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Monday, May 31, 2010

NPT Final Report: Israel, Pakistan & India need to join the NPT; North Korea must return to the NPT

Via Satoko Norimatsu at Peace Philosophy Centre, "NPT Review Conference Unanimously Approves Final Document:"
From the Japanese media reports:

Chugoku Shimbun
Comment by Tanaka Terumi, Executive Director of Nihon Hidankyo, a national organization of A-bomb survivors

"This conference is a step forward from the 2000 review conference. The participating countries cooperated in order not to make the conferenced fall apart (like it did in 2005). I am dissatisfied with the fact that the concrete schedule for nuclear disarmament, which was in the original draft, was removed, and no clear path for abolition was presented. I want all the participating countries to take more concrete actions. "
Jiji reports comments by Hiroshima Mayor Akiba and Nagasaki Mayor Taue:
Akiba: It is meaningful that all participating nations, including NWS, agreed upon taking actions toward nuclear disarmament and abolition.

Taue: NPT would have collapsed if the nations could not reach an agreement, so I recognize the achievement of the final document. However, the content of the document has taken steps backward. As a city that experienced atomic-bombing, I am dissatisfied."
From Mainichi Shimbun, the main points of the final document are:

• Work for a peaceful world without nuclear weapons

• NWS (Nuclear Weapon States) reports their progress at the preparatory conference in 2014

• To hold a conference in 2012 for a nuclear-free Middle East

• Demand Israel, Pakistan and India to join NPT

• Condemn the nuclear testing done by DPRK and demand their return to NPT

• Introduce "nuclear security," a scheme to prevent nuclear terrorism

PeacePhilosopher's note:

Although a compromise was made, which was of course a lot better than no compromise, there was general dissatisfaction within non-nuclear states that nuclear states refused to set a exact timing for total elimination or to hold a conference for disarmament in 2014 to set a schedule for abolition. Arab states were satisfied and Obama dissatisfied about Israel being named, and vice versa about Iran not being named. All participants were together for their position on DPRK, Pakistan and India. 2010 Middle East conference seems to be the most concrete agreement in the final document this time, but US is already expressing dissent.
More from NHK: "NPT Review Conference ends"
A UN conference reviewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has adopted a final document that confirms signatory nations' efforts to achieve a nuclear-weapons-free world.

The final document was unanimously approved on Friday, the last day of the month-long conference in New York.

The document says nuclear-weapons states under the treaty are committed to work for the total abolition of their arms. It asks these countries to start negotiating on ways to achieve that goal and report back on their progress to the conference's preparatory committee by 2014.

Japan's permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Akio Suda, told reporters that he is not satisfied with all aspects of the agreement but it includes forward-looking steps, such as reporting by nuclear powers on their efforts during the next 4 years.

France's disarmament ambassador Eric Danon stressed the importance of not backtracking on nuclear disarmament. He explained that France will proceed with the reduction of its nuclear arsenal at its discretion, saying it is not desirable to set a specific international timetable.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dalai Lama in Yokohama, Japan from June 18-28; Public Talk in Yokohama on June 26

For a larger view, click here.

The Dalai Lama will be in Japan from June 18-28. Public event schedule here (English):

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will give Public teaching and talk in Yokohama on 26th June 2010 [Saturday] at Pacifico Yokohama Exhibition Hall. The teaching and the talk will have Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Mongolian translation. Detail of the teaching and talk is as follows.

Public Teaching

Topic : Virtue and Practice of Connectedness and Generating Kind Heart
Time: 10:00 ~ 12:00 hrs. [The hall will open at 08:00 hrs]

Prayer Recitation by monks from Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan and Tibet [13:00 ~ 14:00 hrs]

Public Talk

Topic : Essence of Happiness and Healthy Co-existence
Time : 14:00 ~ 16:00 hrs

Brief content of the Teaching and the talk

Everywhere in the world humans are in trouble. Between wars, economic collapse, injustice and environmental problems, our problems sometimes seem as high as the mountains.

Given all this, how should we live in our new century? What is the essence of happiness?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks of the importance of our environmental challenge, our struggling economy and the possibilities of science. His Holiness will suggest what is required of us to live happily in the future, with the world and with each other.

Venue

Pacifico Yokohama Exhibition Hall, Yokohama
Address: 1-1-1 Minatomirai Nishiku, Yokohama »Access Map
Access guide phone : 045-221-2166

JR Yokohama line / Yokohama Subway : Sakuragicho Station. 12 minutes walk
Minatomirai LIne (Tokyutoyoko Line Direct) : Minatomirai Station 3 minutes walk

Ticket guidelines

Those in Japan can buy ticket from TICKET PIA machine in Sunks and Family Mart convenience stores.
Electronic ticket PIA http://pia.jp/t/ (PC & Mobile)
P-code: Lunch set 617-110 / Without Lunch 617-019
TICKET PIA Tel booking: 0570-02-9999 [Audio guidance]

S - Seat Lunch set Yen 10,500 / Without Lunch Yen 10,000
A - Seat Lunch set Yen 8,500 / Without Lunch Yen 8,000
B - Seat Lunch set Yen 5,500 / Without Lunch Yen 5,000
C - Seat Lunch set Yen 3,500 / Without Lunch Yen 3,000
A lunch-pack can be ordered along with the ticket for additional Yen 500. In order to avoid waste of time and security recheck, a ticket with lunch pack is recommended.

For more information contact

Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Hayama Bldg 5 (5F), 5-11-30 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022, JAPAN
Tel: 03-3353-4094 Fax: 03-3225-8013
Email: lohhdl@tibethouse.jp Website: www.tibethouse.jp

More info in Japanese here.

Dalai Lama & Wang Lixiong conversation on Twitter

Friday before last, the Dalai Lama and New York-based Chinese dissident novelist (and convert to Tibetan Buddhism) Wang Lixiong conversed for an hour on Twitter. Their conversation drew more than 8,000 followers. This was the first time that the Dalai Lama has interacted with such a large number of mainland Chinese.

The monk expressed hope for Tibet's future:
Some Party members who have worked in Tibet in the past and who are now retired, as also many Chinese scholars, have been saying that the present nationality policy is not appropriate and have suggested that it needs to be reviewed. Therefore, I believe that there will be a change and a decision in the not too distant future.
English-language translation of their conversation here.

Some recent aphorisms from the Dalai Lama on Twitter:
My message is the practice of compassion, love and kindness. Great compassion is the root of all forms of worship. 2:46 AM May 20th.

The increasing recognition that we cannot continue to mistreat our natural environment without serious consequences is a cause for hope. 2:57 AM May 19th.

When we can recognize and forgive ignorant actions of the past, we gain the strength to constructively solve the problems of the present. 2:46 AM May 17th.

Freedom is the very source of creativity for both individuals and society. 4:53 AM May 16th.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The full (unedited) Democracy Now! interview with A-P democracy, peace, & Chamorro rights activists now up

Full Democracy Now! interview with Asia-Pacific democracy, peace, and indigenous rights activists (including Kyle Kajihiro describing how pork-barrel politics has driven the push for military build-up in the A-P) at this link.

Mizuho Fukushima maintains integrity on behalf of constituents in face of Hatoyama capitulation to U.S. demand for more military expansion in Okinawa

Via NHK: "Fukushima dismissed, govt approves base relocation:"
After releasing the statement, Hatoyama met Fukushima to attempt to persuade her to sign the policy document at the Cabinet meeting called to approve the process.

But, Fukushima refused to accept the relocation of the Air Station to a coastal area of US Camp Schwab in the Henoko district, as it is still within Okinawa. She said she would not sign the document.

Hatoyama then dismissed Fukushima and appointed Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano to serve as her replacement.

Observers say Fukushima's dismissal is believed to be a serious blow to the Hatoyama administration.

At the same time, they say, criticism against Hatoyama and his government is only likely to mount, as the Prime Minister has failed to fulfill his electoral pledge to transfer the Futenma base out of Okinawa...

Before approving the policy at an extraordinary Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama dismissed Consumer Affairs Minister Mizuho Fukushima for her refusal to support government policy.

Obama & Hatoyama choose 2006 Bush-Koizumi proposal • Can the indebted US & Japan afford more military spending? • What about "local consent"?

Although President Obama campaigned on promises of "change," his foreign policy choices in Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific turned out to be more expansive versions of the Bush administration's neocon militarization goals.

Japanese people were among those worldwide who cheered Obama's victory, believing his message of hope. No one in Okinawa is cheering Obama or Hatoyama (who campaigned on the same promise of "change') anymore. Although these heads-of-state are set on the 2006 Bush-Koizumi deal—they still need local approval.

It's astonishing that these highly militarized, deeply indebted nations would pursue even more military spending.

As Washington continues to spend record sums to deepen the U.S. military footprint worldwide, most of the country remains mired in economic malaise and overwhelming environmental crises. The U.S. government's ever-increasing national debt hit $13 trillion this week; $4 trillion held by foreign countries, mostly China.

The Japanese sovereign debt (ratio of debt to GNP) is worse than that of the U.S. Analysts compare it to a "ticking time bomb."

Can the U.S. afford to carry out and maintain the Bush 2020 "Full Spectrum Dominance" plan for ever-expanding U.S. militarization throughout the entire world? Can Japan afford to continue its massive subsidies for the U.S. war in Afghanistan and U.S. plans for military expansion in the Asia-Pacific? Is any of this escalation necessary in the Asia-Pacific?

In this week's China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogues, China and the US committed to strengthening and stabilizing their partnership:
In fact, our two sides sitting together, having in-depth communications, candid exchanges, and rational discussions on our common interests and differences existing between us, this in itself is the most significant outcome of this round.

As our economic relationship gets increasingly close, we are now able to take into full consideration our differences in history, culture, national conditions, development stage, economic structure, and market sophistication. We are now able to manage our differences and problems arising in the course of growing economic relationship with a more rational and mature manner.
With this latest development of deepening economic integration between China and the U.S. (and Japan and the rest of the world), it seems highly unlikely that Beijing will launch a nuclear attack or land invasion upon Japan, its major trading partner, and fellow U.S. ally.

That leaves North Korea as the only possible arch-enemy for Japan and other U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific.

With formidable military presence extant in the Asia-Pacific (the U.S. already has 90 bases throughout Japan and Okinawa), and Japan has a powerful, up-to-date Self Defense Force. South Korea has a formidable military. Tthe idea that another U.S. base in Okinawa is necessary to stave off an unlikely North Korean missile attack does not make a lot of sense. Moreover, the real purpose of U.S. bases in Okinawa is for training Marines and other US troops in simulated battlefields before they set out for Iraq and Afghanistan (and before that, Vietnam).

For some perspective on the North Korean threat, it's wise to compare military spending and capability. From Bill Quigley's "Number One in War:"
...the USA is number one in war.  This coming year the US will spend 708 billion dollars on war and another $125 billion for Veterans Affairs – over $830 billion.  In a distant second place is China which spent about $84 billion on its military in 2008...

The US has 5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for more than 40% of the military spending for the whole world.
North Korea is not even on the chart, spending $5 billion a year. Japan spent $47 billion; South Korea $29 billion at last count (2008).

North Korea (1.1 million) does have the world's most militarized population, but the Chinese (2.1 million); the U.S. (1.5 million); and the Indian military forces (1.3 million) are larger. For more military facts, see the Guardian's "Information is beautiful: war games."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fucha cuisine: Zen Buddhist tradition offers lessons in nonviolent simplicity through food

Periods of war and political turmoil in ancient and medieval China and Japan were also times of deep cultural development, including cuisine. Not only as a means of sustenance or expression, but also as a form of personal renewal.

Great inspiration may be found in small, everyday examples of positive human connection.

Bon, a charming restaurant in Tokyo’s shitamachi (old downtown) district features fucha ryouri (fucha cuisine). Their English-language menu describes the tradition best:
Fucha ryouri is a distinctive tradition within shojin ryouri, the vegetarian cuisine of Zen Buddhist monks in China and Japan. About 300 years ago, it was introduced to Japan by cooks who came from China with the monk Ingen, the founder of the Chinese style temple Mapukuji, at Uji near Kyoto. This was the first temple of the Obakushu Zen sect in Japan, and since its establishment, the authentic tradition of Fucha has been handed down by devotees of the sect.

The two characters used to write “fucha” mean “drinking tea together with all people”, but the word is also used to mean a meal eaten in Chinese style (each dish is served from a single large bowl) which begins and ends with tea, aiming to create friendship and peace among those eating together.

At Bon, we have tried to develop a style of Fucha ryouri which, while suggesting aspects of Zen, the basis of this tradition also provides for the tastes of the general public. In particular, we aim to provide the fine dishes from the best obtainable seasonal ingredients.

The name of our restaurant, Bon, means “Buddhist believer” and was chosen as a sign of our respect for the origins of Fucha as a way of Buddhist practice.
Entering the restaurant and absorbing its deep, still sense of calm, I found myself strongly wishing that the military powers of subsequent centuries—the present-day United States in particular—would draw lessons from its peaceful simplicity and example for positive cultural exchange.


First course, served with a tea of orchid flowers in plum vinegar (left) Shun kan, described by the menu as a decorative presentation of cooked seasonal vegetables (above)

Lovely descriptions of additional aspects of fucha’s origins may be read here via Akasa Media, and an earlier Ten Thousand Things post by Jean Downey. The New York Times also ran a review of Bon almost 25 years ago, available in its archives here.



Un pen, a rich 17th century Chinese soup traditionally made with leftovers and eaten in a spirit of gratitude for the vegetable bounty (left)


Yu ji, mixed tempura in a classical basket, and plum wine (above)


Is it me, or does this piece of tempura resemble the number 9? Perhaps a deliberate statement of peace for Japan’s Constitutional Article 9?




--Text and photos posted by Kimberly Hughes

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Buddhist Plea to End Killing in Thailand • 2 experts debate: grassroots movement or attempted c'oup? • Clear context from Walden Bello at FPIF

Violent fighting has subsided. But the injustices and grievances precipitating class conflict in Thailand remain.

The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) issued a plea to end violence and for government and workers to engage in respectful and peaceful conflict resolution:
Public Statement – A plea to put an end to massive killing in Bangkok: All Lives are Sacred: A plea to put an end to massive killing in Bangkok

Since the beginning of the demonstration by the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), aka “Red Shirts”, on 12 March 2010, there have been many hundreds of casualties. In the past five days, attempts to disperse the demonstration in Ratchaprasong have become been violent, with a further effect of provoking violence. The government’s actions have so far failed to deter the demonstrators.

The present clash of political views is one of the great crises in Siam’s modern history. The country was previously acclaimed for settling conflict peacefully and democratically. Now it appears that both sides, the government and the UDD, are clinging to an illusion of victory over another. The entire nation is hostage to their conflict. Buddhist wisdom is relevant for those absorbed in hatred, greed and delusion. The Dhammapada, Verse 201 says:
Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered is unhappy. Persons who have given up both victory and defeat, the contented, they are happy.
The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), representing a diversity of socially engaged buddhists from around the world, is gravely concerned about this standoff. We wish for all parties address the conflict with reason and tools of peace, to recognize the ancient Buddhist wisdom that neither the so-called winner nor loser will be contented and happy. We encourage those who do not fall into one of the two camps can help this process wherever possible. Only through peaceful negotiation and dialogue can all parties concerned return the country to its true nature as a flourishing democracy and a peace-loving nation.

Our heartfelt plea is for both parties to stop any act that may cost lives and injuries; to reclaim the time-tested wisdom of reconciliation and nonviolence.

Whenever INEB can help bridge the gap between the opposed parties we are willing to do all that we can.

We trust that in the light of upcoming international Vesakh celebrations in Thailand, supported by the United Nations 22-26 May 2010 and the subsequent local Vesakh celebrations, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and the passing away of the Lord Buddha, all parties will unite in taking responsibility for their conduct and for bringing about lasting peace, transformation towards social justice and shared well being for future generations.

To close, in Verse 5 of the Dhammapada the Buddha proclaims:
Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By love alone is hatred appeased. This is an eternal law.
International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)

Patron, Advisory Committee and Executive Committee Name Lists

PATRONS

His Holiness the Dalai Lama,Tibet
Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, France/Vietnam
Venerable Phra Rajpanyamedhi, Siam (Thailand)
Venerable Bhikshuni Chao Hwei,Taiwan

ADVISORY COMMITTEE (AC)

Sulak Sivaraksa, (Founder Chair), Santi Pracha Dhamma Institute, Siam, www.sulak-sivaraksa.org
Raja Dharmapal, Dharmavedi Institute, Sri Lanka
Jill Jameson, Buddhist Peace Fellowship Australia
Dharmachari Lokamitra,Jambudvipa Trust, India, www.jambudvipa.org
Ven. Tsering Palmo, Ladakh Nuns Association, Ladakh/India
Phra Maha Boonchuay, Mahachulalongkorn University, Siam, http://www.mcu.ac.th
Phra Phaisan Visalo, Buddhika Network for Buddhism and Society, Siam, http://www.budnet.org
Bhikkhuni Dhammananda Songdhammakalyani Monastery, Siam
Venetia Walkey, Dhamma Park Foundation, Siam,www.dhammapark.com
Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, Jungto Society, South Korea, www.jungto.org
Rev. Alan Senauke, Clear View Project, USA, www.clearviewproject.org
Ven. Sumanalankar, Parbatya Bouddha Mission, Bangladesh, www.pbm-cht.org
Hisashi Nakamura, Ryukoku University, Japan, www.ryukoku.ac.jp
Rev. Masazumi Okano, International Buddhist Exchange Center , Japan
Swee-hin Toh, University for Peace, Costa Rica, www.upeace.org
Frans Goetghebeur, European Buddhist Union, Belgium, www.e-b-u.org

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (EC)

Harsha Navaratne (Chairperson), Sewalanka Foundation, Sri Lanka, www.sewalanka.org
Hans van Willenswaard, GNH Program, Netherlands, (Vice Chairperson), School for Well Being, www.schoolforwellbeing.org, Siam
Somboon Chungprempree (Interim Executive Secretary), Spirit in Education Movement (SEM), Siam, www.semsikkha.org
Douangdeuane Bounyavong, Buddhists for Development, Laos, www.bdp.org.la
Hsiang-chou Yo, Fo Guang University, Taiwan, www.fgu.edu.tw
Jonathan Watts, Think Sangha, USA/Japan
Anchalee Kurutach, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, USA, www.bpf.org
Poolchawee Ruangwichatorn, Spirit in Education Movement (SEM), Siam, www.semsikkha.org
Pipob Udomittipong, Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa Foundation (SNF), Siam, www.snf.or.th
Ros Sotha Buddhists and Khmer Society Network, Cambodia, www.bksn.wordpress.com
Mangesh Dahiwale, Jambudvipa Trust, India, www.jambudvipa.org
Prashant Varma, Deer Park Institute, India, www.deerpark.in
Erica Kang , Jungto Society, South Korea, www.jungto.org
Minyong Lee, South Korea
Eddy Setiawan, HIKMAHBUDHI, Indonesia, www.hikmahbudhi.or.id
Matteo Pistono, Nekorpa and RIGPA Fellowship, USA
Tashi Zangmo, Bhutan
Vidyananda (KV Soon), Malaysia
Harn, Burma/Myanmar
It's been impossible for those of us on the outside to discern what is really happening in Thailand. Obviously the Red Shirts are poor and desperate. Many are exploited and abused migrant workers. Obviously, the Thai government has been repressive.

Two experts have very different views about the political-economic nature of the conflict. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! moderates a debate between KJ contributing editor Phil Cunningham, a former resident of Thailand, and Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai dissident:
In Thailand, the government has rejected an offer by anti-government protesters to enter talks after a bloody week in Bangkok that has left at least thirty-eight protesters dead. Some fear the standoff could lead to an undeclared civil war. The protesters are mostly rural and urban poor who are part of a group called the UDD, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, more commonly known as the Red Shirts.

We host a debate between Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai dissident living in exile in Britain who supports the Red Shirt movement; and Philip Cunningham, a freelance journalist who has covered Asia for over twenty years.
"The Long Winding Red Road to Ratchaprasong and Thailand’s Future" written by Cunningham for Japan Focus and this article "Thailand: What Would End the Violence in Bangkok?" by Ungpakorn posted at The Monthly Review further explain their opposing takes.

Walden Bello's "The Battle for Thailand" posted at Foreign Policy in Focus brings context and clarity to this tragic class conflict:
Nearly a week after the event, Thailand is still stunned by the military assault on the Red Shirt encampment in the tourist center of the capital city of Bangkok on May 19. The Thai government is treating captured Red Shirt leaders and militants like they're from an occupied country. No doubt about it: A state of civil war exists in this country, and civil wars are never pretty.

The last few weeks have hardened the Bangkok middle class in its view that the Red Shirts are "terrorists" in the pocket of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. At the same time, they have convinced the lower classes that their electoral majority counts for nothing. "Pro-Thaksin" versus "Anti-Thaksin": This simplified discourse actually veils what is — to borrow Mao's words — a class war with Thai characteristics...

But the main push will come from the people themselves. Thailand, it is clear, will never be the same again. A taxi driver summed up where things stand at this point: "The Bangkok rich think we are stupid people, who can't be trusted with democratic choice. We know what we're doing. So yes, they say Thaksin is corrupt. But he's for us and he's proven it. The Bangkok rich and middle classes see us as their enemy. If they think we're finished, they should think again. This is not the end but the end of the beginning."

FPIF columnist Walden Bello is a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines and author of "A Siamese Tragedy: Development and Disintegration in Modern Thailand,"(London: Zed, 1998).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Democracy Now! "From Japan to Guam to Hawai’i, Activists Resist Expansion of US Military Presence in the Pacific"

Today's Democracy Now! program featured an interview with Amy Goodman, Anjali Kamat and three peace, democracy, and anti-colonial activists in the Asia-Pacific:
In Japan, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama sparked outrage this weekend when he announced he has decided to keep an American air base on the island of Okinawa.

Before last year’s historic election victory, Hatoyama had vowed to move the base off of Okinawa or even out of Japan. On Sunday, he said he had decided to relocate the base to the north side of the island, as originally agreed upon with the US. Hatoyama’s decision was met with anger on Okinawa, where 90,000 residents rallied last month to oppose the base.

A number of activists opposed to US military bases were recently here in New York for the International Conference for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World. Anjali Kamat and I spoke to three activists from Japan, Guam and Hawai’i.

Kyle Kajihiro, Program Director for the American Friends Service Committee in Hawai’i. He helps to coordinate the DMZ-Hawai’i / Aloha ’Aina network that opposes military expansion in Hawai’i.

Kozue Akibayashi, professor and activist in Japan and with the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom and the Women’s International Network Against Militarism.

Melvin Won Pat-Borja, educator and poet from Guam and part of the We Are Guahan network opposed to the military base buildup in Guam.


KYLE KAJIHIRO: I think it’s important to consider how important the Pacific has been for the expansion of American empire. And Hawai’i was one of the first casualties in 1893, when US troops invaded and occupied the sovereign kingdom of Hawai’i to establish a forward base that enabled the US to defeat Spain in the Spanish-American War and then acquire its colonies, in the Philippines and Guam and also Puerto Rico and Cuba. And that sets up another conflict with Japan during World War II, in which the United States emerges as a global power with nuclear capabilities and acquires new colonies in the Marianas, Marshall Islands and Okinawa. So we see the legacy of that history played out.

And America has always considered the Pacific, similar to Latin America, as its—you know, its own domain, its special domain. They call it the American Lake. And, you know, that’s what we’re struggling against, is that idea that, you know, the US has this dominion and without consideration for the peoples and the human rights of people in that area.

So, right now, we are seeing that the Asia Pacific is even, you know, becoming more important with the rise of China, and the US sees China as its main strategic competitor. And that, I think, is a lot of what’s driving the military realignment in Korea, in Japan, Okinawa and Guam to encircle China and basically neutralize its capabilities.

ANJALI KAMAT: Kozue, can you talk about what happened in Japan last week? There was a major protest, 100,000 people in Okinawa protesting the construction of a new US military base. Explain what’s going on with Japan-US relations and with US military bases in Japan.

KOZUE AKIBAYASHI: Okinawa is a part of Japan. It’s the southernmost part of Japan. It’s a small prefecture, out of forty-seven, where US military—75 percent of US military facilities, exclusively used by the US military, is located. So there is this high concentration of US military in Okinawa, and that is why we are highlighting the problem in Okinawa.

There has been a proposal of building a new base in Okinawa, a completely new one and state-of-the-art military facility in Okinawa, which was protested by people in the community for ten years, by now. We had this regime change last year, and the new administration promised that there will be no buildup in Okinawa. However, what is going on now is that they are negotiating with the US government and saying that we cannot help building this new one.

So that is when—and this has been disclosed in the past month or so, and that is why the Okinawan people are raging against and they felt the need to express their protest against this newly built—buildup of base in Okinawa. And that is how this 90,000 people gathered at this rally. And the population of Okinawa is 1.3 million. That’s a lot of people who gathered. And there are many people who cannot express their protest or against their—their protest, because the US military has been there for a long time. The military economy is part of their life. It’s very difficult for them to publicly say no. But this 90,000 peoples rally was—showed how strong they felt.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are Japanese in Okinawa so opposed to the base there?

KOZUE AKIBAYASHI: The live very close—in Okinawa, they live very, very close to the military base. It’s not an isolated location. The military base is here, and they have to find places where they could build their houses. It affects in many ways of their lives. Noise pollution is one of them. Environmental pollution is one of them.

AMY GOODMAN: The issue of rape?

KOZUE AKIBAYASHI: Yes, yes. That’s more pervasive, but deep-rooted problem that women and children, girls, face in the vicinity. Not only the close vicinity, but the entire island of Okinawa face danger of sexual violence by US soldiers.

AMY GOODMAN: And Melvin, if you can talk about what’s happening on Guam.

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: Well, basically, you know, with this proposed base closure in Okinawa, the remedy to this solution is really seen as transferring the bulk of these soldiers from Okinawa to Guam. And that’s kind of where we come in. You know, there’s been a lot of debate about where these Marines should go.

And, you know, the United States’ attitude toward this is that, you know, Guam is their territory. You know, they see Guam as sovereign US soil, and it allows them freedom of action, which is one of the major pieces of—or major factors in why they chose Guam, because it allows them to basically operate without having to deal with a foreign government.

And so, they plan to move 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, plus their 9,000 dependents. They also include an Army ballistic missile defense system, which will bring an additional 600 Army soldiers. And they plan to dredge a—they plan to dredge 71 acres of coral reef in Apra Harbor in order to make room for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

They also have plans to acquire 2,200 additional acres of land, and they already own about a third of the island. And keep in mind, Guam is only about thirty-one miles long and seven miles wide in the narrowest point. Our population is a little bit over 170,000 people. And the military predicts that, at the peak year of the buildup, we will expect a population boom of about additional 80,000 people.

AMY GOODMAN: So a 50 percent increase almost.

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: Basically.

ANJALI KAMAT: Melvin, talk about what it was like to grow up in the shadow of these US military bases in Guam. What is everyday life like? How does it impact you?

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: Well, you know, the interesting thing about the base presence in Guam is that, you know, we are a United States unincorporated territory. And so, you know, we are US citizens, and I think that’s one of the major—it’s seen as one of the major differences between Guam and Okinawa.

But the reality is that, you know, we essentially are second-class citizens. As a, you know, unincorporated US territory, you know, we don’t have representation in the Senate. We have a non-voting representative in Congress. We don’t vote for president. But we still fall under all US federal laws and regulations.

AMY GOODMAN: Were you ever concerned that they were going to move Guantánamo to Guam?

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: I mean, you know, it’s definite—really, when it comes to Guam and, you know, military strategy, you really don’t know what’s going happen. And there’s no—we really have no control over what happens.

You know, in the military’s plan, in their DEIS, their Draft Environmental Impact Statement, they basically said that, you know, other alternatives for the base relocation from Okinawa included the Philippines, Korea and Hawai’i. And all three of those places said no.

But nowhere in the document does it say that we ever had the opportunity to say no. And that’s kind of—you know, that’s pretty much the climate in Guam, is that, you know, we just—we basically are forced to accept whatever it is that the United States federal government and the military decides to do.

AMY GOODMAN: How did the United States come to incorporate Guam as a territory of the United States?

MELVIN WON PAT-BORJA: Guam was purchased by the United States from Spain through the Treaty of Paris. So Guam actually was technically owned by the United States before World War II.

Now, during World War II, we were—when the Americans got word that Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and that they were invading, you know, they basically left. They abandoned Guam, and we were occupied then by Japan for two years.

And then the United States came back to reclaim Guam, and they basically carpet-bombed the entire island...
Read the rest of the interview here.

Joint Statement by Ginowan City & Nago City Mayors: Futenma replacement proposal shows "total disregard" for environmental impact & human rights

Via Satoko Norimatsu at Peace Phillosophy Centre and Martin Frid at Kurashi (who adds this preface), "By the way, there are demonstrations all over Japan: peaceful groups of people who will not accept the usotsuki うそつき (lying) of the elected politicians. Time for honesty and frank dialogue. How refreshing. Non-violent protests, from sincere people with no wish whatsoever to continue host American military bases. Other Japanese bloggers are, of course, truly angry."
"Okinawa: Joint Statement by Mayors to Oppose the Construction of Futenma Replacement Facility within Okinawa

(Issued on the day of the Futenma Human Chain Campaign, May 16, 2010)

Over fourteen years have passed since the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement was concluded by the United States and Japanese Governments. In this agreement, both governments promised to return the entire land of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, located in the middle of heavily populated Ginowan City, within five to seven years. However, both governments have failed to implement the agreement, and as a result, Futenma Air Station still remains within the city as it was fourteen years ago.

The initial goal of the SACO agreement was to ensure safety of the people of Ginowan by removing the dangerous Futenma Air Station, which produces enormous aircraft noises and poses constant risk of an aircraft crash. This also includes reducing the burden on the people of Okinawa caused by disproportionately concentrated US military bases on this small island.

In the SACO final report in December 1996, however, both US and Japanese Governments set terms that the land of the air station should be returned after a removable Futenma replacement facility, with a 1500-meter runway, was constructed within Henoko, Nago City on the east coast of the main island, Okinawa. This decision greatly disappointed the people of Okinawa.

Although Nago citizens expressed their opposition against the relocation of the air base in a referendum in December 1997, the former Liberal Democratic Party(LDP)-led administration divided citizens by using a carrot-and-stick policy, which consisted of offering government subsidies in return for cooperation with the wills of US and Japanese Governments. As a result of the LDP policy, an unhealthy and tense situation developed in the local community.

“Ojii and Obaa” (grandfathers and grandmothers) in Henoko, backed by various supporters, have continued a sit-in campaign, against the construction of the Futenma replacement facility, for their children and grandchildren for fourteen years. This prolonged sit-in has effectively blocked progress on the project.

In the Nago mayoral election this past January, a candidate, who pledged not to allow the construction of a new US military base either on land or sea, was voted into office. Nago citizens, in this election, showed their strong will to fight against the relocation of Futenma Air Station within Okinawa. A majority of Okinawan people were encouraged and proud of the election result, which paved the way for a unanimous decision by the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly to hold the “4. 25 Kenmin-Taikai” (April 25th prefecture-wide rally) in order for the people of Okinawa to express their unwavering clear opposition against the Futenma base relocation within Okinawa.

We have no other recourse than to retrieve the peaceful island life without military bases for our citizens, as well as for the future of Okinawa. To this end, we have decisively concluded that there shouldn’t be any new US military bases constructed within the prefecture. Okinawa is a small island consisting of only 0.6 percent of the total land mass of Japan. Further new construction of military bases shows complete disregard for the human rights of this small community, who have unwillingly hosted the US military for over 60 years. There is also total disregard for the environmental impact which would fatally disrupt the habitat of the endangered Okinawa Dugong in the beautiful ocean surrounding Okinawa.

The danger-plagued FAS should be removed without any delay from Ginowan City. Both governments must prioritize safety and security of the people of Okinawa by abandoning the project and not continuing to promote Okinawa as being essential to regional security and a deterrence to regional threats. We will step up for calling for the removal of dangerous military air operations from Futenma Air Station and immediate closure and return of the base.

Now, we announce our strong resolution to oppose any plan on the base relocation within Okinawa, including the Hatoyama administration plan currently nearing completion. The Japanese Government should review and see the real picture of the plan on the relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and strongly negotiate with the US Government regarding the immediate and unconditional closure of Futenma Air Station.

The Ginowan and Nago City Governments used today’s event to continue working hand-in-hand and cooperate in voicing opposition to the base relocation within Okinawa.

Yoichi IHA
Mayor, Ginowan City
Okinawa, Japan

Susumu INAMINE
Mayor, Nago City
Okinawa, Japan

Hatoyama apologizes again • Islanders stay firm for democracy & peace • Is the PM betraying himself & constituents in Japan, as well as Okinawans?

900 riot police (who actually appeared sympathetic to their compatriots) were sent to suppress 400 demonstrators during Prime Minister Hatoyama's visit to Okinawa. He apologized again.

But Okinawans, insistent upon democracy and peace for their island, did not accept his apologies nor his proposal.

The Okinawa Dugong blog has short videos of the protest, photos and translations from the Okinawa Times:
"The Prime Minister does not see us as human beings”

Some quotes from the Okinawa Times, May 23, 2010 (news flash)

Prime Minister Hatoyama is visiting Okinawa again on May 23rd. Hatoyama said “Relocation site is within Okinawa. We concluded that we need to relocate it near Henoko, Nago City.”

He withdrew what he said before the 2009 election, “Relocate Futenma outside of Okinawa or outside of Japan,” and said “Relocating Futenma outside of Okinawa or outside of Japan will drastically decrease the function of Marine Corps. I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for causing confusion for the people of Okinawa.”

Governor Nakaima pointed out that,“There is a huge gap between the feeling of Okinawans and the government idea.”

The Prefectural People’s Committee against the Relocation of Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture organized rally was held from 9 am on May 23rd. Aout 400 people attended. They hold yellow signs saying, “ANGER.”

A lady from Okinawa City attending the rally said “Everyday my life is trampled by the roar of military aircraft. I thought the base will be relocated outside of Okinawa. The Prime Minister does not see us as human beings. I cannot endure this anger.”
The US military claims it's protecting Okinawa by destroying land, ocean, the federally protected dugong and other endangered species to build this military base.

Can't the U.S. government see that Okinawa's vibrant democracy is, in itself, the best "defense" against any anti-democratic, anti-peaceful forces in the region.

Can't the U.S. government see that its military is the historical and imminent destructive force in this picture?

Hatoyama's latest has been called a "betrayal" of Okinawa. But the prime minister never had any faith in the 2006 Bush-Koizumi proposal. His reluctant attitude during his Okinawa visit was reminiscent of the sad-faced Vichy police chief in Casablanca straddling the fence between conscience and expediency. Was Hatoyama's choice ultimately a betrayal of himself, his political party, and his constituents in Japan, of nature itself, of the ideals of democracy and peace, as well?

By not holding firm with the U.S. (it can be done--Israel and European countries have done so and survived)--was Hatoyama not also betraying the American people by not further challenging its ally's insistence on a plan that springs from the kind of governmental impulse that historian Barbara Tuchman describes as coming "from the compelling lure of dominion, from pretensions of grandeur, from greed."

In The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, a study of the recurring pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests, Tuchman advises political decision-makers to act with integrity:
Persistence in error is the problem. Practitioners of government continue down the wrong road as if in thrall to some Merlin with magic power to direct their steps...

Rulers will justify a bad or wrong decision on the ground..."He had no choice"...

But there is always freedom of choice to change or desist from a counter-productive course if the policy-maker has the moral courage to exercise it...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action—Transforming Crisis into Compassionate Activism



"Fierce Light" is filmmaker Velcrow Ripper's term for what Martin Luther King called "Love in Action" and Gandhi called "Soul Force." These concepts reflect nonviolent social change philosophy and action rooted in compassion, faith, and what Gandhi called "satyagraha," the power of truth.

Ripper's 2008 documentary Fierce Light: Where Spirit Meets Action tells several stories that show the victories of grassroots activists relying on nonviolent methods against seemingly overwhelming forces of hate, oppression, greed, and violence.

The Canadian director begins his film by sharing his personal reactions to the assassination of his friend, journalist Brad Will, killed by government paramilitary gunmen in Oaxaca, Mexico, while filming a teacher's strike. He then asks himself this question:
Why do I keep working to change the world when we're up against impossible odds and how can I even think about spirituality when they're killing my friends?
The film follows how Ripper and others respond to this question by affirmative attitude and action—regardless of specific outcome. And many of the multi-leveled outcomes are not what they initially appear to be.

Compassionate activists featured include civil rights activist John Lewis, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Archibishop Desmond Tutu, Daryl Hannah, eco-activist Julia Butterfly Hill, Ralph Nader, eco-organizer Van Jones, eco-activist John Quigley, actor Danny Glover, and Engaged Buddhist Joanna Macy.

Congressman Lewis described how spirituality formed the heart of the American Civil Rights Movement. His strategic advice:
Get in the way.
Fierce Light followed the movement to save South Central Farms, an urban cooperative farm and garden project in Los Angeles, in real time. Daryl Hannah, Julia Butterfly Hill and John Quigley joined a mass sit-in of urban farmers who attempted to prevent the eviction and closure of the farm.

Van Jones observed during this struggle:
Our whole species is on trial.
In the episode on war and the wounds of war, Thich Nhat Hahn talks about actions that come from the heart. He emphasizes that war, as with all violence, starts at the level of thought and emotion.
If we want to end the war in the world, we need to end the war in our own hearts.
Two million Vietnamese people and 60,000 Americans died during the Vietnam War. Fierce Light shows Hahn returning to Vietnam in 2007 after 40 years of exile, leading a ceremony to help heal the wounds of war. At dusk, with candles floating on lotus flowers illuminating the sacred space those who have gathered have created, the Buddhist monk invites all the souls of deceased people to gather with them for release.

In the segment on the Civil Rights Movement John Lewis relates how social change for human rights merged with the movement to end the war in Vietnam. During this period, Thich Hahn and Martin Luther King became colleagues in their struggle to show the connections between racism, neo-colonialism, militarism, and war.

How do we stay strong, clear, and focused in our grassroots work to support the shift from a primitive and unsustainable civilization based on structural exploitation and state violence to an affirmative and sustainable civilization based on cooperation?

Congressman Lewis guides us:
We've been in the storm so long, I don't know of any other way—but the way of Love...
The Fierce Love on YouTube offers many inspiring "video diaries" spotlighting Aung San Suu Kyi & Alan Clements (the first American ordained Buddhist priest in Burma) and the movement for democracy in Burma; the creation of Bat Nha monastery and its persecution by the Vietnamese government; Congressman John Lewis; the World Social Forum; and Gandhi's Phoenix Ashram and Robben Island in South Africa; and more.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Okinawa Prefecture Assembly Members refuse to meet with Hatoyama

Via Satoko Norimatsu's Peace Philosophy Centre blog:
The Okinawa Times reported Okinawa Prefectural Assembly members refuse to meet with Hatoyama on Sunday.

They will instead sit-in in front of the Prefectural Assembly Building while Governor Nakaima meets with Hatoyama. Speaker of the Assembly Takamine said, "We want to express our position to oppose the base rather than meet with the prime minister for ten minutes."

There are also citizens' demonstrations planned at the time of Hatoyama's visit on Sunday, May 23rd:

9:00 AM - In front of Prefectural Hall

11:30 AM - In front of Busena Resort (Western Shore of Nago)

Hatoyama is scheduled to meet with the governor; mayors of northern cities and towns; and with business groups.

"Battleground Okinawa" — Sonia Narang reports on Okinawan opposition to U.S. military bases

For the most part, the English-language news media has ignored the voices of the people in the Okinawan struggle against Washington and Tokyo's imposition of military bases on their island. The focus, is, instead upon the interactions between Prime Minister Hatoyama and the Obama administration. This narrow approach effectively distracts their audience from the urgent and unanimous Okinawan appeal for no more bases.

Sonia Narang, a journalist with the Global Post defies this trend with her video report "Battleground Okinawa —Tensions between Locals and Political Leaders Rise over a US Miltary Base." In this seven-minute video filmed during Prime Minister Hatoyama's visit to Okinawa in the beginning of May, she outlines the situation in Okinawa through interviews with local people, Ginowan City Mayor Iha, U.S. military personnel, and academics, highlighting how policy leaders and U.S. military officials are out of touch with the day-to-day experience of Okinawans living near the bases.

One protester appeals for a base-free Okinawa for future generations


Mayor Iha expresses his disappointment over Hatoyama's broken promise to move Futenma Air Field out of Okinawa



A resilient protester dedicated to ensuring that Washington and Tokyo no longer force bases on Okinawa


The fragile ecosystem at beautiful Henoko Bay at risk from the U.S. military base expansion proposal


Fumiko Shimabukuro has been engaged in sit-ins at the relocation site for over 2000 days

Unable to live surrounded by noise pollution and fear caused by the Futenma Airfield, this
shop owner had no other choice but to move away


More protesters dedicated to the struggle for a base-free Okinawa until the end

Follow this link to watch the entire video.

Sonia's biography and her previous stories for Global Post can be found here:

Sonia Narang covers Japan for GlobalPost. She is a multimedia reporter who previously worked as a video journalist for NBC News, where she reported, filmed, and edited stories for the "Nightly News" and msnbc.com. She was also an associate interactive producer at the PBS international documentary program Frontline/World, where she reported an award-winning multimedia series in rural India. Sonia’s video and print work has also appeared in Forbes, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New York Times Magazine. She has filmed and photographed throughout Asia, and she lived in Japan six years ago.

PBS broadcast "Battleground Okinawa" on "News Hour," its daily news program, and posted the video with a transcript at its website.

—Jen Teeter

Friday, May 21, 2010

Yoshio Shimoji: "The Futenma Base and the U.S.-Japan Controversy: an Okinawan perspective"

Human chain demanding the removal of U.S. Marine Base Futenma & no further base construction in Okinawa (Photos: Yoshio Shimoji)

In this clear and acute analysis of the U.S.-Japan Henoko relocation proposal, Yoshio Shimoji describes the tragic history of Okinawan domination by the U.S. military since the Second World War and reveals the irrationality of the proposed U.S. base relocation. The retired University of Okinawa professor asks how 17,000 U.S. Marines can defend Japan from North Korea's 1.2 million standing army; China's 1.6 million regular army; and missile attacks.

"The Futenma Base and the U.S.-Japan Controversy: an Okinawan perspective"

Introduction

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the conclusion of the revised Japan-U.S. Mutual Security Treaty (Ampo). The original treaty was signed on September 8, 1951, the same day the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed. One of its provisions stipulated that Japan must guarantee the U.S. the same stable use of military bases as it did under the occupation. Without accepting that requirement, Japan could never have won its independence.

Dean Acheson signs the San Francisco Treaty (Photo: Japan Focus)

This stipulation was carried over to the revised Mutual Security Treaty of 1960 (Article 6) and with it the U.S. has been assured of its continued formidable military presence in Japan, dominating its sea, land and air space to this day.

Japan's independence was also achieved at the cost of Okinawa, which was kept under harsh military administration until the reversion of its administrative rights to Japan in 1972. But even after reversion, the U. S. bases in Okinawa remained intact. Today, the negative side of the Japan-U.S. Mutual Security Treaty appears most conspicuously in Okinawa, where 75 percent of U.S. bases and facilities in Japan are concentrated. Although those bases and facilities (totaling 85 in number, and 31,000 ha in area) are formally offered to U.S. Forces under the Security Treaty, they are in essence spoils which U.S. forces won in war.

From Okinawa's perspective, Japan's independence appears only an illusion. Japan is still a semi-independent or client nation unable to challenge Uncle Sam’s demands; hence, Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio's wish list in his inaugural speech showcasing, among other things, the desire to make Japan a partner equal to the U.S.

Early history of Ginowan City

The U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, currently a hot issue straining the Japan-U.S. relationship because of the dispute over its relocation, is located in the middle of densely populated Ginowan City. Houses cluster closely around the fences close together, even abutting the approach lights on both sides of the runway. This unbelievable situation has something to do with the city's post-war history.

While the battle was still going on in the south, the invading U.S. Army encroached upon large swaths of land in the central part of the island, where villages, farmland, school yards and cemeteries existed cheek by jowl with each other. The people who surrendered or survived the battle were herded into concentration camps, mostly in the north.

When they were allowed to return home a few years after the war ended, many people from central Okinawa found their hometowns and villages turned into vast military bases. Reluctantly, they began to live alongside barbed-wire fences, some earning a meager livelihood by working for the bases. This is how Ginowan City, which now surrounds the Futenma Air Station, came into being [1].

Futenma Air Station occupies 25% of densely populated Ginowan City (Photo: Japan Focus)

In response to the strong demand of the residents of Ginowan for its closure because of various hazards it poses, Japan and the U.S. struck a deal in 1996 to close the base and return the land when a suitable relocation site was found elsewhere on the island.

Henoko as a site for relocation

Apparently, from early on, the U.S. had Henoko in mind as a site for the relocation. The Marine Corps Okinawa submitted a blueprint every fiscal year to the Pentagon and eventually to the U.S. Congress for approval in the 1960's, with an air station and port facilities to be constructed on reclaimed land off the coast at Henoko. Whether it would be a replacement for Futenma or an outright new air base is not clear, but the design for its functions was the same as the current V-shaped runway plan set forth in the United States-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation agreed in 2006 (hereafter called 2006 Road Map): to integrate the newly constructed air base with Camp Hansen, Camp Schwab and the central and northern training areas, thus strengthening military functions (as had been the plans for Okinawan bases during the Vietnam War) and deterrence capability against North Korea, China or Russia today [2].

Map showing Futenma and Henoko sites (Photo: Japan Focus)

However, the '60's plan didn't materialize, probably because the U.S. Congress didn't pass the bill for the necessary appropriations due to skyrocketing expenditure on the Vietnam War, as Masaaki Gabe suggests [3], or because U.S. lawmakers were afraid the whole project would prove useless if Okinawa were returned to Japan in the future.

The situation is totally different today, however. If all goes according to Pentagon plans, Tokyo will shoulder all the expenses for land reclamation and the construction of runways and other facilities, not to mention the high-end equipment, as well as the cost of relocating thousands of US troops to Guam.

The Futenma issue started as part of the 1995 Special Actions Committee on Okinawa (SACO) initiative to reduce burdens on Okinawa. But fifteen years later, the burdens remain as heavy, nor will they be lightened if Futenma's operations are moved to another location within Okinawa. Moving the base around in Okinawa or, more broadly, in Japan will clearly signal that Tokyo has yet again consented to a permanent U.S. military presence or "a life-of-the-alliance presence for U.S. forces" in Japan (2006 Road Map) , a transparent cover term for the unlimited occupation of Japan. This must be prevented by all means. This is the essential issue concerning Futenma, one which cuts to the very heart of the U.S-Japan strategic alliance.

Marines and Washington's explanation

Washington persists in saying that Henoko is the best site for the relocation of Futenma if Japan wishes to continue to maintain the American military deterrence capability, warning that contingencies could occur in the Pacific region, for example, in the Korean Peninsula or the Taiwan Straits, requiring the Marines' presence as essential deterrence.

On January 6, 2010, the U.S. Marine Corps Okinawa announced its position on the relocation of Futenma. In order to counter contingencies effectively, a helicopter squadron must be deployed within a 20-minute distance from a base where ground forces are standing by. This is why they claim Futenma's function must be relocated to Henoko, which is adjacent to Camp Schwab and Camp Hansen where the Marines' ground troops are stationed.

Aerial photograph of beautiful Cape Henoko (Photo: Japan Focus)

Note that this is an argument based on tactical rather than strategic reasoning. According to this explanation, a helicopter squadron must pick up ground troops in 20 minutes and transport them to the frontline in a short span of time (perhaps one hour).

But can one realistically imagine such a situation in and around Okinawa Island? Do the Marines think a ground battle similar to the World War II Battle of Okinawa will be replicated in the southern section of this island? Is Okinawa still a war zone in their thinking?

Suppose war occurred in the Korean Peninsula and the Marines from Okinawa successfully landed there in one hour. Would 17,000 Marines go into battle against North Korea's 1.2 million standing army? The same issue pertains to the Taiwan Straits. As is well known, China has a 1.6 million regular army. Or can they function as a bulwark against potential missile attacks, say, by North Korea, China or Russia?

Of course, the Marines alone may not work as deterrents against outside threats; they may be an integral part of the USF Japan together with the Navy and the Air Force. However, if contingencies occurred in the Korean Peninsula or in the Taiwan Straits, they would certainly have to increase their number substantially, probably to 500,000 troops at a minimum. But assembling troops takes several weeks or even months as the Persian Gulf War and the initial stage of the Iraq War demonstrated.

Consequently, the explanation by the Marines and Washington that a helicopter squadron must be deployed within a 20-minute distance from a base where ground forces stand by and, therefore, the claim that Henoko is the best relocation site for Futenma's operations lacks credibility.

The Marines aren't here to defend Japan

The Okinawan press reports that Camp Hansen (Kin) and Camp Schwab (Henoko) are both empty shells these days because their occupants were deployed to Iraq and now to Afghanistan to fight against insurgents there.

Obviously, the U.S. Marines or the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, to be more specific, are stationed in Okinawa not to defend Japan as ballyhooed but simply to hone their assault skills in preparation for combat elsewhere. It's a cozy and easy place to train, with Tokyo providing prodigious financial aid, which Washington demands in the name of “host nation support.” I liken it to turf dues exacted by an organized crime syndicate, which offers protection from rival gangs.

In 2003, for example, Japan's direct "host nation support" amounted to $3,228.43 million or $4,411.34 million if indirect support is added. Compare these figures with Germany's and Korea's support. Germany's direct host nation support in the same year was $28.7 million (1/112th that of Japan) and indirect support $1.535.22 million. Korea's direct host nation support in that same year was $486.31 million (about 1/7th that of Japan) and indirect support $356.5 million [4].

For ten years from 2001 through 2010, Japan shouldered an average annual sum of $2,274 million for host nation support [5], which incidentally is known as "sympathy budget" as if Japan were voluntarily doling out money out of compassion for those U.S. service members who are deployed in this far-away country. The amount Japan has financed to support USF Japan operations since the system started in 1978 totals an astounding $30 billion.

That the Marines are based in Okinawa not to defend Japan but mainly to strengthen U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific and beyond is widely recognized, as the following quotation from GlobalSecurity.org suggests:
“The Regiment (3rd Battalion 6th Marines) continues to support the defense of the Nation by maintaining forces in readiness in support of contingency operations and unit deployments to the Mediterranean, Pacific rim and around the globe.” (Italics mine)
Pundit Kevin Rafferty is more direct saying, "some of the bases (in Japan) are staging-posts for deployment in Afghanistan and elsewhere [6]."

When Marine contingents were compelled to move out of Gifu and Yamanashi Prefectures in mainland Japan in the face of mounting anti-U.S. base demonstrations and moved to Okinawa in the 1950's, a number of Pentagon strategists are reported to have cast doubt on the wisdom of such a shift.

The U.S. Army was the major element in the U.S. Forces in Okinawa during the occupation period which ended in 1972 with reversion. Apparently, the Army recognized the limited value of being stationed in Okinawa and so withdrew, leaving behind only a few hundred troops. The Marines grabbed this chance to expand their role and function, taking over everything from the departing Army. They are not, however, deterrents against outside "threats" as they boast.

Guam Integrated Military Development Plan

Washington has remained adamant in insisting that Futenma's operations be moved to Henoko. On meeting Foreign Affairs Minister Okada Katsuya in Tokyo last October, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Tokyo to implement the agenda specified in the 2006 Road Map as soon as possible.

In return, Washington would relocate to Guam 8,000 (later modified to 8,600) Marine personnel, consisting mostly of command elements: 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Command Element, 3rd Marine Logistics Group Headquarters, 1st Marine Air Wing Headquarters, and 12th Marine Regiment Headquarters. The remaining Marines in Okinawa would then be task force elements such as ground, aviation, logistics and other service support members. Japan agreed under pressure to fund $6.09 billion of the estimated $10.27 billion for the facilities and infrastructure development costs — another example of extortion. Upon completion of the relocation of Futenma's function to Henoko and the transfer of the Marine command units to Guam, the U.S. would return six land areas south of Kadena Air Base, including the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. In trying to sell this package, Washington claims that this reduces Okinawa's burdens tremendously.

Note, however, that these lands will be returned only if their replacements are found somewhere within Okinawa: for example, Henoko for Futenma, the very question which is straining the bilateral relationship. The 2006 Road Map clearly states: "All functions and capabilities that are resident in facilities designated for return, and that are required by forces remaining in Okinawa, will be relocated within Okinawa. These relocations will occur before the return of designated facilities."

This is the gist of the 2006 agreement particular to bases on Okinawa. However, a curious situation has developed over the U.S. Forces realignment. Two months after the 2006 Road Map was agreed, the U.S. Pacific Command announced the Guam Integrated Military Development Plan, and on September 15, 2008 the Navy Secretary, who also represents the Marines when dealing with Congress, submitted a report titled "Current Situation with the Military Development Plan in Guam" to the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services [7]. In April 2008, this plan was entirely incorporated into the "Guam Integrated Master Plan," and in November, 2009 a public hearing was held on a "Draft Environmental Impact Statement/ Overseas Environmental Impact Statement [8]."

These documents show that the U.S. military considers Guam strategically most important in the Asia-Pacific region and plans to transform already existing bases there into a colossal military complex by expansion and development. The U.S. military's strategic thinking is apparently motivated by the rise of China, particularly by China's development of new types of long-range missiles. The plan includes re-deploying 8,600 Marines now stationed in Okinawa and relocating most of the Marine capabilities, including helicopter and air transport units in Futenma, to Guam.

A Conundrum

How should we interpret this situation: Futenma's relocation to Henoko so urgently demanded by the U.S. government, on the one hand, and the U.S. military's Guam military development plan in which most of Futenma's operations are to be moved to Guam, on the other? What is the current obfuscation all about?

One answer may be that the U.S. government is manipulating the situation in order to retain every right to a permanent military presence in Japan. This suggests that U.S. policymakers mistrust Japan and the Japanese people despite repeated statements that Japan is the U.S.'s most important ally. In other words, their "deterrence" is not only directed against North Korea, China or Russia, but also against Japan.

When the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many expected a substantial reduction of the U.S. footprint on Okinawa. The drawdown of U.S. troops in Europe augured well for Okinawa, or so it seemed to me. Then came the 1995 Nye Report and the new US policy based upon it, shattering Okinawan hopes and expectations. On the pretext that the U.S. military presence was a driving force for keeping peace and prosperity in this allegedly volatile region, it announced that the U.S. would continue to maintain bases and troops in East Asia at approximately the same level as before.

William Cohen, Secretary of Defense under the Clinton administration, thwarted our hopes around 2000, when the two Koreas seemed to be reducing tensions on the peninsula and even, perhaps inching to reunification, by saying that there would be no U.S. military withdrawal from Okinawa even if peace was established in a unified Korean Peninsula.

That the U.S. intends to perpetuate its military presence in Japan is evident from its insistence that not only Futenma's operations be transferred to a new high tech base at Henoko, but also that other facilities such as Naha military port, whose return was promised years before Futenma, must be relocated within Okinawa. The 2006 Road Map betrays Washington's real intention by accidentally stating, "A bilateral framework to conduct a study on a permanent field-carrier landing practice facility will be established, with the goal of selecting a permanent site by July 2009 or the earliest possible date thereafter." (Italics mine)

The Defense Ministry's bureaucrats and their close associates at the Ministry-affiliated National Institute for Defense seem well aware of Washington’s designs, for their East Asia Strategic Review 2010 is written on this unspoken premise.

Concluding Remarks

As suggested above, the Futenma relocation issue is grounded on political rather than military foundations, and the party most responsible for this confusion is the U.S. government, not the Hatoyama government, despite the latter’s ham-fisted handling of the matter. U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma should be closed down and the land returned to its legitimate owners unconditionally and without delay in accordance with the overwhelming wish of the Okinawan people. The U.S. has no inherent right to demand a quid pro quo in exchange for its return. Military training can be conducted on the vastness of U.S. soil with impunity and to their satisfaction.

Yoshio Shimoji, born in Miyako Island, Okinawa, M.S. (Georgetown University), taught English and English linguistics at the University of the Ryukyus from April 1966 until his retirement in March 2003.

This revised and expanded article was reposted with permission by Japan Focus which published the article on May 3, 2010. Footnotes may be found at the link. The original article was posted at the website of Peace Philosophy Centre. .

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Local government officials, democracy & peace activists form human chain around US Futenma Air Station in demonstration for its removal from Okinawa

                                                                            (Photo: NHK)
Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972, but the Okinawan people's hopes for peace were not fulfilled, and Okinawa was used to strengthen US military power. So, this monument is not an expression of joy nor victory.


-- Inscription on a monument at Kunigami Village, Cape Hedo, in northern Okinawa It's been sixty-five years since the U.S. military first started building their 30 military bases and facilities that now cover 20 percent of the island. It's been thirty-eight years since the U.S. "reverted" Okinawa to Japan, raising the expectation American bases would be closed.

How long will Okinawans wait for freedom, democracy, and peaceful self-determination?

From NHK, "Protesters calling for the closure of the US Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture formed a human chain around the base on Sunday."
The movement, led by local municipalities and peace organizations, coincided with the 38th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan from US occupation.

Despite the rainy weather, the protesters lined the 13-kilometer road surrounding the base, and raised their hands as they called for its closure and voiced their opposition to its relocation within the prefecture.

The organizer says about 17,000 local residents joined the protest along with labor union members from Okinawa and other parts of the country.

It was the first time in 5 years that a human chain had surrounded the base.

A 90-year-old woman who took part said she has lived in the area for 60 years and hopes the base will be gone soon...

The participants in Sunday's protest stressed their opposition to any move that would involve relocation within Okinawa.