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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

70th anniversary of the official (not actual) end of the US-Japan Battle of Okinawa

"Map of the Battle of Okinawa," by Iri Maruki and Toshi Maruki. 
Survivors of the US-Jp ground war in Okinawa, are depicted in the panels.
The painting is exhibited in the Sakima Art Museum in Ginowan City, Okinawa. 
Via Hiroshima Peace Media's Peace Museums of the World website
The story of Okinawa proves nothing is crueler, nothing is less honorable than war.

Those who know what happened here cannot, in good conscience, support or glorify killing.

And while it's true that people start wars, it is equally true that people can try not to start them.

Since the battle, we have hated all war and have known that we must nurture the spirit of peace without any arms in Okinawa.

So this is our belief, gained at great expense, and we will not yield, whatever the personal cost.

- Final words found in the exhibits of the Okinawan Prefectural Peace Museum.
Background: 

"The war is still going on for the people of Okinawa," Masahide Ota, Magazine 9:
In Okinawa, many people who went through extreme conditions under the war are even now experiencing extreme anxiety and depression.

The remains of 4000-5000 dead Okinawans have yet to be collected.

Unexploded bombs are all over, without being treated. Some experts says that it will take 50-60 more years to complete the treatment of unexploded bombs of the battles in Okinawa.

Not only that, even after the war, at least 5,200 Okinawans have been the victims of crimes committed by American soldiers.

Thus the war is still going on for the people in Okinawa.

Why shall we start preparing for a new war, while the old war is not over yet?

I truly don’t understand.

((OTA Masahide was governor of Okinawa prefecture from 1990 to 1998 and is Chairman of Ota Peace Research Institute. He has written 60 Books about Battle of Okinawa.)
"Harsh truth of blood and tears eludes many when they think of Okinawa," Atsushi Matsukawa (interview with Kazuhiko Taketomi, editor in chief of The Okinawa Times), The Asahi Shimbun, June 24, 2015:
Referring to World War II, Emperor Akihito spoke of four specific days that he must always “remember.”

Those days are: Aug. 15, when Japan announced its surrender; Aug. 6, when the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima; Aug. 9, when Nagasaki was flattened by a second atomic bomb; and June 23, when the collective fighting by the Japanese defenders in the Battle of Okinawa ended after the suicide of the supreme commander.

Although the first three days are renowned, the last is not...

 I would like the people in the Japanese mainland to realize that the U.S. base issue in Okinawa is effectively an extension of the three-month Battle of Okinawa.

That fighting involved the island’s civilians, and Okinawans have been trapped in absurd situations ever since.

The land of the people was seized to build many U.S. bases.

While U.S. military aircraft freely fly in the air space of Okinawa, the prefecture has been plagued by accidents and incidents involving American servicemen.

When Okinawans request that a new base to take over the functions of the Futenma airfield should not be constructed in the prefecture, the authorities insist, “You should come up with an alternative if you don’t like the central government project.”

This is unjust.
"Irei no hi 2015," John Potter, The Power of Okinawa: Roots Music for the Ryukyus, June 23, 2015:
As usual, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the ceremony and made a familiar speech full of platitudes while not really addressing the current situation in Okinawa at all. His speech, delivered in a monotone, was met with lukewarm applause and some heckling along the way. In contrast, Okinawa’s Governor Takeshi Onaga made an impassioned speech which included the following:
“To begin with, regarding Futenma Air Station whose land was forcibly expropriated from us against our will and which is said to be the most dangerous base in the world, the indefinite use of MCAS Futenma must not be endured. To the people of Okinawa, the notion that ‘Futenma will be relocated to Henoko to eliminate the danger posed by Futenma’, and that ‘if Okinawa does not like the Henoko plan, Okinawa should come up with an alternative plan’ is totally unacceptable.”

“We cannot establish a foundation of peace unless the central government impartially guarantees freedom, equality, human rights and democracy to the people.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Greenpeace: Okinawa, Henoko Bay, Save the Dugongs 2015


Via Greenpeace:
Time is running out for Henoko Bay and the last surviving Dugongs of Japan. Please help by adding your name: 


Petition: www.greenpeace.org/henoko
---------
H.E Ms Caroline Kennedy U.S. Ambassador to Japan,

Henoko Bay is the home of the last remaining Dugongs in Japanese waters. It is estimated that there are as few as a dozen left in existence.

We understand that the concrete slabs have already started being dumped into the dugongs primary habitat. We urge you to intervene and halt further construction until a sustainable solution is found which guarantees the survival of this last group of IUCN red-listed Dugongs and protects coral reef and Dugong’s seagrass food supply.

We stand with the local Okinawan people who have voted to elect a prefectural government which is opposed to building a U.S Marine base on this environmentally critical site in Japan.

You have stood up for environmental protection before. We know you can do it again.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Sense of Sacred: Mauna Kea, Hawai'i and Oura Bay, Okinawa


The Okinawan movement to save Henoko and the Yambaru subtropical rainforest is one aspect of a global indigenous movement calling for respect of indigenous cultural heritage, especially natural sacred sites under ongoing threat of destruction.

Indigenous peoples know that sacred sites are centers of collective spiritual and psychological power that go into the past and into the future, connecting generations. Maybe this is why sacred and cultural heritage sites have been targeted for destruction by invading powers for millennia.

In "The Sense of Sacred: Mauna Kea and Oura Bay," published at The Asia-Pacific Journal earlier this month,  Katherine Muzik  compares the similarities between the struggles to save Mauna Kea in Hawai'i and Henoko in Okinawa to introduce William B.C. Chang's analysis of the foreign settler pattern of violating indigenous religious and cultural heritage rights as well as land rights and indigenous human rights:
“Sacred is not necessarily a place. It is a relationship, a deep visceral relationship: beyond reason, beyond law, beyond rationality.”

These words were recently spoken by William B.C. Chang, a University of Hawaii Law Professor, in his impassioned testimony to the UH Board of Regents, about the current conflict on Mauna Kea here in Hawaii.

To the Hawaiians, the Mountain known as Mauna Kea, or Mauna a Wākea, on the Island of Hawaii, is a sacred place. Thus, the proposed construction of the northern hemisphere’s biggest telescope, thirty meters tall (TMT), 18 stories high, on eight acres of the mountain top, costing $1.4 billion, has recently sparked peaceful but ardent protests and occupations by Native Hawaiians, environmentalists and allies across the Pacific. With 13 telescopes already blighting the landscape, the protesters seek to prevent further desecration.

To the Okinawans, the Sea known as Oura Bay, on the Island of Okinawa, is also a sacred place. For nearly two decades, Okinawans have protested its destruction by US/Japan military expansion.

Besides being sacred and beautiful, what else do these two very distant places share? They share history, of illegal takeovers by a foreign power and the subsequent, on-going outrage among the local populations. Locals in Hawaii and Okinawa are deeply angered by the heinous and reckless environmental destruction their islands have suffered. They are frustrated by the destruction that continues, despite prolonged protests. In both cases, illegal land-grabs by the US have resulted in the waste of their natural resources and the disintegration of their cultural identities. However, being sacred, both places continue to inspire passionate and courageous struggles against foreign dominance.

The Hawaiian Islands were once a kingdom, a sovereign nation. In a series of events, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by a group of US and European businessmen, ending in annexation as a “Territory of the United States” in 1900. And so too, were the Ryukyu Islands, sovereign. Invaded by Satsuma forces in 1609, they were formally annexed by Japan in 1879 as “Okinawa Prefecture”. After World War 2, the US “acquired” Okinawa from Japan, establishing military bases which have remained and proliferated, destructively, for the last seventy years.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Guardian details how much US senators were paid to fast-track the TPP corporate investor rights bill • Naked Capitalism explains why President Obama defends slavery in Malaysia • How close is the USTR with Wall Street?


Children at the Lenggeng detention center, south of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,
 face the possibility of being sold into slavery.

The Guardian: "Here’s how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill: Critics of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership are unlikely to be silenced by an analysis of the flood of money it took to push the pact over its latest hurdle":
“It’s a rare thing for members of Congress to go against the money these days,” said Mansur Gidfar, spokesman for the anti-corruption group Represent.Us. “They know exactly which special interests they need to keep happy if they want to fund their reelection campaigns or secure a future job as a lobbyist.

“How can we expect politicians who routinely receive campaign money, lucrative job offers, and lavish gifts from special interests to make impartial decisions that directly affect those same special interests?” Gidfar said. “As long as this kind of transparently corrupt behavior remains legal, we won’t have a government that truly represents the people.”
Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism provides a comprehensive overview of why the Obama administration and neocon Republican political leaders are ignoring Malaysia's notorious record on human kidnapping, trafficking and slavery (including infants and children) as well as foreign migrant workers: "America’s First Black President Throwing Slaves Under the Bus on TPP":
Huffington Post has reconfirmed its reporting from over the past weekend, namely, that the Administration has a hairball to untangle to get Malaysia to sign the TransPacific Partnership. Basically, Malaysia needs to have an anti-slavery provision that was inserted in the bill in committee watered down. And the reason that that has to happen, as our reader Antifa pointed out in comments, is that Malaysia controls the Straits of Malacca, a critical shipping choke point. One of the major objectives of the pact is to strengthen America’s position in the region relative to China. Thus Malaysia’s location makes it a critically important signatory to the pact...

Of course, one might ask why we are now working so hard against China after having made the US dependent on her by allowing, even encouraging, US multinationals to outsource and offshore manufacturing in China...

Since Obama has had the embarrassing spectacle of having set a ministerial meeting for the TPP this week at which the other intended signatories were to give their final offers, based on the assumption that Obama would have Fast Track authority in hand. the negotiators increasingly doubt that Obama can get the bill passed this year, and the general assumption is that Congresscritters won’t touch this issue in 2016, an election year.

I strongly urge you to keep calling your Senators and Representatives. Concentrate on the slavery issue, since there is opposition on the right and left, and the folks on the Hill are likely not well prepared for voter pressure on this aspect of the sausage-making, since the MSM has pointedly ignored it.
Meanwhile American public interest organizations want the USTR Michael Froman to disclose the nature of his relationship with Wall Street by releasing his emails with bank reps:
“Michael Froman is not just President Obama’s trade representative, he is also a former senior executive of Citigroup,” said Justin Krebs, Campaign Director of MoveOn.org Civic Action. “He raised money from Citigroup for Obama’s Senate and presidential campaigns and remained on the Citigroup payroll late into 2008 while helping select Obama’s policy staff as a senior member of President Obama’s transition team – all while Citigroup was making history as the biggest bailout recipient ever.”

...“Citigroup snuck a lobbyist-written Dodd-Frank rollback into last December’s CRomnibus, so we already know they’re willing to hijack unrelated bills to weaken regulations on Wall Street,” said Kurt Walters of Rootstrikers. “Wall Street has been lobbying to include financial regulation in ongoing trade negotiations, and Americans deserve to know what Froman has been privately saying to these big banks.”

“It’s no surprise that the TPP – an unprecedented corporate giveaway – is being negotiated by someone as cozy with Wall Street banks as Michael Froman,” said Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director at CREDO Action. Zaheed continued, “The American people deserve transparency. The Administration must make public all communications between Froman and the massive financial institutions that stand to benefit from proposed trade deals.” Zaheed added “the American people and Congress need to see what kinds of commitments Froman is making to his Wall Street cronies behind closed doors.

Furthermore, stated Michelle Chan, director of Economic Policy at Friends of the Earth: "If the Obama administration gets Fast Track, it would delegate Congress’s constitutional authority to a U.S. Trade Representative who, by background and mindset, responds to Wall Street rather than ordinary people."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 23, 2015 - Kodansha release of I am Catherine Jane: "50 years ago, a US serviceman raped me too...I want to live my life again from today...With tears in her eyes & in mine, we embraced each other. I did not know her name. But to me, her name was Okinawa."

On May 23, Kodansha released the Japanese translation of "I am Catherine Jane" 
Fifty years ago, a US serviceman raped me too. For 50 years, I have lived in sorrow.

I am now over 70-years-old...I want to live my life again from today...

With tears in her eyes and tears in mine, we embraced each other. I did not know her name. But to me, her name was Okinawa.
This passage from I am Catherine Jane describes a meeting between a woman sharing her story of rape for the first time after hearing Fisher's shared story of rape and her quest for survival, healing and justice in the face of U.S. and Japanese government indifference to the assault.

Earlier this month, after giving speeches outside Camp Schwab, rape survivor Catherine Jane Fisher and over 30 supporters tied 100 meters of white ribbon in remembrance of the survivors raped by United States servicemen stationed in Okinawa since 1945, to promote awareness of violence against women.  The day before, 35,000-50,000 protestors attended the mass rally for Henoko in Naha.

A longtime supporter of Okinawa, Fisher clearly sees the interconnections between the 70-year history of US military rapes of Okinawan women and US military rape of the land and sea to build military bases. While the media is covering the ongoing Okinawan governent effort to save the coral reef and dugong habitat at Henoko from landfill and military base construction by the US and Japanese governments, background history starts in 1996 or 2006 or 1996, the dates of recent agreements between the two governments.

Australian rape survivor begins White Ribbon Violence Against Women" campaign 
outside U.S. military training base Camp Schwab
(Photo: courtesy of Catherine Jane Fisher)

This framing omits earlier history crucial for understanding the depth of the Okinawan movement: the  US military forcibly seized and demolished a vibrant farming and fishing community to build Camp Schwab during the 1950's period of "Bayonets and Bulldozers. This followed earlier seizures of Okinawan private property during and immediately after the Battle of Okinawa, when 400,000 Okinawans were detained in POW camps.

Fisher explains that many elder women protesters at Henoko and in those crowds are survivors of US military rape during this period.

The 1950s seizures throughout the prefecture were brutal, accompanied by assaults, including sexual assaults, against resisters. US military crimes against Okinawans, especially rapes, took place on a daily basis at this time, according to scholar Miyumi Tanji, in her 2006 book, Myth, protest, and struggle in Okinawa:
Victimization of Okinawan farmers and forceful acquisition of their land was combined with the physical violence inflicted on the locals personally...Violence directed towards the local populace by US military staff, especially rape, revealed the crudest and most brutal aspect of the power relations between the occupiers and the occupied...

'US land acquisition in Isahama and Ie-jima and the rape [and murder of 6-year-old Yumiko Nagayama] resulted the humiliation of all Okinawans, leading to what Arasaki calls the first wave of the "Okinawa Struggle.' ...These rallies became models for mass demonstrations in the community of protest of the future.
 Okinawan women protesting the forced US military seizures 
 of their homes and farms in July 1955.

On May 23, Kodansha released the Japanese translation of I am Catherine Jane in which Fisher relates the story of her uphill climb for justice after being raped by a U.S. sailor in Japan.  Vivid published the English-language version last year.

Damon Coulter's review at The Japan Times details Fisher's suffering and challenge to the indifference of the US and Japanese governments:
Fisher was physically raped in 2002 by Bloke Deans, a U.S. serviceman stationed at Yokosuka. Immediately afterward, she faced a psychological ordeal at the hands of the Kanagawa police force, who subjected her to 12 hours of questioning without food, drink or medical attention when she reported the crime. Finally, the United States government violated Fisher twice — first by giving Dean an honorable discharge, allowing him to leave Japan and flee charges, and then by later disdaining their own “zero tolerance” rape policy by refusing to acknowledge or take responsibility for their own corruption...

David McNeill's tells the even fuller story of Fisher's indomitable struggle in "From Yokosuka rape to U.S. court victory, ‘Jane’ commits her 12-year ordeal to print":
"I could have returned to Australia and closed my eyes, but somebody had to stand up.”

...Fisher won a civil suit against him in a Tokyo court in 2004 but the ruling had no jurisdictional authority in the U.S. Last year, after tracking Deans in America for several years, Fisher finally persuaded a circuit court in the U.S. to enforce that judgment for rape against him.

Fisher’s insistence that the U.S. military had helped Deans evade justice and that the Japanese government did little to help her pursue him was strengthened in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court by a statement submitted by Deans in which he claims a U.S. Navy lawyer told him to leave the country. The U.S. court’s decision was a victory for Fisher, but one that left her physically, mentally and financially exhausted, she says.
Fisher is now an advocate for rape survivors, campaigning for 24-hour rape crisis centers, and for making rape kits mandatory in police stations and hospitals. (The US government might consider funding these much-needed centers, as a matter of restitution and atonementl.)

Fisher is an esteemed member of the Okinawan movement for democracy, human rights, justice and healing which is characterized by intermutual respect and support, hallmarks of authentic community.  A visual artist and and author, Fisher created a FB page, Save Henoko, which focuses on inspirational images and thoughts to support the supporters of Henoko.


Born in Australia, Fisher has lived in Japan since the 1980s and has three sons.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Okinawa Delegation's visit to Hawai'i & Washington - May 27 to June 4, 2015: Appeal to end use of brute force ("Bayonets & Bulldozers") to build US base at coral reef & dugong ecosystem in Okinawa

Americans welcome the Okinawa Delegation to Washington on June 1. 

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga will visit O'ahu from May 27-29, then Washington DC from May 31-June 4.  The Okinawa governor is taking  the Okinawa people's voice to the US  concerning the US-Japan planned landfill and military port/offshore air strip construction at Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site, the coral reef and dugong ecosystem at Henoko.

Eric Wada at Hawai'i-based Ukwanshin Kabudan/ Ryukyu Performing Arts Troupe describes the irreplaceable cultural heritage under threat of destruction by the US and Japanese governments. In 1945, the US-Japan bombing and ground war in Okinawa destroyed   almost all of Okinawa's rich material cultural heritage (dating back to Jomon, Ryukyuan Kingdom, Silk Road eras).
His talk will include things that are affecting our ancestral islands, history, culture and economics, as well as the fight to preserve one of the most pristine coral reefs in the world. This important event is for everyone who loves Okinawa. If you are active in the performing arts, culture, or researcher, it is a definite kuleana for you to attend this meeting as it affects the sacred places, and areas that are mentioned in the music, dances, and chants or the area that will be destroyed.

In Hawai`i, we hear "kuleana". In Uchinaaguchi, we say "Fichi Ukiin". "Fichi" means to contact or assist. "Ukiin", means to accept, be given, or rise up. When we put this together, it means to assist and rise up. Be responsible. It is not just responsibility for our own self, but it is responsibility for what is around us and what we are connected to that helps to sustain our lives, culture, language, and history. We are connected to Okinawa though our blood, so we are also connected to and have "Fichi Ukiin". Be responsible in caring and aloha for what has been passed down by our ancestors...

Yutasarugutu unigeesabira!
Analysis and News:

"Time for the US Military to Leave Okinawa" with Mayor Susumu Inamine and Professor Steve Rabson at ClearingtheFOGRadio.org:
Recently we met with a delegation of mayors from Okinawa who came to the United States because the US is building a very large military base in Henoko that will destroy ecologically sensitive areas and that is not wanted by the people of Okinawa.

Through opinion polls, the election of politicians who are opposed to the base and persistent nonviolent direct action, Okinawans are making it clear that they are not supportive of a continued US military presence there.

With less than 1% of Japan's land mass, Okinawa is home to 74% of the US military in Japan. We air a recorded interview with Mayor Susumu Inamine of Nago City in Okinawa where the Henoko Base is being built. Then we speak with Professor Steve Rabson who studies and writes about the situation in Okinawa.
Analysis by Washington-Tokyo insider analyst Peter Ennis at Dispatch Japan: "For Governor Takeshi Onaga of Okinawa, determination grows to stop construction of a new US Marine facility":
Can Onaga really stop the Henoko project? The governor knows that if the issue comes down to brute force, there is little he can do to stop a determined central government.

...Governor Onaga also knows that if the impasse over the Henoko project boils down to a battle in the courts, Okinawa will almost surely lose. He has been pursuing a  four-part strategy that ultimately rests on mobilizing large demonstrations of public opposition that might force Washington and Tokyo to reconsider.
"[Okinawa Crying Out 沖縄は叫ぶ1]Japan and U.S. Refuse to Accept Public Opposition‐Continue Base Construction," Okinawa Times, May 26, 2015:
t has been 70 years since World War II ended, and 43 years since Okinawa reverted to Japan. Still today, the percentage of facilities exclusively for use by the US military and clustered in Okinawa comprise 74% of all such facilities in Japan. In response to the overburden of US military bases along with the endless incidents and accidents arising because of these bases, prefectural residents have voiced their anger, demanded this burden be reduced, and pleaded for the return of their expropriated land...

... Okinawa continues to raise its voice so that a new base will not be built, so that the dugong, coral and the precious ecosystem in the waters off Henoko are protected, and so that people both in Japan and around the world focus their attention on just what democracy and the will of the people mean.
"Governor Onaga heads to Washington to seek cancellation of new base," Hideki Matsudo, Ryukyu Shimpo, May 25, 2015:
The Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga will visit the United States from May 27 to June 5...The Governor will request that the U.S. government, which has left Okinawa with the excessive burden of hosting the bulk of Japan’s U.S. bases for 70 years after the war and is potentially introducing an additional burden to the island, to give up the current building plan.
"Governor Onaga tells foreign media: Tokyo’s Henoko policy is like US policy during occupation," Ryukyu Shimpo, May 23, 2015:
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga on May 20 held press conferences at the Japan National Press Club and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“They are using bayonets and bulldozers to forcibly build a military base in the sea,” he said referring to how the governments of Japan and the United States are pushing forward with preparation work for a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago...The governor criticized the central government for its heavy-handed approach, comparing it to the way the U.S. military confiscated land [50,000+acres, displacing 250,000 Okinawans from their homes, farms  and means of livelihood] to build bases during the U.S. occupation of Okinawa...

Onaga stated, “In theory, the former governor’s landfill approval can legally be withdrawn or cancelled. I will exercise the governor’s authority effectively. Working together with Nago Mayor, I will not allow the U.S. base to be built in Henoko. We can stop it.”
"Okinawa governor’s words on U.S. rule galvanizing base opponents,"Seinosuke Iwasaki, The Asahi, May 14, 2015:
1955 protest against US military seizures and demolition of homes, farms, and cultural properties. 
The banner says money lasts for one year, but land lasts for 10,000 years. 
(Via Asahi via the Okinawa Prefectural Archives) 

Kazuo Senaga, who heads the secretariat of a citizens group opposing U.S. bases, said he identified with Onaga when the governor said, “Okinawa has never voluntarily offered land for building a U.S. military base.” Senaga’s grandfather is Kamejiro Senaga (1907-2001), former Naha mayor who later became a member of the Lower House.

In 1956, the U.S. side attempted to effectively buy [forcibly seized privately owned] land for bases by offering to pay the lease in full, in line with what is known as the “Price Recommendations” by Congressman Melvin Price, who chaired a special subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee, House of Representatives.  

But Kamejiro’s vehement opposition to the move sparked a widespread anti-U.S. military movement on the island, forcing U.S. authorities to drop the plan. The mass protest was staged although impoverished Okinawans needed the money.
Law experts: It’s possible to cancel approval of new U.S military base construction, Ryukyu Shimpo, May 1, 2015:
...lawyer Tsutomu Arakaki said, “The landfill approval falls within the realm of statutory commissioned affairs. The Okinawa Governor has jurisdiction over this matter.” Arakaki went on to say, “It is possible to cancel the approval now, even before a third party committee set up by the Okinawa Prefectural Government has finished scrutinizing its validity.”

As well as the written opinion, the committee members filed documents on countermeasures which the Okinawa Prefectural Government could take if the Japanese government challenged the cancellation.
"Unofficial translation/summary of Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga's response to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at their April 5, 2015 meeting," TTT, April 9, 2015:
Okinawa has never voluntarily provided bases. Futenma, and all other bases, were taken with 'Bayonets and Bulldozers' while Okinawans were in concentration camps during and after the war...

It is the power of the Okinawan people... our pride, our confidence, and our thoughts for our children and grandchildren, coming together. It is impossible to build the base. And the Japanese government bears the entire responsibility for any costs associated with cancellation of this base. The world is watching this test of Japanese democracy.
Japanese photojournalism magazine DAYS JAPAN March 2015 cover story
 documents Tokyo's use of military force against Henoko residents 
protesting survey drilling  at Henoko's coral reef and dugong ecoystem, 
Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site.
(Photo: Aki Uehara)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

5.24.15 - Human Chain Rally for Henoko @Diet Building, Tokyo • Okinawan elected political leaders, John Junkerman and Catherine Jane Fisher among speakers

Okinawan elected political leaders for Henoko today in Tokyo
 (Photo: Photojournalist Ken Shindo)

The weekend has been a great weekend for peace and justice advocates. Oscar Romero was beatified.  The traditional conservative Catholic priest was assassinated (during Mass) 35 years ago, three after he became Archbishop of El Salvador—surprising many as he became the most outspoken advocate for the rural farmers under assault by a US-backed military dictatorship in El Salvador. Ireland has given full recognition and respect to our beloved LGBT family members and friends. The March Against Monsanto swept through 428 cities in countries. The Women Cross DMZ crossed the DMZ and powerfully countered the media men who would challenge their vision of peace and healing for Korea, still mired in a 65-year-war. 

And in Tokyo, today, May 24, the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament, Japanese people rallied to support Okinawa's quest for similar healing and to save one of the Ryukyu archipelago's few cultural heritage sites that survived the US-Japan ground war in Okinawa 70 years ago.  


Senator Keiko Itokazu
(Photo: Photojournalist Ken Shindo)

15,000 people gathered in Tokyo to form a human chain around the National Diet Building and to make some noise for Okinawa in protest of the Washington-Tokyo plan to landfill Okinawa's most beloved natural cultural heritage site, the coral reef and dugong ecosystem in Okinawa.

US military rape survivor, author, and visual artist Catherine Jane Fisher 

Filmmaker John Junkerman

This rally came on the heels of 3 days of mass rallies in Okinawa including the 35,000 protest in Naha last weekend. (The 35,000 official number for attendees reflects the legal limit for the stadium; according to attendees, many thousands more somehow squeezed in and ringed the facility, bringing the unofficial estimate to around 50,000...)

Speakers at today's rally in Tokyo included filmmaker John Junkerman and US military rape survivor, author and artist Catherine Jane Fisher. Junkerman's new film on Okinawa will be released in June, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the end of the US-Jp ground war in Okinawa. The Japanese translation of Fisher's book has been launched. (More on both soon, along with Gov. Onaga's visit to Hawaii and Washington this week.)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Women Cross DMZ: "Every step for peace is important!."


Via journalist Tim Shorrock: "Every step for peace is important!" "We're here because we don't believe in war!

The women who just crossed the DMZ include Suzuyo Takazato, co-founder of Okinawa Women Against Military Violence, Ann Wright), Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, an Article 9 & Okinawa supporter, Christine Ahn, a Korea scholar. This action reflects decades of cross-border interconnections between women's networks working for peace and democracy for all of East Asia and the world.

Great article by Jon Letman: "These Women Have Crossed the Line: 30 activists cross North Korea DMZ for peace":
In an historic move, a group of global feminist activists march into the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to create a space for a new type of conversation about truly ending the Korean war.

At the time of this blog post in Seoul and Pyongyang it’s already Sunday, May 24th, International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, when a group of more than 30 women are scheduled to cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at Kaesong from North Korea into South Korea. Their goal: to draw attention to Korea’s “forgotten” and unfinished war, and move toward a real peace that can reunite families and, perhaps, a divided nation...

The Korean War (officially 1950-53) stands out for its bloody toll. Some 4 million people, mostly civilians, perished. Although a “temporary” cease-fire was signed, the last 62 years have been marked by a protracted cold war defined by ongoing threats by both sides of the DMZ, decades of profligate military spending, and what is effectively a permanent state of near-war and the fear of attack. The idea to walk from North Korea into South Korea began with a dream that lead organizer Christine Ahn had several years ago. The concept grew after Ahn connected with feminist icon Gloria Steinem who took a public stand in 2011 against the militarization of South Korea’s Jeju island.

The movement evolved into WomenCrossDMZ as Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia joined Ahn, Steinem and what has grown to more than 30 women from South Korea, Japan, the US, Britain, Australia--at least 15 countries, in all.

Gwyn Kirk, a founding member of Women for Genuine Security, and one of the DMZ marchers, says WomenCrossDMZ is intended to create a space for a new type of conversation about ending the Korean war once and for all. After more than 60 years of tit-for-tat provocations, costly and dangerous brinksmanship and outright nuclear threats, Kirk says it’s time to create a different future.

That this movement is organized entirely by women is natural, says Kirk, pointing to UN Security Resolution 1325 which reaffirms “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction…”
The visionaries are being criticized by mostly male (patriarchal?) journalists who appear threatened by their move to shift the narratives dominating political commentary in East Asia from that of fear and aggression to a hope and reconciliation:
Independent investigative journalist Tim Shorrock had a different take. In an email from Seoul, he called the DMZ march “an important milestone because it runs against the grain of the militarist approach to Korea taken by the Obama administration and the hostility of the South Korean government.”

Shorrock, who has covered Korea and Japan for more than three decades, said the women’s march and symposia held in Pyongyang and later Seoul, sends a message to the North that peace and reconciliation are possible. He hopes the march will also spur the U.S. to “take measures to defuse the tense situation in Korea and adopt a more flexible approach to settling its differences with North Korea.”
Christine Ahn cuts to the chase of the tragic, absurd 60-year stalemate:
WomenCrossDMZ, Ahn says, seeks to “get to the root cause of the issue of divided families” and what she calls “crazy militarization” and “crazy repression” of democracy in both North and South Korea...

Ahn describes WomenCrossDMZ as “peace women” who want to find a peaceful resolution to the Korean stalemate. To do that, she says, requires listening, understanding, dialogue and a degree of empathy which is absent today. Dehumanizing the other side won’t bring peace, Ahn says. “It’s a tough place to be, but I really believe there is no other alternative.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tim Shorrock on the Kwanju Uprising in 1980 & Women Cross DMZ on May 24, 2015



Via our friend, journalist Tim Shorrockwho traveled to Korea this week to receive an honorary citizenship of Kwangju, and to report on the Women Cross DMZ.

On May 24, 2015, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Gloria Steinem, Christine Ahn, and Suzuyo Takazato, founder of Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, and 26 women peacemakers from around the world will walk with Korean women, north and south, to call for an end to the Korean War and for a new beginning for a reunified Korea. They will cross the 2-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) that separates millions of Korean families as a symbolic act of peace.

Tim Shorrock, the son of missionaries, grew up in Japan. His parents were colleagues of Toyohiko Kagawa, a Presbyterian minister who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his prewar and postwar peace activism in Japan and East Asia.  Shorrock is one of the most insightful and sensitive observers of Japan, Korea, and East Asia. His cross-border upbringing has given him a wide field of vision on this history, and his perspectives are always deeply grounded in humanitarian and democratic values.

His investigative reportage exposed the US role in South Korea in 1979 and 1980 when the  Carter administration supported the South Korean military "as it moved to crush the Kwangju Uprising, the largest citizens’ rebellion in the south since the Korean War ended in 1953."
As a journalist, I’ve been intimately involved with Kwangju since the first days of the uprising. In May 1980, as a student activist at the University of Oregon, I helped distribute some of the first on-scene reports of the military atrocities in Kwangju smuggled out of South Korea by Christian human rights groups and American missionaries.

Later that decade, I was one of the only journalists to visit Kwangju and document what had happened there. And over the course of the 1990s I obtained nearly 4,000 declassified documents that repudiated the official U.S. story that American officials and generals had no involvement in the events that led up to the rebellion.