Monday, November 17, 2014

Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki: "Demilitarization of Okinawa is necessary for peace in East Asia"

(Image: Ryukyu Shimpo)

Toshinobu Nakazato, a former Speaker in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, has initiated a postcard campaign to support the All-Okinawa Movement to halt the plan to landfill and build an offshore and military port over the coral and dugong habitat at Henoko, Okinawa.  

89 mainland Japanese celebrities have replied, including anime director Hayao Miyazaki, who wrote, "Demilitarization of Okinawa will be necessary for peace in East Asia."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

All-Okinawa candidate Takeshi Onaga wins governor's race in historic election

The new Governor and First Lady of Okinawa. (Via SNA)

Today Okinawans elected former Naha City Mayor Takeshi Onaga for governor in a landslide  election; and Naha residents of Naha elected  former Vice-Mayor Mikiko Shiroma, to replace Onaga. Both ran on All-Okinawa platforms, reflecting the tiny prefecture's dynamic movement to reclaim Okinawan identity and democratic self-determination.

Michael Penn, SNA:
The numbers coming in show landslide victories for both Onaga and Shiroma.  Onaga beat Nakaima by about 3:2 margin. Exit polls find only 25.5% of Okinawan voters find Henoko base construction to be acceptable.
Eric Johnston, JT:
Onaga also promised to deliver a strong message to Tokyo and Washington that the Henoko plan was unacceptable and that those who thought Okinawa could be bribed by being offered central government funds for development projects were wrong.
Filmmaker Chie Mikami:
The moment the Henoko villagers launched a Committee to Protect Life, they raised their voices in opposition [to the new base/military port plan] -- for 17 years,  I stood by and witnessed.

I did not see this day coming. This proved an All-Okinawa Movement could support a win for an All-Okinawa Governor...
Ryukyu Shimpo (one of Okinawa's 2 major daily newspapers):
 Onaga served as a co-representative of the executive committee that held an Okinawan people’s rally in 2012, which called for the closure of the Futenma base and the cancellation of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft deployment to Okinawa. He has insisted that Okinawan people should unite in an ‘All-Okinawa’ approach that goes beyond the framework of the conservative-versus-progressive party, in order to resolve the base issue. The ex-Naha Mayor has promised to follow-through on a petition to Prime Minister Abe requesting the easing of the base-hosting burden. This petition bears the signatures from the mayors of all 41 municipalities in Okinawa and the chairmen of the various assemblies.

Onaga is backed by the Social-Democratic Party, the Communist Party, the Okinawa Social Mass Party and the People’s Life Party. The Naha City Council’s conservative group members, who were expelled from the LDP after opposing the relocation plan, also supported the ex-Naha Mayor. They criticized Governor Nakaima’s approval of landfill required for the new base in Henoko.

In August, the government started a drilling survey for reclamation work in Henoko. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said Tokyo will go ahead with construction based on the incumbent governor’s approval. Despite Onaga’s victory, it appears the government still intends to carry out the relocation work. Onaga will consider revocation or withdrawal of Nakaima’s landfill approval. The result of the election will have a serious impact on the relocation plan.
Peter Ennis, Dispatch Japan, "Okinawa election puts Tokyo and Washington [and also the LDP in Okinawa] in a bind":
The victory on Sunday of Takeshi Onaga in the race for governor of Okinawa came as no surprise...

But the size of Onaga’s victory – roughly 100,000 votes ahead of Nakaima, with two-thirds of voters joining Onaga in opposition to construction of a new US Marine base in the prefecture – was stunning, putting both Tokyo and Washington in a serious bind...

... it won’t be easy for Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to maintain his stance that the Futenma-Henoko controversy “is a thing of the past.”

Onaga’s electoral success poses a big dilemma for the LDP, heading into Lower House elections that PM Abe is expected to call for December 14. Sentiment against the ruling party’s stance on the Futenma Replacement Facility controversy has already affected other elections. Henoko is a district of Nago City, whose mayor, Susumu Inamine, is a fierce opponent of the new Marine facility. He is backed by a majority of the city assembly. Meanwhile, also on Sunday, the city of Naha voted for a new mayor to replace Onaga, and elected an opponent of the new base.

The political winds blowing against the LDP could spell trouble in the upcoming elections for the four incumbent Lower House members from Okinawa elected on the LDP ticket...
Governor-elect Onaga, who will take office in early December, is slated to meet on Tuesday with Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga.

Onaga has already announced he will establish a special commission to investigate the process that led to Nakaima’s approval of the landfill work required before actual construction of the Henoko base can proceed.

Onaga has pledged to explore all legal remedies to reverse Nakaima’s decision. As governor, he would also have the power to deny necessary permits for construction to proceed, likely forcing the issue into the court system.

Moreover, Onaga has pledged to ensure that the Futenma Marine Air Station close. US officials privately have repeatedly said that Futenma will not close unless and until a replacement facility at Henoko is operational.

In another unusual move, Onaga has said he will open a special Okinawa Prefecture office in Washington to facilitate dialogue with US authorities about alternatives to the Henoko project.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Analysis of the All-Okinawa Movement: SNA's Interview with Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine

Michael Penn's interview with Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, at Nago City Hall, two days before the election for a new Okinawa governor:

INAMINE: The election is about the ideas of the citizens of Okinawa, whether they can be heard in Tokyo and Washington. Or if the ideas are only about bases for those two governments will be quietly accepted by the next governor.

SNA: Why are both conservatives and progressives supporting Onaga?

INAMINE: First, a governor is a politician who must honor promises. Clearly, Governor Nakaima did not do what he promised to do.

Second, in Okinawa, both conservatives and progressives agree that the damage from military bases must come to an end now. The hearts of conservatives and progressives are united, and in this election, they have come together with one voice.

SNA: How did Governor Nakaima lose so much support after eight years in office?

INAMINE: First, as I said, he violated his campaign promise. Also, he views development as separate from military bases, that economic progress is related to accepting military bases. That is different from Okinawa's stance in the past.

SNA: Is there a connection between this election and fundamental issue of democracy?

INAMINE: More than 80% of Okinawans oppose building a Henoko base.  In a democracy, you can't just ignore the voices of the people. If you do ignore them, it's a big problem. It's something that cannot be allowed in a democratic society.

SNA: What about the connection between US bases and economic development in Okinawa?

INAMINE: Conservatives and progressives divided in the last elections. But this time, some business leaders backed Mr. Onaga.

Tourism is a leading sector in Okinawa's economy. Military bases account for less than 5% of Okinawa's economy. The idea that Okinawa needs bases to survive economically is just a myth spread widely throughout mainland Japan.  Tourism is the industry that can put Okinawa on its own feet.

SNA: Do you have any concern that Mr. Onaga might change his policies after the election?

INAMINE: I think Mr. Onaga is very different from Mr. Nakaima. Mr. Onaga has put his political life on the line in this election, and the main issue is the Henoko base issue. So if you ask if Mr. Onaga will tone down his opposition, you have to realize he has put everything on the line.

I have faith Mr. Onaga will not betray our expectations.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Kya Kim & Peace Mask Project: The art of symbolism in peace building

Journalist, peace activist and Peace Mask Project team member Kya Kim reminds us of the powerful role of symbolism in creating change towards lasting peace. Kyoto-based Kya Kim and her team strive to spark this lasting peace across Japan, China and Korea:
Conflict is natural and always present. It is neither negative nor positive in itself. Violence and repression are only one possible response to a conflict and one our societies turn to far too often.

There are many reasons for this: the profitability of militarization for a handful of corporations and individuals; the control and manipulation of a population through fear. But mostly I think it's due to a lack of creativity and cooperation. We are stuck in old habits and old ways of thinking.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Target Village, The Vacumn Zone, One Shot, One Kill showing at peace film line-up this fall at Keio University

Peace Cinema - Keio University, Mita Campus, Tokyo - this fall. 

Oct 29 - Chie Mikami's Target Village -- follows the history of forced V-22 Osprey testing & training in Okinawa. 

Nov. 25 - Shinkû chitai (The Vacumn Zone) - Satsuo Yamamoto's 1952 film based on Hiroshi Noma's celebrated postwar novel. Called "the strongest anti-military film ever made in exposé of the brutality and corruption of the Japanese army shown in its most revolting form" (Anderson and Richie, The Japanese Film). The story shows the life of a soldier who is reintegrated into the Imperial army after serving a prison term for theft. Surrounded by corrupt officers and comrades, he finds the military, with its systematic dehumanization, an even lonelier "no man's land" than prison. 

The film—like Twenty-Four Eyes, Keisuke Kinoshita's 1954 film based on Sakae Tsubo's 1952 novel of the same name—was one of many Japanese antiwar films made during the postwar period.  (Most of Japan's antiwar films are unavailable with English subtitles. Twenty-Four Eyes—which follows the story of a school teacher and her students during the period of heightened militarization from the 1930's through the Pacific War, and its aftermath—is an exception; released by Criterion.)

Dec. 17 - One Shot, One Kill - A documentary by Yukihisa Fujimoto that follows how the military breaks down the moral civilian values of young people, turning them into soldiers who will follow orders and kill.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A win for the Japanese People who Conserve Article 9, for the Nobel Peace Prize, would “reorientate the prize to the core of Nobel’s original will.”

Congratulations to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzay for being awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.

Although not selected as the winner, the people who support the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause, Article 9, were a noted contender in this year's Nobel Peace Prize. 

Via WaPo:
“Japanese people who conserve Article 9” 

...Article 9 refers to a clause in the Japanese constitution, drawn up following World War II, that states that Japan will “forever renounce war” and the “threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” The Japanese government’s “reinterpretation” of this pacifist clause earlier this year sparked a public backlash, with campaigners arguing that the clause is one of the reasons Japan has not waged war in nearly 70 years.

Kristian Berg Harpviken, the director of PRIO [Peace Research Institute Oslo, an independent research institute] and a respected Nobel Prize commentator, recently chose this group as his top pick. He is the first to admit he doesn’t have a solid track record in predicting the winner, but he believes this could be the year for this off-beat choice. It would, he said, be a nod to nonaggression and would “reorientate the prize to the core of Nobel’s original will.”

On the other hand, the last two winners have been organizations -- in 2013, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and in 2012, the European Union -- and the committee may prefer an individual this year.
Background on Article 9 via Global Article 9 Campaign and Peace Boat, which received a nomination in 2009, on behalf of the Japanese people who support Article 9:
Adopted following World War II and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Article 9 is a pledge to Japan itself and to the world, particularly to neighboring countries that suffered under Japanese invasions and colonial rule, to never repeat its mistakes. Since then, Article 9 – and the Japanese people's commitment to its pacific principles – has played an important role in keeping peace in Japan and in the region, preventing Japan from participating in war and forcing the government to maintain peace policies.

Peace Boat launched the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War in 2005, together with the Japan Lawyers' International Solidarity Association (JALISA) and sponsored by a coalition of civil society organizations in Japan. The Campaign has since received support from dozens of groups and thousands of individuals worldwide, including Nobel Laureates and key international figures. Over 33,000 people gathered at the Global Article 9 Conference it organised in Japan May, 2008...

On the significance of Article 9, Peace Boat Director and Co-Founder of the Campaign, Yoshioka Tatsuya says, “We believe Article 9 is a universal asset. Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is clear that no solution can be achieved by military options. Today, we are facing climate change, poverty, pandemics. Given the limited world resources, the vast amount of money spent on military expenditures should be shifted towards building a sustainable future.”
JT's follow-up story reflects Japanese campaigners did not expect a win this year. Instead, they view the nomination process as an ongoing opportunity to highlight the history and merits of the Japanese Peace Constitution in Japan and abroad:
“To be honest, we did not necessarily think that our efforts would reach the goal in just one year,” said Yoshiaki Ishigaki, one of the leaders of a group calling itself the Organizing Committee for the Nobel Peace Prize for Article 9 of the Constitution. The group initiated contact with the Nobel Committee and honed its bid before the nomination was accepted....

He said that many Japanese are unaware of the role that Article 9, which bans Japan from using force to settle international disputes, has played in protecting them, and that future peace may be at risk under a government that wants to amend the Constitution to get around it.

The committee has collected more than 410,000 signatures over the course of its campaigning, but says it aims to collect 1 million for its renewed Nobel attempt next year.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

"Save Our SEA" Henoko photography exhibition now showing at National Diet Building, Tokyo; will open in Naha on Oct. 9

The "Save Our SEA" Henoko photography exhibition opens on Oct. 9 at the Ryukyu Shimpo Gallery in Naha.

The stunning show closed at a Ginza gallery on Oct. 2, and is now at the National Diet Building, Upper House Hall in Tokyo.

[Date] 10/6 (Mon) and from 7 (Tue) 10:00 until 7:00 PM [location] House of Councilors Hall Basement 1 room B103 (6 days) B101 Conference (7 days).

For admission to the Upper House, please contact by telephone, in advance, the following Office: Anyone can visit the exhibition. 6550-0907 or Fukushima Mizuho offices 6550-1111. sponsored by: representative of Henoko Sea Photo Exhibition Executive Committee K. Shindo 090 - 4813 - 5043. (Via photographer Ken Shindo)




【日時 】
参議院議員会館地下1階 B103会議室(6日)

田城かおる事務所 6550-0907
福島みずほ事務所 6550-1111

主催:辺野古の海写真展実行委員会代表 新藤健一 090-4813-5043

Monday, September 22, 2014

MP Keiko Itokazu representing Okinawa at the Indigenous World Conference starting today at the UN headquarters in New York

(Photo: MP Keiko Itokazu)

Upper House Member of the Japanese Diet, Ms. Keiko Itokazu, is representing Okinawa at the Indigenous World Conference starting today at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Indigenous peoples around the world have gathered. Mr. Shisei Toma, of the Association of Indigenous Peoples in the Ryukyus, is also in attendance.

Groups and individuals for peace, including Okinawan Americans and Japanese Americans who live in the NYC area, are supporting the Okinawan delegation's appeal to the U.N. community regarding human rights violations under ongoing forced US military expansion in Henoko and Takae.

The traditional local cultures and histories of Okinawa are deeply intertwined with the islands' distinctive ecosystems. Indigenous sacred places called utaki are situated in forest groves. Many have been destroyed or are now within US military bases built on land forcibly acquired in the aftermath of the Pacific War and during the 1950's "Bayonets and Bulldozers" period of military seizures of private property for base expansion. The Sea of Henoko is also considered sacred because it is the habitat of the Okinawa dugong, a sacred cultural icon, and because of the magnificence and abundant biodiversity of sea's coral reef.

Coral reefs have been an traditional part of Okinawan (and other Pacific Island) cultures for many centuries. However, most of the coral reefs on Okinawa Island are now dead, because of landfill, pollution, and coastal construction. Marine biologists say the coral reef at Henoko and Oura Bay is the best and most biodiverse coral reef in all of Okinawa prefecture. Okinawans are seeking to establish a marine protected area in Henoko to preserve the dugong and coral reef habitat and interconnected rivers, mangrove forests in this beautiful eco-region.


On Tuesday, September 22, Ms. Itokazu spoke on the "fulfillment of the rights of indigenous peoples at the national level and regional level" at the conference. She described forced new military base construction, adding that, in spite of the strong opposition of Uchinanchu (the indigenous people of Okinawa), the state is continuing to force the military base construction. Ms. Itokazu's conclusion: Uchinanchu are being deprived of the right of self-determination, contrary to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

(Photo: MP Keiko Itokazu)

(Photo: MP Keiko Itokazu)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Int. Day of Peace 2014 - Think PEACE, Act Peace, Spread PEACE - Imagine PEACE

Via Yoko Ono on the Int. Day of Peace 2014,
Surrender to PEACE:
love, yoko
#SurrenderToPeace #PeaceOneDay