel and Takuji - "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance" at Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church, which stands on what was ground zero


Our friends, Alicia Bay Laurel and Takuji, performing "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance" in Hiroshima 08/08/2015. Author/artist/vocalist/songwriter Alicia Bay Laurel and jazz multi-instrumentalist Takuji perform John Lennon's anti-war classics "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance" at a peace concert that was part of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 8, 2015, at Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church, which stands on what was ground zero in Hiroshima.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Keibo Oiwa addresses the psychological roots of world crisis in Nuclear Zen



In Berlin-based filmmaker Michael Saup's short documentary, Nuclear Zen, anthropologist, environmental activist (and contributor to Kyoto Journal) Keibo Oiwa, shares his holistic take on creating a life-sustaining Japan and world. His views echo those of many eco-activists, especially Sacred Stone, Okinawan and other indigenous water, rainforest, earth protectors:
Thank you is a recognition of the reality. We are living here. We are using [nuclear [and fossil]] electricity...We created the social system -- media, education, politics -- on top of the same system. We have to admit it. Yes, this is where we are. And we have to embrace it, whether it's ugly or not. This is us. And only after that, we can say what we want to do. But the problem is, many people refuse to recognize this reality.

Albert Einstein said you cannot solve the problem within the same mindset that created the problem in the first place. But that is exactly what we've been doing. As environmental activist, I've been fighting, in the movements against environmental destruction, pollution, climate change, nuclear power. And all these problems are too serious. We cannot solve any of these problems easily. Many people say it's too late. But I think it's very important that all these problems have the same root, not just environmental issues, but psychological problems.

What do we do with the very unhappy society we've created. you know, education, family situation, families are collapsing. We pit all the children against each other; they're supposed to be be competing and fighting against each other, forever. I think the roots are all entangled and maybe the same one. So what we have to do, is recognize the root. This is a great opportunity. This crisis is an opportunity...to understand this mindset, not just a society, but ourselves, our mindset...

The musician Ryuichi Sakamoto...said, "We are risking our lives, not only human lives, for the sake of what? Just electricity?"

But this is a mindset we have been captured in...

For what? Is it worth risking our lives, our future, our children's future?

The objective of this system is to make more, consume more, discard more. It's eternal growth: mass production, mass consumption, mass discarding. When you look around, this whole system is made up of excess. So I think excess is the nature of the present time. More. Bigger. Faster...This is a religion of efficiency.

...After March 11, we realized how hollow our democracy had become. Democracy had become a treasure box we were carrying but then after March 11, we opened it, after many years. It was empty. We have to rebuild democracy from scratch.

When you look at politics, at media, the situation seems so pessimistic. But at the same time, I witness so many good signs and I can see very clearly that what's happening in Japan all over the place has a strong resonance with what's happening outside of Japan; In Europe, in Africa, Latin America, everywhere, similar things are happening. They're coming out of the mindset that my generation is still trying to cling to. Young people are saying, 'Just forget it. They are not attracted anymore. They're not deceived. More and more, I can feel good things are happening...

The rest of the story we have to create...