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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Japanese interfaith group headed by Kyoto temple seeks closure of Futenma air base & cancellation of proposal for new U.S. base in Henoko

On June 21, 2011, a new Japanese interfaith group comprised of Protestant and Catholic Christians and Buddhists (represented by a temple located in Kyoto) announced their support of the Okinawan prefectural and local governments in their goal for the unconditional closure of U.S. Marine Air Station Futenma and the abolition of plans to destroy biodiverse Oura Bay to make way for a new U.S. military base.

Berard Toshio Oshikawa, the Bishop of Naha made a similar announcement on June 27, 2011, calling for the closure of US military bases in the Japanese prefecture. The Conventional Franciscan declared, “Japan has enjoyed peace for over 60 years, but the war has still not ended in Okinawa."

This follows a 2010 appeal from the National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) urging U.S. churches to gain awareness, pray and appeal to their government about the impact of U.S. plans for military expansion in Henoko and Oura Bay. Rev. Isamu Koshiishi, the moderator of the NCCJ, explained, "The beautiful coral reef, which had provided a livelihood for the villages and which was the seabed home of the endangered dugong, would now be destroyed with landfill for the purpose of constructing a military base for waging war."

An estimated 12,500 US troops, 95,000 Japanese troops, and up to 150,000 civilians lost their lives in the Battle of Okinawa, which took place in 1945.
Japanese interfaith group opposes U.S. bases on Okinawa
By Hisashi Yukimoto
ENI News
21 June 2011

Tokyo (ENInews): A new interfaith group in Japan has joined local opposition to the U.S. military presence on the southern island of Okinawa as the two countries announced on 21 June that they have postponed the 2014 deadline for relocating a U.S. Marine base there, due to the plan's unpopularity.

"The lives of Okinawan people are still threatened [by the bases]," said the Tokyo-based group composed primarily of Buddhists and Christians. "We as religionists have the same resolution in caring for life and protecting peace," the group said in a statement adopted at its launch on 17 June. "We will address the problem of U.S. military bases in Okinawa," it said.

In Washington, D.C. on 21 June, a joint statement by the two countries said plans for the relocation would not meet the 2014 date, but would be carried out "at the earliest possible date" after 2014. Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa are in the U.S. capital for talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Under a 1996 agreement between the U.S. and Japan, the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station, currently based near the densely-populated area of Futenma on the main Okinawa island, was to be relocated to an offshore coral reef area near the village of Henoko.

In 2006, the relocation plan was to be completed by 2014 as part of a U.S. military realignment, but the plan has been strongly opposed since 1996 by local residents and supporters nationwide, including Okinawan Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and many Okinawan residents. The local government has said that the bases hinder regional development and that there are concerns with crime, aircraft operations, noise pollution and environmental pollution.

The interfaith group is led by Tainen Miyagi, a Buddhist Abbot of Seigoin temple in Kyoto; the Rev. Isamu Koshiishi, moderator of the National Christian Council in Japan and Bishop Daiji Tani, president of the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace. The group's name in Japanese is: "Religionists Group for Okinawa Without Bases - To Seek Removal of Futenma Base And Cancellation of the Construction of New Base in Henoko."

The site of a significant World War II battle, Okinawa hosts about half of the nearly 50,000 U.S. military personnel in Japan. After the war, the Okinawa bases were used to dispatch U.S. troops to conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aung San Suu Kyi's idea of freedom offers a radical message for the world

Last month, David Giambusso wrote an interesting article, "Does Peace Come From Within? The Dalai Lama and Other Nobel Peace Prize Winners (Gently) Disagree" about a debate at a peace education conference in Newark, New Jersey. The Dalai Lama and other Nobel Peace laureates challenged each other about whether peace comes within and if "inner peace" is a good thing.

Highlights:
..."It isn't that I'm just an angry human being, it's anger at injustice," said Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban land mines. "I'm still struggling with inner peace and I'm not sure I'll ever work it out."

..."Forgiving the oppressor while he is committing injustice is permitting him to continue," said Shrin Ebadi, who won her Nobel Prize in 2003 for defending the rights of women and children in Iran. "Therefore the timing of forgiveness is very important."

"Shirin Ebadi is no wimp. His Holiness, fighting for the freedom of his people, is no wimp. Gandhi was no wimp. Martin Luther King was no wimp," Williams said, adding that peace had become synonymous with weakness.

The Dalai Lama agreed, saying tranquility should not be confused with ease.

"Peace is not just the absence of violence. Peace is something fuller," he said. "Real nonviolence you confront, conquer the problem ... You have the ability to use force, but you restrain."

James "Loose" White, 28, a one-time member of the Crips gang who advocates for nonviolence on the streets, agreed with the Dalai Lama that restraint can be harder than giving in.

"It takes courage to act like an individual and choose the right path," he said. "To take all that aggression and redirect it in a positive way."
(Wouldn't it be something if powerful governmental leaders could redirect their aggressive energies towards constructive directions instead of nonstop war and destructive preparation for war...)

This great article by Madeleine Bunting expands upon some of the subtleties in the Buddhist (and Jain) concept of "inner peace" and the essential interplay between the inner and outer in Engaged Buddhism: "Aung San Suu Kyi's idea of freedom offers a radical message for the west," at the Guardian:
On the wall by my desk, there's a spread of photos of Aung San Suu Kyi which appeared in the Guardian a year ago. It's a kind of family photo album with snaps of engagement, babies, university, chilly British family picnics and travels. It's a strikingly poignant illustration of everything Aung San Suu Kyi has sacrificed over 15 years of imprisonment in her struggle for Burmese democracy. Every time it catches my eye, it is both humbling and gives me hope: a reminder of what the human spirit is capable of...

What makes her Reith lectures so fascinating is they represent a statement of the ideals and mindset which have steeled her resolve and inspired her courage. The first lecture addresses the universal human desire for freedom, the second considers her fight in Burma to achieve it.

...She weaves in Christian metaphors and concepts with the Buddhism, Russian poetry and the eastern European dissident tradition. It is a unique synthesis of east and west, only possible in someone deeply versed in both...

For her, freedom is not only a set of institutions, laws and political processes, it is also a quest of the individual spirit, the struggle to free oneself from greed, fear and hatred and how they drive one's own behaviour.

That is why she always talks of a "revolution of the spirit". You cannot have one without the other, both are part of transformational change; the individual and personal is inextricably bound up with the political, as she made clear in her interviews with the American Buddhist, Alan Clements, in Voice of Hope. Clements shared a Buddhist teacher with her and he told me that the meditational practices she is known to pursue are vital to cultivate the courage and insight for her political battles. When asked by Clements what her greatest struggle was, she replied: "It's always a matter of developing more and more awareness, not only day to day but moment to moment. It's a battle which will go on the whole of my life." Her greatest aim, she told him, was "purity of mind".

It is the awareness which enables her to perceive the fear that lies behind the violence of the Burmese junta and to insist on offering them dialogue. The practice of metta – "loving kindness" – is not passive, she says, and points to the Buddha himself, who went to stand between two warring parties to protect them both at the risk of his own safety...

But an inner sense of freedom can reinforce a practical drive for the more fundamental freedoms in the form of human rights and the rule of law." She points to the monks who led the 2007 saffron revolution as acting out of "loving kindness" for the people suffering from sharp rises in food prices. She is putting herself at the forefront of the reforming movements in Buddhism in Asia, gently insisting on the interrelationship between practical action and private spiritual discipline.

Like the Dalai Lama and the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, she is playing a vital role in communicating through her words and her life a Buddhism that speaks to the deepest human needs.
Read Bunting's entire article here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bishop Kang Woo II of Jeju Island: "A peace issue of Korea, for Northeast Asia, & for the whole world..."


(April 26, 2010 Peace Missal at Gangjeong, Jeju Island, S. Korea)
For the past four years Gangjeong Village has been resisting the naval base building project in their home sea. For years Gangjeong village has been called Il-Gangjeong by Jeju natives due to its outstanding ocean scenery and well preserved nature. Recently a lot of Gangjeong citizens have moved out, so the current population of the village is about 1,500, which is a small number compared to the entire population of Jeju Island.

This small village has been quite alone in its opposition to the construction of the naval base. Now they have reached a point of physical and spiritual exhaustion, and at this time, all over the nation, people from many different organizations, as well as well-known social activists, are joining the people of Gangjeong Village in the movement to resist the construction of the base. We are encouraged by and thankful for this support.

The people of Gangjeong Village and Jeju Island want to share why we are opposed to the construction of a naval base. In 1948, already 63 years ago, the people of Jeju Island suffered from the 4-3 (April 3) Massacre. At that time over 30,000 civilians, including children and the elderly, were killed by their own military. Innocent civilians were cruelly massacred in such a way that this incident has become nationally recognized as a genocide. The government has continually admitted these mistakes of the past, apologized, and asked for forgiveness from the victims who lost their lives, in order that the next generation will learn from this event and ensure that Korea will never again experience this kind of tragedy.

A military base on this kind of land, a naval base in this island – a naval base with all of the latest weapons collected in one place, including the Aegis and aircraft carriers, creating a great concentration of military power – it simply does not make sense to be in Jeju Island. The reason that the citizens of Gangjeong Village and Jeju Island are resisting the construction of this military base is not just because it is a Jeju issue. We also see this as a peace issue for the whole nation, and not even just our country, but also an issue for China, Japan and Korea – countries that have not yet been able to overcome the conflicts between them. If this military base becomes a reality, it will only stimulate a larger conflict in Northeast Asia. We believe that this is not healthy for the peace of Korea, for Northeast Asia, and for the whole world.

Please continue to support the people of Gangjeong Village. If more people in the nation start to have more understanding and awareness about this issue, it can be the one reward for the suffering of the people in Gangjeong Village. We hope that from this point on, you will take an active role in this struggle. Thank you.

~ Bishop Kang Woo Il of Jeju Island

Religious leaders see forced seizure of Jeju farms as attack on life, peace & community; arrests of priests, nuns, & ministers

In 2006, during a conversation about the movement to save what is left of the spirit of the Japanese Peace Constitution, Jean Stokan of Pax Christi (the Catholic peace organization) compared the grassroots struggles of ordinary people in Asia against militaristic state encroachment to similar struggles of people living in Latin America military dictatorships during the 1980's. In both hemispheres, faith-based groups have long been at the center of movements for democracy and peace.

Christians and Buddhists have come together to challenge the abuse of state power to force construction of military bases in both Jeju Island and Okinawa. Their interfaith effort is part of a tradition dating back to Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Desmond Tutu's frameworks for nonviolent action to bring about peace and social justice.

Benediction for the Life, Peace, and Community before a 100-day Korea Peace Pilgrimage that began March 1, 2011 at the Jeju April 3rd Peace Park (which memorializes the lives of tens of thousands of indigenous inhabitants killed on Jeju Island on April 3, 1947, during the South Korean government's violent repression of demonstrations calling for humane living conditions) and ended at the Demilitarized Zone.

In the following article, Claire Schaeffer-Duffy details the engagement of Catholics and other Christians opposing the South Korean government's attempts to forcibly seize and destroy the property of the indigenous farmers at Gangjeong to make way for a proposed naval base targeting China. Proceeding on base construction would destroy Gangjeong's beautiful coastline (one of most beautiful places on Jeju Island) and make a mockery of S. Korean democratic process.

The base also makes no strategic sense: the S. Korea's Ministry of National Defense stated that the base is not needed for national security. Incongruously, the South Korean government is collaborating with Beijing in developing policies to draw wealthy Chinese tourists to Jeju Island at the same time it is building this base to militarily target China.

Koreans resume hunger strikes opposing proposed naval base

by Claire Schaeffer-Duffy
The National Catholic Reporter
June 15, 2011


The gutsy and persistent campaign to oppose the construction of a South Korean naval base on Jeju Island continues.

Bruce Gagnon reports that Professor Yang Yoon-Mo, former chair of the South Korean Film Critics Association, and Sung-Hee Choi, a member of the Korean peace organization SPARK, have resumed their hunger strike in protest of the base.
Gagnon, a Maine-base peace activist and founder of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, has been chronicling the Jeju campaign on his blog, http://space4peace.blogspot.com...

...Activists over the past week have daily tried to block construction at the naval base which is ongoing despite strong local opposition. Protestors have held banners, prayed, laid in front of machines at the construction site, and even gone out in inflatable rafts to demonstrate aboard ships clearing the Gangjeong coastline.

A self-governing province of South Korea, Jeju Island lies south of the Korean mainland and between China and Japan. Because of the island’s strategic location in Northeast Asia, the South Korean government wants to build a base here that will port South Korean and U.S. Aegis destroyers equipped with missile defense systems.

Jeju is a designated World Heritage site. Critics fear the base will damage the island’s unique eco-system, escalate a naval arms race in Northeast Asia, and place Jeju residents in the crosshairs of a U.S./China stand-off.

Catholic religious have been at the forefront of the no-base campaign, according to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN). A quick perusal of the news agency’s reports reveal a remarkable account of Catholic leaders speaking out against militarism and environmental destruction, and speaking up for those whose voice has been ignored for the sake of national security interests [ROK officials have admitted there is no national security interest for the base, according to The Hankyoreh].

Nuns and priests have been arrested during no-base protests, some repeatedly. Priests have also gone on hunger strikes. In June 2007, the year the South Korean government announced plans to build the navy base at Gangjeon (two other villages had successfully fought locating the port in their environs), the Jeju diocese launched the Special Committee for the Island of Peace to actively oppose the port’s construction...

More recently, Jeju’s Special Committee hosted Christmas Mass at the construction site for the navy base. Bishop Peter Kang U-il of the Cheju diocese presided. Three days later, four priests, two Protestant pastors, and twenty-nine activists and villagers were arrested during a demonstration there.

In January, the Catholic Priests Association for Justice held their three-day annual plenary assembly on the island and issued a statement calling for an end to the base’s construction. UCAN reports that the statement highlighted the examples of Okinawa, Guam and Saipan as beautiful islands with military bases whose native culture declined after the establishment of military bases. There were more arrests of priests later that month.

Catholic involvement in the Jeju conflict prompted the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCKK) to join the no-base campaign in May. Last week representatives of hundreds of civic and religious leaders in South Korea held a press conference in Seoul to express their solidarity with the residents of Gangjeong. Among those present was Reverend Kim Young-ju, secretary general of the NCCK.

Shortly after his release for one of his arrests during a no-base demonstration, Fr. John Ko Byeong-soo, chair of Jeju diocese’s Special Committee for the Island of Peace, told UCAN that he felt obliged to continue the anti-base campaign “as we need to follow Catholic teaching to be a peacemakers . . . Since the Gangjeong villagers have decided to maintain their opposition to the plan, we will accompany the people to the end.”
Read the entire article here.

On June 19, Sung-Hee Choi stopped her most recent 10-day fast. Read her letter from jail at her blog.

For background on the Korean Peninsula interfaith peace pilgrimage, see "In Solidarity with the Gangjeong Villagers of Jeju Island and the Peace Pilgrims for Life, Peace, and Community in the Korean Peninsula" (Reverend Jeon of the Life & Peace Fellowship said, “Our organization opposes those things related to war. We oppose the naval base plan (in Jeju Island) with the thought that the peace in the Korean peninsula and North East Asia will be threatened if it is built on Jeju Island. “We are walking with our praying hearts.”), TTT (March 2, 2011)

Action suggestions in support of residents of Jeju Island:

• SPARK and Pax Christi Int: Call for Solidarity & Action for Gangjeong Village & Sea, Jeju Island, South Korea
• Please contact the Embassy of South Korea in your country and ask them to stop the construction of the Navy base for U.S. warships on Jeju Island.

• Organize a prayer vigil.

• Write a letter of solidarity to Bishop Peter Kan-U-Il, president of the Bishops Conference of South Korea. e-mail: catholic-cheju@hanmail.net

For information, you can contact Regina Pyon in Korea: reginapy@hanmail.net

Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea (SPARK) is a member organisation of Pax Christi International

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dr. Janette D. Sherman on Chernobyl, Fukushima, Nebraska nuke plants, babies, animals, trees, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, seven generations...

• Must-see 10-minute video report from Link TV, "Chernobyl: The Real Story" with Dr. Janette D. Sherman and Professor Alexey Yablokov.

"Is the Dramatic Increase in Baby Deaths in the US a Result of Fukushima Fallout?" by Janette D. Sherman, MD & Joseph Magano:
Spewing from the Fukushima reactor are radioactive isotopes including those of iodine (I-131), strontium (Sr-90) and cesium (Cs-134 and Cs-137) all of which are taken up in food and water. Iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, Sr-90 in bones and teeth and Cs-134 and Cs-137 in soft tissues, including the heart. The unborn and babies are more vulnerable because the cells are rapidly dividing and the delivered dose is proportionally larger than that delivered to an adult.

Data from Chernobyl, which exploded 25 years ago, clearly shows increased numbers of sick and weak newborns and increased numbers of deaths in the unborn and newborns, especially soon after the meltdown. These occurred in Europe as well as the former Soviet Union. Similar findings are also seen in wildlife living in areas with increased radioactive fallout levels.

Janette D. Sherman, M. D. is a specialist in internal medicine and toxicology. She has recently completed the translation and editing of the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and Nature, written by A. V. Yablokov, V. B. Nesterenko and A. V. Nesterenko, published by the New York Academy of Sciences in December 2009.
See more at Janettesherman.com.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Karl Grossman on cover-ups & Anne Landman on U.S. media failure re Fukushima

"The Big Fukushima Lie Flies High"

By Karl Grossman
Karl Grossman's Blog
June 16, 2011

The global nuclear industry and its allies in government are making a desperate effort to cover up the consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. “The big lie flies high,” comments Kevin Kamps of the organization Beyond Nuclear.

Not only is this nuclear establishment seeking to make it look like the Fukushima catastrophe has not happened—going so far as to claim that there will be “no health effects” as a result of it—but it is moving forward on a “nuclear renaissance,” its scheme to build more nuclear plants.

Indeed, next week in Washington, a two-day “Special Summit on New Nuclear Energy” will be held involving major manufacturers of nuclear power plants—including General Electric, the manufacturer of the Fukushima plants—and U.S. government officials.

Although since Fukushima, Germany, Switzerland and Italy and other nations have turned away from nuclear power for a commitment instead to safe, clean, renewable energy such as solar and wind, the Obama administration is continuing its insistence on nuclear power.

Will the nuclear establishment be able to get away with telling what, indeed, would be one of the most outrageous Big Lies of all time—that no one will die as a result of Fukushima?

Will it be able to continue its new nuclear push despite the catastrophe?

Nearly 100 days after the Fukushima disaster began, with radiation still streaming from the plants, with its owners, TEPCO, now admitting that meltdowns did occur at its plants, that releases have been twice as much as it announced earlier, with deadly radioactivity from Fukushima spreading worldwide, and with some countries now changing course and saying no to nuclear power, while others stick with it, a nuclear crossroads has arrived.

“No health effects are expected among the Japanese people as a result of the events at Fukushima,” the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry trade group, flatly declared in a statement issued at a press conference in Washington last week.

“They’re lying,” says Dr. Janette Sherman, a toxicologist and contributing editor of the book Chernobyl: The Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment published by the New York Academy of Sciences in 2009. Using medical data from between 1986 and 2004, its authors, a team of European scientists, determines that 985,000 people died worldwide from the radioactivity discharged from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster...”
"What Happened to Media Coverage of Fukushima?"

By Anne Landman, PR Watch
June 24, 2011

After a few weeks of covering the early aftermath of Japan's earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. media moved on, leaving behind the crisis at Fukushima which continues to unfold. U.S. politicians, like Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, have made disappointing and misleading statements about the relative safety of nuclear power and have vowed to stick by our nuclear program, while other countries, like Germany and Italy, have taken serious steps to address the obvious risks of nuclear power -- risks that the Fukushima disaster made painfully evident, at least to the rest of the world...

Efforts to bring problems at Fukushima under control are not going well, either. Japanese authorities only just recently admitted that nuclear fuel in the three damaged Fukushima reactors has likely burned through the vessels holding it, a scenario called "melt-through", that is even more serious than a core meltdown. Months of spraying seawater on the plant's three melted-down fuel cores -- and the spent fuel stored on site -- to try and cool them has produced 26 million of gallons of radioactive wastewater, and no place to put it.

After a struggle, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), finally managed to put in place a system to filter radioactive particles out of the wastewater, but it broke down soon after it started operating. A filter that was supposed to last a month plugged up with radioactive material after just five hours, indicating there is more radioactive material in the water than previously believed.

Meanwhile, TEPCO is running out of space to store the radioactive water, and may be forced to again dump contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. TEPCO already dumped some water into the ocean weeks ago, amid protests from fisherman, other countries and environmental organizations. And even if TEPCO does successfully filter the contaminated water and manage to bring its radioactivity down to acceptable levels, the utility will still have to deal with the pile of radioactive sludge the process will produce.

The plan they've come up with to deal with the sludge is to seal it in drums and discard it into the ocean, which may cause even more problems. Greenpeace has already found levels of radiation exceeding legal limits in seaweed and shellfish samples gathered more than 12 miles away from the plant. The high levels of radiation in the samples indicate that leaks from the plant are bigger than TEPCO has revealed so far...

Dahr Jamali: Full Meltdown: Fukushima Called the 'Biggest Industrial Catastrophe in the History of Mankind'"

"Full Meltdown: Fukushima Called the 'Biggest Industrial Catastrophe in the History of Mankind': Scientific experts believe Japan's nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public by Dahr Jamali, Al Jazeera:
"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera...

"Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed," he said, "You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively."

TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water - as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of.

"The problem is how to keep it cool," says Gundersen. "They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?"

Japan's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters finally admitted earlier this month that reactors 1, 2, and 3 at the Fukushima plant experienced full meltdowns.

TEPCO announced that the accident probably released more radioactive material into the environment than Chernobyl, making it the worst nuclear accident on record.

Meanwhile, a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government reported that about 966 square kilometres near the power station - an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan - is now likely uninhabitable.According to Gundersen, the exposed reactors and fuel cores are continuing to release microns of caesium, strontium, and plutonium isotopes. These are referred to as "hot particles".

"We are discovering hot particles everywhere in Japan, even in Tokyo," he said. "Scientists are finding these everywhere. Over the last 90 days these hot particles have continued to fall and are being deposited in high concentrations. A lot of people are picking these up in car engine air filters."

Radioactive air filters from cars in Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo are now common, and Gundersen says his sources are finding radioactive air filters in the greater Seattle area of the US as well.

The hot particles on them can eventually lead to cancer.

"These get stuck in your lungs or GI tract, and they are a constant irritant," he explained, "One cigarette doesn't get you, but over time they do. These [hot particles] can cause cancer, but you can't measure them with a Geiger counter. Clearly people in Fukushima prefecture have breathed in a large amount of these particles. Clearly the upper West Coast of the US has people being affected. That area got hit pretty heavy in April..."

Dr Shoji Sawada is a theoretical particle physicist and Professor Emeritus at Nagoya University in Japan.

He is concerned about the types of nuclear plants in his country, and the fact that most of them are of US design.

"Most of the reactors in Japan were designed by US companies who did not care for the effects of earthquakes," Dr Sawada told Al Jazeera. "I think this problem applies to all nuclear power stations across Japan."

Using nuclear power to produce electricity in Japan is a product of the nuclear policy of the US, something Dr Sawada feels is also a large component of the problem.

"Most of the Japanese scientists at that time, the mid-1950s, considered that the technology of nuclear energy was under development or not established enough, and that it was too early to be put to practical use," he explained. "The Japan Scientists Council recommended the Japanese government not use this technology yet, but the government accepted to use enriched uranium to fuel nuclear power stations, and was thus subjected to US government policy..."

Gundersen pointed out that the units are still leaking radiation.

"They are still emitting radioactive gases and an enormous amount of radioactive liquid," he said. "It will be at least a year before it stops boiling, and until it stops boiling, it's going to be cranking out radioactive steam and liquids."

Gundersen worries about more earthquake aftershocks, as well as how to cool two of the units.

"Unit four is the most dangerous, it could topple," he said. "After the earthquake in Sumatra there was an 8.6 [aftershock] about 90 days later, so we are not out of the woods yet. And you're at a point where, if that happens, there is no science for this, no one has ever imagined having hot nuclear fuel lying outside the fuel pool. They've not figured out how to cool units three and four."

Gundersen's assessment of solving this crisis is grim.

"Units one through three have nuclear waste on the floor, the melted core, that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years," he said. "Somehow, robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to put it in a container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn't exist. Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there is no solution available now for picking that up from the floor."
Read the rest of Jamali's article here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Call for Nominees: 2011 Yayori Awards seek to honor activists, artists, journalists working on women’s issues worldwide

The organizing committee for the Yayori Awards is pleased to announce that nomination forms are now available for the 2011 competition.

The Yayori Awards were created through the final will and funds of the late Yayori Matsui, a well-known journalist, feminist/human rights activist, and founder of the Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center (AJWRC). Her profile may be accessed here.

The Yayori Awards are presented during each competition round in two separate categories:

1) The Women's Human Rights Activities Award (commonly referred to as the Yayori Award) is presented to a grassroots-level woman activist, journalist, or artist (either an individual or group) who works with socially marginalized peoples to solve serious social issues in Asia and other regions, and whose work helps to create a 21st century free from war and discrimination against women.

Nomination forms for this award must be submitted in English. Self-nominations will not be accepted.

2) The Yayori Journalist Award is presented to a woman journalist or artist (either an individual or group) who vividly portrays the situation of women from a global gender perspective. Self-nominations for this award are acceptable. Since the nominee’s future work shall be subject to publication in Japanese, all submissions must be in the Japanese language.

Winners in both categories will receive a certificate and a monetary award in the amount of 500,000 yen. In the event that multiple awardees are selected for the Yayori Journalist Award,the money will be divided amongst all recipients.

The organizing committee is seeking nominations from around the world for both awards, and will send printed leaflets upon request. The deadline for this year’s competition is August 25, 2011.

Detailed information regarding the awards, including a leaflet, nomination forms, and list of past award recipients are all available on the Yayori Award website.

Past winners have included a group of women working to bring justice to victims of sexual violence committed during the civil war in Guatemala, a feminist photojournalist from Nepal working on issues of peace and human rights, and numerous others doing important work for empowerment and justice at the grassroots level. The Japan Times did a feature story on the 2008 Yayori Journalist Award winner's work on the fight against nuclear power plants in a Japanese town.

[See this previous post at Ten Thousand Things for a description of the 2010 Yayori Award winners and their work for human rights.]

*************************************************
Mikiko Ishihara
Secretariat of the Committee for the Yayori Award
C/O Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center,
14-10-211, Sakuragaoka, Shibuyaku, Tokyo
150-0031 Japan
Tel: 81 3 3780 5245
Fax: 81 3 3463 9752
Email: info-award@ajwrc.org,
**************************************

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Worse than NAFTA: S. Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) would hurt U.S. & S. Korean small farmers & workers; Burmese, N. Korean slave laborers


(Photo: Korea Policy Institute)

• "South Korea ‘Free Trade’ Deal: Another Funnel for Exploitation" by Roger Bybee, In These Times, June 3, 2011:
KORUS is based on the NAFTA model, the outstanding achievement of which was managing to lower living conditions for the majority of citizens in three nations (United States, Mexico, and Canada) simultaneously...

KORUS defines “South Korean-made” as any product that has at least 35% of its value created in South Korea. Under this rule, the origin of the remaining 65% does not matter. “So South Korea can use components made by slave labor in Myanmar or in China with its repressive conditions and currency manipulations,” McKinnon told In These Times.

KORUS would potentially open up the United States to components produced under one of the world's most tightly-repressive nations. The rigid police state of North Korea has opened up a free-trade zone employing about 40,000 workers currently. South Korean firms operating factories in the zone typically pay the North Korean government just $3 to $4 per day per worker, of which the worker gets to keep just $1.
• "Why We Must Oppose the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement" by Christine Ahn and Seung Hye Suh, Korea Policy Institute, May 25, 2011:
If passed, the Korea-U.S. FTA is predicted to have profound consequences on jobs, workers' rights, environmental protections, the U.S. trade deficit, banking and financial services, healthcare, agriculture, and both governments' ability to pass public health and anti-discrimination laws.

Yet here in the United States, there is almost no word about it in the media and no public debate. Large corporations and the South Korean Embassy have been spending millions of dollars to lobby for the FTA while the U.S. people, a majority of whom opposes such deals, are not even aware that the largest trade deal since NAFTA could be passed before mid-summer...

Korean farmers are so militant because for them, this is a struggle between life and death. This FTA—because of the stark differences between Korean and U.S. farms—will drive most farmers to ruin. Korea has only 4.2 million acres of farmland, compared with the US's 434 million. The average farm size in Korea is 1.2 acres, compared with the U.S.'s 71 acres. The National Family Farm Coalition, an alliance of American small family farmers, opposes the deal because only large U.S. agribusiness corporations will benefit. Meanwhile, the Korean Peasants League estimates that if the FTA is implemented, Korean agricultural production will decrease by 45 percent and force roughly half of Korean farmers off their land. Korean farmers stand to lose their land, livelihoods and lives, and Korea stands to lose its rural farming tradition and culture...

One of the most dangerous parts of this FTA for people in general and workers specifically is its investment chapter. The deal was negotiated in 2006, at the height of the deregulatory fervor that brought on our current economic recession. The deal grants unprecedented freedoms to investment banks and financial corporations to manipulate the economy. In the late 1990s, many in our Korean American community immigrated to the U.S. because of the Asian financial crisis that ravaged Korea's economy. Koreans not only lost jobs and savings, they lost significant labor protections while their quality of life and work prospects drastically declined. Even as Korea's overall economy eventually improved, the lives of ordinary Koreans did not. More people became irregular workers, earning half the salary of regular workers and without benefits or pensions. In 2000, 40 percent of Korean workers were irregular workers; by 2008, that number had grown to 60 percent. Of that irregular workforce, 67.5 percent are women workers. Korea also has the largest gender wage gap of all OECD countries.

Most labor economists say that this FTA will only intensify these trends and eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, at a time when both governments are cutting social welfare programs. Furthermore, neither the U.S. nor Korea has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98, which are core international labor standards guaranteeing the freedom of association, the right to organize, and the right to collective bargaining...

The FTA has also been used to dismantle Korea's environmental and public health laws. During talks, Korea agreed to a side deal, which basically overturned its 2000 genetic engineering labeling law that kept genetically modified organisms (GMOs) out of Korea's food supply. By 2008, Korea had approved 102 GMOs for import as feed or food, 70 percent from the U.S. firms Monsanto, Dupont and Dow Chemical...

Finally, if passed, the FTA has and will continue to seriously undermine democracy in both Korea and the United States. In Korea, perhaps the most egregious example is the dismantling of Korea's universal healthcare system...
• "Korea US Free Trade Agreement Another Cash Cow for Corporations" by Jim Goodman, Familyfarmers.org, April 11, 2011:
...U.S. agricultural interests stand to gain billions in earnings. Farmers, however, are not international traders. The real profit in agriculture is made in the corporate boardroom; farmers don’t have a seat there. Perhaps the stronger point is that most farmers worldwide produce food to be consumed locally, not commodities for international trade. They stand to be victims of corporate “dumping” rather than standing to benefit by trade.

Like Mexican and Central American farmers under NAFTA and CAFTA, Korean farmers...stand to lose their land, their culture and their dignity.

If the argument in favor of KORUS is increased corporate profit, fine, call it that, but it is a perverse misrepresentation to imply that U.S. farmers and workers will profit. Farmers and workers do not have the power, the lawyers or the off-shore banks that the multi-national corporations use to push their agenda.

As tariff barriers are removed, the world will indeed be the oyster of multi-national corporations. Shakespeare could be quoted as their guiding light: “Why then the world’s mine oyster/Which I with sword will open."
• "Free Trade Kills Korean Farmers" by Christine Ahn and Albie Miles, Foreign Policy in Focus, February 15, 2011:
The Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (Korea FTA), which the Obama administration is promising to send to Congress for ratification in the next weeks, would be the largest international trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Korea is the seventh largest U.S. trading partner and the United States is Korea’s third largest trading partner. Commerce between the two countries is estimated at $86 billion annually. The Korea FTA was originally signed in April 2007 by President Bush and later amended by the Obama administration in December 2010. But neither the U.S. Congress nor the South Korean parliament has yet to sign it...

In 1995, South Korea joined the World Trade Organization and signed the Agreement on Agriculture. Like many Asian countries, South Korea had limited foreign agricultural imports through the use of quotas and tariffs to protect their agricultural base. But by signing the Agreement on Agriculture, Korea was forced to end its system of quotas and tariffs, and begin to import a certain amount of agricultural commodities.

Meanwhile, as the United States and the EU were forcing farmers in poor developing countries through the WTO to open their markets, they were providing billions of subsidies to their own farmers. From 1995 to 2005, OECD countries collectively increased the subsidies they provided their farmers from $182 billion to $300 billion. Although most unsubsidized peasant farmers around the world lived on less than $400 a year, U.S. and EU farmers received on average $21,000 and $16,000 annually in subsidies.

Opening Korean markets to cheap foreign imports devastated Korean farmers. Since the 1995 Agreement on Agriculture, Korean farmer debt grew four-fold to approximately $30,000 forcing millions off their land and into poverty. In 1970, farmers made up 44.7 percent of the Korean population. By 1995, only 11.6 percent were farmers. Today, only 3.2 million Korean farmers remain, comprising 7 percent of the population. According to Reverend Han Kyung Ho, President of the Korean Rural Mission, Korea’s dependency on imported food has reduced its food self-sufficiency from 56 percent in 1980 to 25.3 percent by 2004. Lee Kwang Seok of the Korean Peasants League points out that, with rice out of the equation, Korea would only be 5-6 percent food self sufficient. “If a country depends on other countries for food, the sovereignty of the whole nation becomes threatened,” says Reverend Han. “Food is a strong weapon to control another country.”
• In-depth and detailed scholarly analysis of KORUS: "Capitalism, the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, and Resistance" by Martin Hart-Landsberg, temporarily available as a free download at the Critical Asian Studies website.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Iejima, birthplace of Okinawan resistance: In 1955, U.S. Marines pulled families out of bed & destroyed their homes to make way for a bombing range

As the governor and citizens of Okinawa face the latest U.S. Marine threat to their quality of life and safety (planned deployment of accident-prone V-22 Osprey aircraft in Futenma), Jon Mitchell's look back at the origins of Okinawan resistance to the U.S. military seizure of their property brings home how long Okinawans have struggled for freedom from the military violence, noise, and environmental degradation upon their islands.

In 1955, 300 US soldiers with rifles and bulldozers dragged women and children from their beds, destroyed their homes and slaughtered their goats after they refused to voluntarily leave their farms in Iejima, one of Okinawa prefecture's small islands, to make way for a U.S. bombing range. When the forcibly removed farmers were allowed to return after incarceration for resisting the seizures of their homes and farms, the soldiers forced them to live in tents on barren land. With no crops, they foraged on the margins of the bombing range for shrapnel to sell for scrap, where soldiers shot at them. Despite these atrocities, Iejima's farmers refused to succumb to demoralization and defeat.

Leader Shoko Ahagon drew up policies inspired by Gandhi to guide their political action: nonviolent resistance and mass demonstrations. This resulted in some concessions and the prevention of U.S. deployment of nuclear missiles on the island in 1966. Ahagon is now known as the founder of the Okinawan civil rights movement:
Iejima: an island of resistance: Jon Mitchell traces the roots of Okinawa's civil rights movement

By JON MITCHELL

During the 30-minute ferry ride from Motobu on mainland Okinawa, Iejima reveals itself in stages. First, Mount Tacchu emerges above the waves like a chunk of the peanut brittle for which the island is renowned. Next, the wind-blown scent of countless thousands of hibiscuses sweetens the stink of the ship's diesel engines. Finally, swaths of sugar cane come into view — followed by khaki-green tobacco fields and white sand beaches flanking the island's southern shores.

Man of peace: Shoko Ahagon, father of Okinawa's civil rights movement, is seen in this poster welcoming visitors to the Treasure House of Life museum.

Without question, Iejima is a beautiful place — but dig a little deeper and you soon realize that, beneath its rich red soil, there lies an awful lot of suffering.

Most visitors are well aware of the savage fighting that raged on and around the island during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. Some tourists pose for photographs next to a monument that marks the spot where Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. war correspondent Ernie Pyle lost his life on April 18, 1945, while others clamber through the shattered ruins of the island's former pawn shop.

However, judging by the lack of names in the visitor book of the Treasure House of Life museum, very few people know about the second American invasion of Iejima — the one that occurred in 1955.

"Here on the island, we don't use the phrase 'postwar,' " explains Shoko Jahana, the museum's caretaker. "For us, it is as though we are still living in a war zone."

In the barracks-like museum, photographs chronicle the underhanded way in which, 56 years ago, the U.S. military went about transforming the western half of Iejima into an aerial bombing range.

With all of Okinawa under U.S. administration, the authorities started by tricking the landowners into signing voluntary evacuation papers, Jahana says. 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.

"That's when Ahagon-sensei decided to act," says Jahana, pointing to a large poster of a smiling man with a tanned face.

Shoko Ahagon — the father of the Okinawan civil rights movement — was not your average farmer. As a young man, he converted to Christianity and went to Cuba to seek his fortune. Returning to Iejima, he'd embarked upon a temperance campaign. His experiences of talking the island's hard-drinking menfolk into abandoning their awamori spirits would prepare him well for his bid to persuade the Americans to return their land.

Inspired by Gandhi's principles of passive resistance to British rule in India, Ahagon drew up a list of policies for the farmers in their dealings with the military. These included the need to stay calm and retain faith in the inherent good of individual Americans. These policies are painted in big letters on the museum's wall — and they continue to inspire Okinawa-wide struggles against the presence of U.S. bases.

Another tactic still influential today is the organization of mass demonstrations. In July 1955, Ahagon led the displaced farmers on a seven-month circuit of the Okinawan mainland in order to inform people of their mistreatment. At a time when the United States kept the Okinawan press strictly censored, this "Beggars' March" won the farmers much-needed publicity for their plight — yet the U.S. military remained unmoved.

Upon their return to Iejima, the farmers were forced to live in tents on the barren land to which they'd been relocated. With their crops gone, they resorted to foraging on the margins of the bombing range for shrapnel to sell for scrap. The museum's photographs show the tragic consequences of such desperate actions — farmers were shot by American soldiers, maimed by stray bullets or blown limbless as they attempted to defuse unexploded ordnance.

Despite these atrocities, Ahagon and the farmers never gave up on their appeals to the conscience of the U.S. military.

Over the years, this unrelenting pressure bore fruit — their vigilance prevented the islanders from suffering the crimes so common elsewhere on Okinawa, and they won the right to farm their fields when the range was not in use. "But even today," explains Jahana, "about 30 percent of Iejima remains under U.S. control."

After leaving the museum, I head to the island's west coast in order to see for myself the American base. While the military has moved its live ammunition drills elsewhere, it continues to use the installation to practice parachute drops — and barbed-wire fences cordon off a massive expanse of Iejima's most fertile farming land. Outside the base, in the ashes of a farmer's bonfire, I spot charred cartridges and the tail fin of a rocket — reminders of the bitter harvest some islanders died collecting.

A short walk away stands an A-framed building with freshly painted slogans on its walls. This is the hut from where Ahagon and the farmers used to ensure that the Americans' exercises did not stray beyond the confines of the base — and it was from here that, in 1966, they staged a successful campaign to prevent the U.S. military from installing nuclear-armed Nike missiles on the island.

Recalling the museum's photographs of this hut packed full with demonstrators, I peer through the building's windows. Its newly painted exterior proves deceptive — inside, the room is thick with dust and looks abandoned to the spiders.

Behind me, an elderly farmer pulls up on his tractor. When he finds out I've just come from the museum, he tells me he used to know Ahagon well. "Ahagon-sensei dedicated his whole life to the islanders of Iejima. He was a hero," he declares.
Read the entire article, and see more of Jon Mitchell's photos at The Japan Times.

伊江島:アイランド・オブ・レジスタンス ジョン・ミッチェル、沖縄の公民権運動のルーツを旅する

Japanese translation of "Iejima: an island of resistance: Jon Mitchell traces the roots of Okinawa's civil rights movement" published by The Japan Times on May 22, 2011, by Kosuzu Abe

伊江島:アイランド・オブ・レジスタンス
ジョン・ミッチェル、沖縄の公民権運動のルーツを旅する

2011年5月22日
ジョン・ミッチェル

 沖縄本島の本部(もとぶ)からフェリーで30分。伊江島の姿がだんだんと見えて来る。まず「たっちゅー」と呼ばれる山が、島の名産ピーナッツ黒糖のかけらみたいに、波の向こうに現れる。次に、船のディーゼルエンジンの悪臭を素敵に変えるのは、風に運ばれる満開のハイビスカスの香りだ。最後に、一面のサトウキビ畑、カーキ・グリーンのたばこ畑、そして白い砂浜が、島の南岸に広がっているのが見えて来る。

 間違いなく伊江島は美しいところだ。だが、ちょっと深く探れば、その豊かな赤い土の下には、あまりに多くの苦難が横たわっていることが判る。

 訪問者はたいてい、1945年沖縄戦のときに島周辺で起こった戦闘の蛮行を知っている。ピューリッツァー賞を受賞した従軍記者アーニー・パイルが1945年4月18日に亡くなった場所の記念碑で足を止めて撮影する人や、戦跡として残った公益質屋跡によじ登ったりする人もいる。

 だが、「命どぅ宝の家」資料館の訪問者記帳ノートを見れば、伊江島の二度目のアメリカ侵攻、つまり1955年に起こった出来事はあまり知られていないことがわかる。

 「この島で『戦後』という言葉は使いません」、資料館を管理する謝花悦子さんは語る。「私たちにとっては、いまでもまだ戦争地帯に暮らしているようなものです」。

 掘っ立て小屋のような資料館のなかで、56年前、米軍が伊江島の西半分を射爆場にしようとした際に密かに撮影された写真が、当時の記録を物語っている。

 米支配下の沖縄全土で、当局は当初、地主をだまして自主退去書類にサインをさせようとしたと謝花さんは言う。ところが、退去を拒否した数家族に対して、300名もの米兵が銃剣とブルドーザーでやってきて、女性や子供たちをベッドから引きずり出し、家は叩き潰され、山羊も殺されてしまった。

 「そのときでした、阿波根先生が決断したのは」。謝花さんは、日焼けした笑顔の男の大きなポスターを指しながら言った。

 阿波根昌鴻、沖縄の公民権運動の父として知られるその人物は、いわゆる普通の農民ではなかった。若い頃にキリスト教に改宗し、稼ぎを得ようとキューバに移民した。伊江島に戻ってから、禁酒運動に乗り出す。酒飲みの島人たちに泡盛をやめるよう説得した経験は、後年、アメリカ人に島を去るよう説得するための練習に、多少は、なったかもしれない。

 英国支配下のインドにおける、ガーンディの受け身による抵抗の主義主張にヒントを得て、阿波根は、米軍に立ち向かう農民たちの教訓「陳情規定」を作成した。挑発にのらないことや、個々のアメリカ人の内的な善良さを信じようとする姿勢などが含まれている。これらの規定は、資料館の壁に大きく書かれてあって、現在もなお、米軍基地と闘う沖縄全土の闘争を触発し続けている。

 今日もなお影響力を持ち続けている手法のひとつが、大衆デモの組織化だ。1955年7月、阿波根は土地を負われた農民とともに、自分たちの処遇について人々に伝えるため7ヶ月に及ぶ沖縄本島巡りを行った。米国が沖縄の報道を厳しく検閲していた時代に、この「乞食行進」は農民たちの苦境を広く知らせることに成功した。それでも米軍は島から出て行かなかった。

 伊江島に戻ると、農民たちは強制移住先の荒れ地でのテント暮らしを強いられた。収穫を奪われたかれらは射爆場周辺でスクラップとして売るための鉄くず集めに頼った。資料館の写真は、この捨て身の行動の悲劇的な結末を物語る。農民たちは米兵に狙撃され、流れ弾に当たり、不発弾の信管を取り除くのに失敗して手足を吹き飛ばされた。

 このような悲惨にもかかわらず、阿波根と農民たちは米軍の良心に訴えることをあきらめなかった。

 何年も続いた粘り強い抵抗は、実を結んだ。かれらは寝ずの番で、沖縄のいたるところで発生していた犯罪を防ぎ、使用していない演習地での耕作権を勝ち取ったのである。「しかし今日もなお」と、謝花さんは言う。「伊江島の約30パーセントは米支配下のままです」。

 資料館を後にして、アメリカの基地を自分の眼で確かめるため、西海岸に向かった。実弾演習は移転されたものの、パラシュート降下訓練での使用は続いている。有刺鉄線のフェンスが伊江島に広がる肥沃な耕地を閉ざしている。基地の外側で、農民たちのかがり火の灰のなかに見つけた焼け焦げた薬きょうやロケット弾の尾翼が、鉄くず集めで命を落とした島の人々の苦い収穫を思わせた。

 少し歩けば、アルファベットのAの形をした建物が見える。壁には真新しいペンキでスローガンが書かれている。阿波根と農民たちが、米兵が基地の外で逸脱した行為をしないよう見張った小屋である。ここを拠点に1966年には、核弾頭搭載のナイキ・ミサイルの配備阻止闘争で成功を収めた。

 デモ参加者でいっぱいの小屋の写真を思い出しながら、窓越しになかを覗いてみた。最近塗り直された外観が嘘のように、中は埃とクモの巣だらけで放置されているようだった。

 私のそばを年配の農家の男がトラクターで通りかかった。資料館から来たばかりだと知ると、自分は阿波根さんの知り合いだったよと教えてくれた。「阿波根先生は全人生を伊江島島民のために尽くした人、ヒーローだったよ」と力強く語った。

 壊れかけた建物を指さして、最近の反基地運動について尋ねると、島民の大半は地代をもらって日本政府に土地を明け渡し、公共事業に使われていると教えてくれた。来る途中に見かけた風景が、こうした政策をよく表していた。伊江島の村役場は沖縄本島の都市部と同じように大きなものだったし、巨大な地下ダム建設の看板も出ていた。

 このような開発工事を見たら阿波根さんはどう思うだろうかと尋ねると、ちょっと気まずい雰囲気になった。少しの間、真新しいトラクターに視線を泳がせた後、エンジンをかけると、今夜はお祭りがあるから、不幸な島の過去をほじくり返すよりも、そっちのほうが楽しい話が聞けるよと言った。

 私はこの農家の忠告に従うことにした。1955年、アメリカ人が上陸した場所のすぐそばに、伊江島で唯一のリゾート施設がある。ホテルは普段は有名なダイビングポイントへのツアーをやっているが、今夜はこのホテルの年に1度の祭りで、島中から人が集まるらしい。

 ステージで演奏していたロックのコピーバンドはとても上手くて、しばらくは口パクだと思い込んでいた。腰を振って踊るメインボーカルの詞がウチナーグチの替え歌になったところで、ようやく気がついたほどだ。50年代風のツイスト・アンド・シャウトに沖縄スタイルの歓声とカチャーシーの手踊りがブレンドされて、客たちは盛り上がっていた。

 聴衆の前の方に、3人の外国人を見つけた。民間人のシャツとズボンを着けていた彼らを米兵だと見破ったのは、そのクルーカットの髪型のせいではなく、肩を回すような踊りかたや、互いに見せ合うギャング風の仕草からだった。島の人々は誰もが、かれらを遠巻きにしており、ただ、島の子供たちのグループが、若者たちの背後で、そのマッチョなダンスの動きを真似していた。気配を察知して外国人が振り返る。子供たちは動きを止めて無邪気を装う。アメリカ人たちが視線を外したとたんに、子供たちは仲間内で笑いあい、ズボンの股を掴む物まねを再び始めた。

 島のどこへ行っても、阿波根の伝統が忘れられつつある。だが、ここでは、少なくとも一晩くらいは、伊江島の抵抗の精神が活き活きと今も息づいていることを見て元気を得られることだろう。

伊江島への行き方:那覇空港から本部へ車ないしはバスで2時間。伊江島行きのフェリーは1日4便、夏季は増便もあり。
時刻表は以下のリンクで確認できる。http://www.iejima.org/ieson/index.php?oid=93&dtype=1000&pid=91
フェリー乗り場付近にレンタル自転車あり。

Friday, June 17, 2011

Filmmaker Hitomi Kamanaka on the effects of nuclear weapons & nuclear energy plants

Interview with filmmaker Hitomi Kamanaka featured in "Atomic Mom" (a documentary about two mothers: a scientist who facilitated the US nuclear bomb program and a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing).

In this clip filmed shortly after 3/11,  prophetic filmmaker Hitomi Kamanaka talks about her trilogy of documentaries exploring the effects of nuclear weapons and energy industry on the lives of people worldwide.

They include Hibakusha at the End of the World (about victims of nuclear radiation exposure from Japan (nuclear bombings) to Iraq (depleted uranium) to the US (nuclear test bombings), also called Radiation: A Slow Death), Rokkasho-mura Rhapsody, about the decrepit nuclear reprocessing (plutonium) plant at the northeastern tip of Tohoku, and Ashes to Honey, about local residents' and environmentalists' 30-year resistance to the planned Kaminoseki nuclear plant in the Inland Sea National Park.

Kamanaka concludes by predicting the revival of active grassroots democratic participation in Japan. (The mass protests of the Hydrangea Revolution are not new to Japan. In the late 1950's and 1960's, millions of Japanese people from all walks of life demonstrated against the US-Japan Security Treaty (ANPO) which allowed the US to maintain nuclear weapons and military bases in the mainland Japan and Okinawa. The impetus behind this earlier movement was the same as today's: the desire to live a nuclear-free, peaceful life. Despite the protests from all sectors of Japanese society, Prime Minister Kishi rammed ANPO through parliament; it was during this same period that the first nuclear power plant in Japan (Tokai) was built in the 1960's in Ibaraki.)

Background: 

Hitomi Kamanaka's website: http://kamanaka.com/

 "Complicity and Victimhood: Director Kamanaka Hitomi's Nuclear Warnings" published at The Asia-Pacific Journal last year.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Citizens in Japan take proactive action as Fukushima radiation threats loom; ask for international support in signing petition, e-mailing officials


13 min. video showing highlights of Saturday 6/11 video in Shinjuku, Tokyo (shorter video may be watched here).

This past Saturday June 11th, which marked exactly three months since eastern Japan was struck in rapid succession by a devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, citizens gathered in cities and towns the world over in impassioned demonstrations to let their government officials know in no uncertain terms that the era of nuclear power is over.

The event, known collectively as 6.11 Anti Nukes Day, included solidarity demonstrations held in Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Taiwan and the United States. In cities across Japan, the demonstrations were of course particularly poignant given the ongoing uncertainty of the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Several events were held in the nation’s capital of Tokyo alone, where the largest drew some 20,000 people to the central district of Shinjuku in a pulsing, unbarred, and at times raucous expression of emotion.

On one hand, recent weeks have seen several positive developments that are being cautiously celebrated, including the shutdown of the Hamaoka nuclear plant (dubbed the “world’s most dangerous”), the increasing likelihood that plans will be scrapped for the Kaminoseki nuclear facility, and Prime Minister Kan’s announcement of Japan’s serious commitment to alternative energies within the nation’s future energy policy. Unanswered questions continue to percolate, however, regarding the issue of Fukushima’s fallout (both literal and otherwise) underneath the surface of mainstream public discourse, which seems to have forgotten about the crisis altogether as daily life has shifted back to “normal”.

This state of collective denial seems exactly the way that officialdom in Japan wants to keep things, judging by the number of baton-wielding police officers sent out to cover Saturday’s event—which far surpassed what would have been necessary for the ostensible purpose of “traffic control”. When I arrived for the evening portion of the Shinjuku demonstration, I was stunned to be greeted by an ocean of blue cop uniforms literally as far as I could see. This served two purposes: first, making the general public unaware of what was actually happening, since several layers of officers were surrounding the demonstrators, thereby blocking the action from view (and making it inaccessible to would-be participants); and second, giving the impression that whatever was going on was so “dangerous” as to necessitate such intense police coverage.


When I was finally able to join the event—after taking a circuitous route and ducking in between cops to reach it— I found instead a chilled-out atmosphere including a reggae singer performing anti-nuke songs atop a sound truck, people waving creative signs and handing out flyers, and others holding candles in silence. It was a peaceful, artistic and inspiring gathering—and the average passerby did not even know that it was going on.


Illustrated downloadable information guide for first-time protest-goers, also available via the website of Hajime Matsumoto, who runs the Shiroto no ran ("Amateur Revolt") shop and social collective in the Tokyo neighborhood of Koenji where 15,000 people gathered in April for an anti-nuke demonstration that he organized.

Among the many other Japanese cities hosting demonstrations on Saturday was Koriyama in Fukushima prefecture, where Tokyo resident Hideaki Matsuura decided to offer support to those who have been facing the disaster more intimately. “I thought the demo would be quite big since Koriyama has suffered significant radiation damage, but I was surprised to see that there were only around two or three hundred people there—and further shocked to see that almost no one was wearing face masks,” he told me. “During speech time, however, people gave very moving appeals about how their lives have been damaged, and how they and their families continue to fear for their safety.”

He also told me that he spoke after the event with a woman who described the culture of silence and complicity that continues to reign in Fukushima whereby people are culturally obliged to follow their elders—most of whom get their information from the mainstream media rather than the internet, and thereby believe the official assurances that radiation from the plant is “safe.” As a result, she said, anyone who goes against this prevailing logic—by wearing a mask, for example, or expressing a desire to move to a safer area—risks bullying and/or ostracization from the community.

An international collective known as “Todos Somos Japon: Fissures in the Planetary Apparatus” organized following the 3.11 disaster released a statement in support of the June 11th demonstrations in Japan that included the following:
Our thoughts should go especially to the women of Japan who, we are told, are those who are most strongly opposed to the government propaganda about patriotism and sacrifice. We understand they are struggling to resist this suicidal logic, which demands their families consume radioactive products to show the world that all is well in this country and a nuclear disaster is something we can live with. Their struggle is our struggle and their resistance needs our support.
Indeed, with official information non-forthcoming regarding the actual level of dangers, average citizens have had to take matters into their own hands in order to protect their safety and livelihoods. A friend of mine who is an organic farmer and surfer living along the coast of Chiba prefecture—which lies due south of Fukushima—has purchased a Geiger counter, as have many other farmers, in order to regulate the levels of radiation that may be affecting her fields. “I moved away from the city because I wanted a more natural lifestyle, but as soon as my dream was achieved, we suddenly had to begin living with all the fears and unknowns of radiation,” she lamented. “As a surfer, the idea of having to stay away from the ocean is unthinkable. Due to the real possibility of radiation contamination, however, I and most other surfers I know try to limit the time spent in the water—and then make sure we are living healthy lifestyles in order to limit any potential negative effects to our health.”

“In fact, this whole scare has made me appreciate the ocean—as well as life itself—even more deeply,” she added. “If it becomes too dangerous I may eventually have to move elsewhere, but I love living here and will do everything in my power to stay.”

The internet has been a powerful ally to citizens in Japan who seek to bypass official media channels in order to find and share information regarding what is actually happening with regard to the ongoing nuclear disaster. With the installation of a live webcam aimed directly at the Fukushima Daichi plant, for example, citizens are now able to monitor the situation and send out alerts via e-mail and Twitter when—as happened last week, for example—smoke was seen being emitted from one of its reactors.

A message that has recently been circulating around the Japanese Twittersphere calling for action reads as follows:
Here are a few examples of what is happening now in Japan:

1. The Japanese government allows fresh food to be on the market although it contains radiation 20-30 times higher than the global safety standard.

2. The Japanese government does not do anything even with food that contains radiation higher than Japanese safety standards.

3. The Japanese government does not inform its citizens of the results of the seafood radiation investigation, and does not allow Green Peace to conduct a thorough investigation of the sea environment around Japan.

4. According to UK researchers, more than 400,000 additional cancers will occur within the next 50 years on account of the radiation if no preventive efforts take place.

5. Air dose levels of radiation do not reflect the actual doses. Official air doses are half or quarter of the actual doses.

6. The Japanese government insists that 20mSv/year is safe for children at a school yard. The amount is 20 times higher than previous safety standards.

7. Data and information about Fukushima has been hidden, although radioactive particles keep spilling into the water and air every day.

8. Several millions of residents who evacuated from the area surrounding Fukushima still live in public buildings,gymnasiums, and such. There is no plan for them yet.

9. Several millions of Geiger counters donated by foreign counties are sitting, unused, in a warehouse.

Please send an email about these issues to the following Japanese officials:

Mr. Naoto Kan, prime minister (for all of the above): kan-naoto@nifty.com

Mr. Hosokawa, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Points 1.2.3.4): h04091@shugiin.go.jp

Mr. Takagi, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Points 5, 6): g02653@shugiin.go.jp

Mr. Kaieda, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Points 7, 8) office@kaiedabanri.jp

Mr. Matsumoto, Foreign Ministry (Point 9): info-matsumoto@memenet.or.jp

Please urge them to:

1) Conform to global standards on radiation safety in terms of food, water, and the environment

2) Check radiation levels in the air and water, and on the ground, which are more suitable to protect human life

3) Make all updated radiation information easily available to everyone

4) Disclose information and data regarding the Fukushima plant to Japanese and also the world

5) Take appropriate care of residents who have evacuated and who want to evacuate from Fukushima prefecture

6) Utilize the Geiger counters and other resources donated from foreign countries
Itsumi Kakefuda, a researcher with the Digital Human Research Center (affiliated with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial science and Technology), who translated the above appeal into English, said this with regard to fears among parents in Fukushima/Tokyo:
While different from the PTSD that is occurring within the afflicted areas, many parents of schoolchildren in the Tokyo metropolitan are also expressing fear, anger, and anxiety because of the confusion and lack of information. Clearly, the fundamental problem is the government and TEPCO, because of their horrible crisis communication. Sometimes this stress turns into cognitive/emotional overload, which can then lead instead to denial. Many interpersonal conflicts have also been increasing between those who are extremely concerned and are calling for action, vs. those who have chosen not to worry about the situation.
Others challenging the official line that radiation is safe and harmless are many artists and musicians, including Rankin’ Taxi, who performed at last Saturday’s gathering in Shinjuku. The group teamed up with the Ainu Dub band for the powerful “You Can’t See It and You Can’t Smell It Either," that minces no words (nor images) in its criticism of nuclear power and the handling of the Fukushima crisis:



Internationally renowned author Haruki Murakami delivered a speech last week in Barcelona upon receipt of the Catalonia International Prize wherein he interrogated the values of “efficiency” and “convenience” that he argues led to the Fukushima crisis via Japan’s passive acceptance of nuclear power. He then went on to poignantly challenge human beings across the globe to together create a future that instead prioritizes life and humanity. An English translation of Murakami’s speech is available at the “A Daily Life in Uptown Tokyo” blog .



Further information on what actually occurred at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the days and weeks following the crisis, which went unreported in establishment news for months, is available in CNN interviews with physicist Dr. Michio Kaku and nuclear engineer Arnie Gunderson.

For more on radiation and precautions against its potential negative effects, see thes essays from herbalist Ingrid Naiman and this lecture by Kyoto University Professor Hiroaki Koide.

Additional reports on Saturday’s demonstrations across Japan may be read in the New York Times and Tokyo Progressive. Paul Jobin's "Dying for TEPCO? Japan's Nuclear Contract Workers" published at The Asia-Pacific Journal providess disturbing insight into the top-down workings of the nuclear power system as it plays out in Japan, and Dahr Jamail's "Fukushima: It's Worse Than You Think" at Al Jazeera online powerfully discusses the Fukushima disaster in its historical context.

Your signing a petition to stop the remaining nuclear reactors in Japan and a transition to clean, safe energy sources would be greatly appreciated. It may be accessed here.

- Kimberly Hughes

KJ Head's Up: Sulak Sivaraksa on July 24 at Chionji Temple

Via Kyoto Journal on FB, Sulak Sivaraksa in Kyoto:
One to put in the diary: An Engaged Buddhist, activist and recipient of the 2011 Niwano Peace Prize, Sulak Sivaraksa from Thailand is giving a talk on "Creating a post-3/11" at Chionji Temple on Monday 24th July at 2pm. Doors open 1:30 tickets Y1500.
From sulak-sivarasksa.org:
People seeking to live spiritually must be concerned with their social and physical environment. To be truly religious is not to reject society but to work for social justice and change.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Small is Inevitable: Shift from Consumption-Driven to Sustainable Paradigm

John Einarsen's In the Realm of the Bicycle is not only poetic; it is prophetic.

Firmin DeBrabander's "The Green Revolution Backfires: Sweden’s Lesson for Real Sustainability" published June 10 brings us counterintuitive news that Sweden's greenhouse emissions have increased since Stockholm began pushing electric and hybrid cars because people are driving them more.

The philosopher's conclusion: we cannot save the world by "greening" old habits. The only solution: reduce, even stop driving cars.

The consumption-driven "American Dream" (oversized cars and houses) has turned out to be an environmentally disastrous "World Nightmare" model that can no longer be pushed onto developing countries if the world is to survive: DeBrabander notes that we must shift to a reverse direction, making less developed societies the new paradigm:
American industry hungrily targets the rising Chinese consumer class. For the sake of the planet, we better hope it doesn’t get its way. Consider: China currently has a car ownership rate approximately one-sixth that of the US. If China achieves car ownership rates comparable to the US, that would put an additional 800 million cars on the road. And that’s just China. Even if we somehow succeeded in making China’s fleet super efficient, it would still be more than the planet can handle.
More on this inevitable shift from "Seeking a Cultural Revolution: From Consumerism to Sustainability" by Matthew Berger at Inter Press Service last year:
The last 50 years have seen an unprecedented and unsustainable spike in consumption, driven by a culture of consumerism that has emerged over that period, says a report released Tuesday by the Worldwatch Institute.

This consumerist culture is the elephant in the room when it comes to solving the big environmental issues of today, the report says, and those issues cannot be fully solved until a transition to a more sustainable culture is begun.

"State of the World 2010" subtitled "Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability" tries to chart a path away from what Worldwatch president Christopher Flavin calls "the consumer culture that has taken hold probably first in the U.S. and now in country after country over the past century, so that we can now talk about a global consumerist culture that has become a powerful force around the world."

In this culture, says the book-length report, people find meaning and contentment in what they consume, but this cultural orientation has had huge implications for society and the planet. The average U.S. citizens, for instance, consumes more each day, in terms of mass, than they weigh. If everyone lived like this, the Earth could only sustain 1.4 billion people...

"In India and China, for instance, the consumer culture of the U.S. and Western Europe is not only being replicated but being replicated on a much vaster scale," Flavin says.

Consumption has risen sixfold since 1960, the report says, citing World Bank statistics. Even taking the rising global population into account, this amounts to a tripling of consumption expenditures per person over this time. This has led to similar increases in the amount of resources used – a sixfold increase in metals extracted from the earth, eightfold in oil consumption and 14-fold in natural gas consumption.

"In total, 60 billion tons of resources are now extracted annually – about 50 percent more than just 30 years ago," the report says.

Escalating resource consumption has also led to unsustainable systems of distributing and producing those resources. In the field of agriculture, for instance, every one dollar spent on a typical U.S. food item yields only about seven cents for the farmer, while 73 cents goes to distribution, says the report's chapter on shifting to a more sustainable agriculture system.

It points to this as one outcome of increasingly unsustainable consumption habits. These habits have formed only recently – the same dollar yielded 40 cents for the farmer in 1900 – but they have now become ingrained, it says.

This consumption is based on more than individual choices. As co-author Michael Maniates says, "We're not stupid, we're not ignorant, we don't even have bad values."

Rather, we are acting under the heavy influence of cultural conventions that influence our behaviour by making things like fast food, air conditioning and suburban living feel increasingly "natural" and more difficult to imagine living without, he says.

To prevent future environmental damage, "policy alone will not be enough. A dramatic shift in the very design of human societies will be essential," says the report...Most of the report, in fact, discusses action that has been and can be taken to shift the cultural paradigm, rather than the damage the current paradigm has done.

The 244-page report cites a wide variety of examples such as the enshrining of the rights of nature into Ecuador's constitution and schools pushing children to think more sustainably by giving them healthy, locally-grown lunches and encouraging them to walk or bike to class...

The report also points to the roles different societal institutions can play in spurring cultural shifts. Among these, religion, government, the media, businesses and education all have key roles to play. Taken separately, their efforts might seem small, admits Assadourian, but taken together they can effect real change.

"Keep in mind that consumerism had its beginning only two centuries ago and really accelerated in the last 50 years... With deliberate effort we can replace consumerism with sustainability just as quickly as we traded home-cooked meals for Happy Meals and neighbourhood parks for shopping malls," he says, alluding to the tenuousness of what appear to be deep and solid cultural roots.

"Eventually consumerism will buckle under its own impossibility," predicts Assadourian. We can either act proactively to replace it with a more sustainable cultural model or wait for something else to fill the void, he says...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

John Einarsen: In the Realm of the Bicycle


John Einarsen says this about his new book of photographs:
Each encounter I had with a member of this vast race revealed an individual with a personality all its own, the result of a history at once common and mysterious. Inevitably, I came to see them as they really were: creatures who populated the niches and nooks and corners and alleys of neighborhoods and streets and lives....

Most of the images in the book were taken in Kyoto over the years.
Cycle Kyoto adds this note:
Each photo in In the Realm of the Bicycle is a haiku, a brief fleeting moment that contains a larger truth.
To view a sample some of the pages, go to: blurb.com.

John Einarsen is the founding editor & art director of Kyoto Journal, an iconic English-language quarterly that emerged from Kyoto during the 1980's, about to embark a new incarnation online.

The cover is by Tiery Le.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death & evil

Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.

- Dr. Martin Luther King quoting historian Arnold Toynbee

Japan's Toll Update: Deaths, Missing, Homeless, Without Electricity or Running Water,

Reuters on June 11, 2011:
... An asterisk indicates a new or updated entry.

DEATH TOLL * A total of 15,405 people were confirmed dead by Japan's National Police Agency as of Friday, while 8,095 were missing.

NUMBER OF PEOPLE EVACUATED * About 90,109 people were in shelters around the country as of Friday, the National Police Agency said.

The government has also set up an evacuation area around Tokyo Electric Power Co's quake-stricken nuclear plant in Fukushima 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, with a 20-km (12-mile) radius. More than 70,000 people lived in the largely rural area within the 20 km zone. It is unclear how many of them have been evacuated, but most are believed to have left.

Another 136,000 people, who live within a zone extending a further 10 km, have been advised to stay indoors. The government has also asked people to leave certain areas beyond the 20 km exclusion zone around the plant because of accumulated radiation contamination, and that children, pregnant women, and hospitalised patients should stay out of some areas 20-30 km from the nuclear complex.

HOUSEHOLDS WITHOUT ELECTRICITY * The March 11 quake and tsunami initially left millions of households in the northeast without electricity, but as of June 3 the number of homes without power had declined to 121, Tohoku Electric Power Co said.

HOUSEHOLDS WITHOUT WATER * At least 58,000 households in three prefectures were without running water as of Friday, the Health Ministry said.

NUMBER OF BUILDINGS DAMAGED * At least 111,414 buildings have been fully destroyed, washed away or burnt down, the National Police Agency of Japan said as of Friday.The government estimates the material damage from the quake and tsunami alone could top $300 billion, making it by far the world's costliest natural disaster.

The top estimate would make it the world's costliest natural disaster...

Japan's government approved in April a 4 trillion yen ($49 billion) emergency budget for disaster relief in without resorting to new borrowing.

* But it is bracing for heavier reconstruction spending later this year that could amount to 10-15 trillion yen which will require issuing new bonds and, eventually, raising taxes.

NUMBER OF COUNTRIES OFFERING AID * According to the Foreign Ministry, 159 countries and 43 international organisations have offered assistance. ($1 = 80.330 Japanese Yen) (Compiled by Tokyo Political and General News Team)
Many of these countries and NGOs offered assistance without requiring payment from Japanese citizens. Read the entire article here.

New Japan Women's Association & War Resisters League: End U.S. Base Payments from Japan and Remove U.S. Bases

A request from the New Japan Women's Association and the War Resisters League: "End U.S. Base Payments from Japan and Remove U.S. Bases":
As the people of Japan are facing a nuclear crisis second only to the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in Ukraine and a future of uncertainty about the impacts of radiation in Japan, support a call by Shinfujin (the New Japan Women's Association) to demand that the U.S. government relieve Japan of its close to $1.6 billion in yearly payments to the U.S. to "host" U.S. military bases in their country.

The Japanese people need these resources for their own recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that killed over 13,000 people and left 150,000 people without homes. Take action to write your Congressperson and President Obama and ask them to relieve the Japanese of their payments to the U.S. war machine and to remove all U.S. military bases from Japan.

The War Resisters League affirms that war is a crime against humanity. We therefore are determined not to support any kind of war, international or civil, and to strive nonviolently for the removal of all causes of war, including racism, sexism and all forms of exploitation.
At the urging of Washington during the Cold War, Tokyo, in contradiction to its pacifist Constitution, built up a vast defensive military to protect the archipelago from invasions and attacks. Tokyo is one of the top military spenders in the world; and, also at the urging of Washington, has contributed financially to U.S. wars in East Asia and Central Asia.

Since the Cold War, according to Japan scholars of "Reverse Course" (the shift during and after the U.S. Occupation of Japan from democratization to transforming Japan into a U.S.-managed Far Eastern bulwark against the USSR and communist China), Washington hawks with ties to military industries have pushed Tokyo militarists (includinng direct descendants of WWII-era militarists put back into power with CIA assistance) to abandon Japan's pacifist constitution. Michael Schaller in "America's Favorite War Criminal: Kishi Nobusuke and the Transformation of U.S.-Japan Relations" writes:
Evidence in a variety of open and still classified U.S. government documents strongly indicates that early in 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, making what he and his aides earlier called a "big bet," authorized the CIA to provide secret campaign funds to Japanese Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke--formerly an accused war criminal--and selected members of the Liberal Democratic Party.
Of course, these influences ought not be equated with Liberal Democratic Party (members of the LDP have supported Article 9, the Peace Clause of the Japanese Constitution at great political cost); but instead with elements in the Japanese bureaucracy which indicated their presence during the Hatoyama administion. They obstructed the idealistic former prime minister's promise to stop new U.S. military construction in Okinawa and efforts to use diplomatic rather than military responses to conflicts in East Asia.

The end goal of remilitarists is to make way for increased Japanese taxpayer spending on U.S. military products and U.S. wars; to allow Japanese military industries to partner with U.S. military industries to produce weapons for export; and to send Japanese soldiers to fight in U.S. war zones. Japanese citizens pay for most the costs of 90-100 U.S. military installations throughout Japan, except for the salaries of U.S. troops.

The 3/11 triple tsunami/earthquake/triple nuclear meltdown disaster is set to break the record as the world's costliest disaster.