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Friday, April 30, 2010

Int. Conference For a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just & Sustainable World: Challenging A-P Militarism & Arms Race TODAY in NYC



Peacemakers are gathering together at the Int. Conference For a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World meeting at the Riverside Church in New York City today and tomorrow.

Gensuikyo, Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament, American Friends Service Committee, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, the Institute for Policy Studies and Peaceboat is co-sponsoring the "Challenging Asia-Pacific Militarism and the Arms Race" session. Presenters include a Delegate from Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament, John Feffer, Joseph Gerson, Kyle Kajihiro, Melvin Won Pat-Borja, Taeho Lee, Akira Kawasaki, Yayoi Tsuchida, and Katsuma Yagasaki.

Mayors for Peace is sponsoring "The Role of Cities (Economic Jusice/Human Needs Track)." Panelist include Hiroyuki Fujita, Takashi Yoshihara, Hiroshi Shimizu, Michel Cibot, Alain Audoubert, Franck Demaumont, Kheder Kareem Mohammed, and Michael Menser.

Gensuikyo, the International Peace Bureau, and BANg are co-sponsoring "Global Hibakusha: Testimonies of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Witnesses/Survivors." Panelists include: Junko Kayashige, Matashichi Oishi, Claudia Peterson, Abbacca Anjain Madison, Kin Yongkil, Claudia Peterson, and Natalia Mironova.

The Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Peace Philosophy Center, and Vancouver Save Article 9 is co-sponsoring "Atomic Bombings and Indiscriminate Attacks on Civilians." The moderator is Satoko Norimatsu and the panelists are John Chappell, Khder Kareem, Haruko Moritaki, Yuki Tanaka, and Marilyn B. Young.

The International Network for the Abolition of Military Bases and many other groups are co-sponsoring "Winning the Withdrawal of Foreign Military Bases." The panelists include Rubens Diniz (Brazil), Kyle Kajihiro (Hawai’i), Raed Jarrar (Iraq), Oh Hye-Ran (Korea), Katsuma Yagasaki (Okinawa), Baltazar Pinguel (Philippines), Agneta Norberg (Sweden), Carlos Fernando Salamanca (Colombia), Kozue Akibayashi (Okinawa), David Vine (United States), and Melivin Wonpat-Borja (Guahan).

On May 2, people are rallying for an "International Day of Action" to say to the world and the leaders who will come to the UN for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

• We want a Nuclear Free Future!
• Fund Human Needs, Not War!
• End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!
• Protect the planet instead of destroying it with war and nuclear proliferation!

They will begin at 2:00 with a rally of speakers and performers and greetings from the international delegations. At 3:30, they will have a spirited march across town to the United Nations ending with the International Peace and Music Festival where there will be music from around the world as well as tents and tables that will provide information and organizing resources to support continuing work for a safe, nuclear-free, peaceful and just world for all!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saving Whales: Junichi & Toru, & Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd

On Earth Day, the International Whaling Commission put forward a deal that would legalize commercial whaling for the first time in a generation. This deal rewards the unenlightened governments of Iceland, Norway, and Japan for years of defying international law. It does their bidding by suspending the whaling ban for 10 years. It opens up the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to whaling. And it will not stop them from trading in whale meat or killing whales under legal loopholes like “scientific permits.”

Worse, the Obama Administration backed this proposal, which would suspend the international ban on whaling and make it legal again to kill whales for profit. Please tell the White House to oppose this deal that would legitimize the killing of whales.

It's not just open war on whales--but also on those who seek to protect these beautiful mammals. NHK reported on April 30 that the Japan Coast Guard wants to arrest Paul Watson, leader of Sea Shepherd, an organization that is organizing responses to the U.S. and IWC whale-killing agreement. Check out their site for online actions addressing these latest attacks on whales.

Australia Indymedia's "Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd criticize commercial whaling resumption proposal" details the reasons this deal--which negotiates with poachers--goes backward:
Conservationists from both Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace have attacked the proposal, "At the moment, it appears that the whales are making all the concessions, not the whalers and this proposal keeps dying whaling industries alive and not the whales." said Greenpeace Japan Programme Director Junichi Sato.

The current compromise deal being negotiated behind closed doors would halve the current quotas by Japan, Norway and Iceland and disallow new countries from whaling; all international trade in whale products would be banned; whale-watching ships would be monitored; accurate reporting of time of death and means of killing of all whales; and DNA samples of all whales killed would be reported to a central registry to assist tracking of whale meat. Limited subsistence whaling by indigenous peoples would also be allowed to continue in the United States, Greenland, Russia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Further changes are possible and the proposal must win the approval of three-quarters of the members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) at its annual meeting in Agadir, Morocco, in late June 2010.
(Greenpeace is still collecting signatures on behalf of Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, the "Tokyo Two," whose next trial starts in May.)

The First Annual Vegan Earth Day @Kyoto (Sunday, May 2nd 10-5): Interview with Chiko


  • May all living things being able to live in a world of peace and harmony.

  • That we prevent our environmental problems from getting worse so that our children may be able to keep living on this earth.

  • May we live lives in health and with beauty.
These three ideas are the inspiration behind the logo for the first ever Kyoto Vegan Earth Day to be held in Kyoto during Golden Week this year on May 2, 2010. Organized by the same people that bring us the largest vegetarian festival in Japan year after year, the Kyoto Vegetarian Festival,(see post on 2009 Vegetarian Festival) the Vegan Earth Day will focus on the relationship our diets and Mother Earth:
As you know,the world already produces more than enough food, plant sourced for everyone. We would like suggest the way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the world's livestock, among the most serious contributors to global warming. We should care about climate change because if we don't, we can’t leave our children and their children sustainable earth.

Our vegetarian festival committee have hold vegetarian(vegan) festival since 2003 every October. a rare event bringing together vegan & vegetarian-, environment-, and peace-mind people from all over the country. An event for all ages, the festival gives you place to enjoy vegetarian food and listen to music while learning about vegetarianism, the environment, and more.
According to the Vegetarian Festival website 18% of greenhouse gases originating in the livestock industry. When one beef rice bowl requires over 2 tons of water to produce, versus 120 liters for a bowl of udon, the benefits to the earth of reducing meat consumption are quite obvious.

To find out more about how Vegan Earth Day was brought to life, Kyoto resident Jennifer Teeter interviewed Iwasa Akiko (a.k.a. Chiko), who has been organizing the Vegetarian Festival since 2003 (email correspondence translated from Japanese to English).

Can you tell us a little bit about the Vegetarian and Vegan scene in Kyoto?

9 years ago, when the first Vegetarian Festival was first held, people had only heard of the word vegetarian and many thought "vegetarian" simply meant vegetables. Also, many people thought it was strange for people to chose to lead a lifestyle where they didn't eat animals for religious purposes.

However, as the years have passed, judging by the people who come to the VegFest, questionnaires, the number of vegetarian restaurants and the media attention vegetarianism has garnered, we can see that the image of vegetarians has changed.

Perhaps Kyoto and Tokyo can be considered the easiest places for vegetarians to live in all of Japan. Kyoto is well-known for the vegetarian cooking of Buddhist monks called shojin ryori, and in addition, Kyoto attracts many foreigners, so the number of restaurants in Kyoto that are conscious of the diet of vegetarians has grown.

How did the Vegan Earth Day festival come to life?

The vegetarian festival started 9 years ago, but it was already an ALL VEGAN festival. Tokyo Earth Day, the largest open-air event in Japan, is quite famous, but many of us felt a little uncomfortable at the event. Despite the presence of many wonderful booths at Earth Day selling recycled plates and silverware, eco-bags, et cetera, we wondered why was there so much food with meat in it. There were only a few vegetarian shops on the premises and it felt as if there wasn't any vegetarian food at all but just long lines for restaurants selling animal products. It was a very strange atmosphere. While it is impossible for everyone to all of a sudden become vegan, couldn't we, on Earth Day at least, go without food made from animals?

So, now that people in Japan understand what it means to be vegetarian, we hope that the next step will be that people understand what VEGAN means. We have received requests that we have a Vegetarian Festival twice a year from the many people that come and stalls at the Vegetarian festival. It is from these requests that Vegan Earth Day was born.

Over the year, do you feel that the Vegetarian Festival has had an influence on the vegetarian scene in Kyoto?

I don't think we have influenced the vegetarian scene. It is more the hard work of vegetarian restaurants, the influence of celebs from overseas, and the health boom. These and other factors have played a part and and people in Japan are increasing their understanding about vegetarianism.

What changes have you seen over the years?

Now, there is more of a positive response when people say "I am a vegetarian." You hear more often people responding with "Wow, that's cool" and "Teach me some recipes." Also, we receive lots of messages telling us how people have become vegetarian after coming to the festival and learning about environmental problems and the devastating situation of animals for the first time. A great part of this open-air event is that while eating delicious food and learning, people can have a great time and reflect on their own eating habits and ways of thinking.

Do you have any advice for people that are thinking of becoming vegetarian or vegan?

It is not that difficult. First you have to give it a try. After two weeks, your body will feel great and you won't be able to stop.

The media presents a variety of ways to be vegetarian, from macrobiotic diets to the raw food diet. But, everyone is different so you need to find the way that works for you and enjoy your vegan life. Also, be confident in how wonderful it is to find vegan friends and together expand the circle of vegan friends for the future of the earth.

Finally, what is your favorite vegan food?

I guess I am a Japanese person after all, so my favorites are miso soup with tofu and brown rice, and I like eating lots of in-season fruit.

Chiko also explained the logo for Vegan Earth Day:

The logo has three green sprouts branching out from the center. They represent:

1. All living things being able to live in a world of peace and harmony

2. Preventing our environmental problems from getting worse so that our children may be able to keep living on this earth

3. Health and beauty (this is purposefully the smallest sprout:)

We created the logo to incorporate these ideas.

Thank you Chiko for your inspiring answers! From this interview, it is clear to see that this event promises to be thought-provoking, educational, and fun. Hope to see you there!

- Jen Teeter

Network for Okinawa & JUCON place full-page ad in The Washington Post



Via the Network for Okinawa:
A full-page ad calling for the closure of the Futenma Marine Corps base and no base relocation within Okinawa prefecture has appeared in The Washington Post on April 28. This ad appears in the wake of the April 25 demonstration of nearly 100,000 Okinawans protesting the planned base relocation.

“Would You Want 30 Military Bases in Your Backyard?” reads the headline of the ad. “The new base would damage the health and safety of people and threaten a unique ecosystem that contains many rare species. This includes the Okinawan dugong, an endangered cousin of the manatee.”

The sponsors of the ad, the Network for Okinawa and the Japan-U.S. Citizens for Okinawa network, want to send a message to the Obama administration that a significant number of Americans support Okinawan concerns about the environmental and social consequences of U.S. military bases on the island. The ad challenges the prevailing consensus in Washington that the Futenma base is essential to U.S. national security.

The full-page ad coincides with a letter sent to President Obama and Prime Minister Hatoyama, signed by more than 500 organizations, that demands the immediate closure of Futenma and the cancellation of plans to relocate it to Henoko Bay. The letter can read at this link.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Protest at the Japanese Diet: Voices from the Okinawa grassroots


Yesterday morning, amidst cold and drizzly weather, more than 100 people gathered for a sit-in event at the Diet in Tokyo to demand policy changes regarding the issue of U.S. military bases in Okinawa. While a sudden downpour of rain sent many of the demonstrators temporarily scattering for cover during my time available for interviews, I was able to speak with several of them beforehand.

Okada Yoshio, a member of the Okinawa Citizens' Peace Network, told me that he and the other grassroots activists in his group had hoped to have an audience later that afternoon with officials at the U.S. Embassy to voice their concerns about American military bases in the region. The group was refused by Embassy officials, however, who said they would only meet with Okinawan lawmakers.

“While we certainly share many views with the delegation of Okinawan politicians, there are certain areas where our opinions as NGO members and citizen activists diverge from the official message,” he told me. “And since U.S. government actions have a direct impact upon average citizens, it was very disappointing that they were not willing to hear our views directly.”

While Okada and the other citizen network members considered staging a protest outside the U.S. Embassy during the official meeting, they ultimately decided upon a compromise course of action by convincing the official delegation to include one of their leaders, long-time activist Takazato Suzuyo, in the discussion with Embassy officials.


Activists Takazato Suzuyo, who also heads Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, and Okada Yoshio

“Even the official Okinawa delegation was unable to meet with top U.S. Embassy officials, who were busy attending to the hurriedly organized visit to Japan by U.S. State Department official Kurt Campbell,” Okada added. “Since this visit was arranged immediately after the anti-base rallies were announced, it is more than obvious that the U.S. strategy was to try and neutralize this outpouring of discontent by getting to Tokyo with its message first—rather than waiting until public anti-base sentiment continued to grow.”

Also participating in the sit-in were citizens from Takae Village in the lush Yanbaru Forest, where construction plans are underway for six U.S. military helipads to accommodate dangerous Osprey aircraft training. While I was unable to locate anyone from their group following the rainstorm, the pamphlet they distributed reads, in part, as follows (translation mine):
When government officials came to Takae last February to hold an “explanation meeting” for local citizens about the proposed construction, they did nothing other than repeat the same phrases again and again. They had no clear answers regarding our pointed questions about things like the Osprey helicopter deployment, the flight path, noise problems, safety, etc. This meeting accomplished nothing beyond intensifying our already existing sense of distress.

The government officials acknowledged their lack of explanation, and said they would hold another meeting—but then added that in the meantime, plans for construction would continue to move forward. Clearly, these officials have no understanding regarding why any explanation is even necessary! If they wish for a peaceful solution to the presently continuing negative cycle of “construction without explanation” vs. “citizen sit-in protest”, they must desist their violent construction plans and begin engaging us in real dialogue.
Prior to the downpour, I was also able to speak with Uehara Seishin, an uchinanchu (Okinawan) with an extremely kind demeanor who has lived in Tokyo since the age of 17, but still maintains a strong connection with his homeland. He told me about a creative peace action spearheaded in 1990 by uchinanchu from around the world. In the hopes of fighting back against the U.S. militarization of Okinawa, 500 individuals donated 10,000 yen each (around U.S. $100) to purchase a small plot of land from a sympathetic landowner inside the gates of the Futenma Air Base. The group was later sued by the Japanese Department (now Ministry) of Defense, who has been pressuring them ever since to lease the land to the government.

“The land we purchased is only around 50 or 60 cm in length—maybe the size of a single sheet of newspaper spread out—but it happens to sit right in the path of a runway guidance light,” Uehara told me. “The government wants that piece of land, and it is exerting every ounce of power that it can to try and take it from us.”



Activist Uehara Seishin, sitting in front of a banner protesting plans to relocate Futenma within Okinawa 


“I lost my father during the war—he was back in Okinawa at the time, and we don’t even know what happened to him,” continued Uehara. “I have been an activist for peace ever since, and it makes me so angry that the Japanese government continues to create this false climate of fear to justify the military-based Japan-U.S. alliance when they could legally cancel the agreement today if they wanted to.

“The Japan-U.S. relationship is so unequal and so unfair…I wish more people would wake up and see this situation for what it is.”

Citizens supporting the Okinawa protesters at the sit-in. As residents who live near the Atsugi Naval Air Station (also pictured at the top of this post), they are presently suing the Japanese government for noise pollution . “The noise is so bad that children suffer from insomnia and sometimes even nervous spasms—it is inhuman, and it just is not right,” one man told me. “We want people in the United States to know what we are suffering."

- Kimberly Hughes

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NHK: Will democracy prevail in Okinawa? • Elected representatives bring prefecture-wide protest to Tokyo


Via NHK, "Sit-in for removing Futenma base staged:"
Political leaders from Okinawa staged a sit-in near the Diet building in Tokyo on Tuesday, calling for the removal of a US military base.

About 70 people, including the mayors of Ginowan and Nago cities, and prefectural assembly lawmakers were fresh from a large anti-base rally in Okinawa on Sunday. The rally participants demanded the transfer of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station outside Okinawa, or Japan.

They sat down on the sidewalk in front of the Diet building and raised a banner to express their opposition to the relocation of the base within the prefecture.

Yoichi Iha, the mayor of Ginowan, which hosts the Futenma base said it will destroy the lives of residents in the neighborhood. He added that his city opposes the relocation of the base within Okinawa.

Iha complained that the media has been reporting that the base will eventually be moved to the Henoko area of Nago City in Okinawa but says such plan cannot be accepted.

The protestors appealed to passersby to understand the situation on Okinawa, where military facilities are heavily concentrated, placing a heavy burden on locals.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Historic Solidarity in Okinawa: NO! to New US Base!


Another great shot from a member of the great Japanese organization, Translators for Peace. She received it from a friend who attended the rally in Okinawa, and forwarded with her remarks:
For the first time in history, public officials in Okinawa were solidly united with the people. They helped distribute yellow ribbons of solidarity to people who could not attend it. Heads of all municipalities in Okinawa attended, even the governor.

I put on a yellow jacket with "Solidarity with Okinawa NO! to New US Base in Okinawa" written on the back and went around my neighbourhood, unable to attend any solidarity rally.

Great photos and report of Kyoto's Solidarity Rally for Okinawa at Deep Kyoto

Deep Kyoto has posted some great photos and a good report of the Kyoto Tea Party in support of Okinawan democracy.

NHK: Governor Nakaima calls for removal of US military base out of Okinawa

Via NHK's website: "Anti-US base rally held in Okinawa:"
Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has called on the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to move the US Futenma air station out of Okinawa.

Nakaima spoke at a massive rally in the village of Yomitan on Sunday. The participants called on the Japanese and US governments to move the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station out of Okinawa or overseas.

Nakaima said it is very unfair that US bases have remained in the prefecture long after the end of World War Two.

He said the issue does not only concern Okinawa, and he believes the enthusiasm shown at the rally will prompt both the Japanese and US governments to come up with an acceptable solution.

The 2 countries agreed in 2006 to move the Futenma air station from the crowded city of Ginowan to a coastal area near the US Camp Schwab in Nago, also in Okinawa.

The participants adopted a resolution demanding that the 2 governments give up relocating the base within Okinawa and move it out of the prefecture or overseas.

More Photos of Tokyo's April 25, 2010 Candlelight Vigil for Okinawa

From bilingual blogger Makiko Sato...







Just the start of grassroots reports on rallies in Okinawa & Tokyo...


(Photo: The Manichi Daily News)


Via  Martin Frid who attended the Tokyo vigil and helped form the first "A" in "OKINAWA" in the candle formation:
Over 90,000 in Okinawa is truly terrific for an event like this. That's a great show of strength.

SDP's Mizuho Fukushima participated at the event tonight in Tokyo in Meiji Park.

She spoke forcefully and clearly and it was good to have at least one government official there for the huge candle vigil, with candles forming letters spelling out NO BASE OKINAWA.

Lots of media were there including NTV, Asahi TV and Kyodo (in a helicopter). The Mainichi says 1,200 people participated.




(2nd and 3rd Photos: Shimura's Blog)

90,000 Okinawans attend massive April 25, 2010 rally demanding the closure of the Futenma U.S. Marine Base & opposing a "replacement" base in Henoko

From Martin Frid at Kurashi, two shots of the massive rally in Okinawa on April 25. 90,000 people attended. Many more intended to join the rally, but were stuck in traffic en route.

(Governor Nakaima addresses crowd)

From Satoko Norimatsu of Peace Philosophy Centre Blog:
Number: 90,000. With the rallies on the two other islands, 93,700. Not quite reached the goal, but significant.

My husband said: "Governor Nakaima just had a loud voice."

Nakaima made two main points: elimination of Futenma danger, and reduction of base burden of Okinawans. Both ambiguous terms. He made only one clear point though: permanent use of Futenma could not be tolerated.

People's New Party's Shimoji, the only MP who was absent (Even LDP's Shimajiri was there!!!), could say all those things too and stay politically correct.

But again, any Nakaima is better than No Nakaima.

The three mayors, Iha of Ginowan, Inamine of Nago, and Shimabuku of Uruma, all made powerful and convincing statements, pretty much what they have been saying every day.

Japanese Communist Party's head Shii was there. He was the only party head present. I am disappointed Social Democratic Party's Fukushima did not attend.

All 41 municipalities participated: 39 mayors attending and 2 their reps.

The biggest significance was that this was the first all-party rally of this magnitude in Okinawa and Japan.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Network for Okinawa Solidarity Statement for the People of Okinawa and Tokunoshima

Network for Okinawa Solidarity Statement for the People of Okinawa and Tokunoshima

We, the members of the Network for Okinawa, represent many hundreds of thousands of Americans and people around the world who support democracy and environmental protection in Okinawa. Our grassroots network draws together representatives from U.S. and international peace groups, environmental organizations, faith-based organizations, academia, and think tanks.

Today we proudly announce our stand with the governor, the mayors, the media, the Henoko village elders, and the one million citizens of Okinawa; the thirty thousand residents of Tokunoshima, and the hundreds of thousands of citizens across Japan who support Okinawa. From across the Pacific Ocean, we support their demand for the closure of the Futenma U.S. Marine Base and opposition to any new military base construction in Okinawa and Tokunoshima Island.

We appeal to Prime Minister Hatoyama to keep his promise to the Okinawan people and honor their rejection of any new construction in Camp Schwab. This includes a proposal to build a runway within the base already rejected in the 1990’s. The mayor of Nago, Inamine Susumu reiterated this rejection this year. We also ask Prime Minister Hatoyama to reject the U.S.-Japan 2006 proposal to construct partially offshore runways. This expansion would destroy the coral reef which is the home to the Okinawan dugong, blue coral, and other species, It would damage beautiful Yanbaru Forest, home of many beautiful animals and plants, including endangered species.

We call upon President Obama, as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military, to honor the Okinawan democratic decision to remove the U.S. Futenma Marine base out of their prefecture and their call for no further U.S. military base construction.

The U.S. military built its first military bases during the Battle of Okinawa to serve as a platform for an invasion into Japan, then ruled by an imperial militarist wartime regime. Over two hundred thousand Okinawan civilians, American soldiers, and Japanese soldiers died in the crossfire between the U.S. and Japan in that battle. It was the bloodiest in the Pacific War.

But the war’s end did not bring peace to Okinawa. The U.S. never dismantled its military bases and began to use them under its own Cold War military regime with a never-ending succession of enemies: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, China and the Soviet Union. Some U.S. and Japanese officials again imagine China a threat—despite détente and ever-increasing economic integration between China and the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Australia, and other nations that deems war very unlikely.

Former Okinawan governor Masahide Ota stated—that for Okinawans—the war never ended. Many Okinawans still experience anxiety and depression from wartime trauma. The remains of 4,000-5,000 dead Okinawans have yet to be collected. Unexploded bombs remain throughout the island. Over 5,000 Okinawans have been the victims of crimes committed by American soldiers. Mr. Ota, therefore, asks: “Why shall we start preparing for a new war, while the old war is not over yet?”

Network member Peter Galvin, Conservation Director of the Center for Biological Diversity states, “Destroying the environmental and social well-being of an area, even in the name of 'national or global security,' is itself like actively waging warfare against nature and human communities.”

The US government has repeatedly promised reform in Okinawa. The 1972 "reversion" of Okinawa from the U.S. to Japan did not result in promised demilitarization. Their latest proposal—first made in 1996 and renegotiated in 2006—does not “lighten a burden.” It instead would move U.S. military pollution, noise, and assaults from Ginowan City to untouched Henoko.

How many elections, resolutions, and mass-scale rallies does the Japanese government and US government need before they hear the message of the Okinawan people?

We, the many people in the U.S. and worldwide, of the Network for Okinawa--hear and support these messages for removal, not relocation of military bases from Okinawa.

To illustrate, we would like to share some individual remarks from our supporters:

Gavan McCormack, a professor at Australian National University, states, "An alliance that treats the opinion of Okinawans with such contempt is not an alliance of or for democracy. The ‘free world’ used to be fiercely critical of Moscow for trampling on the opinions of Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians; now, in the name of ‘freedom,’ it is about to act in precisely the same way. Does freedom mean so little to those who pretend they defend it?"

John Lindsay-Poland, Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation’s Latin America program, states: "Military bases in Japan and other countries are material projections of the will of the U.S. to use war and violent force. War is not only brutal, unjust, and ecologically devastating, but unnecessary to achieve legitimate aims.”

Kyle Kajihiro, Program Director, American Friends Service Committee - Hawai'i Area Office, states: "The powerful Okinawan demand is clear: peace is a human right. The Okinawan people are an inspiration to our own movement. We stand with them in solidarity for peace across the Pacific."

In a speech she gave in Stockholm, Japanese Canadian author Joy Kogawa paid tribute to Okinawa’s peace-loving traditional culture that honors the sanctity of life:

“There is a certain small island in the east, where the world’s longest living and intensely peaceable people live.

“My brother, a retired Episcopalian priest, was in Okinawa for a few years in the 1990’s. He told me that in 1815, Captain Basil Hall of the British navy steamed into Naha, Okinawa and was amazed at what he found. The story goes, that on his way back to England, he dropped in to the island of St. Helena and had a chat with Napoleon.

“’I have been to an island of peace,’ the captain reported. ‘The island has no soldiers and no weapons.’

“’No weapons? Oh, but there must be a few swords around,’ Napoleon remarked.

“’No. Even the swords have been embargoed by the king.’

“Napoleon, we’re told, was astonished. ‘No soldiers, no weapons, no swords! It must be heaven.’

“A unique culture of peace had developed in one tiny part of our warring planet…

“When Japan, that once warring nation, took over the kingdom, there was an entirely bloodless coup. No soldiers were found to help later with the invasion of Korea. A disobedient people, Japan concluded. A kingdom without soldiers was clearly impossible. Okinawa, with its history of peace, must surely have had a culture as close to heaven as this planet has managed. And perhaps therefore a special target for the forces of hate.”

Today our world stands at a crossroads between survival and self-destruction. We must transform from a world dominated by a culture of war into a world led by cooperation and nonviolent conflict resolution. Instead of forcing more unwanted military violence upon this peaceful island, the U.S. and Japan would be wise to model Okinawa’s democratic culture of life.

PM Hatoyama on eve of historic Okinawan rally: Building a base — with runways that would destroy a fragile marine habitat — would be "blasphemy against nature."

AFP reports that Prime Minister Hatoyama has ruled out the 2006 Bush-Koizumi agreement to build a U.S. military base in an environmentally sensitive area of Okinawa. Their proposal called for the destruction of the habitat of the federally protected Okinawan dugong, a critically endangered species.
Japan's premier ruled out a plan for a new US airbase on Okinawa island Saturday, on the eve of a mass rally against the planned facility, in a row that has soured ties with Washington for months.

The centre-left Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama last year launched a review of a 2006 pact to move an unpopular US base from a crowded city area of the southern island to a quieter coastal area, where locals also oppose it.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that Tokyo had agreed to broadly stick with the original plan, in an online report published a day before 100,000 people on Okinawa were expected to protest against the US military presence.

Hatoyama, whose approval ratings have dived into the 20-percent range amid the long-festering row, denied the report and said he rejected the plan to build the replacement US airbase in Okinawa's coastal area of Henoko.

"It must never happen that we accept the existing plan," Hatoyama told reporters in televised comments, effectively scrapping the agreement to move the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma there in coming years.

Building the new base — with runways that would destroy a fragile marine habitat — would be "blasphemy against nature," Hatoyama said, according to the Jiji Press news agency.

The comments were the latest twist in an issue that started when Hatoyama's government took power in September, ending more than half a century of conservative rule and vowing "more equal" relations with Washington.

Hatoyama and his left-leaning allies pledged to ease the burden of the people of Okinawa, who have since World War II hosted a heavy US military presence and often complained of noise and frictions with American soldiers...

Congressman Dennis Kucinich: Message of Solidarity with Japanese people

Statement of Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich Message of Solidarity with the Japanese People—U.S. Military Bases in Japan—Saturday, April 25, 2010
The residents of Okinawa, Japan, have long expressed their opposition to the realignment of the U.S. military base in Okinawa. Earlier this year, their strong opposition was manifest in their recent overwhelming vote for Susumu Inamine as mayor--the candidate that campaigned on a promise that the U.S. military base would not be constructed in Nago.

Last week I sent a letter to the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, expressing my concern over the plan to move the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Futenma, Okinawa, Japan to Nago. As the Marine Corps prepares to move their operations to Nago, completely absent from the discussion is the perspective of the local residents.

I believe that the election of Mayor Inamine was an important symbolic victory for the Okinawan people n their heroic struggle for the preservation of their environment and economic livelihood. The concerns of the residents of Okinawa must be taken into consideration—their strong opposition to the relocation of the military base, as well as the envrionmental and economic damage that would result from the construction of a new military base, cannot be brushed aside. The fragile coral reef that provides natural habitat for local marine life, as welll as economic livelihood for local fishermen is at risk.

I will continue to support the efforts of the people of Okinawa to ensure that their concerns are heard in the Congress of the United States, and to advocate for the preservation of their land and environment.

Friday, April 23, 2010

From Yumi Kikuchi to the People of Okinawa, Jeju, Guam, Hawaii & Vicenza: May all the Bases on Earth be turned into organic gardens for people



Japanese writer and peace activist Yumi Kikuchi rightly argues that if Japan didn't financially support the U.S. wars, which it does in various ways, then the world will become more peaceful. This point cannot be emphasized too much.
May All the Bases on Earth be turned into organic gardens and parks for people

Dear People of Okinawa, Jeju, Guam, Hawaii and Vicenza ,

I am sending my photo with one of my children to show my solidarity to your action on April 25, 2010. Imagine all the bases on Earth turned into organic gardens and parks for people!

Imagine Peace, Imagine Ministries and Departments of Peace in all nations.

love and peace, Yumi Kikuchi
Author, peace and environmental activist
from her organic farm in Chiba.

Etsumi Tahira of Henoko: Please wear yellow on April 25, 2010 in solidarity with Okinawa--"Non-War Ryukyu Kingdom"

Via Etsumi Tahira of Henoko:
I hear Japanese Self Defense Forces bases throughout Japan are under the joint use with US forces.Those who visit Henoko talk about their anxiety about this situation.

Does the Japanese central government think that Japan is safe as long as it is a subject state under the US power?

I do an early morning sit-in in front of the gate of Camp Schwab every Friday, then later go to Henoko Beach to conduct a vigil there.

On the occasion of such morning sit-ins, about 90 banners are tied to the fence.   American soldiers soon try to cut or burn them. Then we take them away and bring them back.  

I bring to the sit-in site a flag in which I wrote the Chinese letters stating "non-war Ryukyu Kingdom."

At the planned rally on 25th by inhabitants of Okinawa Prefecture, we are supposed to show our consolidated will by using the color of yellow.  Those who cannot come over will do the same, wearing something yellow.

I'll go, with a yellow parasol, wearing a white dress of my own making, with a lot of messages on it written in yellow water-paint.

Don't Force Bases onto Okinawa! - Open Air Tea Party (3pm) • Rally (5pm) • Demo (6pm) in Kyoto-- Sunday, April 25th!


Give the U.S. and Japanese governments a YELLOW CARD!

Yellow-garbed, peace-loving people will gather together on Sunday, April 25th in Honolulu, Washington D.C., and Tokyo in solidarity with the 100,000 person strong rally that will be held in Okinawa opposing the continued presence of military bases.

On the same day, Kyoto Action against bases in Henoko and Futenma is also organizing a simultaneous action along the Kamo River in Kyoto City. For more information about the activities of Kyoto Action, click here to see a previous Ten Thousand Things post.

In the spirit of ensuring that all voices and opinions are heard with respect and compassion, there will be a river-side Open Air Tea Party where participants can exchange their thoughts on the military build up in Okinawa and the world. Participants will also have the chance to create origami of the endangered dugong, one of the beautiful cousins of the sea cow whose habitat will be destroyed should the U.S. military succeed in inundating Henoko Bay with concrete to build a new base.

Should you not be able to make it to the Tea Party, check out this video of how to make the dugong and learn more about the actions of the Osaka and Tokyo-based Save the Dugong Campaign Center watch the following video:
http://www.youtube.com/user/SDCCDugong#p/a/f/1/SttDlaai4M8

The Tea Party will be followed by a rally and then a demo through the sakura streets of Kyoto. Join us in raising our voices against continued military occupation and expansion!

Open Air Tea Party

Time: 3-5pm
Place- Along the Kamo River near Sanjo Street

Activities: Discussion, origami, sanpin tea, and sata andagi (sweet Okinawan buns)


Mouth-watering Sata andagi
Attire



Wear Yellow (In solidarity with the Okinawa people )



Rally
Time- 5pm
Location- Along the Kamo River near Sanjo Street

Demo  Departure
Time- 6pm
Location- Start at Kamo river near Sanjo, end at Maruyama Park

For more information, call Kyoto Action at: 090-2359-9278

Supporting Organizations*

Group Chanpuru (ぐるーぷちゃんぷる)
Kyoto Resident Uchinanchu Group (京都在住うちなーんちゅの会)
Kyoto Association of people from Okinawa Prefecture (京都沖縄県人会)
Kyoto Peace Constitution Organization (平和憲法の会・京都)
Kyoto Organization for a Nuke and  Base-free Okinawa (核も基地もない平和な沖縄をめざす京都の会(京都沖縄の会))
Ainu Okinawa wo Kangaeru Kai (アイヌ・沖縄を考える会)
Anti-war Senior Club- Kyoto (反戦老人クラブ・京都)
Kyoto Co-op Workers Club (京都生協の働く仲間の会)
US for Okinawa
and many more...

(*Note, theses are my English translations of the organizations' names and are not official.

-Jen Teeter

Historic United Okinawa Prefectural Rally April 25, 2010: ""Move Futenma Outside of Okinawa out of the prefecture, out of the country!"


Via Satoko Norimatsu's Peace Philosophy Centre Blog:
100,000 Okinawans are expected to show up at the Okinawa Prefecture Rally on April 25, at Yomitan Sports Park. Above is the flyer, which reads:

"Move Futenma Outside of Okinawa out of the prefecture, out of the country! Express our determination to Japanese and U.S. Governments!"

April 25 Prefecture Citizens' Rally

• To call for immediate closure and return of Futenma Air Station

• To Oppose inter-prefectural relocation

• To call for out-of-country or out-of-prefecture relocation

Location: Yomitan Sports Park

Let's All Go There!

3:00 PM, April 25 (Sunday)
Rain or Shine

Mayors of 37 out of 41 municipalities of all the Okinawa islands will attend the rally. The four remaining mayors, of the islands of Kumejima, Ishigaki, Ginoza, and Tokashiki, will send their representative, if not attend themselves.

Governor Nakaima, after vacillating, finally decided to attend. According to NHK News at noon on April 23, Nakaima was reported as saying, "I hesitated to make a decision while the Japanese government had not made a decision; but I decided it was a good opportunity to express my opinion about the over-burden of bases by Okinawa."

DPJ's Cabinet Secretary Hirano pressured Nakaima not to attend, but Hirano, knowing Nakaima's decision, said, "It is the Governor's choice."

April 18 Ryukyu Shimpo quotes:

Inamine Susumu, Mayor of Nago: "I have been saying not only the Henoko Shore plan but also the Camp Schwab in-land plan was unacceptable. I want to show the power of our opposition."

Shimabukuro Toshio, Mayor of Uruma ( White Beach): "I want the government to show a policy consistent with their election pledge."

Iha Yoichi, Mayor of Ginowan (Futenma Air Station): "The U.S. is planning to move Futenma's helicopter units to Guam. I want the Government not just to talk about building an alternative base, but to explain to the people of Japan and to the parliament what the U.S. plan is about."

The rally starts at 3 PM, but Makishi Yoshikazu, an Okinawan architect and blogger says: "Starting as early as noon, there will be songs and performances by young people. Let us get a bottle of water and leave home by 10 AM."

Many municipalities, including Ginowan City, will arrange free shuttle buses for the convenience of rally-goers.

Those who cannot attend are encouraged to wear or have something yellow to show solidarity.

There is no doubt that it will be a historic event, with the Governor and all the municipal leaders on a united front of the hundreds of thousands of people of Okinawa.


琉球新報 4月18日

「普天間」県民大会、37首長参加へ 全市町村で「県内反対」2010年4月18日

普天間飛行場移設市町村長コメント(クリックで拡大)
 読谷村運動広場で25日午後3時から開催される米軍普天間飛行場の国外・県外移設を求める県民大会に県内37市町村長が参加する。17日までの琉球新報の調べに対し意向を表明した。代理参加や日程調整中の自治体も合わせると、全41市町村の代表らが大会に参加して「県内移設反対」の意志を発信する見通しだ。33市町村議会も議長の参加など、組織的な結集を呼び掛けている。各首長からは「首相は最低でも県外の公約を守ってほしい」「日米安保の負担を沖縄だけに押し付けるな」など、政府に県外移設実現を求める声が相次いでいる。
 41市町村のうち、石垣、宜野座、久米島3市町村は代理参加。渡嘉敷村は参加の方向で検討している。
 稲嶺進名護市長は「辺野古の海はもとより、陸上にも新基地建設はだめだと訴えてきた。辺野古に戻って来ないか心配だが、『それはまかりならん』というパワーを見せつけたい」と大会への決意を示す。
 島袋俊夫うるま市長は「与勝海上案の地域は、企業立地促進法に基づく観光・海洋振興の場。目的から矛盾する。政府は公約通り納得のいく方針を示してほしい」と厳しく指摘した。
 伊波洋一宜野湾市長は「米軍の計画ではグアムに普天間のヘリ部隊が移転することは明らかで、政府は基地探しに終始せず、今の移転計画をきちんと国民や国会に対しても明らかにすべきだ」と強調した。

沖縄タイムス 4月23日

仲井真弘多知事は23日午前、4・25県民大会への出席を正式に決め、県政与党の自民党県連と公明党県本幹部、大会実行委員会事務局に伝えた後、定例会見で発表した。仲井真知事は出席の理由を「私の考えを県民や県外に申し上げるのにちょうど良い機会だ」と説明した。県民大会でのあいさつの内容について「私は日米安全保障条約を認める立場だが、沖縄はあまりにも負担が過剰。負担を全国で担い不公平感の解消に取り組んでほしい」と述べる考えを示した。

 仲井真知事が県民大会に出ることで、米軍普天間飛行場の移設先の見直し作業を進めている鳩山政権に対し、県民が県内移設反対と、県外・国外を求める声が一層高まることになる。実行委の新里米吉事務局長は「オール沖縄の環境が整った。県内反対、国外・県外を訴えよう」と述べた.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

OKINAWAN SOLIDARITY: Gov. Nakaima officially decides to attend & will make a speech at mass rally in Okinawa!

Another up-to-the-second report from Satoko Norimatsu of Peace Philosophy Centre:
You may not believe me any more, but Governor Nakaima officially decided to attend and give a speech at the prefectural rally on April 25th.

No matter how indecisive, any governor is better than no governor. His presence will make a difference, and clearly communicate that the whole Okinawa is on a united front.

The Earth Can't Afford Mo War Any More! World People's Conference on Climate Change & the Rights of Mother Earth • Carbon Footprint of War


On April 22, people from around the world will converge in Cochabamba, Bolivia on Earth Day to promote real solutions and a human rights approach to the climate crisis.

The World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth will push the world's leading carbon emitters, who promote unjust and false solutions such as carbon offsets, stricter binding carbon reductions and reparations for industrial-driven environmental destruction, to change course in preparation for the next round of UN Climate talks which will take place this December in Cancun, Mexico.

A major piece of the climate crisis that is not often discussed is the impact or carbon footprint of the US military. Did you know that the US military burns 3.5 million gallons of fuel every day on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? United for Peace and Justice member, the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice , has put together a great little Earth Day flier connecting climate destruction and war.

Lets amplify the voices of the people in Bolivia and make the connection between war and climate crisis during this years Earth Day events. Please Download a UFPJ version of the flier here and distribute it at Earth Day events in your community!

For a good article on the Peoples Conference: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/14-3
Download UFPJ "Carbon Footprint Of War" flyer

Long-time UFPJ member group Global Justice Ecology Project will be providing media support for the North America the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance-Indigenous Environmental Network delegation is attending with the aim of amplifying the perspectives of frontline communities resisting the impacts of climate change. Information will be posted on the Climate Connections blog: climatevoices.wordpress.com

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NO BASE! OKINAWA Candle Action Event in Meiji-Koen, Tokyo - April 25, 2010



A mass rally will be held in Okinawa on April 25, with people gathering from all over the prefecture and Japan.

They are demanding that no more bases be forced on Okinawa!

In solidarity, people from throughout Japan will gather together to spell out with candles the message "NO BASE! OKINAWA" and send their support to the Okinawan people.

4月25日に沖縄で「島ぐるみ」の県民大会が行われます。
これ以上沖縄に基地を押しつけないでほしい!
その思いをキャンドルに託して、人文字をつくります。
〝NO BASE! OKINAWA〟
この日、日本全国が沖縄に呼応します。
この日、沖縄に行けない方、明治公園に集まって下さい。

☆集会名:「沖縄に基地はいらない」全国同時アクション
NO BASE! OKINAWA ~キャンドルで人文字をつくろう!

☆日 時:4月25日(日)18時~
APRIL 25th, from 6 pm

☆場 所:明治公園 新宿霞岳町、渋谷区千駄ヶ谷一丁目

☆アクセス:JR「千駄ヶ谷」下車 徒歩5分
地下鉄大江戸線「国立競技場」(E25)下車 徒歩2分
地下鉄銀座線「外苑前」下車徒歩15分

☆内 容:歌、スピーチ、キャンドルによる人文字
※当日、キャンドル代(orペンライト代)として500円程度のカンパにご協力ください!

☆主催:「沖縄に基地はいらない」全国同時アクションTokyo
☆協賛:沖縄一坪反戦地主会関東ブロック/WORLD PEACE  NOW

☆連絡先:no_base-owner@yahoogroups.jp

☆ Event:
Simultaneous actions for a base-free Okinawa
Candle event spelling out "NO BASE! OKINAWA"

☆ Date: April 25, 2010 (Sunday)

☆ Time: From 6 pm

☆ Place: Meiji Park, Sendagaya Icchome / Shinjuku Kasumigaokamachi

☆ Access: 5 mins walk from Sendagaya station, JR Sobu Line
2 mins walk from Kokuritsu Kyogijo station, Oedo Subway Line
15 mins walk from Gaienmae station, Ginza subway line

☆ Contents: songs, speeches, candle action
※ Donations of 500 yen for candles requested!

☆ Organised by Simultaneous actions for a base-free Okinawa Tokyo
☆ Co-sponsored by the Kanto Block of landowners against military bases and WORLD PEACE NOW

☆ Contact: no_base-owner@yahoogroups.jp


★ Appeal ★

Next April 25, a people's gathering will be held in Okinawa to call for the closure of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma,the return of the land, and to oppose construction of another base elsewhere in Okinawa,

The US-Japan Security Pact signed by the mainland Japanese government resulted in Japan's consent of allowing the U.S. to force its unwanted military bases on the people of Okinawa. The U.S. bases have damaged Okinawa's rich environment, and created daily issues: noise pollution, accidents and crime, and the linked dangers of war.

The problems of the bases in Okinawa are not Okinawa's problem. They are, instead, a problem of those of us from the mainland who are forcing this burden onto the people of Okinawa.

We must seriously consider this issue now--more than ever.

If no site in mainland Japan is willing or planning to accept the bases in its own territory, then this burden must not be forced onto Okinawa. We cannot push the problem around within Okinawa and pretend that we are not aware that this is happening.

The U.S. Marine Corps must withdraw, and the Futenma Air Station must be closed.

The people of Okinawa are united in their opposition to the forced placement of the Futenma base in Okinawa.

On April 25, on the same day as their prefectural event, actions will be held simultaneously throughout Japan and hopefully the world to join our voices together with Okinawa in solidarity to oppose new base construction in Okinawa.

This action is being called for by a coalition of well-known Japanese individuals, including university professors, authors, artists, lawyers, educators, commentators, musicians and representatives of NGOs including Peace Boat, WWF Japan and Greenpeace Japan.

Citizens around the world are also called upon to hold events on the same day, and send messages and photos in support
and solidarity.

We thank you for your cooperation!

▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼△▼

Tokyo Event to send our message to the April 25 Okinawan People's Gathering

★ A demonstration will be held after the event
Date: April 25 (Sun), from 3 pm
Place: Miyakezaka Hall, Shakai Bunka Kaikan
(4 mins from Nagatacho Station, Yurakucho/Hanzomon Line)

Organised by the Kanto Block of landowners against military bases.
Co-sponsored by the Organising Committee against base construction in Henoko

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Military experts question U.S. Marine presence in Okinawa

Military analysts question the need for a U.S. Marine presence in Okinawa in "Okinawan marines said dispensable," published in The Japan Times a couple of days ago.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Koohan Paik describes human and environmental costs of US military build-up in Guam & the A-P: "Living at the tip of the spear"

Hawai'i-based filmmaker Koohan Paik's "Living at the 'Tip of the Spear'" makes clear the devastating environmental and human costs of proposed U.S. miliatary expansion plans in Guam and the Asia-Pacific. Published in the May 3, 2010 edition of The Nation:
I was born in Pasadena in 1961 but raised in South Korea and other Pacific Rim locales, finally settling in Hawaii. During my coming-of-age years, between 1971 and 1982, my family lived on a beautiful small island in the western Pacific: lush jungles, remote waterfalls and mysterious freshwater caves. I remember riding horses through abandoned coconut groves and balmy nighttime spearfishing in some of the most abundant reefs in the world.

That place was Guam, at the southern tip of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US colony.

Many people think of Guam only as a giant military base, the nexus of US forward operations in the Pacific islands--"the tip of the spear," as the Pentagon calls it. That has certainly become its primary fate. The base occupies fully a third of the island and is off-limits to civilians, including the indigenous Chamorro people, who claim the oldest civilization in the Pacific. Even during my childhood, though I barely noticed it at the time, there was the constant background drone of B-52s roaring overhead to and from Vietnam, and submarines cruising the coasts. Such is the island's current trauma, after an agonized history that has included repeated invasions and four occupations of varying degrees of brutality over four centuries--by Spain, Japan and twice by the United States.

Despite these serial humiliations, the Chamorros--a unique mélange of Micronesian, Spanish and Asian bloodlines--have always maintained optimism, courage and a resilient sense of humor. So far, they have successfully navigated their delicate existence as traditional peoples on a Pacific island, while also trying to play supportive roles--as nonvoting "citizens" in a US colony, even patriotic active soldiers--for their current master. But now they're going to need all the resiliency they can muster to deal with the next blow the United States has in store.

I returned to Guam for a monthlong visit with old friends this past November. I was stunned to find the forests of my childhood being replaced by tarmac at an alarming rate; the remaining wild beaches and valleys being surveyed as potential live-fire shooting ranges; and an enormous, magnificently rich coral reef slated for dredging in order to build a port for the Navy's largest aircraft carrier. I witnessed the rage and hurt, exploding suddenly--and so unexpectedly--from the Chamorro people and other island residents, who have had no say in the planning of cataclysmic changes that will turn their homeland into an overcrowded waste dump for the creation of the hemisphere's pre-eminent military fortress.

My friends told me it's all part of what's called the Guam Buildup.

Though technically Americans, people born in Guam have few American rights if they choose to live in their homeland. They can't vote for president; they have only one, nonvoting representative in Congress, and Congress can overturn any law passed by Guam's legislature. The island remains one of only sixteen UN-designated "non-self-governing territories"--in other words, colonies. As such, its people have no legal route to appeal any decisions made in Washington. A burgeoning resistance movement is under way, which the military is well aware of. They have hopes that a visit by President Obama, twice postponed and now set for June, will help ease the growing agitation. Given the mood of the people, I doubt Obama can calm anything.

The upcoming changes are all aimed at fulfilling a Pentagon vision set forth in its 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review. The "Guam Buildup [will] transform Guam," says the report, "the westernmost sovereign [sic] territory of the United States, into a hub for security activities in the region," intended to "deter and defeat" regional aggressors. Guam will be ground zero for mega-militarization in the Pacific and beyond. John Pike of Globalsecurity.org, a Washington-based think tank, hypothesizes that the military's goal is to be able "to run the planet from Guam and Diego Garcia [an Indian Ocean atoll owned by Britain] by 2015," "even if the entire Eastern Hemisphere has drop-kicked" the United States from every other base on their territory.

The swell of US military activity in the Pacific is not confined to Guam. All across the hemisphere, island communities are inflamed over a quiet, swift rearrangement and expansion of US bases throughout the Pacific--on Okinawa (Japan); on Jeju (a joint US-South Korea effort); on Tinian (in the same archipelago as Guam, but part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands); on Kwajalein and the rest of Micronesia; and on the Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Big Island and Kauai. The US Pacific Command calls it an Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy. These imperial intentions have barely registered in the American media, despite gargantuan expenditures and plans. Nonetheless, this projection of American colonial assumptions and aggression is taking its toll throughout the Pacific Rim...

NO MORE US MILITARY BASES IN OKINAWA -- Rally on April 25, 2 p.m. in front of the Japanese Embassy, Washington D.C.

Network for Okinawa:  Please come and oppose new US military expansion in Okinawa!

What: To protest a new US military base in Okinawa (Japan)
When: April 25th, Sunday at 2 pm
Where: In front of the Japanese Embassy
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008

The new Japanese government, pressured by the US, seems to be leaning toward building a new US military base on Okinawa, which is a tropical island in Japan. The people of Okinawa, who already host more than 30 U.S. bases, don't want another base that will further destroy the beautiful natural environment of their island.

Okinawans are planning to hold a rally of 100,000 people against the US bases in Okinawa on April 25th. The people of Washington, DC will show our solidarity with the Okinawans with our own rally, in front of the Japanese embassy on Sunday, April 25 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Become a fan on our Facebook page

● The Network for Okinawa (NO) is a grassroots network that draws together representatives from US-based peace groups, environmental organizations, faith-based organizations, and think tanks.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Love Harukaze 2010: Music festival-goers feel the love; explore issues of peace and sustainability


For the second year in a row during the first weekend of April, amidst cherry blossoms at their peak and near-perfect (if slightly chilly) weather, the Spring Love Harukaze festival transformed Tokyo's Yoyogi Park into a space of positive energy and peaceful vibes.

The event featured some of Japan’s top musical talent, as well as a series of talk sessions related to various peace and environmental issues. In addition, the festival included a flea market with natural and eco-related goods, food stalls with organic and various world cuisines, tents with information from peace and environmental NPOs/NGOs, a DJ tent where young dancers enjoyed chilled-out grooves, and jam sessions/performances spontaneously organized by festival-goers that cropped up all over the venue throughout the weekend.

The festival was the result of a collaboration between Harukaze organizers, who put on rave parties of the same name in Yoyogi Park during the 1990s, together with the volunteer collective Peace Not War Japan, which organizes events combining music and peace. By bringing back the festival as Spring Love: Harukaze and including the educational component, their goal expanded to encourage festival attendees—including youth who may never before have thought about these social topics—to consider war, militarism, peace and sustainability.
Masudo Ikue and Peace Not War Japan coordinator Fukui Hiroshi

One speaker was Masudo Ikue, a television and film actor, well-known by her former stage name, Takagi Saya. While still making occasional public appearances, she decided in 2008 to scale back her work to focus on natural pursuits such as running her own beachside eco-gallery, growing some of her own food, and free-diving (she is a champion record-holder in Hawaii!).

“The modern capitalist system that we live in encourages us to spend our energy gathering material possessions while gradually drifting further and further away from nature and healthy ways of living, ” Ikue declared. “It is up to each one of us to look deep inside and reconnect with our own deepest selves to see what we truly want out of this life.”

Another discussion, titled “Building sustainable, non-militarized economies: examples of organic, small-scale, community-based alternatives to a military-dependent economy,” featured three well-known peace and environmental activists and offered a similar message.

“When you structure your life the way the capitalist system demands—working as a slave to one single company—your individuality has absolutely no meaning, since the instant you are gone, you will simply be replaced by another cog in the wheel,” explained speaker Tanaka Yu. “The recipe for happiness is to be in control of your life by diversifying your income sources, and always doing what you want to do rather than what some boss is telling you to do.”

Panelist Kosaka Masaru, a thirtysomething who runs his own organic café/bar and grows his own soybeans and rice, said that his greatest happiness is listening to great music and cooking tasty, healthy food.

Also on the panel was writer, translator, and activist Kikuchi Yumi, whose family lives in a restored farmhouse and grows all of their own organic vegetables and rice. She emphasized that growing one’s own food is as easy as starting with one simple herb planter at home; anyone can do it. She also described the local currency system in her region of Awa, southern Chiba, where residents may buy certain products using “Awa Money" in addition to Japanese yen.

“This kind of local currency movement is the basis for building peaceful societies, as opposed to what happens with Japan’s major banks—where money in peoples’ savings accounts are used without their knowledge to purchase things like cluster bombs used in U.S. wars,” concluded Tanaka, who also serves as executive director of the Mirai Bank (“Bank of the Future”)—a model for other sustainable community projects such as the Artist Power Bank. “We have the power to create peaceful societies by choosing how and where we use our money.


Supporters of Takae Village, Okinawa, portraying the kuina bird that is endangered by U.S. military base construction in Yanbaru, a subtropical rainforest in northern Okinawa 

The third talk session also focused closely on creating alternatives to existing ills. Titled “Listen to citizens' voices: No more wasteful, destructive construction projects!," the panel discussion featured speakers from groups working to save Mt. Takao from a highway tunnel; stop the construction of a nuclear power plant in Kaminoseki, on the Inland Sea; and protect the lush Takae Village in Okinawa’s Yanbaru forest from construction of U.S. military training helipads. In the latter case, the Japanese government has brought a lawsuit against villagers who organized to stage a nonviolent sit-in protest against the construction.

“The role of a government is supposed to be protecting its citizens, but the Japanese government is clearly doing the opposite by exposing locals to these helipads, which carry very real risks of accidents using the unstable, dangerous Osprey aircraft,” explained Peace Not War Japan coordinator Fukui Hiroshi. He organized the panel to create solidarity among various domestic movements, all facing a common goal: to protect human beings and nature alike from militarism’s endless capacity for destruction.

The event’s final talk session, titled “Why should Japan's Constitutional Article 9 (the peace clause) be protected?,” considered the ways in which governments should function--as opposed to how they often do in reality. “With Japan’s peace constitution in danger, we must also look at other examples of peace constitutions at work, such as the case of Ecuador, which successfully ousted a U.S. military base,” said panel moderator and Peace Boat staff member Matsumura Masumi.

“Japan must protect its peace constitution in order to avoid becoming a country like the United States, where systematic poverty results in young people being shipped off to fight destructive wars,” agreed freelance journalist Shiva Rei, a firsthand observer of war and violent occupation areas like Iraq and Gaza. “We must also do what we can to solve other related problems, such as making sure that we use natural energy sources rather than nuclear power—something that requires that we act on both personal and social/political levels.”


Panelists Shiva Rei, Kamebuchi Yuka and Matsumura Masumi 
discussing issues related to Japan's Constitutional Article 9

"This kind of topic might not come naturally for some of us,” concluded the third panelist Kamebuchi Yuka, a gospel singer and director of the Harukaze planning committee.“But one thing that every single one of us here can do is to go home tonight and talk to others about what we heard here at this festival. Another thing we can do is to get educated about the constitutional change election that is coming up next month.”

The event featured two stages: the main Spring Stage, where most musical acts and peace talks took place; and the smaller, cozier Love Stage, which housed DJs, smaller musical acts, and presentations from representatives of several of the NPOs and NGOs in attendance. One group was US for Okinawa, composed mostly of foreign residents in Japan committed to demonstrating their support for the halt of U.S. military expansion in Okinawa. The group organized a booth at the event with a photo exhibition, FAQ sheet, and petition that show the destructive impact of U.S. military bases. Coincidentally, many of the network's core members were actually on a study tour to visit U.S. bases in Okinawa on the very same weekend as Spring Love—their report of their fruitful tour may be read here.

 

Another speaker on the Love Stage was Clara Shinobu Iura, a Japanese-Brazilian who is one of the 13 indigenous grandmothers featured in the film For the Next Seven Generations. It recounts how the women came together from around the world to impart their knowledge and healing wisdom to younger generations before it is too late.

“I was warned by my sister to be careful when visiting Mt. Fuji, because I am such a sensitive person and might be susceptible to particular energies there,” Iura told festival listeners. “Well, that is exactly what happened…it was as if the mountain was speaking to me, and telling me to dedicate my life to trying to save the earth.”

Iura, who is now a practicing shaman in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil, will visit Amami Oshima island in southern Japan with the other grandmothers this coming October for a festival event, where they will conduct healing prayers and workshops. More information is available about the grandmothers’ project here.

 
Clara Shinobu Iura, seated right

Many other organizations participated—including From Earth, an ecology/fair trade shop promoting organic lifestyles; and the nonprofit groups Habitat for Humanity and Natural House, partnering to spearhead a unique fundraiser for survivors of the earthquake in Haiti by selling handmade bricks for ¥500 in a project simulating the construction of new homes.





Many of the performing artists echoed messages onstage supporting the spirit of the event. “Even if we feel we cannot make a difference on a large scale with our individual actions, it is still important to live every single moment with purpose and clarity; this in itself is a step toward creating a peaceful world,” said the spokesperson for Gocoo, a phenomenal 11-piece wadaiko (Japanese drum) ensemble.



The event’s closing artist, Sandii Bunbun, offered one of the most striking stage performances of the entire weekend. An internationally-known rock singer who collaborated with many famous artists during the 1970's and 80's using various stage names, Sandii—who grew up in Hawai’i—returned to her roots some years ago by performing more Hawai’ian music, and also earning the rank of Kumu Hula (hula master).


春風2010 SANDII~SandiiBunbun with Earth Conscious and Hula All 

After purifying the energy of the space, Sandii began her set by singing and drumming several numbers dedicated to Pele, the Hawai’ian goddess of passion and fire, while flanked by a troupe of her dancing students, known as the Hula All Stars. This was followed by an energetic set with her band, Earth Consciousness, which featured instrumentation including a didgeridoo, as well as stunning background visuals projected behind the stage.

 





Just prior to her performance, Peace Not War Japan shared a powerfully poignant message of solidarity that had been received from activist Kyle Kajihiro in Hawai’i, which may be read in full here.


Peace Not War Japan coordinators Fukui Hiroshi and Kimberly Hughes

The festival received thoughtful solidarity messages from Sung-Hee Choi, an activist with the No Base Stories of Korea website and Peace Not War Japan founder Dom Pates.

"I enjoyed myself here so much," said one event-goer, a third-year university student of social issues and history. "Coming here made me feel like it is possible to change the world to make it a better place!"

Peace Not War Japan extends deepest thanks to all artists and participants who helped make the Spring Love Harukaze event possible, as well as the 40,000 some attendees who dropped by the event over the weekend to make it their own—and everyone who took the time to read this report.

Truly…each one of us represents the peace we wish to see in the world!

-- Kimberly Hughes