Friday, September 30, 2011

Terry Tempest Williams on living with radiation from the 1,000+ nuclear bomb explosions in North America

(Image: Richard Miller, “Areas crossed by two or more radioactive clouds during the era of nuclear testing in the American Southwest, 1951-62” in Under the Cloud: The Decades of Nuclear Testing (Two-Sixty Press, 1999))

When Terry Tempest Williams began her soul-searching chronicle that explores how her family, friends, and community members lived with the environmental, psychological and health consequences of the thousand nuclear test explosions in the American Southwest (most Southerners don't even know this, but Mississippi was also nuked twice), she felt unheard and unseen. Then she visited Hiroshima, and upon meeting other survivors of nuclear radiation, no longer felt alone.

Her 20-year-old memoir, Refuge, is more relevant than ever, after Fukushima. An excerpt from her last chapter, "The Clan of One-Breasted Women":
Over dessert, I shared a recurring dream of mine, I told my father that for years, as long as I could remember, I saw this flash of light in the night in the desert—that this image had so permeated my being that I could not venture south without seeing it again, on the horizon, illuminating buttes and mesas.

"You did see it," he said.

"See what?"

"The bomb. The cloud...

I stared at my father.

"I thought you knew that," he said. "It was a common occurence in the fifties."

It was at this moment that I realized the deceit I had been living under. Children growing up in the American Southwest, drinking contaminated milk from contaminated cows, even from the contaminated breasts of their mothers, my mother—members, years later, of the Clan of One-Breasted Women.

It is a well-known story in the Desert West. "The Day We Bombed Utah," or more accurately, the years we bombed Utah: above ground atomic testing in Nevada took place from January 27, 1951 to July 11, 1962. Not only were the winds blowing north covering "low-use segments of the population" with fallout and leaving sheep dead in their tracks, but the climate was right...

Much has been written about this "American nuclear tragedy." Public health was secondary to national security...

Again and again, the American public was told by its government, in spite of burns, blisters, and nausea, "It ihas been found that the tests may be conducted with adequate assurance of safety under conditions prevailing at the bombing reservations." Assuaging public fears was simply a matter of public relations. "Your best action," an Atomic Energy Commission booklet read, "is not to be worried about fallout."

...The fear and inability to question authority that ultimately killed rural communities in Utah during atmospheric testing of atomic weapons is the same fear I saw in my mother's body...

My father's memory was correct. The September blast we drove through in 1957 was part of Operation Plumbbob, one of the most intensive series of bomb tests to be initiated. The flash of light in the night in the desert, which I had always thought was a dream, developed into a family nightmare. It took fourteen years, from 1957 to 1971, for cancer to manifest in my mother—the same time, Howard L. Andrews, an authority in radioactive fallout at the National Institutes of Health, says radiation cancer requires to become evident...

One night I dreamed women from all over the world circled a blazing fire in the desert. They spoke of change, how they hold the moon in their bellies and wax and wane with its phases. They mocked presumption of even-tempered beings...

- Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, 1991

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare" sheds light on low-level radioactive contamination in Washington State, Russia, Europe (& holds insights for Japan)

*"Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare" airs Oct. 16, 2011 on Sundance Channel*

Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare spotlights contaminated regions in Washington State (which has the highest incidence of cancer in the U.S.) and Russia, and overviews the problem of nuclear waste that also hangs over Japan, the UK, Germany, and France.

...Some notes from the film...

Filmmaker Eric Guéret and producer Laure Noualhat open their 2009 film overviewing how nuclear nations have strewn nuclear waste into oceans for decades. Some ocean bottoms have become nuclear dumping grounds, covered with radioactive waste after the barrels ripped open.

Mike Townsley of Greenpeace International describes the rusted radioactive waste barrels and answers his own question: "Where’s the radioactive waste? It’s in the environment. It becomes part of the food chain.

"Everybody did this. The British. The French. The Americans. The Russians. In less than 50 years, they've buried over 100 metric tons of nuclear waste in various oceans."

"It took ten years for nuclear activists to build worldwide support for a 1993 UN Treaty forbid dumping radioactive waste."

Hanford Nuclear Complex, along the Columbia River in Washington State, 1960

Hanford Nuclear Reservation (HNR), the world's first nuclear manufacturing site, is one of the most contaminated places in the world. In 1942, the Roosevelt administration chose Washington State as a site to develop radioative components for atomic bombs because they wanted a remote area to minimize fatalities in case of an accident.

At its peak, the massive complex (half the size of the state of Maryland) employed 51,000 people at 9 nuclear reactors and plutonium factories. A breeder reactor was built in 1943 to produce plutonium for the Nagasaki bomb. No one was allowed to know how many leaks, accidents or fires took place at Hanford.

"This was all secret. It was a US Army operation."

Without the consent of nearby residents (farmers and members of the Yakima tribe, the indigenous people whose territory included Washington state), plant operators used water from a nearby river for plant cooling and discharged the used water right back into the river. Plant operators let people use the river without telling families of the dangers to which they were exposed.

(Exposure map for the "Green Run" U.S. Air Force nuclear radiation experiment at Hanford Nuclear Reservation that released somewhere between 7,000 and 12,000 curies of iodine-131 into the air on December 2-3, 1949. (Image:

The plant produced 1,500 billion liters of nuclear waste that operators dumped, contaminating the Columbia River ecosystem. They poured liquid waste directly into trenches dug in the earth and put 210 million liters of radioactive and chemical waste into 177 concrete tanks they buried in the ground. By the 1960's, some tanks were already leaking, and now 67 tanks have failed, leaking 4 million liters of waste, thereby contaminating the water table. In 2002, Strontium 90 was found present in Columbia River fish.

The film explains that, besides Hanford, the US government built a dozen nuclear sites in the U.S. to support the Manhattan Project, then shifts to a contaminated region in Russia that even most people in Russia did not know about until decades after the disasters, and that most people worldwide still don't know about...

In 1976, news leaked about an nuclear waste explosion in 1957 at the Mayak nuclear weapons complex (built by Gulag-era prison laborers in the eastern Urals and probably modeled after Hanford; U-2 spy plane pilot Gary Powers' destination when he was shot down in Soviet airspace in 1960). The explosion at Mayak, a Soviet plutonium production site, was the worst nuclear accident in the world before Chernobyl, and one of three catastrophic nuclear accidents at Mayak.

Villages in a previously idyllic region were contaminated by the fallout. The disaster was kept secret; no one could see the radiation, so didn't understand what had happened. The Soviet government buried the harvest, saying it was contaminated but they wouldn't explain how this happened; and dumped nuclear waste into lakes, which contaminated the Techa River which goes to Siberia.

Many villages were evacuated. Two thirds of the population have left. Now village houses are empty because almost everyone who stayed have died. Cancers. Heart conditions. Diabetes. All linked to radioactive contamination of the environment: tritrium and cesium-137 has transformed affected soil into radioactive waste. Plutonium 239 and 240, which creates the explosive component of nuclear bombs, is now part of the river.

One lonely peasant who refused to leave says, “When I see the empty houses, I feel the same anguish as after a bombing.”

Others who chose or had no alternative but to remain say they are waiting to die of cancer and are tested every year: “They are using us as guinea pigs.” Last year I lost my son. He would have been 48. He died of cancer. We live like guinea pigs. It’s our fate.”

The Soviet Union tried to keep the Mayak explosion at its top secret plant and the consequences of radioactive fallout secret. It wasn't until dissident scientist Zhores Mendedev reported the accident in 1976 that it became known to the outside world. The Gorbachev government confirmed this a decade later. With Glasnost, people began to talk...

A Russian interviewee in the film explains: “It’s dangerous to our entire society. The nuclear industry started to let its secrets go. There were rumor that wrong-doings were hidden; we started talking about Mayak. Then Yeltsin came to power. Things hushed up again."

All nuclear energy plants and weapons plants discharge nuclear waste, so the issue of low-level radiation contamination is problematic for the UK, France, Germany, Japan and other countries that have nuclear energy industries and also for nations that produce nuclear weapons.

The AREVA nuclear waste reprocessing plant in La Hague has long been dumping nuclear waste into the English Channel. Iodine 129 is being detected as far as the Arctic. Seaweed, shellfish and mollusks are contaminated because the adjacent seabed has been turned into a nuclear waste dump. Krypton-85 is released into the atmosphere and carried by winds all over Europe.

The largest utilities company in Europe, France's EDF, sends "radioactive material" (recycled uranium) by train in metal containers for storage at an open-air car park in Seversk, Siberia [formerly a secret "closed city" where there are several nuclear reactors, plants for reprocessing uranium and plutonium as well as storage and production facilities for nuclear weapons].

In Japan, the US and the UK, the usual way to deal with nuclear waste is to keep it in large storage pools (a hazardous non-solution, as we now know from Fukushima). If the pools lose their water, the waste fuel heats up and catches fire.

Both Germany and Switzerland pronounced storage pools unsafe. Germany has moved nuclear waste into concrete into hillsides or thick concrete buildings.

Now the world has 450 nuclear waste storage pools spread across countries using nuclear power. Some have proposed storing nuclear waste at very deep depths in the earth, but is this efficient give the totality of costs of the nuclear industry, which would cease to exist without extensive taxpayer-funded subsidies?

It's misleading to use Hiroshima and Nagasaki high-level radiation models as a comparison with continuous external and internal low-level radiation exposure.

The French government's attitude towards nuclear energy might be likened to a state religion. The state almost wholly owns AREVA, the French nuclear corporation and biggest atomic operator in the world; therefore the French government pushes nuclear energy worldwide for its own profit and has failed to develop renewable sources of energy. Germany markedly contrasts with France: the broad public is not inhibited by the state from engaging in serious debate about the risks of nuclear energy production.


More on the film from the Int. Panel of Fissile Materials blog:
On 20 February 2010 Greenpeace issued a call for a moratorium on shipments of reprocessed uranium from France to Russia. Activists had been repeatedly blocking rail shipments of the material from the La Hague reprocessing plant to Cherbourg port.

Parliamentary enquiry, government statements, Greenpeace actions are a few of the stunning consequences of a 100-minutes TV documentary Déchets - Le Cauchemar du Nucléaire (Waste - The Nuclear Nightmare) broadcast by the Franco-German station ARTE for the first time on 13 October 2009 and re-broadcast by various television stations since. The documentary presents the results of an investigation into nuclear waste management in the US, Russia, Germany and France. The authors Eric Guéret and Laure Noualhat were often accompanied by technicians of the French independent radiation-monitoring lab CRIIRAD.

They detected and measured radiation in many places where they went, from the Columbia river close to the US nuclear weapons lab in Hanford to the Soviet counterpart Mayak in the Urals. Some of the most remarkable scenes include a Geiger counter that goes crazy under a publicly accessible bridge over the Techa river and a scene outside the French "plutonium factory" called reprocessing plant at La Hague. In the latter case a spokesman for operator AREVA, when asked about radiation levels in the fields outside the plant, stated after a long hesitation that he would not call this contamination, but "absence of impact" before stumbling: "Well, we'll redo that one..."

However, remarkably enough, the largest impact had a simple mass calculation that the journalists presented. Constantly facing the AREVA PR that states that 96% of the nuclear materials are "recycled" through the reprocessing scheme, the reporters inquired where the recovered uranium, roughly 95% of the mass of spent fuel, does end up. In fact, AREVA has been sending most of the reprocessed uranium (23,000 tons were still stored in France at the end of 2008), to Russia officially for re-enrichment.

In fact, even if all of that uranium had indeed been re-enriched, which is not the case, over 90% of the mass remains in Russia as enrichment tails. This material is waste, because there is absolutely no economic incentive to re-enrich it, in particular considering the hundreds of thousands of tons of "clean", first generation enrichment tails that are stored in Russia and in the other major enrichment countries, including in France (close to 260,000 tons at two sites).

The message that AREVA's "recycling" ratio had to be corrected from 95% to less than 10% of the original mass send a shockwave through the French political landscape. The minister of Environment asked for clarifications and the parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Option Assessment (OPECST) organized public hearings. During the hearings EDF has admitted that, apart from a period of about five years, 100% of the reprocessed uranium had been sent to Russia.

Between 2000 and approximately 2005 (the EDF representative was not certain) reprocessed uranium was sent to URENCO's Dutch plant that can re-enrich reprocessed uranium (contrary to URENCO's UK and German plants). EDF signed a contract with AREVA to use part of the Georges-Besse-2 plant, currently under construction, to enrich reprocessed uranium for a period of about 10 years starting in 2013. The French Nuclear Safety Authority ASN announced that by the end 2010 it will have finished studies into the potential requalification of reprocessed uranium as waste.

The full version of the film "Déchets - Le Cauchemar du Nucléaire", by Eric Guéret and Laure Noualhat (in French and German with English subtitles) is available online. ARTE-Editions has also published a 210-page book by Laure Noualhat with the same title (in French).
More on nuclear waste:

"Top Ten Talking Points on the Environmental Impacts Caused by Reprocessing High-Level Radioactive Waste" (Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear, November 2008)

• Heart of America Northwest: The Public's Voice for Hanford's Cleanup

• "Hanford Nuclear Waste Still Poses Serious Risks"(Marc Pitzke, Spiegel Online, March 24, 2011) In-depth report on radioactive contamination, including the intentional release of radioactive clouds during an experiment by Hanford physicists that they called "Green Run."

• "Risky Nuclear Experiments on a Global Collision Course -- it's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Radioactive World!" (Dvija Michael Bertish, HOANW blog, Feb. 2011):
the states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont have sued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over a federal policy that allows nuclear waste to be stored at a nuclear power plant for 60 years after it has been decommissioned. The three states challenge this policy because it allows long term storage of nuclear waste without environmental review. Most nuclear plants were developed without sufficient infrastructure for safe long term waste storage.
"Analysis Triples U.S. Plutonium Waste Figures" (Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times, July 10, 2010)

• "Mayak: A 50-year tragedy" (Greenpeace, September 28, 2007)

• "The French Nuclear Industry Is Bad Enough in France; Let's Not Expand It to the U.S. -- Areva, France's nuclear industry, has a solid reputation, but a trail of radioactive waste and deaths in Africa follow its wake."(Linda Gunter, Alternet, March 23, 2009 - mentions the French use of leftover radioactive dirt (tailings) and rocks from 210 abandoned uranium mines in school playgrounds and ski resort parking lots.)

Cheylabinsk: The Most Contaminated Spot on the Planet (This site contains information about Kyshtym-57, an environmental organization which is working to help radiation victims in the Chelyabinsk region; a film description and script from Chelyabinsk: The Most Contaminated Spot on the Planet, a documentary by Slawomir Grunberg.)

Cheylabinsk: The Most Contaminated Spot on the Planet official film website:
"Nobody knows anything about us. Chernobyl happened, but that's Europe. The pollution reached Europe, and the whole world was upset. But us, out here in the backwoods of Russia? Nobody knows about it, nobody in the world cares about the fate we've sealed for ourselves here." - Farida Shaimardanova, Muslyumovo teacher
"Urals Nuclear Disasters Contaminated 450,000 : Russia: Figure is given by officials in account of events at the Mayak atomic plant from 1948 to 1967. They say site could still pose hazards" (Richard Bourdreaux, The Los Angeles Times, Jan. 30, 1993)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Peace in Asia and the Pacific: Alternatives to Asia-Pacific Militarization Conference - Oct. 21-22, 2011, American Univ., Washington D.C.

Peace in Asia and the Pacific: Alternatives to Asia-Pacific Militarization

October 21, 2011 - 7:00pm - Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 6:00pm

Initiated by the American Friends Service Committee

To register and for additional information:

Please join us and consider having your organization co-sponsor this uniquely important conference.

Even as the Pentagon has been pursuing its Long War across the Middle East and Central Asia, the campaign to contain China has been driving U.S. strategic war planning and military spending.

Our movements to prevent war and to address the impacts of the militarization of the federal budget are not prepared to the long term designs of the Pentagon, right-wing and the Military-Industrial-Complex to reinforce and deepen U.S. militarism across the Asia-Pacific.

As former U.S. Ambassador to China R. Stapleton Roy put it, “we poked China in the eye” by sending the nuclear powered and nuclear capable aircraft carrier the U.S.S. George Washington into the East China Sea “because we could.”

The U.S. still has more than 100 military bases and installations across Japan. In Korea, activists have engaged in hunger strikes and been jailed for opposing the decimation of their communities with new U.S. military bases. The U.S. now has tacit military alliances with Vietnam and India and is exploring the return of military bases to the Philippines. The National Military Strategy issued in 2010 also calls for expanded military cooperation with Thailand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Singapore.

While the US economy stagnates under the tremendous burden of its military expenditures, China has poured resources into becoming the world’s workshop and building 21st century infrastructures and technologies. As the world’s financial centers tilt towards Beijing, new military spending in the region has increased the complexities of its territorial disputes with Japan and ASEAN nations with competing claims to South China Sea islands. A growing number of militarized “incidents” and violent conflict have also occurred on the Korean Peninsula.

The conference goals are:

Build our movements’ capacities to understand and respond to these developments
Identify and promote campaigns that challenge Asia-Pacific militarism and that advocate meaningful alternatives.
Facilitate solidarity between U.S. and Asia-Pacific peace movements, advocates and campaigns
In addition to our keynote speakers, panels will be devoted to Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and peace movement campaigns

Workshops to include:

Asia-Pacific Peace Movements

Southeast Asia

Central/South Asia

Economic Realities & Dynamics of the Asia-Pacific

Global Costs of Militarism

History 101: U.S. in Asia-Pacific

Human Rights


Nuclear Weapons Abolition

U.S.-China relations

Other workshops to be developed

Keynotes by Madame Yan Junqi, Vice President of the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament and the Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress and by Professor Bruce Cumings, Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in History Chairperson of the Department, University of Chicago* Panels on Northeast and Southeast Security Issues, Peace Movement Campaigns and Workshops (see below).

*Madame Yan is confirmed. Professor Cumings has been invited. This conference will also serve as the 4th Peace Forum organized by The American Friends Service Committee and the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament.

Additional information, including registration, available at


Kay Spiritual Life Center, American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
See map: Google Maps
Contact Information:
Joseph Gerson

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wangari Mathaai: When we destroy our natural environment, we degrade ourselves; in helping the earth to heal, we heal ourselves

Wangaari Mathaai, the late Kenyan visionary, articulated the interconnections between democracy, demilitarization, human rights and environmentalism in her holistic vision of a life-sustaining civilization:
Spiritual Environmentalism: Healing Ourselves by Replenishing the Earth

During my more than three decades as an environmentalist and campaigner for democratic rights, people have often asked me whether spirituality, different religious traditions, and the Bible in particular had inspired me, and influenced my activism and the work of the Green Belt Movement (GBM). Did I conceive conservation of the environment and empowerment of ordinary people as a kind of religious vocation? Were there spiritual lessons to be learned and applied to their own environmental efforts, or in their lives as a whole?...

However, I never differentiated between activities that might be called "spiritual" and those that might be termed "secular." After a few years I came to recognize that our efforts weren't only about planting trees, but were also about sowing seeds of a different sort—the ones necessary to give communities the self-confidence and self-knowledge to rediscover their authentic voice and speak out on behalf of their rights (human, environmental, civic, and political). Our task also became to expand what we call "democratic space," in which ordinary citizens could make decisions on their own behalf to benefit themselves, their community, their country, and the environment that sustains them...

In the process of helping the earth to heal, we help ourselves.

Through my experiences and observations, I have come to believe that the physical destruction of the earth extends to us, too. If we live in an environment that's wounded—where the water is polluted, the air is filled with soot and fumes, the food is contaminated with heavy metals and plastic residues, or the soil is practically dust—it hurts us, chipping away at our health and creating injuries at a physical, psychological, and spiritual level. In degrading the environment, therefore, we degrade ourselves.

The reverse is also true. In the process of helping the earth to heal, we help ourselves. If we see the earth bleeding from the loss of topsoil, biodiversity, or drought and desertification, and if we help reclaim or save what is lost—for instance, through regeneration of degraded forests—the planet will help us in our self-healing and indeed survival. When we can eat healthier, nonadulterated food; when we breathe clean air and drink clean water; when the soil can produce an abundance of vegetables or grains, our own sicknesses and unhealthy lifestyles become healed. The same values we employ in the service of the earth's replenishment work on us, too. We can love ourselves as we love the earth; feel grateful for who we are, even as we are grateful for the earth's bounty; better ourselves, even as we use that self-empowerment to improve the earth; offer service to ourselves, even as we practice volunteerism for the earth.

Human beings have a consciousness by which we can appreciate love, beauty, creativity, and innovation or mourn the lack thereof. To the extent that we can go beyond ourselves and ordinary biological instincts, we can experience what it means to be human and therefore different from other animals. We can appreciate the delicacy of dew or a flower in bloom, water as it runs over the pebbles or the majesty of an elephant, the fragility of the butterfly or a field of wheat or leaves blowing in the wind. Such aesthetic responses are valid in their own right, and as reactions to the natural world they can inspire in us a sense of wonder and beauty that in turn encourages a sense of the divine.

The environment becomes sacred, because to destroy what is essential to life is to destroy life itself.

That consciousness acknowledges that while a certain tree, forest, or mountain itself may not be holy, the life-sustaining services it provides—the oxygen we breathe, the water we drink—are what make existence possible, and so deserve our respect and veneration. From this point of view, the environment becomes sacred, because to destroy what is essential to life is to destroy life itself.
Read more of this entire excerpt of Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World here.

Wangari Mathaai: "Rather than go backwards, we ought to move forward, towards a vision of a world without war."

...rather than go backwards, we ought to move forward, towards a vision of a world without war. A world where every nation would have an Article 9 in its constitution.
- Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Green Belt Movement

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hirose Takashi: Fukushima Meltdown: The World's First Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster available on Kindle

Fukushima Meltdown: The World's First Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster

After the Great Tohoku Earthquake and the tsunami and nuclear disaster that followed, veteran anti-nuclear power writer Hirose Takashi, in a passion of despair and anger, wrote the book Fukushima Meltdown in about six weeks or less, which was published by Asahi Shinsho and became a national best seller in Japan.

A group of us decided that it was vital to get this book out in English, and we formed a translation team, trying to learn from Hirose's passion of energy.

As of 19 September 2011 the book has become available online at Amazon Kindle Books, under the title Fukushima Meltdown: The World’s First Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster.  

As you know, we are not going to learn what happened at Fukushima by reading the mainstream media, or by studying the pronouncements of the Japanese Government and TEPCO.  For people who want to know what went wrong at Fukushima, what went haywire with the media, and what is likely to happen next in earthquake-prone Japan, I think this is a must read.  If you agree, please send this information along to any person or group that you think might be interested.  Thanks!

C. Douglas Lummis, for the translation team

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Global Article 9 Campaign: What Noda's Election as Japan's PM means to the Article 9 Debate

Global Article Campaign to Abolish War:

On August 29, Noda Yoshihiko was elected President of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), thus set to become the third DPJ Prime Minister since the party came to power in August 2009.

Japan's Prime Minister Kan Naoto announced his resignation on August 26, amidst criticism of his handling of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami, and ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, as well as what is considered to be the biggest debt crisis in the industrialized world. Kan faced a no confidence vote in June, when he pledged to resign once Parliament passed a legislation promoting renewable energy.

In politics since 1987, Noda Yoshihiko joined the DPJ in 2000 and served as Finance Minister in Kan's cabinet in 2010-2011. His election platform has been based on getting the Fukushima nuclear power plant under control and restoring Japan's fiscal balance. A fiscal conservative, Noda is an advocate of tax increase to curb the country's debt and finance the country's reconstruction. Qualifying his policies as "reasonable" and "realistic", he wants to restart Japan's nuclear reactors and does not support his predecessor's vision of a nuclear-free Japan (though he is in favor of reducing Japan's reliance on nuclear power).

Known as a strong supporter of the US-Japan security alliance, Noda considers US-Japanese ties as the "very foundation" of Japan's foreign and security policies. Expressing concerns over China's military buildup, which he describes as the "greatest cause for worry in the (Asian) region", Noda favors a tough approach towards China.

Upsetting Japan's neighbors, Noda has repeatedly made controversial statements on Japanese A-class war criminals, denying that the country's wartime leaders were "criminals" and defending Japanese politicians' visits to the Yasukuni Shrine - the controversial war memorial that honors those killed in the service of Imperial Japan, including World War II war criminals, seen as a symbol of Japanese militarism.

The son of a Japan Ground Self Defense Forces career soldier, Noda stated in 2002 (then as an opposition politician) that Japan should get rid of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which renounces war as a means of settling international disputes and prohibits the maintenance of armed forces and other war potential. If not, he added, Article 9 should at least specify that Japan's SDF has military capability.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yoshio Shimoji: U.S. military seizure of private property in Okinawa was a violation of the Hague Convention

Futenma cannot be relocated to Henoko
Yoshio Shimoji
August 15, 2011
Naha, Okinawa

In their recent telephone conference ("Kitazawa, Panetta agree on Futenma," July 17, 2011 The Japan Times), Japan's Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and the newly appointed U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reaffirmed "that Tokyo and Washington will move forward with the plan to relocate the controversial Futenma base within Okinawa."

Futenma was constructed toward the end of WW II with an aim of attacking mainland Japan by B-29's in order to end the war quickly. But the war ended before that plan was actually carried out. Futenma should have been returned at that point; instead, it has continued to be in the firm grip of the U.S. military all these years to this day.

The area where Futenma Air Station sits was rich with water resources and so rice paddies were the main features of the farmland around here. Along a beautiful pine tree-lined highway were the villages of Ginowan, Kamiyama, Nakahara, Maehara and Aragusuku, of which Ginowan was the largest with houses and stores galore, where public facilities like a post office, a school (Ginowan Elementary School) and the village office, were located.

Evidently, the U.S. military seized the land in clear violation of Article 46 of the Hague Convention, which states: "Family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated."

The illegality of Futenma would not disappear even if it were to be moved to Henoko or anywhere else in Okinawa just like dirty money would not become clean how many times it might undergo laundering.

Both Kitazawa and Panetta must realize this and search for an alternative solution, that is, to move it outside of Okinawa, most preferably, to the U.S. mainland.

Aerial photograph of beautiful, biodiverse Cape Henoko which the U.S. Marines want to destroy to make way for a mega-base. (Photo: The Asia-Pacific Journal)

(The blueprint for a new air station, a military port, and a pier, from the Master Plan of U.S. Navy Facilities on Okinawa, 1966. Image: The Asia-Pacific Journal)

Yoshio Shimoji: Futenma must be returned unconditionally

Futenma Air Station occupies 25% of densely populated Ginowan City. The U.S. Marines are storing nuclear waste from Fukushima at Futenma (and other bases in Japan). (Photo: The Asia-Pacific Journal))
Futenma must be returned unconditionally
Yoshio Shimoji
June 22, 2011
Naha, Okinawa

At the two-plus-two meeting held in Washington on June 21,2011 the two sides (Tokyo and Washington) reconfirmed the 2006 Roadmap which stipulated that an air station with V-shaped runways would be built on reclaimed land off the coast of Henoko District in northern Okinawa. This is what I would call a base laundering tactic similar to money laundering because the relocation is an attempt on the part of the U.S. side to hide the dirty nature of the Futenma air base.

Jon Mitchell writes in his recent article in the Japan Times: "With all of Okinawa under U.S. administration, the authorities started by tricking the landowners (in Iejima) into signing voluntary evacuation papers... But then, when some families refused to leave, 300 U.S. soldiers with rifles and bulldozers dragged women and children from their beds, tore down their homes and slaughtered their goats." ("Iejima: an island of resistance," May 22, 2011 The Japan Times)

But Iejima was only a precursor of forceful land expropriations by the U.S. military at bayonet point and by bulldozer to expand their already-existing bases in Okinawa during the 1950's Okinawa. Following Iejima came Isahama located now in Ginowan City (Camp Foster) and Gushi in Oroku (now incorporated into Naha City) (Naha Air Base, formerly operated by the U.S. Air Force, currently by SDAF). Futenma had already been turned into a forward operating base for the U.S. Marine Aviation Squadron to attack mainland Japan in 1945.

The Marine Corps says when the base was built, there was nothing in the area where Futenma now sits except for barren wilderness. But that's not true. There were five idyllic villages there before the war: Ginowan, Kamiyama, Nakahara, Maehara and Aragusuku, all ravaged during the Battle of Okinawa and then all the landowners were forced to move outside of the fences after the war, moving to areas that eventual became integral parts (districts) of today's Ginowan City. Their former villages were swallowed up into the Marine air base with a 2,700-meter runway, together with rich farmland. The Futenma village, after which the base was named, was located just outside of the encroached-upon land and so narrowly escaped the ill fate of the incorporation into the base.

If U.S. policy planners feel no qualms of conscience about the dark history of those U.S. bases in Okinawa, then they are real villains and villainesses with no human mind. I believe that that explains why they can brazenly demand a quid pro quo for Futenma's facilities to be built in Henoko, with all the expenses footed by Japanese taxpayers (Okinawa residents included).

Futenma must be closed down immediately with no strings attached. The U.S. has no inherent right at all to keep holding the base.Mr. Shimoji's "The Futenma Base and the U.S.-Japan Controversy: An Okinawan Perspective" was published at The Asia Pacific Journal earlier this year.

His letter letter, "How dare Obama ask Hatoyama to act without regard to democratic process in Okinawa?" was published at the The New York Times on May 28, 201javascript:void(0)0, and his article, "'Thanks' Doesn't Allay Okinawans," was published on July 11, 2010, at The Japan Times.

Chinese farmers protest state seizure of land

Similarly to nomads in Tibet,  Chinese farmers are protesting state seizure of their land.

In Communist China, the state legally owns all the property, but this has not stopped Guangdong farmers from protesting recent seizures and demolitions to make way for government projects.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Message from Okinawans to Americans in The New York Times through Sept. 23, 2011

The "Urgent Okinawa Protest Advertising Action" will run in The New York Times from September 21-23, 2011, coinciding with Japanese Prime Minister Noda's visit to the United Nations General Assembly.

This notice is motivated by a sense of crisis generated by recent moves by the present Japanese administration on the U.S. Futenma airbase issue.

The Okinawan people demand the closure and return of the Futenma base and the cancellation of the new "replacement" base at ecologically sensitive Henoko and Oura Bay, habitat of numerous endangered species, included the federally protected Okinawa dugong, a living national monument.

Please view the protest advertisement from Okinawans to Americans at The New York Times World Section.

Read the entire Okinawan message to Americans at their at Okinawa Protest Advertising Action website.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19, 2011 Tokyo Nuclear Abolition Rally draws 60,000 Japanese citizens

A 94 year-old-man attended in a wheel chair.

(Sayakaiurani SAYAKA)


We didn’t want to look like renegades against the nation,so a lot of Japanese went to the battle field and died.Now alternative war has started. Nuke is the weapon. We must never start it again.

“During World War II, I was scared of the government like all the other people.

During World War ll, I deeply regretted. I don’t want to repeat that again,that’s why I’m here.”

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

EX-SKF: "Radioactive Landfill: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Has Been Doing It Since May"

Via EX-SKF blog: "Radioactive Landfill: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Has Been Doing It Since May":

Yokohama City residents had just enough time to get organized very quickly and were able to halt (for now) the start of dumping of radioactive sludge ashes into the ocean in their final processing facility at the end of Minami Honmoku Pier on Tokyo Bay.

Tokyo residents either did not have a chance to do so because they didn't know, or they didn't care.

It turns out that Tokyo Metropolitan government has been dumping sludge from its water purification plants and burned ashes from the sewer sludge from the sludge plants in its landfill in Tokyo Bay at least since late May. The huge landfill is right near the Haneda Airport. (Photo: Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Environment)

On June 3, Tokyo Metropolitan government announced the result of air radiation survey done on the landfill locations where the radioactive sludge and ashes were being dumped, and that's how some people (mostly bloggers as far as I've found) noticed it and wrote about it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"We refuse to inherit or leave a negative legacy" - Youth launch Tokyo hunger strike to end nuclear power

Commemorating the six-month mark of the Fukushima nuclear tragedy, a group of young adults from around the country began a ten-day hunger strike in Tokyo in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Sunday, September 11th. Their goals are to call for an immediate end to nuclear power throughout the country, as well as advocate for increased health and financial support to those left vulnerable near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The website for the action, which is titled " Tokyo Hunger Strike for the Future: Raising our voices not through fists or loudspeakers, but simply through fasting", describes the organizers' intentions as follows:
We, four young persons (one woman and three men), are going to do a "HUNGER STRIKE" for 10 days in Tokyo, hoping for a better future without nuclear power plants.

It will start from September 11, passing half of a year since we had the huge earthquake, tsunami and the accident of Fukushima nuclear power plants, and 10 years from 9.11.

The place is in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. We are making an appointment with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to submit this statement as a petition.


Due to the radiation leakage from the accident of Fukushima 1st Nuclear Power Plant, a number of people have been forced to leave their hometowns and their livelihoods. This radiation will continue to be littered to the air, the land and the sea until the nuclear power plant in Fukushima ends. The accident has proven that there is no way to undo what happened, and there is no one who can take responsibility.

Not only that, nuclear power plants have continuously damaged the ecosystems in nature by emitting a large amount of heated effluents and producing radioactive waste, which are required to be managed properly for thousands of years, even if there is no accident with the plants.

We, the younger generations, have unwillingly inherited the responsibility for taking care of the radioactive wastes, which nearly remain semi-permanently, from the 54 nuclear power plants in Japan and the radiation leaked from the Fukushima 1st nuclear power plant. Even in this current situation after the earthquake, an environmental study has been conducted for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Kaminoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture. In addition, the Tomari nuclear power plant has started commercial services without any reasonable explanation for Japanese citizens.

We, the younger generations, refuse to inherit a negative legacy from the nuclear power plants any more. We, the young generations, also refuse to leave any more negative legacy to the children who are most vulnerable to the radiation now, as well as to future generations.

We are launching a 10-day-hunger strike in order to petition the Japanese government to reflect the importance of lives and nature--which is the bread of life--within their policies. These are our prayers as the young generation, residents on the earth who will be forced to inherit the legacy of such responsibilities from you.


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda
Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano
Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Masaharu Nakagawa
Minister of Foreign Affairs Koichiro Genba
Minister of Environment Goshi Hosono

・ Call off the Kaminoseki nuclear power plant construction project

・ Ensure the health and stable livelihoods of the people who are living in and around Fukushima prefecture where a high level of radiation is detected, support the life after evacuation, and give compensation for damages caused by the accident.

・ Hold public discussions about the risk of accidents and needs for restarting the nuclear power plants before considering restarting any nuclear power plant, and begin taking government responsibility for the accident.

・ Stop exporting the nuclear power plants. “No more Fukushima” anywhere on the earth!

・ Make a national policy to abolish all nuclear power facilities, including nuclear power plants and Monju/retreatment plants for nuclear waste, as well as change policies relating to natural energy.


Naoya Okamoto, 20, Kaminoseki-cho, Yamaguchi prefecture
Kanta Yonehara, 21, Chiba prefecture
Shiori Skiguchi, 19, Tokyo prefecture
Yuiki Takenoshita, 22, Osaka prefecture
Gen Matsumura, 20, Osaka prefecture
Kotomi Tsuri, 27, Hyogo prefecture
Mare Tanaka, 17, Wakayama prefecture
Akari Okano, 19, Osaka prefecture
Genki Kojima, 18, Hyogo prefecture
Haruka Fukao, 18, Wakayama prefecture
Yuya Takahashi, 20, Tokyo prefecture
Naoto Sakura, 20, Tokyo prefecture
Juna Goto, 16, Hyogo prefecture
Inori Kojima, 20, Hyogo prefecture
Sachiho Tani, 18, Hyogo prefecture
Masanori Tojo, 27, Kaminoseki-cho, Yamaguchi prefecture
Saya Suga, 20, Saitama prefecture
Mui Kawano, 18, Tokyo prefecture
Kohei Fujiwra, 28, Tokyo prefecture
Mami Uchida, 27, Saitama prefecture
Yohei Kubo, 18, Osaka prefecture
Kokoro Kojima, 22, Hyogo prefecture
Masaaki Yamamoto, 22, Saitama prefecture
Luca Shimizu, 17, Miyagi prefecture

One of the organizers, Naoya Okamoto, also participated in a previous hunger strike in an effort to stop construction of the Kaminoseki nuclear power plant, which he discussed in a previous Ten Thousand Things post titled "Amidst hopeful signs, activists continue impassioned efforts to stop nuclear power plant in gorgeous Seto Inland Sea".

Photos and videos related to the hunger strike action may be seen on the official website, and support may be provided via the official Facebook page (in English) here.

The following video from Newsy, "Fukushima Six Months Later," provides excellent compiled footage from various news sources including Al-Jazeera and CBS regarding ongoing damage from the accident.

- Kimberly Hughes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cities are Not Targets: A Petition for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

Cities Are Not Targets (CANT) project Petition Drive

Please tell the nuclear powers that Cities Are Not Targets!

Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation

Mayors for Peace calls cities together to build a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Since our experience of the atomic bombing 62 years ago, Hiroshima has continually called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and realization of lasting world peace. Despite our efforts, many areas around the world remain trapped in chains of hatred, violence and retaliation, our planet still bristles with vast arsenals of nuclear weapons, and the probability that such weapons will be used is increasing.

In response to this crisis, Mayors for Peace, an NGO over which we preside that now has 1,578 member cities in 120 countries and regions, is conducting an emergency campaign to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020 globally. This is our 2020 Vision Campaign.
The year 2006 was the 10th anniversary of the International Court of Justice advisory opinion that, “The threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.” Mayors for Peace marked this landmark finding by launching Phase II of our 2020 Vision Campaign.

The centerpiece of this phase is the Good Faith Challenge, a program for demanding that all governments abide by the other ICJ finding that, “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” As a further contribution by cities, we have also initiated a Cities Are Not Targets (CANT) project to demand assurances from nuclear weapon states that no cities are targeted for nuclear attack.

Nuclear weapons are illegal, immoral devices designed to obliterate entire cities. Despite the end of the Cold War, the danger of nuclear weapons remains virtually unchanged. We still have thousands of nuclear warheads deployed and ready to fire on warning. At the push of a button, nuclear-tipped missiles can be on their way to a target city. If such an event were to take place, some city, home to children and hundreds of thousands of innocent noncombatants, would suffer utter devastation.

The Mayors for Peace project is designed to lift the voices of cities and citizens to say, “No! You may not target cities. You may not target children.” Through these activities, we intend to bring to the attention of mayors, citizens and national leaders the fact that cities are, in fact, still being targeted for annihilation and the International Court of Justice has found this threat itself to be a war crime. Furthermore, we hope this project will intensify our demand that the nuclear-weapon states fulfill their promise to “negotiate in good faith” to abolish all nuclear weapons.

The goal of this project is not a shifting of nuclear weapons away from cities but their total elimination. And, when we speak here of “cities,” we refer not to a municipal entity of a certain size but to any area in which children and non-combatants are living routine daily lives.
Please participate in the petition drive associated with this project. Mayors for Peace will deliver your message to the nuclear-weapon states and to the United Nations. Let all peoples around the world come together and bequeath to our children a genuinely peaceful world free from nuclear weapons! Link to petition here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Denise Levertov: "We must dare to win not wars, but a future in which to live."

...Let our different dream,

and more than dream, our acts

of constructive refusal generate

struggle. And love. We must dare to win

not wars, but a future

in which to live.

- Denise Levertov, concluding lines from her poem "A Speech for Antidraft Rally, D.C., March 22, 1980”

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Commemorating 3/11 in Japan & 9/11 in the U.S.

Kamakura-based poet Alan Botsford's insightful post explores how 3/11 and 9/11 (falling in spring and fall equinox months) have become dates for commemorating and celebrating peace:
There are at least 100 demonstrations and events being planned in Japan for a no-nuke world...

Sept. 11 and March 11 are symmetrical, both dates falling in equinox months.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Charity Sale for Japan Disaster Relief - Sept. 10 & 17 @ Kyoto

IDRO volunteers setting up shop

International Disaster Relief Organization Japan, a Kyoto-based NPO, is holding another charity sale in Kyoto:
  • Saturday 3rd September from 1 till 5pm.
  • Saturday 10th September from 1 till 5pm.
  • Saturday 17th September from 9 till 6pm.
For now IDRO is holding the sale at the ground floor of Kurochiku (corner of Shinmachi and Rokkaku) but they are still looking for a permanent place to set up shop. According to Deep Kyoto:
Over the next three Saturdays we will open up our shop three times. We want to sell as much stuff as we can, in order to quickly raise some funds, and also partly to make the next move a wee bit easier. As we don’t yet have any permanent storage space, for the time being we are not accepting anymore donated goods for sale. However, for sale we do have a lot of good books (all sorted by genre now so easier to browse), clothes, shoes, bags, toys, games, crockery, CDs, vinyl records, and electrical goods and they are going super cheap...
IDRO raised 170,000 yen in their last sale. All proceeds from this sale will also be used for relief efforts in northeastern Japan.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In These Times: Unions and Farmers—Plus Ben & Jerry—Unite Against Trans-Pacific Trade Deal

"Unions and Farmers—Plus Ben & Jerry—Unite Against Trans-Pacific Trade Deal":
...After the failure of post-NAFTA negotiations by the Clinton administration to create new trading blocs for Asia and the Pacific and for the Americas, the Bush administration attempted to expand both the geographic and policy scope of an emerging Asian-Pacific partnership. For now it includes the US, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, but it could be designed to add more countries in the future, even China.

Obama, who had campaigned for a new style of trade agreement, delayed action on the Bush-proposed talks, but by late 2009 he embraced the project and the old paradigm. Although the new text is not publicly available (even though corporate trade lawyers get access), critics—who have surreptitiously seen parts of the text—say it largely follows the NAFTA, corporate-rights model.

But it seems that the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement not only is running into broad-based opposition, including from many businesses without Ben & Jerry’s high-profile social consciousness as well as unions, environmentalists and many other progressive groups. It also faces numerous internal conflicts and contradictions, argues Public Citizen Global Trade Watch director Lori Wallach...
More info and insights from Michele Chen: "Labor Day Showdown: Can Advocates Stop ‘NAFTA of the Pacific’?":
...The provisions of the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement or Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are still under wraps. But the general outline seems to mimic the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and similar pacts that have brought political and economic turmoil to rich and poor countries alike. The new negotiations are also taking place amid political friction over pending trade deals with South Korea and Colombia, which have run into opposition over concerns about labor abuses abroad and offshoring of U.S. jobs. Yet the White House continues to push free trade as a path toward the country’s economic revitalization...

Manuel Perez-Rocha, an analyst with the D.C.-based think tank Institute for Policy Studies, says that free trade deals tend to use “investment” and “growth” as a pretext for ruthless exploitation. The agreements “push wages lower and dislocate production with the ensuing loss of jobs,” says Perez-Rocha, adding that “the prospects for the TPP are very bleak and workers everywhere must resist it."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Koohan Paik on the True Defenders of Jeju Island, Hawai'i, Guam, Okinawa, South Korea, & the rest of the Asia-Pacific

(Grafitti image: "An artist's focus on social causes: Gill Chun Koh, April 3 artist and activist")
True Defenders by Koohan Paik When I was a child in South Korea during the 1960s, we lived under the repressive dictatorship of Park Chung-hee. Anyone out after 10 p.m. curfew could be arrested. Anyone who tried to protest the government disappeared. A lot of people died fighting for democracy and human rights.

Today, the South Korean people carry in living memory the supreme struggles that forged the freedom they currently enjoy. And after all they’ve sacrificed, they are not going to give that freedom up. So it is no surprise that the tenacious, democracy-loving Koreans have been protesting again — this time for over four years, non-stop, day and night. They are determined to prevent construction of a huge military base on S. Korea’s Jeju Island that will cement over a reef in an area so precious it contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

This eco-rich reef has not only fed islanders for millennia, but it has also been the “habitat” for Jeju’s lady divers who are famous for staying beneath the surface for astonishing periods of time, before coming up with all manner of treasures. Even during South Korea’s times of unspeakable poverty, subtropical Jeju Island was always so abundant with natural resources and beauty that no one ever felt “impoverished” there.

There happens to be a very strong connection between Jeju’s current troubles and business-as-usual on the Garden Isle. You see, the primary purpose of Jeju’s unwanted base is to port Aegis destroyer warships. And it is right here, at Kaua‘i’s Pacific Missile Range Facility, that all product testing takes place for the Aegis missile manufacturers.

On Aug. 29, when Sen. Dan Inouye was here to dedicate a new Aegis testing site, he said, “We are not testing to kill, but to defend.” It would have been more accurate if Inouye had said, “We are not testing to kill, but to increase profits for Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, no matter how many people are oppressed or how many reefs are destroyed.”

Four days later, on Sept. 2, I got a panicked call from a Korean friend that there had been a massive crackdown on the peace vigil in Gangjung village to protect Jeju’s reef from the Aegis destroyer project.

More than 1,000 South Korean police in head-to-toe riot gear descended upon men and women of all blockading construction crews from access to the site. At least 50 protestors were arrested, including villagers, Catholic priests, college students, visiting artists and citizen journalists. Several were wounded and hospitalized. My friend told me, “We fought so hard for democracy. And now this. It’s just like dictatorship times.”

Another reason the Koreans are so angry is that their government has been telling them that the Aegis technology will protect them from North Korea. But Aegis missiles launching from Jeju are useless against North Korea, because North Korean missiles fly too low. In a 1999 report to the U.S. Congress, the Pentagon verified that the Aegis system “could not defend the northern two-thirds of South Korea against the low flying short range Taepodong ballistic missiles.”

So if Aegis is no good against North Korea, why build the base? Again, this is not about defense, this is about selling missiles (and increasing profits for Samsung and other major contractors on the base construction job).

There is a strong similarity between resistance on Jeju (where a recent poll showed 95 percent of islanders are opposed to the base) and concurrent uprisings on Guam and Okinawa, as well. All three islands are slated for irreversible destruction to make way for Aegis destroyer berthing.

And who wouldn’t protest? Like us, these are island peoples who care passionately for their reefs, ocean ecosystems and fisheries. I have heard certain Jeju Islanders say they will fight to the death to protect their resources.

Today, the mayor of Gangjung himself, along with many others, languish in prison because of their uncompromising stance against the Aegis base. Fortunately, people across the Korean peninsula and beyond, are heading to Jeju to support the resistance movement.

Without peaceful warriors like them, there would be no more reefs, no more coral, no more fish, no more nothing. They are our true defenders, not the missile manufacturers, as Inouye’s sham logic would have us believe.

As the Pentagon conspicuously ramps up militarization in the Asia-Pacific region, individuals of good conscience should pursue de-militarization. In the words of Aletha Kaohi, “Look to within and get rid of the ‘opala, or rubbish.”

Koohan Paik, Kilauea

Letter to The Hawai'i-based filmmaker's "Living at the 'Tip of the Spear'," published on May 3, 2010 at The Nation makes clear the devastating environmental and human costs (with a focus on Guam) of proposed U.S. military expansion plans in the Asia-Pacific:
...Many people think of Guam only as a giant military base, the nexus of US forward operations in the Pacific islands--"the tip of the spear," as the Pentagon calls it. That has certainly become its primary fate. The base occupies fully a third of the island and is off-limits to civilians, including the indigenous Chamorro people, who claim the oldest civilization in the Pacific. Even during my childhood, though I barely noticed it at the time, there was the constant background drone of B-52s roaring overhead to and from Vietnam, and submarines cruising the coasts. Such is the island's current trauma, after an agonized history that has included repeated invasions and four occupations of varying degrees of brutality over four centuries--by Spain, Japan and twice by the United States...

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"The Indigenous Call: Take Back Our Future"

Brenda Norrell: Native Americans and First Nations were arrested Friday, Sept. 2, 2011, at the White House to send a message for President Obama to say "No!" to the Keystone XL Pipeline.

In the video, Gitz Crazyboy, First Nation Dene/Pikini (Blackfoot), Alberta, Canada, describes the threat of the tar sands for generations to come. The video includes images of Native Americans and First Nations arrested at the White House sit-in.

The pipeline would go across the heartland, and the massive Oglalla aquifer, from Canada to Texas, endangering the environment and generations to come. Already the Alberta tar sands are destroying the homeland of First Nations in Alberta.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Interfaith Pilgrimage for Peace for Jeju island & the Korean Peninsula earlier this year

Interfaith Pilgrimage for Peace for Jeju island and the Korean Peninsula earlier this year:


March 1, 2011 - Benediction for the Life, Peace, and Community in Korea Interfaith 100-day Pilgrimage from Jeju Island to the DMZ—for Life, Peace, & Community in the Korean Peninsula. The benediction was made in Gangjeong.

Dobub, a Buddhist monk who was born on Jeju Island, led the pilgrimage benediction on March 1. He engaged in dialogue with Fr. Kang Woo-Il, Chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, & the bishop of the Catholic Jeju district, during the designation of Jeju as a "Peace Island" in 2007.

After the ceremony, the Life and Peace Fellowship visited Gangjeong village, to meet with the villagers and to spend the first night of the pilgrimage in the Gangjeong village.

Reverend Jeon of the Life and Peace Fellowship said, “Our organization opposes those things related to war. We oppose the naval base plan with the thought that the peace in the Korean peninsula and North East Asia will be threatened if it is built on Jeju Island." He added: “We are walking with our praying hearts.”

Charity Sale for Japan Disaster Relief - September 3, 10, 17 @ Kyoto

IDRO volunteers setting up shop

International Disaster Relief Organization Japan, a Kyoto-based NPO, is holding another charity sale in Kyoto:
  • Saturday 3rd September from 1 till 5pm.
  • Saturday 10th September from 1 till 5pm.
  • Saturday 17th September from 9 till 6pm.
For now IDRO is holding the sale at the ground floor of Kurochiku (corner of Shinmachi and Rokkaku) but they are still looking for a permanent place to set up shop. According to Deep Kyoto:
Over the next three Saturdays we will open up our shop three times. We want to sell as much stuff as we can, in order to quickly raise some funds, and also partly to make the next move a wee bit easier. As we don’t yet have any permanent storage space, for the time being we are not accepting anymore donated goods for sale. However, for sale we do have a lot of good books (all sorted by genre now so easier to browse), clothes, shoes, bags, toys, games, crockery, CDs, vinyl records, and electrical goods and they are going super cheap...
IDRO raised 170,000 yen in their last sale. All proceeds from this sale will also be used for relief efforts in northeastern Japan.