Friday, April 15, 2011

Okinawa Network for Global Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) Statement

Okinawa Network for Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) Statement

Amid an unprecedented crisis caused by earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, the National Diet of Japan, on March 31, the last day of the Japanese fiscal year 2010, approved a bill to pay for continued hosting of US military in Japan. Referred to as the “Sympathy Budget” or Omoiyari yosan, the bill now enables the Japanese government to spend 188 billion yen ($2.3 billion) a year of taxpayers’ money for next 5 years on labor costs, utility bills, “facility improvement projects”, and the costs of “training relocation” to Guam.

The passing of the bill in a time of national crisis of this magnitude not only raises questions about the seriousness of the Japanese government in terms of its commitment to disaster relief and rebuilding of devastated communities. It also illustrates that the US-Japan security relation has become a “sacred area” and militarization has become prevalent in Japan.

We of Okinawa Network for Global Day of Action on Military Spending believe that the passing of the bill was unjustified, and we voice our strong objection to the bill.

The Japanese government estimates the costs of relief and rebuilding efforts to be more than $300 billion, excluding the costs of decontamination of radioactive wastes. Albeit receiving large and generous donations from all over the world, Japan as a whole is struggling to find ways to cover the costs and to aid the people in desperate need of help. Ironically, however, the Japanese government is still able to support the US military.

It should be emphasized that the sympathy budget constitutes only one third of the total amount of money Japan pays for the US military in Japan. In fiscal year 2010, the Japanese government spent staggering 672 billion yen ($7.92 billion) on hosting US military bases. As Mr. Kevin K. Maher, former Director of the Office of Japan Affairs, said, the US has “a very good deal in Japan”. While ranked as the 6th military spender in the world, Japan has been one of the biggest contributors to keep the US as the world’s military superpower.

We believe that both Japanese and US governments impede our global efforts to realize a truly peaceful and secure world by diverting our limited resources to military spending. We thus voice our objection to their military spending and policies.

We urge the Japanese government to suspend the sympathy budget and shift it from supporting the US military to aiding disaster relief and rebuilding efforts.

We urge the US government, as our “Tomodachi or friend”, to decline our sympathy budget, if it truly wishes to help Japan’s recovery and rebuilding.

We also urge both Japanese and US governments to stop further militarizing Okinawa: the base construction in Henoko/Oura Bay and the helipad construction in Takae.

We call on the international community to urge the Japanese and US governments to shift their military budgets to aid those who are in need of help.

April 12, 2011
Okinawa Network for Global Day of Action on Military Spending
at “Henoko Tent Village”, sit-in site to stop the construction of a new US military base

Okinawa Network for the Global Day of Action on Military Spending
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