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Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Nobel Peace Prize nomination (with Henoko connection) for the Japanese & Okinawan people who support Article 9, the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause



Before 1945, when Japan was "normal," the Japan military brutally invaded the Korean Peninsula, China, and Southeast Asia.  Japanese bombs and soldiers killed many millions of people throughout the Asia-Pacific during a long war that lasted from 1931 to 1945.

However, no Japanese soldier has killed in war since 1945, thanks to the postwar Japanese Peace Constitution which states that the Japanese people are "resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government," and specifically outlaws war and state belligerency as a means to settle international conflict.

Japanese and Okinawan people, for over 60 years, have striven to keep the Peace Constitution intact, in letter, even as the spirit has been violated by state remilitarization. For these efforts, on April 9, 2014, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the “Japanese people who conserve Article 9” have been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Also on April 9, more than 3,000 Japanese citizens gathered in Tokyo to show their support for Article 9 at a rally organized by the Article 9 Association, a network founded in June 2004, to defend the war-renouncing clause of the Constitution. Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe, literary spokesperson for the postwar generation whose childhoods were devastated by the Second World War, stated to attendees:
By exercising the collective self-defense, Japan will directly participate in a war...

I’m afraid that Japan’s spirit is approaching the most dangerous stage over the past 100 years...
Another founder, Yasuhiro Okudaira, constitutional law professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, proclaimed:
Article 9 has inspired us. I'm proud of it.
The Japanese and Okinawan people have long been proud of Article 9. In 1946, Presbyterian minister and prewar peace activist Toyohiko Kagawa, twice nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, declared Article 9 “a model for the entire world."

Former Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota wrote Article 9 gave him the "will to live" following the devastation of the Battle of Okinawa.

In John Junkerman’s 2008 documentary film, Japan’s Peace Constitution, historian Hidaka Rokuro, who was 28-years-old in 1945, described the Japanese response to Article 9:
From the moment Article 9 was announced, in newspapers and among the general public, it was greeted positively and with great sympathy. In that sense, the existence of Article 9 strongly influenced the posture of the general public, the public's response to the Japanese Constitution as a whole. At the time, Prime Minister Shidehara really talked about Article 9 with a great deal of pride…

In reality, the instant they say it, most citizens thought, "Ah, now we will never have to experience war again." There was a sense of relief that Japan had changed... Article 9 actually had significance in an international context. I don't think the Japanese people really grasped this at the time. But internationally, what it meant was Japan, as the aggressor nation, made a pledge to the world about its future conduct, especially a pledge to the people of Asia. And it was received as such by people in Asia. 
In the same film, John Dower, MIT historian and author of Embracing Defeat, a Pulitzer-Prize winning book on postwar Japan, praised ordinary citizens for the nation’s postwar policy of peace:
I had a lot of respect for the Japanese people who cherish those ideals and fought for them and tried to understand them.

What held together that idealism of the early years, what made that survive over the decades of the 50s' and 60s' was not the Japanese government so much as ordinary Japanese people, a slot of them women or men who had served in the war, who remembered the war.

People who remembered what war was really like said, "We can't do this again. We have to cherish these ideals." The government, however, was saying, "Oh, we've got to go along with America." And so you have this split in Japan.
This is the second Nobel nomination for Article 9. In 2008, after the first Global Article 9 Conference, Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire nominated the organizers Peace Boat and the Global Article Nine Association (which Peace Boat co-founded) for a Peace Prize, on behalf of Article 9. The Peace Clause has long had the support of other Nobel Peace Laureates and other prominent global peace activists.

In "The Nomination of Article 9 of Japan's Constitution for a Nobel Peace Prize," East Asia scholar Alexis Dudden describes the intriguing interconnection between Henoko and the  nomination:
Late last spring, Takasu Naomi, a...housewife from Kanagawa prefecture outside Tokyo, began to collect signatures on her personal web page to preserve Article 9 in an effort to garner a Nobel Peace Prize for it and publicize its meaning internationally…she submitted an entry on behalf of…the “Japanese people who conserve Article 9”)…

During the New Year’s holidays, Hamaji Michio, a businessman in Tokyo...responded enthusiastically to Takasu’s drive: “Shocked and so inspired,” as he puts it. Believing deeply in the drive’s core message, Hamaji immediately offered his political and business world connections...

He... turned…to a small group of foreigners — mainly U.S.-based academics as well as Nobel laureates and nominees — many of whom by chance were also appearing in the January newspapers having signed a petition in support of Inamine Susumu’s bid for mayor in Nago, Okinawa…
In Japan’s Peace Constitution, historian Doug Lummis challenged the notion that a return to state military violence could make the people of Japan and the world safer than the postwar abrogation of war:
The 20th century was the century in which this great experiment was done. Let's set up an international system in which each state has the right of legitimate violence and the right of belligerency and monopolizes that. And, through the balance of power and so forth, each of these states will protect its citizens. That was the big experiment of the 20th century. What happened?

More people were killed through violence in the 20th century than any other hundred year period in the history of the world. And who killed these people? It wasn't the mafia, it wasn't the yakuza, it wasn't gangs, it wasn't drug wars, it was the state.The state killed over 200 million people.

So having huge military power, in fact, doesn't make you safer. And that's one thing you don't need to explain to Okinawan people because in Okinawa, they have no historical memory ever of a military group here bringing safety to the people.
Many high profile Japanese figures are increasingly speaking out on behalf of Article 9, the peace clause. On the eve of his birthday last December, Emperor Akihito (tutored by an American Quaker during his youth) defended Article 9. Then, on the eve of his birthday in February of this year, Crown Prince Naruhito attributed Japan's peace and prosperity to the pacifist Constitution.

And at the grassroots, citizen action across various civil society organizations and networks is buzzing.  The Global Article 9 Campaign held a second conference in Osaka in 2013. Since 2004, the Article 9 Association has generated more than 7,500 like-minded groups across Japan so far and will will commemorate their tenth anniversary on June 10, 2014 (at 6 pm at Shibuya-kokaido in Tokyo).

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More Info: 

 Petitioning The Norwegian Nobel Committee :Dear Mr.Thorbjorn Jagland Chair of the Nobel Committee  - To spread a pacifist constitution in all the countries of the world, please award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Japanese citizens have maintained the Constitution of Japan, Article 9 in particular:
The Japanese Constitution is a pacifist constitution that stipulates renunciation of war in its preamble and notably Article 9. Article 9 in particular has been playing an important role since the end of WWII in preventing the Japanese government from waging war. Article 9 has become the hope of those who aspire for peace in Japan and the world. However, the Japanese Constitution is currently under the threat of being revised.

To spread a peace constitution in all the countries of the world, we request that the Nobel Peace Prize be given to the Japanese citizens who have continued maintaining this pacifist constitution, Article 9 in particular, up until present.
Colin P. A. Jones, "Japan’s Constitution: never amended but all too often undermined," The Japan Times, March 26, 2014. 

Lawrence Repeta, "Japan’s Democracy at Risk – The LDP’s Ten Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change,The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, July 15, 2013.

John Junkerman, "The Global Article 9 Conference: Toward the Abolition of War," The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, May 25,  2008.

Craig Martin, "The Case Against Revising Interpretations of the Japanese Constitution," The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, May 29, 2007.

Yoshikazu Sakamoto, "The Postwar and the Japanese Constitution: Beyond Constitutional Dilemmas," The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, November 10, 2005.

"Kenzaburo Oe, Jakucho Setouchi, Masahide Ota found “1000-member committee to prevent Japan from entering wars" (Rally @Hibiya Park, March 20, 2014)," (TTT, March 18, 2014)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

10th Anniversary of the Henoko Boat Action


Great photos of 10th anniversary of the Henoko boat action,  via Save the Dugong Campaign Center.

In April 2004, Henoko elders and their supporters began a nonviolent boat action in  to block drilling to make way for military landfill in the sea of Henoko.

The late Yuji Kinjo, a Henoko resident and Battle of Okinawa child survivor, spent the last 10 years of his life in struggle against the military landfill.

In 2005, speaking as chairman of the Inochi wo Mamoru Kai (Saving Life Society), Mr. Kinjo said he and other retired elders felt a "responsibility to hand down our precious sea unpolluted to the next generation."

(Photo of Yuji Kinjo speaking to participants of a 2006 Peace Boat voyage: http://www.peaceboat.org/english/voyg/55/poc/okin/index.html)

Mr. Kinjo described why he became an activist at the "Save Dugong, No Base at Henoko" Inochi wo Mamoru Kai (Saving Life Society) website:
Many people in the relevant government offices have never seen this sea before. The military base is no use in the present days considering the value of the precious sea and the marine lives making their habitat there that we are about to lose by the landfill.

If we ponder seriously what we really need for the future, there is no benefit gained from reclaiming this sea. Since we have started sit-in, 6 members passed away without seeing result of the resistance. For those who left their hopes behind, I am ready to die to stop the construction.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Helena Norberg-Hodge: On Earth Day, an Economics for People & Planet

Helena Norberg-Hodge's summary of the clash of two major worldviews we now see in play throughout the world:
Much has changed since the first Earth Day in 1970. Not only have our ecological crises come into sharper focus, it has also become obvious that we need to rescue not just the Earth, but also its people from the clutches of an economy gone mad. Worldwide, more and more people are recognizing that fundamental changes to that economy are urgently needed if our most pressing problems – ecological, social, economic, and even spiritual – are to be solved. Instead of trying to tackle a seemingly endless list of separate problems, strategic shifts in economic policy would put us on a path that is good for both people and the planet.

Over the past decades, globalization, or the continued deregulation of trade and finance, has created a world dominated by giant banks and corporations. Because governments almost everywhere have catered to their demands, we are now faced not only with global warming, extinction of species and dramatic increases in pollution, but also with financial instability, endemic unemployment, increased conflict, and epidemics of ill health and depression...

We need to move in exactly the opposite direction – away from economic globalization and towards the local. This doesn’t mean eliminating all trade or adopting an isolationist attitude – it simply means shortening the distances between consumers and producers wherever possible....

The localization movement is beginning to bridge the divides between groups that are working to make the world a better place: environmental activists, small business owners, community leaders, educators, social justice campaigners, farmers, workers’ rights advocates, religious and spiritual groups. An exciting, once-in-a-generation coalition is emerging: a coalition that offers real hope for broad-based and lasting renewal.

Read the rest here: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/22-1

Monday, April 21, 2014

Japanese Scholars Fight for Democracy


Via Japan-based journalist Kjeld Duits, 3-minute video report, "Japanese Scholars Fight for Democracy." 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Green Action briefing from Kyoto: Nuclear accident evacuation planning in central Japan



Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action, a Kyoto-based nuclear-free advocacy organization, speaks about nuclear power accident emergency planning in central Japan. Plans call for the evacuation of more than a quarter million people to sites such as Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Green Action: Japanese citizens sue, saying "No!" to restart of nuclear power in Japan




Instead of moving forward and focusing on the development of better energy conservation methods and renewable energy, Japan, under the Abe administration, is going backward.  Japanese energy companies, the second highest importers of coal in the world after Chinese energy firms, are spending billions of dollars on new coal-fired plants.  Moreover, the Abe administration has aggressively promoted the export of nuclear plants overseas and is now pushing for the restart of nuclear plants in Japan, despite the opposition of the majority of citizens.

Our friends at Green Action, a Kyoto-based nuclear-free advocacy organization led by Eileen Mioko Smith, recently released this video press statement about their legal action to stop the restart:
On March 20th 2014, Japanese citizens gathered at the Osaka District Courthouse at the final session of the injunction lawsuit (filed in 2012) against the restart of Fukui Prefecture's Ohi nuclear reactors units 3 and 4.

Currently all nuclear reactors in Japan have been temporarily shut down following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in March 2011. However, Japanese electric utilities have 17 applications in to restart reactors. The Ohi reactors are among the first slated for restart. The litigants are seeking that the courts address three main issues:

1) underestimation of earthquake impact on the reactors

2) no method of preventing radioactive discharge into the ocean in the event of a serious accident

3) not taking into consideration an active fault very near the emergency coolant pipe, or faults moving simultaneously near the reactor site.

(Note: Past earthquake examples show that Japanese earthquakes produce greater seismic motion with the same AREA of earthquake fault shifting than foreign earthquakes.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Die for Japan: Wartime Propaganda Kamishibai (paper plays)





The Abe administration's move—towards political censorship, fuller remilitarization (this week the Japanese government discarded a half-century ban on the export of weapons), and overturning Article 9, the Peace Clause of the Japanese Constitution—has reminded many of prewar and wartime Japan.

Professor Jeffrey Dym's (Sacramento State) terrific Die for Japan: Wartime Propaganda Kamishibai opens a window on popular Japanese culture of that period. The  2012 short documentary film explores how the wartime government appropriated kamishigai, a form of popular Japanese street art, to exhort Japanese people to embrace death during war as a duty to the state.

Dym shows how wartime Japanese propaganda glorified dying for the nation, and, in contrast, American Second World War propaganda glorified killing the enemy.
We live in an increasingly visual culture and I believe it is important for us as scholars to become involved in creating and adding scholarly contributions to it and not just as talking heads in a documentary. Thus, I have embarked on a road I call "visual scholarship."

I would like to announce the publishing of an eighteen minute documentary--"Die for Japan: Wartime Propaganda Kamishibai" (paper plays; 国策紙芝居)--I recently completed. The film examines Japanese propaganda from a unique angle and the film could be used to spark classroom discussion, particularly if paired with an American wartime propaganda film like "Know Your Enemy Japan."
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Recent posts on Japanese concern about remilitarization:

 "Kenzaburo Oe, Jakucho Setouchi, Masahide Ota found “1000-member committee to prevent Japan from entering wars" (Rally @Hibiya Park, March 20, 2014)" (March 18, 2014)

"Yoji Yamada's Kabei (Our Mother) explores repression and militarization during wartime Japan" (April 2, 2014)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Yoji Yamada's Kabei (Our Mother) explores repression and militarization during wartime Japan



Since the Koizumi administration (2001-2006), LDP-run Japanese governments have enthusiastically moved towards increasing political repression (especially freedom of expression), concomitantly with remilitarization (yesterday the Japanese government discarded a half-century ban on the export of weapons). These shifts, reminiscent  of 1930's and early 1940's Japan, have not only triggered concerns in other Asian countries, but has also in Japan: bringing to the surface memories of the build-up to Japan's last war.

This illuminating interview,"YOJI YAMADA: Voice of dissent revives forgotten war memories," by Mark Schilling with an antiwar filmmaker  (published at JT in 2008) reflects these concerns.  (Yamada is renowned in Japan for his 1969-96 film series Otoko wa Tsurai Yo (Tora-san) that follows the romantic ups and downs of a goodhearted peddler;  at a deeper level, the series is an exploration of postwar Japanese society from the perspective of ordinary people living on the economic margins.)  Kabei takes a similar perspective at an earlier time period: exploring how prewar repression and militarization affected the lives of ordinary Japanese individuals and their families.

(Yoji Yamada.Photo: Yoshiaki Miura)

...Based on a memoir by Teruyo Nogami, a script supervisor for Akira Kurosawa for more than four decades, "Kaabee" is a family drama set in Tokyo in 1940-41, when war clouds were darkening and freedom of expression was vanishing.

In the opening scene the father, a scholar of German literature, is arrested on the charge of shisohan (a"thought" crime).

The mother, played by Sayuri Yoshinaga, then has to raise her two young daughters, Teruyo and Hatsuko, on her own, though her art-student sister (Reiko Dan) and her husband's bumbling-but-dedicated former student (Tadanobu Asano) rally to her side.

"Kaabee" is set in the early 1940s, but its themes, including the suppression of dissent, still have relevance today. Was that your main reason for wanting to make this film?

What attracted me first was the childhood memoir by Teruyo Nogami. Her father was actually arrested under the Peace Preservation Law (which had the goal of clamping down on communists, labor activists and opponents of Japan's militarism) and spent time in jail. That's what Japan was like in 1940 and 1941, but Japanese today don't know this. I wanted to rekindle their memories. Those were frightening times, when Japan started the Pacific War with an unstoppable wave.

Can we say the same frightening, out-of-control forces that started that war are absent from Japan today? In 1945 we made what was supposed to be a strong commitment to peace. But now (certain forces) are trying to change the "peace Constitution."

Japan should have remained the one country in the world with no military and a prohibition against war (in the Constitution). Now Japan is going along with America and the Bush administration. I have doubts about whether that's right.

I imagine that the audience in Berlin will understand this theme.

Yes, in the 1930s and 1940s Germany went through similar experiences. We were both fascist countries. It must have been scary to oppose Hitler at that time, so I think the German audience will understand that aspect.

I've seen a lot of Japanese movies about the war, but yours is something different — you focus on one family instead of combatants.

There aren't many films about that specific time. The movies made in the 1940s had to pass military censors, so they don't express any reality. The movies made after 1945 are also lacking in that they don't portray the lives of ordinary people during wartime...

What message would you like people to take away from the film?

When the war ended in 1945, Japan was the loser and there was an international trial. Then (former Prime Minister Hideki) Tojo and other Class-A war criminals were hanged. But in Japan the police had been rounding up people who were opposed to the war and killing them without trial. About 60,000 people were arrested.

In Germany, those who cooperated with the Nazis were tried in German courts, separately from the Nuremberg War Crime Trials. In Japan we didn't have that. The husband in "Kaabee" is basically killed by the police, but the killers weren't put on trial. They brazenly returned to the police force.

Japan made a wonderful postwar Constitution, but no amends have been made for past wrongs. In Germany, the Nazi collaborators were made to pay for what they did; in Japan, a war criminal could became prime minister, such as Nobusuke Kishi, the grandfather of our recent prime minister, Shinzo Abe. There's something strange about that...
The rest of this important interview at the above link.