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Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Okinawa Dugong Lawsuits

Around 1,500 Okinawans gathered in Naha on a rainy Christmas afternoon 
to publicly voice disapproval of Governor Nakaima's last-minute backroom deal.

Norma Field, professor of East Asian studies at the University of Chicago, and author of the 1991 best-seller, In the Realm of the Dying Emperor: A Portrait of Japan at Century's End (an exploration of Japanese grassroots resistance against resurgent militarism), commented below her signature at the Association to Protect the Northernmost Dugong's petition to save the Okinawa Dugong:
We have done so much irreparable damage to the earth and its inhabitants. But the harm is not distributed evenly.

Okinawa's nature and people are among those disproportionately, unforgivably impacted. This is something Gov. Nakaima is in the precious position of being able to address!
However, Governor Nakaima did not meet the challenge of his historic opportunity to chart a democratic and healing path for Okinawa.  Instead, he fell back into the postwar pattern of bowing to the "Carrots and Sticks" and "Bayonets and Bulldozers" administration of the war-beleaguered prefecture, by accepting PM Abe's offer of a slight increase in the usual subsidies  from Japanese and Okinawan taxpayers ($24 billion over the next eight years), in exchange for breaking his 2010 campaign promise to protect the last habitat of the Okinawa dugong, by approving destructive military landfill to make way for a new mega-base at Henoko.

Satoko Oka Norimatsu and Gavan McCormack predicted Nakaima's eventual flip-flop in their recent book, Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States: 
In other words, [former PM] Kan and his closest advisors believed that once elected, Nakaima would betray his Okinawan constituents and cooperate with Tokyo. Whether it would be done by buying or threatening was immaterial.
Peter Ennis has detailed the contexts and recent twists of PM Abe and Okinawa Governor Nakaima's last-minute backroom (hospital) deal. The latter has proven his extraordinary skill at (self-described "sneak") hairpin maneuvers.  Recovered from whatever enabled his prolonged hospitalization in Tokyo, he's back in Okinawa, campaigning for a pro-military construction colleague who is challenging Henoko champion Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine in the upcoming January election. Ennis, a seasoned Japan political analyst, highly admired by journalists in Japan, predicts turbulence ahead.

Okinawa's two major dailies, The Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Shimpo, have bitterly protested Okinawa Governor Nakaima's betrayal of Okinawan trust. The latter newspaper said that Nakaima's action will reinforce the negative stereotype of some Okinawan politicians as "gold diggers."

Around 1,500 Okinawans gathered in Naha on a rainy Christmas afternoon 
to publicly voice disapproval of Governor Nakaima's last-minute backroom deal.

The majority of Okinawans still oppose the new base project and anticipated protests have begun, starting on a cold, rainy Christmas afternoon in Naha, the prefecture's capital.

Today's Mainichi's analysis even suggests that "the reform faction comprising the majority of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly may make a motion of no-confidence against the governor, throwing the prefectural administration into chaos."

Inside the Okinawa Prefectural Government Building today.
(Photo via Dr. Masami Mel Kawamura) 

The Japanese government's environmental environmental impact assessment for the massive military landfill is riddled with irregularities and omissions.  When he rejected the first report in 2012, Nakaima then said: "It will be impossible to preserve the lives of residents and the natural environment through the measures included in the impact report."

Kunitoshi Sakurai, a member of the Okinawan Environmental Network, and a professor and former president of Okinawa University, detailed the problems in "Japan’s Illegal Environmental Impact Assessment of the Henoko Base," noting that Japanese backroom environmental assessment procedures and laws do not come close to the standards of other developed countries. The founding chairman of the Japan Society for Impact Assessment, Nagoya University professor emeritus Shimazu Yasuo described the Henoko EIA as the "worst in Japanese history."

Even a former Minister of Defense, Satoshi Morimoto, criticized what he described as the "sloppiness" of the Environmental Impact study and the concealment of “'inconvenient facts' of the appearance of the dugong...He emphasized "the Yambaru forest and rivers, whose biodiversity is recognized under both national and prefectural plans, cannot be protected under the planned relocation."

Earthjustice, the Japan Environmental Lawyers Federation (JELF) and Okinawan environmental NGOs are meeting in early January to move forward with a new Dugong lawsuit in the US:
The lawsuit aims to make the U.S. government stop the Japanese government from entering the area for the reclamation work. The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of the United States requires its government to protect cultural heritage around the world. If the government’s actions could affect cultural assets in other countries it must take that impact into account.

Based on this law, the plaintiffs are taking action against the U.S. Defense Department in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco in order to protect the dugong as an endangered species. They are requesting that the U.S. Defense Department intervene to stop the Japanese government from going into the U.S. military facilities to construct the new air base.

The plaintiffs, including the Okinawa dugong and three Japanese citizens, as well as six Japanese and American environmental associations have brought another action against Secretary of Defense and the United States Department of Defense for violations of the National Historic Preservation Act. They allege that the defendants approved plans for construction of the Futenma replacement facility without taking into account the effect of the construction of the military facility on the Okinawa dugong, which is a marine mammal of cultural and historical significance to the Japanese people...

Lawyer Takaaki Kagohashi, the head of the plaintiff attorneys and representative of the Japan Environmental Lawyers Federation, said, “We have to wait to take action until just before the government starts the construction.” He emphasized that because it falls within the authority of the U.S. government, it is possible that the lawsuit in the United States could stop the Japanese government going ahead with the construction by preventing Japanese officials from entering the site.

The plaintiffs are same environmental groups and individuals who filed the Okinawa dugong lawsuit in 2003, which they effectively won. In the interlocutory decision, the judge decided that the dugong is subject to the National Historic Preservation Act, and that the government not evaluating the impact on the dugong was a violation of the law.

Kagohashi said, “We considered protective measures for the dugong in the previous case, but this new lawsuit aims to block the construction involved in the landfill. The American Environmental Law is very strict when it comes to the destruction of the natural environment. Our chances of victory are better in the United States than in Japan.”
The first Okinawa Dugong Lawsuit was filed in 2003. The same federal district court determined in the interlocutory decision of Jan. 2008 that the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) applied to the Okinawa dugong as a protected species.

The new lawsuit will not only take protective measures for the dugong as the original lawsuit did; it will additionally more fully address the issue of military landfill construction. U.S. environmental laws are more comprehensive and impartially administered than Japanese environmental laws. According to legal experts, the issue of whether or not a ban on the construction is in the interests of the general public will be a central issue.

In 1966, Ryukyus postal stamp commemorates the dugong's designation as a natural monument. 
(Image: Save the Dugong Campaign Center) 

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Updates: 

Another (separate) lawsuit will be filed in Naha District Court in mid-January on the grounds that Governor Nakaima's approval does not meet the legal standards and is, therefore, illegitimate; and members of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly plan to demand that Nakaima retract his approval at an extraordinary session expected Jan. 9, 2014. ("Okinawans seek to overturn approval for Futenma relocation work," Asahi, Dec. 30, 2013)
Four Okinawan members (Congressman Kantoku Teruya, Congressman Denny Tamaki, Congressman Seiken Akamine, and Senator Keiko Itokazu) of the Japanese Diet have called for Gov. Nakaima's resignation.  The reason: reneging (in exchange for a "spending spree" and "empty promises") of his 2010 reelection promise to protect Henoko.  (via Ms. Keiko Itokazu, member of the Upper House of the Japanese National Diet, Facebook, Dec. 27. 2013
Gov. Nakaima has rebelled against the will of the overwhelming majority (80%) of Okinawans who oppose military construction at Henoko.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Okinawa’s Struggle at Final Juncture - Protect Okinawa Dugong and Biodiversity of Henoko/Oura Bay

Henoko and Oura Bay, Okinawa

Via our colleague and friend, Dr. Masami Mel Kawamura, at the Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa:
October 6, 2013
Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa
(Okinawa, Japan)

Okinawa’s Struggle at Final Juncture 
Protect Okinawa Dugong and Biodiversity of Henoko/Oura Bay 

The 17 year-long saga of the Okinawan people’s struggle against the US and Japanese governments’ plan to construct a US military base at Henoko/Oura Bay in Okinawa, Japan is at its final juncture. The Japanese government has submitted its application for land reclamation of the waters of Henoko/Oura Bay, ready to move on to the phases of reclamation and construction work. At stake are the rich biodiversity of Henoko/Oura Bay, including the endangered and Okinawa’s cultural icon Dugong, and the life of the local people. The Okinawan people are fighting through this final juncture with support from international communities in forms of IUCN recommendations/resolution, “dugong lawsuit” and IIFB statements.

Okinawa is the southernmost prefecture of Japan, consisting of some 160 islands with a population of approximately 1.4 million. The Okinawan people are recognized by UN as an indigenous people although the Japanese government has not recognized them as such.
While Okinawa consists of only 0.6% of all the Japanese landmass, 74% of US military bases in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa. A UN Special Rapporteur’s report in 2006 concluded the high concentration of US military bases should be regarded as manifestations of the continuing discriminatory policies and practices and human rights violation against Okinawa. By forcing the US base construction at Henoko/Oura Bay, the Japanese and US governments are further militarizing Okinawa.

The area of Henoko/Oura Bay presents a vulnerable ecosystem while being one of the most biodiversity-rich areas in Okinawa. The endangered Okinawa dugong, rare blue corals, and many other wild wonders inhabit the area and the livelihood of local communities is closely connected to the environment...

Update on US military base construction at Henoko/Oura Bay

Since 1997, the US and Japanese governments have been pushing forward their plan to construct a massive US military base at Henoko/Oura Bay, ignoring the Okinawan people’s opposition to the plan and environmental concerns. However, an enduring fight put forth by people from Okinawa, Japan and international community has not allowed actual construction to take place yet.

In March of 2012, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima submitted his comments on the Environment Impact Statement prepared by the Japanese government for the construction plan. Nakaima contended that, even with the Japanese government’s proposed mitigation measures, it would not be possible to conserve the natural and social environments of the Henoko/Oura Bay area.

In March of this year, however, the Japanese government submitted to Governor Nakaima its application for reclamation of waters of Henoko/Oura Bay for the base construction, pressuring Nakaima to approve the application. Governor is expected to make his decision on the application sometime in December this year or in January of next year.

The international environmental community has been supporting the Okinawan people’s struggle against the construction plan. In 2000, 2004 and 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) adopted recommendations and resolution regarding the conservation of the Okinawa Dugong in the area of Henoko/Oura Bay. In 2010, in the closing statement of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity(IIFB) at COP10, the IIFB expressed its concern with regard to the plan and the construction plan’s potential impact on the area’s biodiversity. In 2012, the IIFB reiterated its concerns at COP11.

Update on Dugong Lawsuit

In the historical case of the “Dugong vs. US Secretary of Defense” or “dugong lawsuit,” the US federal district court in 2008 ruled that the US Department of Defense (DoD) violated the National Historical Preservation Act(NHPA). The court recognized Dugong as a historical and cultural property, applicable by the NHPA, which protects indigenous people’s culture and life. The court found that the DoD did not take into account the military base construction’s possible adverse effects on the cultural significance of the Okinawa dugong, when it drew the construction plan with the Japanese Government. The court ordered the DoD to comply to the NHPA. It is the first case that NHPA was applied to an undertaking outside US and to a creature as well.

In February of 2012, as the construction plan was deemed stalled, the court questioned the status of the construction plan and ordered the case to be closed. However, as the Japanese government completed its EIA and has submitted its application for land reclamation, the case is expected to be reopened anytime.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit has attracted international attention. Dr. Helen Marsh, renowned Australian marine mammals scientist, mentioned the “Dugong lawsuit” in her plenary speech for the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium, which was held on July 9-13, describing Dugong as one of the most powerful political animals.

For details on “Dugong lawsuit,” see Hideki Yoshikawa’s article “Dugong Swimming in Uncharted Waters: US Judicial Intervention to Protect Okinawa's "Natural Monument” and Halt Base Construction“
http://www.japanfocus.org/-hideki-yoshikawa/3044

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

UN calls Syrian Refugee Crisis "Greatest humanitarian tragedy of our times" • Maronite Archbishop of Damascus likens Syria to Christmas Story


Newly arrived Syrian refugees carry their belongings and children 
after crossing into Jordan's Ruweished camp on December 5.

The UN has called the Syrian refugee crisis the "greatest humanitarian tragedy of our times."  The war has resulted in the biggest humanitarian crisis in modern history.  2.3 million Syrians have fled to makeshift camps in neighboring countries. Half that number are children, whose families and communities have been torn apart. 6.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced, unable to be reached by aid workers, because of the level of violence. 

Syrian Christians, Shiite Muslims, and moderate rebels have been targeted by foreign (Al Qaeda-backed) Sunni jihadists who have joined the Syrian civil war for their own religio-patriotic reasons.  Weapons sent by the Obama administration to Syrian rebels have been captured by Al Qaeda now in Syria

Last week Amnesty International asked European nations to help resettle more refugees from Syria, "to lighten the immense burden borne by the main host countries, particularly Lebanon and Jordan." However, few have responded:
...In September Sweden granted permanent residency to all Syrian asylum-seekers in the country. It was a compassionate decision, but also a logical one: the conflict is showing no sign of ending and refugees won’t be able to return to their country anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Germany announced that it would offer temporary residencies to 10,000 Syrian refugees from the main host countries.

Just this week, Syria broke another record: it is the subject of the UN’s largest-ever humanitarian appeal for the second year running. Half of Syria’s population of 22 million will need humanitarian assistance in 2014. Up to three million Syrians are refugees, 6.5 million are displaced internally and 600,000 refugee children are out of school.
The Maronite Archbishop of Damascus likens the situation of Syrian refugees to the story of Christmas:
Christmas Reflection from the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus - The Refugees before The Crib

Syria, at this Christmas time, resembles very much, the crib: an opened crib, with no doors, cold, deprived and extremely poor.

The Child Jesus doesn't lack companions in Syria - thousands of children who lost their homes are living under tents as poor as Bethlehem’s crib.

Jesus is not alone in his extreme poverty. Syrian Children, abandoned children and scarred by scenes of violence, want to be in the place of Jesus who has parents that surrounding him, cherishing him.

This taste of bitterness is very visible in the eyes of these Syrian children - their tears and their silence.

Some of them envy the Divine Child because he found a manger to be born in and to be sheltered, while some unlucky Syrian children are born under the bombs or on the exodus way.

In her difficulties, Mary is not alone anymore; ill-fated mothers, less lucky, are living in extreme poverty and handle family responsibilities alone without husbands.

The insecurity, the precariousness, of Bethlehem’s crib brings a consolation to these mothers crushed by intractable problems and despair.

The reassuring presence of Joseph at the side of the Holy Family is a source of jealousy for thousands of families deprived of a father - deprivation which breeds fear, anguish and insecurity. Our unemployed envy Joseph the carpenter who saves his family from being in need.

The Shepherds and their flocks, close by the manger, speak to the many Syrian farmers who lost 70% of their livestock in this war. The nomadic life on this biblical earth that dates back to Abraham and even further back, brutally disappears with its ancient customs of hospitality and its traditional culture.

The dogs of the Christmas shepherds have compassion for the fate of the domestic animals in Syria scarred by the deadly violence; roaming amongst the ruins and feeding themselves with corpses.

The infernal sound of war suffocates the “Gloria” of the Angels... This symphony for peace gives way to the hatred, division and cruel atrocities.

May the three Magi bring to Syria’s crib, the most precious Christmas gifts: Peace, Forgiveness and Reconciliation, so that the CHRISTMAS STAR might shine again in our dark nights.

 Let us pray to the Divine Child. Lord, graciously hear us.

 + Samir NASSAR Maronite Archbishop of Damascus

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WAR IS OVER (If You Want It)


Yoko Ono's holiday message for decades, available for download in 100 languages at http://imaginepeace.com/warisover/.
Dear Friends

Download, print & display these posters
in your window, school, workplace, car
and  elsewhere over the holiday season.

Send them as postcards to your friends.

We say it in so many ways, but we are one.

I love you!
yoko

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Share Your Christmas With Tohoku, Japan!


Jacinta Hin, Jeffrey Jousan, and the others at "Share Your Christmas With Tohoku, Japan" personify good will, good cheer, generosity, and love — everything the spirit of Christmas is supposed to be about. This will be their third "Share Your Christmas" series of gift giving (December to February)  to people in Tohoku, of all ages, who have been affected by the natural disasters and the ongoing nuclear meltdowns.

Their first delivery will be in Fukushima at Esperi, a "farmer's market set up by local farmers trying to overcome the 80 percent drop in vegetable sales since Fukushima Daiichi exploded. It will be an evening of Christmas music, cakes and hopefully many wonderful presents! This is our first pre-Christmas delivery so we can use everyone's support. Please send presents as soon as you can. There will be children, parents and grandparents."

Here's the link to their website: http://www.shareyourchristmas.org/ And to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/512117675563080 (uplifting to follow) and  their message:


Send a personal Christmas present to someone in Tohoku!

Share Your Christmas collects presents and delivers them on your behalf to someone in Tohoku, Japan, affected by the Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster of March 11, 2011, and still living in difficult circumstances. We are collecting gifts from now until the end of January. We are especially looking for gifts for our first delivery on December 17. Scroll down for details on how to send us a gift.

To unconditionally share a gift is a small thing in many ways, but for the people of Tohoku it means so much. Connection. Comfort. Love. Someone somewhere cares, is thinking about them, if offering a small piece of their heart from somewhere far away.

This will our third year to bring Christmas joy and warmth to the people of Tohoku. We collect gifts from now until end of January. Our first delivery is December 17, to an organic farmers community in Fukushima. We plan to visit several more places in Tohoku during the first months of 2014. We distribute presents at Christmas parties we organize.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in "Temporary" housing with permanent housing a distant dream and making ends meet is an uphill battle. Many older people have resigned themselves to dying in their temporary residences. The people of Fukushima still live with the fear of the long term effects of radiation and the immediate danger of another accident at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Every year, fewer and fewer people visit the region and residents move away. People feel that they have been forgotten.

This is why we are going back again this year (and for many years to come) to Share Your Christmas! Please help us bring some warmth to the hearts of the people of Tohoku.

HOW TO SHARE YOUR CHRISTMAS

Pack your gift and post it to:

Share your Christmas,
c/o Jeffrey Jousan
Katsuragi Nesaki 45-1
Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0824
Japan
Tel: 81-29-828-4990

Please wrap the gift in clear wrapping with a bow and card attached. You can write a message, your name and even contact information if you would like the recipient to contact you. You can even include your picture if you like.

We also accept donations in place of presents. We use them to buy party supplies, buy extra presents, purchase needed supplies and cover transportation costs.

For more details on Share Your Christmas, reports on past deliveries and instructions for sending a gift or making a donation, please visit:

http://www.shareyourchristmas.org/
https://www.facebook.com/shareyourchristmaswithtohoku

Thank you in advance for your heart for Tohoku!

Jacinta Hin & Jeffrey Jousan

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今年の"あなたのクリスマス"を、ギフトを贈ることで東北の人たちとシェアしましょう!"Share your Christmas"はクリスマスのプレゼントを集め、あなたの代わりに東北へとお届けする団体です。

2011年3月11日、地震、津波、原発事故の影響を甚大に受け、既に3年が経とうとしている今もなお、数千、数万もの人々が"仮設"住宅で"常設"の自分の家を再び取り戻すことをはるか遠くの夢とし、苦境の中で必死に生活しています。

私たちはそうした方々へギフトを届けるため、今から2014年1月末日までプレゼントを集めています。無条件にプレゼントを集めて送る、というこの活動は数多ある支援方法の中の小さなこと。

けれど、東北で仮設住宅で寂しさに耐えながら一人で暮らしているおじいちゃん、東北を忘れないでほしい、とお伺いした際に私たちに涙ながらに訴えるおばあちゃんたちにとってはとっても大きな意味を持つことなのです。

どこか遠くの誰かから小さな心のかけらを贈り物としていただくこと。
それは、東北の人とつながること、悲しみ、苦しみをやわらげること、愛を感じること。誰かが気にとめていてくれると感じ、そして心に留めていてくれる人のことを考えること。

今回で私たちがクリスマスの喜び、ぬくもりを東北にいる人々に届けはじめて3年目となります。今回は、今から2014年1月末までギフトを集めています。

特に今は、私たちが今年初めてプレゼントをお届けする日:12/17(12/15下記住所に必着)までに送っていただけるよう呼びかけています。最初のプレゼントは福島にある有機農家のコミュニティにお届けします。また、二回目以降のお届けとして2014年最初の2,3カ月間くらいの間に、東北の他の場所もお伺いしようと考えています。

ギフトの送り方は以下をご覧ください。

プレゼントの送り方/
下記の住所に2014年1月31日までにお送りください。
※第一回目のお届け:12月17日に間に合わせるためには12月15日必着です。

〒305-0824
茨城県つくば市葛城根崎45-1
c/o Human Arts Experience
ジェフリー ジョーサン
シェア・ユア・クリスマス

電話029-828-4990
プレゼントは中身が見えるよう透明な袋に入れてください。
新品、新品同様の美品(あなたの家で一度も使われなかったもの、箱から出してほとんど使っていないもの、そして見た目が綺麗なもの)でお願いします。あなたのアイデアでリボンをかけたり、カードを付けてもOK。メッセージを添えたり、もし受け取った方と連絡を取りたい場合は自分の名前や住所を加えたり、自分の写真を入れても!

また、プレゼントの代わりにお金を寄付する形も受け付けています。
寄付いただいたお金は、12/17のクリスマスパーティに使用したり、新しいプレゼントや必要な備品の購入、福島までの交通費負担などに使わせていただきます。

Share Your Christmasのさらに詳しい情報、ギフトの送り方、寄付の仕方、過去のSYC活動の様子、プレゼントの写真などは、下の日本語サイトでもご覧になれます。
http://www.shareyourchristmas.org/シェア-ユア-クリスマス/

お先に、東北のために心の込もったプレゼントを有難う!

Jacinta Hin & Jeffrey Jousan

We found these guys as the sun was going down over Ishinomaki city. They are on top of the foundation of a building that was washed away. It's actually in front of the Manga Museum. It was early July when came across them and the sounds of reggae music (an Ishinomaki original song about never giving up). It was the first time after 3.11 that a felt a sense of hope. When I was there again on 11.11 the stone "Kabigon" was still there. (Jeffrey Jousan) — at Ishinomaki.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hundreds of Japanese citizens are engaged in a crowd-sourced effort to measure Fukushima radiation

Nice article at Yes! Magazine by Erika Lundahl about Safecast, the citizen radiation monitoring in Japan: Measuring Fukushima's Impact: How Geeks and Hackers Got Geiger Counters to the Masses: Hundreds of ordinary people are contributing to a crowd-sourced effort to measure Fukushima's impact:
Hundreds of ordinary people are contributing to a crowd-sourced effort to collect data on radiation levels for scientists and ordinary citizens to use and interpret. The project was launched by SafeCast, an organization formed in the wake of the 2011 earthquake to supplement the sparse data provided by the Japanese government on radiation travel patterns.

"We were completely appalled that there was no way to get this data," SafeCast co-founder Sean Bonner said, "and that people couldn't see what was happening to their environment."

Through online collaboration with scientists and programmers, Bonner and his collaborators engineered an easily reproducible and highly accurate GPS-enabled Geiger counter, which they call the bGeigie. They distributed the first batch of 100 to volunteers who crisscrossed Japan in cars, delivery vehicles, and on foot, collecting data on radiation unmatched in scope and accuracy. To make the information from the bGeigies widely available, SafeCast publishes copyright-free maps of the readings that come in from the devices.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Analyses of state secrets law & fallout


Protest of state secrets law at Hibiya Park. (Photo: Kimberly Hughes) 

Some great analyses on what Abe's state secrets law means and the ripple effects its questionable passage is having on Japanese politics: 



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ten Years of Peace Candles (every Saturday evening) & Prayers to Protect Henoko, Okinawa...


Via Ryukyu Shimpo:
...the “Peace Candle” gathering held on November 24 in protest against the building of a new base marked its tenth year...

The couple prays for world peace, offering “rays of hope” that the governments will give up on building the base.

The gathering started in November 2004. Back then the Toguchis lived with their son Takeryu and newly born twin sisters Kazuki and Wakana in Sedake, which faces Oura Bay where the governments plan to build the base.

They started the protest gathering, with like-minded people then taking part to oppose the plan. They stand beside National Route 329, holding a banner written in English and Japanese saying, “Let’s protect our sea of Henoko.” They wave and call to passersby and people involved with the U.S. military...

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima will decide in December or beyond whether or not to grant approval of the application documents to reclaim land off Henoko.

Takekiyo said, “We will continue to hold the rally until the governments give up on the plan. I want to bring it to an end in this, its tenth year.”

Saturday, December 7, 2013

"Okinawan Heart" Witness for World Peace: From the Pacific War to the Present



Elder survivor pays respects at the Cornerstone of Peace memorial in Okinawa. 


90 million people were killed by state violence in the 20th century — so far the bloodiest century in human history. 20 million people of these war dead (mostly civilians) were killed in Japan's wars in the Asia-Pacific, that began against Korea and China, even before Dec. 7, 1941.

Even after US firebombings decimated all of Japan's major cities, including Tokyo, the militarist government would not admit defeat, until after its loss in the Battle of Okinawa (the last battle of the Pacific War), and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This is why Okinawa, together with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has remained a center of peace activism and peace education in Japan.

Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial:
In late March 1945, a fierce battle such as has rarely been seen in history took place on these islands. The "Typhoon of Steel" that lasted for ninety days disfigured mountains, destroyed much of the cultural legacy, and claimed the precious lives of upward of 200,000 people. The Battle of Okinawa was the only ground fighting fought on Japanese soil and was also the largest-scale campaign of the Asia-Pacific War. Even countless Okinawan civilians were fully mobilized.

A significant aspect of the Battle of Okinawa was the great loss of civilian life. At more than 100,000 civilian losses far outnumbered the military death toll. Some were blown apart by shells, some finding themselves in a hopeless situation were driven to suicide, some died of starvation, some succumbed to malaria, while other fell victim to the retreating Japanese troops. Under the most desperate and unimaginable circumstances, Okinawans directly experienced the absurdity of war and atrocities it inevitably brings about.

This war experience is at the very core of what is popularly called the "Okinawan Heart," a resilient yet strong attitude to life that Okinawan people developed as they struggled against the pressures of many years of U. S. military control.

The "Okinawan Heart" is a human response that respects personal dignity above all else, rejects any acts related to war, and truly cherishes culture, which is a supreme expression of humanity. In order that we may mourn for those who perished during the war, pass on to future generations the historic lessons of the Battle of Okinawa, convey our message to the peoples of the world and thereby established, displaying the whole range of the individual war experiences of the people in this prefecture, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum.