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Monday, September 27, 2010

ANPO showing at Vancouver Int. Film Festival, Oct. 3 & 4

An invitation from Satoko Norimatsu at the Vancouver-based Peace Philosophy Centre:



日本語案内はこの下に続きます。
Are you ready for VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival)?

Film ANPO - by director Linda Hoaglund, producer of highly acclaimed film Tokko-Wings of Defeat, will be shown in VIFF (6 PM on Oct. 3, and 1:15 PM on Oct.4).

From the review at the VIFF website:
Thanks to ANPO, the "American-Japanese Joint Security Pact", there are still 90 American military bases on Japanese soil, 30 of them in Okinawa.

The "Pact" dates from the post-war years when Japan was governed by General MacArthur, and its periodic renewals attracted mass protests - sometimes violent - in the 1950s and 1960s, as seen in films by Oshima and others.

Protests against the US Army presence on Japanese soil also surfaced in Japanese painting and sculpture, as shown in Linda Hoaglund's eye-opening documentary essay, which offers some broad historical perspectives on the struggles but centres on the responses of engaged artists.

Hoaglund's own perspective (she is an American who was born and raised in Japan, well-known as the subtitler of many Japanese movies) gives the film real heft: she coaxes forthright statements from usually-reticent interviewees as well as getting up close to the political stances embedded in a wide range of paintings...
See ANPO's website, and trailer: http://anpomovie.com/en.html

You are invited to a gathering with Linda,

at 6:45 PM - 8:15 PM, Monday October 4

(Linda Hoaglund)


Please see the movie, and come to our event to meet Linda, ask questions, and talk about whatever is inspired by the film. (It is not mandatory see the film to be part of this event, though. You can meet her and always see the film later.)

Admission is free (donations to cover the rental expense are welcome). Children are welcome. Snack donations are welcome.

For inquiry and RSVP, contact: info@peacephilosophy.com

Vancouver Save Article 9 and Peace Philosophy Centre
Linda Hoaglund Profile:

Linda Hoaglund was born and raised in Japan. Her previous film, Wings of Defeat, told the story of Kamikaze pilots who survived WWII. She has recently directed and produced ANPO, a film about Japanese resistance to U.S. bases seen through the eyes and works of celebrated Japanese artists.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

NGOCDPS and Peace Boat US: “Two Koreas & the sinking of the Cheonan warship" - Sept. 30, UN Church Center, NYC

From Narae Lee at Peace Boat US: "South Korean government allegations that a North Korean torpedo attacked the warship provoked tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, providing an excuse to convince Japan to keep the US military presence in Okinawa. However, two scholars have disputed the evidence that the ROK government has used for the allegation and the recent poll showed that 63% of S.Koreans do not trust the government's report."

NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security (NGOCDPS) and Peace Boat US

cordially invite UN member states and the public to a forum:

“Two Koreas and the Sinking of the Cheonan Warship”

Thursday, 30 September 2010 * 1:00–3:00p.m.

2nd Floor Conference Room @ UN Church Center, 777 UN Plaza
[East 44th Street at First Avenue]


The Republic of Korea's (ROK) Navy corvette, the Cheonan, sank on March 26, 2010 in the Yellow Sea near the sea border with North Korea. After almost two months of investigation, the ROK-appointed Joint Investigation Group (JIG) concluded that the Cheonan had been destroyed by a North Korean torpedo. This allegation instantly induced a strong public debate and escalated tensions in Northeast Asia.

Through a close examination of the JIG's evidence, however, two experts show that its conclusion is scientifically untenable and that the integrity of some of its scientific data has been compromised. In this talk, they will present the scientific analysis challenging the JIG's report and further discuss constructive ways to overcome instabilities in Northeast Asia.

GUEST SPEAKERS

• Dr. J.J. Suh
The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University

"Questioning the Cheonan Report: What do we know about the incident and what do we not?"

• Dr. S.H. Lee
Department of Physics, University of Virginia

“Did a North Korean torpedo sink the Cheonan Ship?”

Commentator

• Akira Kawasaki, Peace Boat Executive Committee member

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Help say no to Nike's privatization of Tokyo's Miyashita Park!

(Photo: Sankei News)

As reported this past spring in the Ten Thousand Things entry Coalition of homeless, activists, and artists rally to save Tokyo's Miyashita Park from NIKE construction, a strong and committed social movement has long been ongoing in order to protect this public space from corporate takeover.

At 6:30am on September 15th, however, roughly 120 police officers, guards, and Shibuya Ward park officials suddenly appeared and closed off the entirety of the park.

After supplies were brought in, all entries to the park were sealed off with fences and blocked by lines of local ward officials and guards. Riot squad vehicles and over 40 plain-clothes public safety officers also surrounded the periphery of the park in a glaring demonstration of needless excess. Signs posted on fences read, “In accordance with provisions regarding prohibition of park use in Section 7 of the Shibuya Ward Public Parks Ordinance, use of Shibuya Ward Miyashita Park is currently prohibited” and “Miyashita Park will be closed due to construction for maintenance”.

The closure of Miyashita Park took place without warning. That morning, one of the park’s homeless residents was injured when he was forcibly dragged out by 10 guards. It is important to note that the forthcoming “construction for maintenance” cited in the signs refers to Nike’s planned conversion of Miyashita Park into a sports facility. The sports goods giant will not only foot the bill for the construction but has also purchased the rights to rename the public park “Miyashita Nike Park”.

Shibuya Ward’s planned start date for construction (contracted to Tokyu Construction) was originally in April 2010, but organized protest has thus far successfully resulted in stalling the park conversion. While Shibuya Ward is saying that Miyashita’s sudden closure is for “tree-pruning and garbage removal estimated to take about a week”, other statements made by officials to the press such as “We’d like to continue from there with the construction” clearly suggest that this eviction is being carried out for the purposes of installing Nike facilities.

On September 16th, an order for the removal of tents, posters, artistic works and other materials belonging to The Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park from Becoming Nike Park (The Coalition), as well as a storage shed used to hold possessions for homeless persons by the Shibuya Free Association for the Right to Housing and Well-Being of the Homeless (Nojiren), was issued in the name of Shibuya Mayor Toshitake Kuwahara under Section 27 Item 1 of the Urban Park Act. The order states that “these properties (listed in the attached document)” are in violation of Article 6 Item 1 (regarding permission for occupancy of urban parks) of the same Act and, as such, must be cleared by noon of September 18th at the expense of the property owners.

This means that the ward is preparing to undertake administrative subrogation procedures, as happened in past evictions of homeless persons from Nagoya’s Shirakawa Park in 2005, Osaka’s Utsubo Park and Osakajo Park in 2006, and Osaka’s Nagai Park in 2007. In each of these past cases, however, evictees were first given the opportunity to present their case in writing prior to the eviction following receipt of the notice demanding removal of their property. In the case of Miyashita, on the other hand, no such opportunity was provided. After warnings insisting on the “removal of the unauthorized property” were posted on August 24th, 25th, 26th, and 31st, the official removal order was issued suddenly and with disregard to necessary legal proceedings.

Moreover, despite the fact that Article 27 Item 1 of the Urban Parks Act asks for the owner’s voluntary removal of personal property, Shibuya Ward has made it impossible for owners to conform since closure of Miyashita Park means that even persons who wish to reclaim their property are being denied entry. In addition, while the order for property removal was served in accordance with Item 3 of the Urban Parks Act (enabling park management to order removal “where, through no particular fault, the party who must be ordered to act cannot be verified”), as of September 15th Shibuya Ward could no longer justly or legally claim that “the unauthorized property listed” actually belonged to “an unidentified party” seeing as how two of the homeless residents of the park signed papers verifying items as their property. (A formal request to examine the Order for Removal of Property Belonging to Unidentified Parties was filed with the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on September 17.)

Then, on the afternoon of September 18th, immediately following the expiration of the set deadline for property removal, notices citing Article 3 Item 1 of the Act on Substitute Execution by Administration were posted outside of the park while both Nojiren and The Coalition received legal reprimands via express mail. The Ward is clearly acting in extreme haste.

Since we were made aware of Nike’s plans to convert Miyashita Park, The Coalition has openly voiced our opposition for the following reasons: 1) awarding use of this public space to one company for the creation of a profit-making sports facility will also effectively result in denying part of the public the same right to use the park; 2) the plan for the conversion was settled without informing or consulting ward residents and park users, and advanced in an undemocratic, top-down manner by the mayor and select members of the ward assembly; 3) if the conversion is carried out, then homeless residents of the park will be expelled and the public will lose an important space for free assembly.

The closure of Miyashita Park, the order for property removal, and the move towards an administrative subrogation all effectively undo with one fell blow the hard work, the artistic vibrancy, and the many discussions, events, and encounters all manifested in The Coalition’s movement to “Keep Miyashita everyone’s park”. The ward’s actions have all been carried out by strong-arm tactics under law enforcement currently preparing for the November 13 APEC Summit in Yokohama with tightened security measures surpassing those undertaken during the 2008 Hokkaido G8 Summit.

Shibuya Ward is obviously working closely with the police, as evidenced by the police department’s overwhelming presence on September 15th along with the fact that the ward official in charge on that day, namely, the Park Infrastructure Coordinator, not only stated that “all this has been cleared with Hirano (Shibuya Ward’s Security Department Chief)” but also demonstrated a need to call the police every time something arose.

Homeless persons are being uprooted and denied their personal possessions by this eviction at a time when the economy is undergoing a long-term decline and more and more people are being forced onto the streets due in part to insufficient job creation and social welfare policies.

We cannot help but feel that Shibuya Ward’s actions are devoid of respect for human rights and human dignity seeing as how: 1) officials are treating property belonging to homeless individuals (along with that belonging to The Coalition) as if it were trash, and 2) homeless persons who had been violently expelled were curtly told, “It’s on you to start looking (for a new place to sleep)”.

We resent Shibuya Mayor Toshitake Kuwahara’s collusion with a major corporation to turn a public park into a corporate advertisement as well as the antagonism directed at homeless people, which demonstrably threatens their well-being. We urge Shibuya Ward to: 1) put an immediate stop to the closure of Miyashita Park, 2) apologize and offer compensation to homeless persons that were violently expelled by guards from the park, and 3) cancel the order for property removal and halt and all administrative subrogation proceedings.

The Coalition will not rest until the public has reclaimed Miyashita Park and Nike's plans to convert it have been abandoned. Please show your support by faxing or emailing us to add your name and/or your organization's name to our protest statement. We ask for all names by Wednesday September 29. Please let us know if you would like your name to be made viewable to the public, or kept private. Messages of solidarity also welcomed!

Email: minnanokouenn@gmail.com

FAX: +81-3-3406-5254

Please also contact Shibuya Ward and Nike (Japan) to voice your opposition. Together we can bring an end to this unjust takeover of Miyashita Park!

EMAIL, FAX, OR CALL:

• SHIBUYA MAYOR Toshitake Kuwahara
Phone (English spoken): 03-3463-1234 ext.2454 – 7
Fax: +81-3-5458-4900
E-mail: mayor@city.shibuya.tokyo.jp

• NIKE CORPORATION (World HQ)
Phone: 1-503-671-6453, +1 503 671 2635
Fax: +1 503 646 6926
Email: nikejapan@custhelp.com
Email: http://swoosh.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/swoosh.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php

(Sample--Subject "My opposition to Nike's involvement in Miyashita Park, Shibuya"; Question "I am writing because I am aware of Nike's involvement in the conversion of Miyashita Park in Shibuya into a sports facility. I believe it is both wrong and dangerous for private corporations to get involved in the management of public land. I strongly urge Nike to NOT pursue its Miyashita Nike Park project.")

• NIKE JAPAN
Attn: General Manager James Godbout
Phone: +81-3-5463-3300
Fax: +81-3-5463-3295
Email: nikejapan@custhelp.com
Email: http://swoosh.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/swoosh.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php

The Coalition to Protect Miyashita Park from Becoming Nike ParkContact: minnanokouenn@gmail.com

(Translated by Rayna Rusenko from Japanese entry of the campaign blog, which may be read here).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Think Outside the Tank: Petition to Stop the Kyoto Aquarium

Cranes tower of Umekoji Park (Photo: Courtesy of Michael Lambe)

Hypocrisy plagues the home of the Kyoto Protocol as the Kyoto City government ignores the public's demands to terminate construction of a gargantuan aquarium in the heart of Umekoji Park by Orix Corporation. However, with construction stalled by the discovery of Heian artifacts at the site, Kyoto City Residents Against the Aquarium have taken the opportunity to launch a petition campaign demanding that a moratorium be placed on this frivolous destruction of greenery and unnecessary sacrifice of the natural environment.

Michael Lambe, at Deep Kyoto, has summarized the main points of the petition addressed to Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa:
  • Any loss of green space in the city is a tragic loss for the local environment and for Kyoto city residents’ mental and physical well-being.
  • The aquarium is a bad fit for Kyoto and thereby economically unviable. This is not what visitors to Kyoto come to see.
  • Orix and the city mayor have claimed that the aquarium will educate children about the marine environment but this position is untenable. An aquarium is a highly artificial environment in which living creatures are unhappily interred and Kyoto is not a maritime city.
Historically, aquariums stress animals, and there is a constant need to steal animals from the wild in order to replace them. While aquarium proponents may argue there are situations where it is necessary for humans to intervene in order to maintain the survival of a species, the intended purpose of the aquarium is to generate revenue at the expense of, not for the benefit of, animal lives and nature.

Chief Priest of Honenin Temple founder of Kyoto Citizens’ Committee for future of Umekoji Park and The Kyoto Aquarium Plan voiced his concerns in the Kyoto Shinbun on October 29, 2009:
We need to see all aspects of this plan brought to light before a final decision. It appears that the plan was already decided, lacking citizen input and consensus before it was made public. Even though an agreement was made between the city administration and a private business, it involves use of public land, which belongs to the people. After conducting numerous meetings about this issue more questions than answers arose.

The first question concerns the need for an aquarium for Kyoto city. What consideration has been given to the affect on the variety of marine wildlife caused by their capture, transportation and internment, as this is not their natural environment. I am sure the aquarium would have an educational component but how does this relate directly to the environment?

How does this affect Global Warming? Will it decrease CO2 emissions? Will it benefit the very species to be housed there? What is the carbon foot print of this aquarium? The city claimed that the aquarium could teach children to respect nature and wildlife, how can this be true?

Is the concept of environmental education at this facility actually about the environment? Let us not forget this is Kyoto City where the Kyoto Protocol was originated, where citizens take initiative. This is our legacy.

I can see how the aquarium could be enjoyed by parents, young adults and children. But first, we need to answer many questions. Our rivers, which are quite natural can also be used to educate on the environment. There are more than 100 aquariums in Japan. Kyoto City can provide it’s own method of environmental education using our two rivers, The Katsura and The Kamo, which hold rich wildlife habitats.
Why perpetuate a defunct form of "edutainment" when there are sustainable alternatives to keeping sentient beings in captivity that can fully capture the hearts and souls of children and adults alike, eliminating the compulsion to callously capture living creatures? The natural sanctuary that is Umekoji park, would only be turned into a prison should aquarium plans proceed.

The Kyoto government must pull the plug on plans for the aquarium and cultivate a culture of ethical treatment of all life forms in line with its commitments in the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Add your name to the petition available here.

  • Glimpse the beauty of Umekoji Park at risk of being engulfed by the aquarium here.

  • View this March post for background on the Kyoto Aquarium construction plans.
Posted by Jen Teeter

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Henoko's Threatened Biodiversity: Dugong; Sea Turtles; Blue Coral; New Species of Crab & Shrimp; "Rain-forest"-like Sea Grasses & Marine Plants

(Dugong and sea turtle in Oura Bay. Photograph by Higashionna Takuma)

In "The US-Japan ‘Alliance’, Okinawa, and Three Looming Elections," published last week at Japan Focus, Gavan McCormack not only examines the role of Okinawan and the DPJ elections on the efforts to save Henoko from destruction, the Australian scholar also looks at Henoko's unique and irreplaceable biodiversity at stake:
Setting aside the diplomatic, political, and military considerations, on ecological grounds alone the idea that a huge new military installation should be constructed at Nago is implausible. To create the giant, combined forces military base (misleadingly described as a “Futenma replacement facility” when it was to combine, inter alia, a deep-sea port facility for docking nuclear submarines) the coral, dugong, turtles and other creatures were simply a nuisance. When the Marine Corps first developed its plans for militarizing the Bay, in 1962, they began to deal with the coral by bombing it. Such a course is not open to them today, but the scale of militarization envisaged could be expected to have the same effect over the longer term. As with Guam, however, the Henoko project can only proceed when the necessary legal requirements for environmental protection (national and international) are addressed (whether by meeting or by evading).

The Japanese Assessment Law (Asesuho) simply mandates the party proposing works to consider their impact and take appropriate steps to protect the environment. It does not stipulate an impartial, scientific process and includes no provision for a project to be stopped from going ahead on environmental grounds. In Okinawa, the Japanese Defence Facilities Bureau (part of what was then the Defence Agency and is now the Ministry of Defence) reviewed its own project between 2007 and 2009.

The Assessment’s Interim Report, in 5,400 pages, was issued in April 2009. The final version is being withheld till after the gubernatorial election of late November 2010, but it is generally assumed it will contain few changes in substance to the 2009 version. That Report paid no attention to the likely impact of typhoons, because none happened while the survey was in process. It concluded that “dugong are not in the area” since it saw none, though critics protested that the dugong were not to be seen precisely because the disturbances caused by the investigation process had driven them away (and one surfaced off Henoko on 12 May 2010, as if to give the lie to the assessment).

Above all, as critics pointed out, an environmental assessment to which no information was available on the kinds or number of aircraft that would be using the facility, or the materials that would be stored or used on it, could scarcely be serious. Though the Government of Japan was to construct the facility, it would hand it over to be used at the total discretion of the US Marine Corps.

No objection was more serious than the environmental. Under the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s Guidelines for Environmental Protection, the coastal areas of Henoko, where the internationally protected dugong graze on sea grasses, turtles come to rest and lay their eggs, and multiple rare birds, fish, crustaceans, insects, and animals thrive, are classified as rank 1, warranting the highest level of protection. A colony of blue coral was discovered only in 2007 (and in 2008 placed on the IUCN’s “Red,” or critically endangered, list, joining the dugong) and a 2009 World Wildlife Fund study found an astonishing 36 new species of crabs and shrimps, and in July 2010 Tokyo marine science researchers found an equally astonishing, “rain-forest”-like variety of 182 different species of sea grasses and marine plants, four of which were probably new species, in Oura Bay. The discovery of the blue coral, new species of shrimps and crabs, and sea grass came after the survey and thus formed no part of it.

(Some of the new crab and shrimp species discovered in Oura Bay. Photograph: Fujita Yoshihisa)

The construction process (for the “V” version) would require 21 million cubic metres of fill, of which 17 million cubic metres would be sea sand. That means a staggering 3.4 million dump truck loads of sand, more than 12 times the current volume of sand extracted in a year from throughout Okinawa. The “I” version would require marginally less landfill, 18.9 million cubic metres. But how either could proceed without causing significant impact on Okinawa’s fragile land and sea environment defies the imagination.

The Okinawa Prefecture Environmental Impact Committee found multiple faults in the Assessment Interim Report and sought supplementary examination of 412 items in 59 categories (including dugong numbers). Inter alia, Governor Nakaima recommended a multi-year study of the dugong, though obviously aware that by allowing the Report to stand that would never happen. Okinawa’s leading environmental law authority and a key figure in the court action, former Okinawa University president Sakurai Kunitoshi, declares the process was “unscientific” and fatally flawed. In the International Year of Biodiversity, it was bizarre, he noted, that the Government of Japan should go to such lengths, and spend such amounts of taxpayer money, to push through a thoroughly unscientific justification for the destruction of one of its (and the world’s) most precious concentrations of biodiversity.

(One of the four newly discovered sea grasses of Oura Bay, Henoko, Okinawa. Photograph by Ohba Hideo of Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology)

It seems probable not only that the Henoko Environmental Impact Assessment lacked scientific credibility by international standards but that it may have breached both Japanese and American law. In San Francisco a federal court judge in 2008, hearing a suit against the Pentagon on behalf of the Okinawan dugong and their marine habitat, issued a ruling that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) had violated the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) by failing to “take into account” in the planning of the construction of a US military base in Henoko and Oura Bays the effects of the construction on the dugong (Dugong dugon), a Japanese “natural monument.” She ordered the DoD to comply with the Act by generating and taking information into account “for the purpose of avoiding or mitigating adverse effects” on the dugong. In Japan, 344 Okinawans launched a suit in the Naha District Court in August 2009 to have the assessment declared invalid.

As the 14-year struggle over Henoko ground on, civic and international organizations protested the implausibility of the region’s largest military base being imposed on an environment whose extraordinary biodiversity was only slowly being understood: It was as if the Grand Canyon were being designated a military base, or in Australia, Kakadu.
Read all of McCormack's "The US-Japan ‘Alliance’, Okinawa, and Three Looming Elections" here.

(The Center for Biological Diversity wrote that Okinawa was "dubbed the Galapagos of the East." Photo: Beautiful Henoko)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

PEACE MUSIC FESTIVAL: Henoko, Okinawa, Oct. 30-31, 2010

Via US for Okinawa:


Information

US for Okinawa!(新しい協力者)
沖縄クラブ三国志 9.11の乱
出演者 第四弾最終発表及び出演日の発表です!!
自分の目から見たHIPHOPとイベントを打つということ
【PMF2010出演者】Heinous Criminal
Peace Music Festa!辺野古2010

〜辺野古の海から世界が見える〜

2010年 10月 30日(土)・31日(日)

場所: 沖縄県 名護市 辺野古ビーチ
時間: OPEN 11:30 START 12:00 END 20:00(雨天決行)
料金: <一日券>大人 前売り 2500円 当日 3000円
    高校生 前売り 1000円 当日 1500円
    ※通し券はありません。二日お越しの場合は二枚お求め下さい。
    中学生以下は入場無料。中高生は入場時に要学生証提示。

10/30(土)出演者(第四弾最終発表)
ソウル・フラワー・モノノケ・サミット/三宅洋平/カクマクシャカ/ヒゲのかっちゃん/ROACH/RUN it to GROUND/FAKE KINGZ/procal/Heinous Criminal/さとまん/STARS ENTERTAINMENT/エルビス・ウチマ(ex.極限BAND)/蹴闘~SHOOT~/中川五郎/Paul Mahoux/elmon/TEX & the Sun Flower Seed(アコVer.)/Ukwanshin Kabudan 御冠船歌舞団(fromハワイ)/創作太鼓衆 颯/KUMAKARA/KEN子/
10/31(日)出演者(第四弾最終発表)
SOUL FLOWER UNION/知花竜海×城間竜太/PAPA U-Gee/JAVA/MISSION POSSIBLE(THA BLUE HERB × OLIVE OIL × B.I.G.JOE)/七尾旅人/SOUTH/KACHIMBA DX/直枝政広(カーネーション)/
ラビラビ/Shaolong To The Sky/名護 瀬嵩青年会(エイサー)/KZ(G.A.C)/ST-LOW(DESSON)/DASTAMAS/琉球とらいぶ/45 with RADICALITES/009/King Jam Session/operon/COMATON

主催
Peace Music Festa!辺野古2010 実行委員会
後援:名護市、宜野湾市、南城市、石垣市、西原町、与那原町、
   竹富町、北中城村、中城村、沖縄タイムス、琉球新報、琉球放送、
   沖縄テレビ放送、琉球朝日放送、FM沖縄、ラジオ沖縄、FM21、
   FMよみたん、タイフーンFM、FMレキオ、おきなわ倶楽部
【Info】pmf10@peace-music.org
【ブログ】 http://peacemusic.ti-da.net/

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gavan McCormack on the DPJ election: Kan victory only postpones crisis over unwanted US bases in Okinawa

From Gavan McCormack's "The US-Japan 'Alliance', Okinawa, and Three Looming Elections" posted last week at Japan Focus:
The second looming election is that for leadership of the Democratic Party of Japan, which because of the party’s majority in the House of Representatives carries with it the office of Prime Minister. Scheduled for 14 September 2010, current Party leader (and Prime Minister) Kan Naoto confronts challenger Ozawa Ichiro.

The two candidates contested Okinawa, in particular Futenma policy. While both had been notably silent during the fierce trans-Pacific exchanges that eventually brought Hatoyama down (save for Ozawa’s enigmatic rhetorical question late in 2009: “Is it permissible to bury that beautiful, blue sea?”), once the Hatoyama surrender deal of May 2010 was in place, Kan clung to it and accused Ozawa of causing “confusion” by wanting to revisit it. In essence, however, both presented a study in ambiguity: Kan insisted on honouring the Agreement while “reducing the base burden” on Okinawa and declaring that he would “not make a decision over the heads of local residents.” Somewhat remarkably, he was reported as saying, “I am fully aware that the agreement is unacceptable for the Okinawa people.” Ozawa struck a similar note, saying that the Agreement had to be revisited, because “[w]e cannot carry out the current plan as it is due to opposition from Okinawa residents,” though he admitted he had no clear idea of how to revisit it. He seemed puzzled that Japanese leaders were apparently incapable of speaking their mind when meeting with US government officials. At that level, both were saying they would do what the agreement with the US required to be done but would not do it forcibly. This could only mean that it would not be done at all, under either, but given US pressures they could not bring themselves to say so.

It was the broader vision that Ozawa presented that filled Washington with fear and anger, as when he reiterated his controversial 2009 position that the US 7th Fleet home-based at Yokosuka should be sufficient to any Western Pacific security purpose, in which case not only Futenma but all other bases would presumably be returned to Japan (and Okinawa) as redundant. Washington’s “Japan handlers” could not tolerate this. They were presumably also less than happy when Ozawa made an offhanded comment that he “liked” Americans though he found them tansaibo or unicellular, a gentle way of saying rather stupid. When Ozawa took five plane loads of Japanese parliamentary and business leaders on a mission to Beijing shortly after the DPJ took office in 2009, Richard Armitage scathingly referred to “the Japanese People’s Liberation Army descending on Beijing.”

Washington’s hostility to Ozawa was reflected throughout almost the entirety of the Japanese national media. In sharp contrast to the irresponsible and corrupt profligacy of successive Japanese governments (of which the Cabinet Secretary’s secret fund was characteristic), to which media and politicians readily turned a blind eye, actions by an Ozawa staffer, for which he himself denied personal knowledge, were trumpeted across the national media as corruption rendering him unworthy of public office.

Both Kan and Ozawa stressed the importance of the US relationship and were at pains to avoid anything that might be construed as serious doubt about the “alliance.” Neither could openly admit that the series of agreements between the two countries on the Henoko construction dating back to 1996 but culminating in May 2010 no longer made sense. Not only was it impossible to impose an unwanted base on Okinawa but the idea that the Marines played a crucial “deterrent” role, such that the peace and prosperity of East Asia somehow depended on them, when many of them were actually absent fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as of late 2009 there were only 14,958 US Marine Corps servicemen in total in Okinawa, with 9,035 family members. If 8,000 Marines and 9,000 family members were to be transferred to Guam as stipulated in the various Agreements, that would leave a few thousand Marines and no family members in Okinawa. It was laughable to suggest that their retention was crucial to the peace of the region, and perverse to ignore the fact that the Pentagon itself had decided to build its core Marine concentration for the Western Pacific and East Asia on Guam.

Neither Kan nor Ozawa could concede that the decision was not theirs to make because it was already being made by Okinawans. Neither had any answer to the problem. An Ozawa victory would lead to an immediate “crisis” as he would be obliged to return to the status quo of the Hatoyama government as it took office in 2009, i.e., to summon Washington to the negotiating table, while a Kan victory would postpone the crisis while he exhausted every possibility of “persuasion” and then began to take steps towards implementing the Agreement. In other words the 14 September DPJ choice (so far as the “alliance relationship” and the Okinawa issue was concerned) was to face the crisis immediately or to postpone it.

It is also worth noting that part of Ozawa’s proposed alternative was for the Japanese Self Defense Forces to assume responsibility from the US for the defence of Okinawa and other island territories. The idea that a Japanese military presence might be acceptable in Okinawa where an American was not has a certain superficial attraction, but was based on ignorance of the deeply anti-military sentiments of Okinawans, who remember many centuries of peaceful coexistence with China and have little if any of the mainland sense of “China threat” while their memory of being exploited and betrayed by the Japanese military in 1945 is seared deep into the Okinawa soul. An expanded SDF military presence might therefore stir just as much opposition as an American Marine one.
Read the entire analysis of the Nago election, today's DPJ election, and the upcoming Okinawan gubernatorial election (and exploration of catastrophic environmental and biodiversity consequences here. McCormack also explores the castastrophic environmental and biodiversity consequences (destruction of unique habitats and extinction of species) inherent in the U.S-Japan military expansion proposals for Okinawa and Guam.


(For comprehensive background on the strange, unequal relationship between Washington and Tokyo, read Gavan McCormack's 2007 Client State: Japan in the American Embrace. Glenn D. Hook: "Gavan McCormack's important new book on Japan as an American 'client state' sheds a penetrating light on the seismic changes to have affected the country in the early years of the twenty-first century, thereby exposing how the American embrace of Japan has become increasingly stifling.")

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Base Opponents win Majority in Nago, Okinawa Election 名護市議選、基地反対の稲嶺市長を支える与党が圧勝

From Satoko Norimatsu's Peace Philosophy Centre blog, "Base opponents win majority in Nago election 名護市議選、基地反対の稲嶺市長を支える与党が圧勝"
Nago City Council Election on September 12 resulted in the candicates supporting Mayor Inamine's opposition against a new base gained 16 seats, winning the majority in the 27-seat council.

The election was not a referendum on the base issue, but it sends a message to the Japanese and the U.S. governments that their heavy-handed efforts to buy off Nago's "min-i (democratic voices)" are not working. They should stop trying to convince voters of Nago, and start listening to them.
...More details from The Mainichi...
 "Nago voters support mayor's opposition to relocating Futenma base to offshore area of city
NAGO, Okinawa -- Local voters have expressed support for the mayor's opposition to relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to an offshore area of the city by giving pro-mayor forces a comfortable majority in the municipal assembly.

The opposition Nago residents expressed again toward the relocation through the Sept. 12 election has dealt a serious blow to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)-led administration, which has officially agreed with the United States to relocate the base off Nago.

Mayor Susumu Inamine expressed gratitude to local voters for supporting his opposition to the relocation plan.

"Just a few minutes ago, I received a report that opponents secured a majority. Local residents expressed their will," he told reporters at City Hall shortly after midnight on Sept. 13.

Inamine, who pledged never to allow the national government to build a base in inland or offshore areas of the city, was elected to his first term as mayor in the January 2010 election.

The DPJ had pledged during the campaign for the 2009 House of Representatives election to relocate Futenma base at least out of the prefecture. However, the administration of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama retracted the pledge and decided in May to build a substitute facility for the base off the Henoko district of Nago.

The administration of Hatoyama's successor, Naoto Kan, followed the decision despite Mayor Inamine's stiff opposition, and announced a report by a Japanese and U.S. expert panel on the construction method of the planned new base in late August.

Excluding neutral members, the assembly had been evenly split between pro- and anti-mayor members until the Sept. 12 election. At one point, rumors circulated in the city that anti-mayor members would join hands with some of the neutral members to ram through a resolution agreeing on the relocation plan during its June session.

Some residents began to voice criticism of the city administration led by Inamine after the national government decided to withhold a grant for the city unless it agreed to host the base.

The main point of contention during the assembly election was whether voters would support the mayor or not, according to a municipal government official.

A candidate with close ties to former Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, who had agreed to host the base with some conditions attached, launched a massive election campaign with the backing of local businesses.

Toward the end of the campaign, it was rumored that anti-mayor candidates would likely win the election, prompting Mayor Inamine to take to the streets to call for support for pro-mayor, anti-base candidates.

Yoshitami Oshiro, 69, a pro-mayor candidate who won the election, said the results reflect local residents' will to ensure Inamine adheres to his opposition to the relocation.

"Local residents expressed their wish to stabilize the Inamine-led municipal administration," he said.

Yasuhide Miyagi, 55, an anti-mayor candidate who was elected to his first term by garnering the fifth largest number of votes of all candidates, did not comment on the overall results of the election when he addressed his supporters after the election.

However, Miyagi, leader of a local residents' group that has agreed to host the base with some conditions attached, told reporters, "I'd like to consult with the mayor and convey Henoko residents' will to him."

Hiroshi Kohagura, head of a local panel on base relocation countermeasures, said the election results reflect local residents' anger at the DPJ administration's betrayal of their trust.

"Prefectural residents expressed anger at Mr. Hatoyama for giving them hope and placing a ladder to heaven for them, only to then throw them into a bottomless pit," he said.

(Mainichi Japan) September 13, 2010

DOD: Joint Use of all bases in Japan & V-22 Osprey aircraft

Another crucial post from Satoko Norimatsu at Peace Philosophy Centre, bases in Japan, and testing/training of the accident-prone V-22 Osprey aircraft in Okinawa nad Japan: "DoD: Joint Use of "ALL" bases in Japan, and Operation of Ospreys":
See below an excerpt from the September 9 press briefing by DoD by Assistant Secretary of Defense Geoff Morrell, talking about the U.S. and Japanese joint use of "all facilities in Japan," including the FRF ("Futenma Relocation Facility"), and confirming their plan to operate MV-22 Ospreys will operate in Japan.

What Morrell indicates is that the joint use of military bases and operation of Ospreys apply to ALL military bases in Japan, not just in Okinawa. Could Ospreys operate in and out of Iwakuni as well ?

Okinawans are angry about the fact that the Japanese government has concealed the Osprey plan until earlier this month. The environmental impact assessment did not pay consideration to the Osprey operations either.

The Japanese and U.S. governments must be fully accountable for their plans to jointly use the military bases in Japan, and their plans to operate MV-22 Ospreys, dangerous aircrafts dubbed "Widow Makers" for their frequent accidents.

From the transcript of September 9 Press Briefing of DoD (Department of Defense website):

Q Hi. On the Futenma issue, Japanese Defense Minister Kitazawa announced that United States and Japan agreed to discuss the possible joint use of Futenma Replacement Facility. But this was not included in the so-called bilateral or Experts Study Group report which was recently published. Did United States actually agree to discuss about this possible joint use?

MR. MORRELL: I think, Yoso, as you are aware, the ministers have agreed to look at joint or shared use of, frankly, all facilities in Japan, the FRF among them. But the mandate of the Experts Study Group was to look at the facility's location, configuration and construction method.

So looking at shared use was beyond the scope of their mandate, as were a slew of other issues. So that was never their charge.

However, there is a separate consultative process that will, indeed, study, you know, the expansion of joint and shared use of U.S. military and Japanese facilities in order to improve the effectiveness of the alliance's defense posture. So we do anticipate those discussions to take place. They just weren't a part of this first -- the working group -- the experts' group, their mandate, okay?

Okay. You also had another question that you sent me, I think. It was about the Ospreys. And what I would say to you there is yes, we anticipate that Ospreys will indeed operate in Japan. And we've -- and we've told the Japanese government as much. You know, where and when and how are things to be determined. But this is obviously an incredibly effective form of airlift that will enhance our alliance capabilities. And so we do anticipate the deployment of Ospreys to our facilities in Japan at some point.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows launch 911 Stories: Our Voices, Our Choices


Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Earlier this year, September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows joined with Hibakusha groups (and Peace Philosophy Centre) to hold "Wisdom of the Survivor," a conference seeking to draw from the wisdom of survivors to stop chains of revenge, hate, violence, and wars:
Seeking to influence the debate on nuclear disarmament and abolition, many Hibakusha have made the pilgrimage to past Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences, which are held at the United Nations every five years. Now they are getting older and their chance to witness their dream of a nuclear-free world is growing shorter. Inspired by President Obama’s Prague pledge to work for “a world without nuclear weapons,” and knowing that the entire non-proliferation regime is hanging by a thread, they come this time with a greater sense of urgency than ever...

The unprecedented interaction between the Hibakusha and the 9/11 community will constitute the center of this conference. We believe that bringing together these two groups for a day of testimony and conversation will provide an understanding of the unique political, psychological, and spiritual contributions that survivors of atrocity and their families can make towards a peaceful future.
Today Peaceful Tomorrows launched a new website, 911 Stories: Our Voices, Our Choices, to enlarge and moving this global dialogue between survivors of collective violence online at 911 Stories: Our Voices, Our Choices:
SEPTEMBER 11th: STILL A TEACHABLE MOMENT?

David Potori
Co-Founder, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Like the proverbial tree, if a teachable moment occurs and no one hears the lesson, is it still a teachable moment? If you’ve been paying attention to the controversy, real or imagined, over the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” you may have found yourself considering some form of this question. How, nearly ten years after the 9/11 attacks, can some remain so insular, so ill-informed? How has anger managed to keep so many from completing—or even starting—their necessary journey through grief to wisdom and understanding? How are we even having this conversation in 2010?

For the members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, we’ve been having conversations of a different sort since the fall of 2001. That’s when a handful of family members of 9/11 victims decided to turn their grief into action for peace by calling for alternatives to war during a symbolic walk from the Pentagon to the World Trade Center facilitated by Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness (now Voices for Creative Nonviolence). A person-to-person trip to Afghanistan under the auspices of Medea Benjamin and Global Exchange took place in January, 2002, putting us in contact with our counterparts, family members of those lost to the U.S. bombing done in reaction to 9/11. Our group was launched that Valentine’s Day with the sponsorship of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the support of the American Friends Service Committee and the Hague Appeal for Peace and goals that included promoting dialogue on alternatives to war, supporting others seeking non-violent responses to terrorism and calling attention to threats to civil liberties and other freedoms as a consequence of war.

It was the stories we told of our own losses, and the stories our members brought back from Afghanistan of losses inflicted in our names, that forged a connection among our members and people around the world who had similar experiences, shared our desire for non-violent alternatives and had formed like-minded organizations. They included Israeli and Palestinian members of The Parents Circle, Japanese Hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors, family members who lost loved ones in the 2005 train bombings in Spain, the Iraqi peace coalition La’Onf, the South African Institute for Healing of Memories, and a host of others.


Bringing our stories, and their stories, to a wider audience is one of the goals of our new web site, 911 Stories: Our Voices, Our Choices. In the critical year leading up to the tenth commemoration of the September 11th attacks, it will provide a key opportunity to revisit the paths that could have been taken in the days after 9/11. How could we have responded differently? What could 9/11 families, and citizens around the world, have taught us about their experiences of terrorism, political violence and war? What choices could we have made, and what choices can we make today, to create peaceful tomorrows for everyone?

911 Stories: Our Voices, Our Choices will profile our members, collecting their public statements, speeches, essays, letters to the editor and telling stories of the projects they have undertaken. Through a dedicated YouTube channel it will feature film and television appearances and interviews with Peaceful Tomorrows members everywhere from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Hiroshima to Oklahoma City. It will also shine a light on the work of those others around the world who have been similarly affected by terrorism, political violence and war and have chosen to work for peace and nonviolence.

Utilizing the latest technologies with an eye toward accessibility, 911 Stories: Our Voices, Our Choices will serve as a rich, user-friendly resource for a range of constituencies at a time of unprecedented interest. We will partner with progressive educators to develop an array of downloadable, age-appropriate curricula for students in grade school through adult education. For the media, the stories will provide ideas and contact information for interviews and articles. For politicians and policymakers, the Web site will be a source of successful, real-world examples of the power of non-violence. And for the general public, the stories will serve as a source of hope, inspiration and new ways of envisioning their world.

We will work with advocacy organizations, peace and justice organizations, places of worship, public libraries and other organizations to ensure the project’s prominent visibility and broad distribution. And we hope the web site will be the centerpiece of a series of public and online forums that will increase dialogue among those with differing points of view. It will remain as a living document to the love we feel for those we lost on 9/11 and our enduring hope for peaceful tomorrows for everyone.

"911 Stories: Our Voices, Our Choices"will appear at www.911stories.org beginning September 11, 2010 with a small sampling of our work. As our inventory of stories grows week by week over the coming year, we welcome your reactions and invite you to share your ideas about how we can partner with you to keep the events of September 11th a teachable moment for future generations of Americans and others around the world.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gavan McCormack's "The US-Japan 'Alliance', Okinawa, and Three Looming Elections" explains what's up next

Gavan McCormack's "The US-Japan 'Alliance', Okinawa, and Three Looming Elections" posted this morning at Japan Focus is a must-read for anyone interested in better understanding the strange US-Japan relationship's impact on Okinawa for the past sixty years; and what's up next.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Film Director Nishikawa Miwa on ANPO

From ANPO director Linda Hoaglund's blog:
"Nishikawa Miwa on ANPO"

A beautiful quote from the brilliant young director, Nishikawa Miwa. She is a rising star on both the cinematic and literary scene in Japan.
For ANPO...

I am of the generation that gave up on it all.

By my time, the war, ANPO, the economic miracle and everything else was over and done with, defeated. Unable to identify an enemy to confront or comrades to ally with, I justify my generation and my life by remaining numb to history and to America.

And yet, nevertheless. Isn’t our woeful state exactly what they had in mind for us?

Don’t you see, they have us where they want us? Are you OK being the prostitute? OK being the pimp?

I cannot imagine anyone, Japanese or American, not breaking out in a cold sweat, confronted by the overwhelming intensity of the art in this film.

Linda Hoaglund, borne between Japan, the prostitute and America, the pimp; this film is the fruit of her quiet, searing prayers.
- Nishikawa Miwa, director, Wild Berries and Sway, Dear Doctor

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Mainichi Daily News: "American documentary maker aims to tell full story of battle over Japan-U.S. Security Treaty"

Nakamura Hiroshi – Painter who painted Japanese reactions to U.S. military presence throughout 1950s, the ANPO struggle of 1960 and more. (Description and image: "ANPO" website).

An article by NY-based reporter Takayasu Ogura published Jan. 19 of this year in The Mainichi on Linda Hoaglund's film, ANPO:
"ANPO" is centered on interviews with Japanese artists, and seeks to explore the fervor which gripped Japanese society over the treaty signing. "I want people to recall how passionate people were about it," says Hoaglund.

Linda Hoaglund was born to American missionaries in Kyoto, and until she moved to the United States at 17 was raised in Yamaguchi and Ehime prefectures. Fluent in both English and Japanese, she began writing English subtitles for Japanese films. Her credits include the subtitles for films of famed directors Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki, while she also produced the 2007 documentary "TOKKO," about survivors of the World War II Tokkotai air units, more commonly known in the West as "kamikaze."

Although Hoaglund has no personal experience of the struggle over the security treaty, she became interested in the issue after seeing films and photographs from the period. The Japanese government at the time "suppressed the popular movement (against the treaty) through the power of the police," Hoaglund says. "I feel that the United States didn't make an issue (of this), even though it was essentially against American values, because the U.S. treated Japan like a dependent state. I thought I should make about resistance to that."

Since last May, Hoaglund has conducted video interviews with some 30 prominent members of Japan's arts world — including painter Hiroshi Nakamura, singer Tokiko Kato, photographer Miyako Ishiuchi, and director Kaneto Shindo  asking them about their experiences related to the struggle over the treaty.

She also explored some of the events precipitating Japanese anger against the treaty, such as the Fukuryu Maru No. 5 fishing boat's irradiation near the Bikini atoll -- where the U.S. conducted hydrogen bomb tests -- in 1954, and the "Girard Incident" of 1957, when a housewife was shot to death on a U.S. Army firing range in Gunma Prefecture.

Hoaglund also filmed in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, location of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and around Henoko, where the base is scheduled to be moved.

"The anger and solidarity over the security treaty is very much alive in Okinawa," Hoaglund says. "But the American people and American media are unaware how many bases are concentrated in Okinawa, or of the rapes and other crimes perpetrated by U.S. military personnel."

Hoaglund also considers "ANPO" a requiem for Michiko Kanba, the 22-year-old University of Tokyo student killed in an anti-treaty demonstration on June 15, 1960.
Read the entire article here; follow Linda Hoaglund on Twitter here; see the film's trailer here; and read a review from Kyodo here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

ANPO: Art X War premieres at TIFF in Toronto: Film highlights "disturbing relationship between the U.S. military & Japan"

Hundreds of thousands of anti-ANPO protesters surrounding the Diet Building in 1960. (Image: JapanFocus.org)

Linda Hoaglund's ANPO: Art X War will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12. The Japan-born filmmaker said that her film "pulls way back to highlight the disturbing relationship between the U.S. military and Japan, almost exclusively through art."

Giovanna Fulvi's official TIFF description:
The United States has operated military bases in Japan for six decades, since the end of the Second World War. Their presence has rubbed salt into unhealed wounds from the war, a complex trauma explored in ANPO.

Ishiuchi Miyako, photographer raised near the Yokosuka U.S. Navy base. Her first photo book, "Yokosuka Story," won the top Kimura Ihei Prize. Her most recent photo series, "Hiroshima," was awarded the Mainichi Culture Award. (Photo: ANPO website.)

The title refers to the acronym for the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty, negotiated in 1951. But ANPO is not a straightforward political documentary. Instead, Linda Hoaglund structures her film as a stream of consciousness, contemplating the Japanese healing process using paintings and photographs in lieu of traditional narration. By weaving together subversive, avant-garde Japanese art produced over the decades, she weaves past and present into one fluid interpretation of time and pain.


(Still from Isao Takahata's 1988 animated drama film "Grave of the Fireflies") 

Stills of artwork, photography and segments of films – including Isao Takahata’s animated, anti-war drama Grave of the Fireflies – are intercut with their creators as a representation of a still-militarized Japan reeling from the psychic wounds inflicted by American occupiers. ANPO surveys the contemporary effects of ninety US bases in Japan and takes us back to 1960, when the majority of the protests took place. However, protests continue up until the present; the film includes protest footage in Tokyo from 2010.

"ANPO" features Ishikawa Mao, an Okinawan photographer who began photographing when the 1970 demonstrations against the U.S. bases turned violent. For her most recent series, "Fences, Okinawa," she walked around and photographed all the base fences in Okinawa. (Photo: ANPO website)

One artist paints the story of a woman who was shot and killed while scavenging shell casings on the fringes of a US base. Another young artist’s illustrations explore the idea of kimin, which she defines as “a country abandoning its people.” Yet another artist uses her work to come to terms with the role of “comfort women,” who were used as “a sexual breakwater to protect Japanese women” from being raped by Allied soldiers. Pain has many outlets; seeing it crafted into moving and visceral art can be devastating.

Charting creative impulses born of hardship, ANPO is a poetic rumination on how artists respond to a nation’s trauma.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jon Letman: "In Search of Real Security: A Closer Look at Our Basic Needs in a Time of Crisis"

Many thanks to Koohan Paik for sharing news about this hopeful dialogue taking place in Hawai'i. The filmmaker and author participated in a panel addressing genuine security last month.

Jon Letman covered the event, "In Search of Real Security, Part One: A Closer Look at Our Basic Needs in a Time of Crisis" for The Hawaii Independent. Truth Out reposted the two-part series.

Letman points out that the U.S. militaristic public policy that spends trillions of tax and borrowed (from China and other foreign nations) dollars on military escalation and perpetual wars has resulted in less, not more security—while creating suffering for many millions of people and environmental devastation in its planetary wake.

Koohan, Kyle Kajihiro of DMZ Hawai'i and the rest of the panel explored the overwhelming issue of our time—How do we shift from rule by a destructive, fearful, toxic culture of war, death, environmental destruction, and economic predation to rule by a constructive, healthy culture of life-affirmative policies and institutions?

Although written from a Hawaiian-American perspective, the issues and insights apply to everyone because U.S. militarism, network of bases, perpetual wars, and unreasonable anxiety over "security" affects the entire world:
“Politics isn’t a game. It’s making this country better and what people represent. It’s a massive jobs program. For example, building the infrastructure of this country, and it’s not just the highways, it’s public transportation. It’s taking the money, from spending money on war in Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing it back home because there are major wars at home, people are struggling.”

—Amy Goodman, August 23, 2010
Lihue - Ours is a nation obsessed with security. Two months after the bitter sting of the 9/11 attacks, the federal government formed the Transportation Security Administration and, one year later, the Department of Homeland Security. In the decade that has followed we have been pounded with talk of security in every aspect of our lives: from computer security and private home security to food and energy security, national security, nuclear security, and global security.

(A Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) vehicle during a Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercise on Kauai in the summer of 2008. Photo: Letman/The Hawaii Independent)

Yet as we approach our ninth year of war and occupation in Afghanistan and our eighth in Iraq, Americans have seen security at home eroded by financial collapse, a neglected infrastructure, a hemorrhaging job market, anemic social services and public health care crisis, volatile energy and food markets, and the complex realities of climate change.

In the face of home foreclosures, bankruptcy, and unemployment with many Americans’ income flat or falling and funding for basic civil institutions like public schools, libraries, and parks in decline, the question screams: “What is real security?”

When parents cannot keep their jobs, children cannot go to school, and families cannot stay in their homes, who in America today feels secure?

Typically in the United States, “security” is viewed in terms of freedom from violence, war, or the threat of terrorism. Throughout Bush’s two terms, Americans were incessantly told that preemptive war and victory in Iraq and Afghanistan were “vital to our national security.”

But if America’s embrace of militarism and a vast new untrackable surveillance culture is meant to reassure citizens that their security is being protected, at a minimum, Nidal Hassan, Faisal Shahzad, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, and Najibullah Zazi have all demonstrated that sending well over 1 million U.S. troops to fight and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, and spending over one trillion dollars on two wars since 2001 has not made us more secure, but less.

During the Cold War, President Dwight Eisenhower said: “We need an adequate defense, but every arms dollar we spend above adequacy has a long-term effect upon the nation and its security.” On another occasion, Eisenhower was quoted saying, “We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.”

Following the September 11 hijackings, America’s airports were swept up in a new atmosphere of absolute insecurity. Quickly, and with almost no resistance, Americans were tossing out baby formula and toothpaste, removing shoes and belts and being swabbed for explosive residue every time they boarded an airplane.

At home and in the office we learned that our computers, telephones, credit cards, financial transactions, retail purchases, library visits, email and internet activity, and telephone calls were all fair game for surveillance. By 2010 untold thousands of ordinary American citizens had been added to terrorist watch lists and “no-fly lists” as a growing number of airports began using full body x-ray machines to project what are effectively nude images of us to security screeners all in the name of security.

As of August 2010, over 4,417 Americans have died in Iraq and 1,244 have died in Afghanistan. These numbers are dwarfed by the poorly recorded hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in those countries and a whole new generation of war veterans who have been severely injured, permanently disabled or driven to suicide. In January of this year the Veterans Affairs Department reported that suicides by male veterans (18 to 29 years old) between 2005 and 2007 had increased by 26 percent.

Like his predecessor, President Barack Obama regularly talks about security as it relates to the military in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan and at 770 U.S. military facilities in 39 countries around the world.

Speaking before 2010 graduating cadets at West Point, Barack Obama said: “You go abroad because your service is fundamental to our security back home.” In an earlier speech also at West Point, Obama called success in Afghanistan a “vital national security interest...”

Other politicians from Hawaii, like Obama, may talk about “living aloha,” but the word “security” is never far from their lips.

In his opening statement at a hearing on the 2011 Department of Defense Budget this June, Sen. Daniel Inouye said: “We need only to look at words spoken and actions taken ... by North Korea, Iran, and China to be reminded that our national security challenges go beyond those of irregular warfare.”

Sen. Daniel Akaka, who serves on committees and sub-committees overseeing Department of Homeland Security affairs, recently spoke about the importance of foreign language proficiency and cultural awareness as a vital tool for protecting national security. At a Senate hearing on the need to improve foreign language skills among Foreign Service officers, Akaka said, “Threats to our national security are becoming more complex, interconnected, and unconventional.” Language shortfalls, Akaka warned, “will continue to undermine our country’s national security.”

Republican Congressman Charles Djou, who won a special election in May after his two Democratic opponents split the vote, includes the following passage on his campaign website: “Hawaii has a unique and critical role in our national security. Our island chain is home to key military bases and stations, thousands of military personnel, and various strategic operations ... America must maintain its strong military and Hawaii must retain its central role in military preparedness...”

Last month, Inouye and Akaka joined Djou in voting for an additional $37 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Only Rep. Mazie Hirono (2nd Dist.) voted against the war funding bill.

Earlier this month Hirono briefly participated in a community forum on Kauai entitled “In Search of Real Security for Kauai.”

The panel discussion, organized by the Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice, invited Rep. Hirono to join four speakers from Kauai and Oahu for an evening of ideas and discussion of how to pursue real security in an era of economic distress, social dislocation, climate change, and perennial militarism.

The forum opened with filmmaker and author (The Superferry Chronicles) Koohan Paik of Kauai sharing the stage with community organizer KipuKai Kualii.

Paik and Kualii discussed real security in terms of government spending priorities with an emphasis on the militarized state of Hawaii and how they say that money could be better used.

Paik, born in California but raised in South Korea and Guam before moving to Kauai in 2000, spoke of the importance of viewing Hawaii from a Pacific island perspective.

“We always hear Hawaii being described as ‘out in the middle of nowhere’ or as ‘the most isolated place on the planet,’ but these descriptions are from a staunchly continental perspective.”

“The ocean,” Paik said, “connects us all into a single blue continent.” Stressing the cultural, historical, and linguistic ties between all Pacific peoples, Paik said, “We need to see the connection between Hawaii and all the Pacific islands because the military certainly does. Part of the [U.S.] military’s build-up on Guam is a missile defense shield hooked up to a network that includes the Pacific Missile Range Facility [on Kauai], Kwajalein [Marshall Islands], Vandenberg Air force Base, and Okinawa.”

Paik, who recently wrote on militarism in Guam and the Pacific, said the militarization of the Pacific (which she points out ironically means ‘peace’) is antithetical to real security for the people whose environment, culture, and well-being is adversely impacted by the military.

“If we think of ourselves [in the Pacific] as separate, we will always be a small, disempowered population, isolated and in the middle of nowhere,” Paik said. “But if we think of ourselves as connected by the ocean, we can be a viable political block.”

Paik said real security and sustainability won’t come until people in the Pacific detach themselves from militarism, corporatism, and what she calls the “colonial thinking that power and abundance come from outside rather than within.”

During her presentation, Paik cited statistics and examples of how she said a militarized Pacific did not serve the interest of its people.

According to the National Priorities Project, the United States has spent more than $1,070,000,000 (one trillion, seventy billion dollars) on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. This works out to nearly $3.5 billion for the people of Hawaii alone. After her talk, people approached her and said they didn’t realize how much was being spent on the military.

Real security, Paik said, will come when Hawaii is not dominated by military spending but instead supports more immediate human needs—health, education, preservation of the environment, sustainable energy, and fostering a culture the builds rather than destroys.

“We cannot continuously expand as if the earth’s resources are infinite,” Paik said. The result of placing the military as a top priority, she explained, is to leave ordinary people fighting amongst themselves, scrambling for whatever scraps are left.

Paik’s address was followed by Kualii, who suggested “real security” would come by addressing immediate community needs, specifically poverty, un(and under)-employment, hunger, and affordable housing...
Read the rest of "Part One" here. The rest of Letman's coverage, "In Search of Real Security, Part Two: Societies, Like All Living Things, Need Air and Light to Live" focuses on a prescription for a healthy, sustainable, genuinely secure society
“Your Majesty, please…I don’t like to complain,

But down here below, we are feeling great pain.”


- Dr. Seuss, Yertle the Turtle
Lihue - A discussion on Kauai in August explored the impacts of a U.S. economy too intensely focused on its military operations overseas. Real security, it was said, will come when Hawaii is not dominated by military spending but instead supports more immediate human needs: health, education, preservation of the environment, sustainable energy, and fostering a culture the builds rather than destroys.

(A Kauai farmer, pictured at Kukuiula outdoor market, grows food for local markets. Photo: Jon Letman)

Invited by the Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice, organizers of a community forum on the meaning of real security on August 7, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D—District 2) arrived during the second speaker’s presentation. Bisecting a discussion that examined how militarism affected real security for Hawaii’s people, Hirono gave her own short presentation in which she briefly addressed education, creation of green jobs, the BP oil spill, GMO crops, the Akaka Bill, and her vote against the request for an additional $37 billion in war funding. Hirono, who is running for reelection in November’s midterm election, said she had “serious and growing concerns about funding for the war in Afghanistan.” She added that she did not think peace would be brought to the region through the military.

Security, Hirono said, also means economic, food, and energy security and that the way to become more secure is through education.

“We need to enable our kids to be able to think critically and in an environment that is supportive,” Hirono said.

After answering questions, without hearing the speakers before or after her, Hirono departed, leaving American Friends Service Committee Hawaii program director Kyle Kajihiro to offer his thoughts on the meaning of real security.

“What once gave life is now a toxic place for exporting and planning wars.”

Kajihiro examined security in terms of militarization and how it impacts Hawaii. He said he wants to challenge “the myth that empire equals peace and security...”

“Look at Ke Awalau o Puuloa, what is now called ‘Pearl Harbor,’” Kajihiro continued. “This is a perfect example of a threat to real security under military occupation. What once was a food basket for Oahu with 36 fish ponds has become a giant toxic ‘Superfund site.’ What once gave life is now a toxic place for exporting and planning wars.”

Kajihiro went on to revisit the history of 20th century American and Japanese militarism in the Pacific, describing what he called the disastrous outcomes of the false premise that a loaded gun can somehow bring security. He suggested an alternative to the current model would be one based on meeting human needs and working toward a healthy, clean environment that sustains life.

The very notion of security in the United States today, Kajihiro explained, is based on the pursuit of something absolute and unattainable.

“In order to have our humanity intact, we have to have dialogue and openness and that requires some risk,” Kajihiro said. “To paraphrase theologian Dorothee Sölle, ‘societies, like all living things, need air and light to live.’”

The casualties can be seen in Hawaii from injured war vets to Hawaii’s “homeless” who are overlooked by a society obsessed with achieving a false sense of security through its military at any cost, even its own people.

Kajihiro was followed by the final speaker of the evening, Andrea Brower, co-director of Malama Kauai, a non-profit organization that works toward innovative and sustainable solutions for the island.

Brower acknowledged the relatively small turnout for the forum stemmed, in part, from a combination of people feeling powerless or lacking the belief that they are sufficiently informed to participate.

“In a capitalist worker economy where the cost of living is so high, people are tired from working two, even three jobs. It makes people blank out,” Brower said. “To really examine the problems of the world can feel like everything is unraveling.”

“We need to reinvigorate our culture with compassion and a sense of connection to other people on the planet ...”

Brower said that problems can appear so vast and complex that people can’t imagine how they can do anything to effect change and as a result disengage or tune out.

To remedy that, Brower suggests people consider their own passions toward positive social transformation and ecological renewal and commit themselves to working toward the ideas and values they hold. Brower said contributing to positive change can take many forms including volunteering, politics, media, education, or something as simple as growing one’s own food in a home garden.

“If every person on this island was engaged in contributing to our community and to the land and committed to positive social change in a way that inspired and excited them, I think we would be on a different path,” Brower said. “I think we need to reinvigorate our culture with compassion and a sense of connection to other people on the planet, to recognize our common humanity...”
Read the complete article here.