Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Environmentalists, Article 9 supporters, and musicians lead Tokyo 8.23.14 Solidarity Rally for Okinawa

Photo: Twitter@soulflowerunion

Especially supported by Japan's environmentalist and musician communities, Tokyo demonstrated solidarity with Okinawa at the 8.23.14 rally in front of the prime minister's residence protesting landfill and construction at the dugong and coral habitat at the Sea of Henoko.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

8.23.14: "We reject any future for Okinawa that would continue to be dominated by the bases. It is our duty to pass on to our children an Okinawan future full of hope & we have every right to build freely...a truly Okinawan caring society."

(Photo: Livedoor News)

On August 22, the day before the 8.23 All-Okinawa rally in Henoko, an Okinawa dugong was sighted  by a helicopter television crew.  Locals say dugongs, considered messengers from the sea in Okinawan traditional culture, have often appeared at times of crisis during the eighteen-year struggle to save the Sea of Henoko. These visits are interpreted as a warning to the foreigners who would destroy its habitat and support to locals working to save its habitat, thus the survival of the dugong.

In Okinawa's past, huge herds of dugong swam off the Henoko coast. However environmental destruction from coastal development has destroyed much of the marine mammal's habitat, especially since 1972, when Okinawa reverted to Japanese control, and came under the Japanese government's "construction state"political economy. (Land reclamation (landfill) is a huge business in Japan: 90% of the archipelago's ecological delicate tidal wetlands have been landfilled. Former Okinawa Governor Masahide Ota calls these construction companies the "gravel industry" citing their clout in Okinawa.)

The Okinawa dugong is now critically endangered, with less than 50 remaining. Its largest and best feeding grounds is at the Sea of Henoko, where the Japanese government is forcing landfill in pristine waters that are also Okinawa prefecture's best and most biodiverse coral reef. At the end of July, the US environmental law firm, Earthjustice, filed a new lawsuit in the same US federal court in San Francisco that ruled in favor of the dugong in 2008, requiring  the US government to abide by laws protecting the dugong, a sacred Okinawan icon and "natural monument."

(Photo: Pietro Scozzari)

The 8.23 rally was organized by the All-Okinawa Conference which formed at Naha, the prefecture's capital, in July. Representatives included numerous elected political officials, including mayors from all of Okinawa's municipalities and representatives from environmental, women's, peace, and human rights NGOs. Their conference statement described their collective vision for Okinawa:
We reject any future for Okinawa that would continue to be dominated by the bases. It is our duty to pass on to our children an Okinawan future full of hope and we have every right to build freely and with our own hands a truly Okinawan caring society. We call upon all the people of Okinawa to unite again on an “all Okinawa” basis to demand implementation of the 2013 Okinawan Kempakusho and cessation of the works being imposed by force upon Henoko.
(Photo: Pietro Scozzari)

Jon Mitchell's August 23 article at The Japan Times, "Thousands march on Henoko base site," describes the rally, which was attended by 3,600 Okinawans from throughout the prefecture, who arrived by busload after busload:
More than 3,500 demonstrators marched to U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, on Saturday in the largest show of anger to date against the new American base being built off Henoko Bay to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in crowded Ginowan further southwest.

Lining the road four deep for 700 meters and crowding the hillsides, the protesters chanted “Stop construction” and “Save the Bay” after assembling in the morning. Some came from as far as Hokkaido, many with their children in tow.

Okinawan legislators and peace campaign leaders gave impassioned speeches against what they called Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s re-militarization of Japan and railed at the perceived discrimination of Okinawans.

The largest welcome was given to anti-base Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who was re-elected in January on a strong anti-military platform. Wearing a cape decorated with multicolored dugong, the endangered mammal threatened by the project, he greeted the crowd in Okinawan.

Inamine likened the situation on Okinawa to World War II, when more than a quarter of the civilian population died, saying that this time, the island was not under attack by the U.S. military, but by the Japanese government.

Mayor Susumu Inamine, MP Keiko Itokazu and other political leaders address rally.
(Photo: Upper House Member of the Japanese Diet Keiko Itokazu)

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine wearing a dugong cloak. (Photo: Pietro Scozzari)

Faith-based supporters. (Photo: Pietro Scozzari)

More faith-based supporters. (Photo: Pietro Scozzari)

(Photo: Pietro Scozzari)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

MP Keiko Itokazu testifies about human rights violations in Okinawa at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Japan review in Geneva

(Photo via Keiko Itokazu on FB)

Via Upper House Member of the Japanese Diet Keiko Itokazu with Naha City Councilman Caesar Uehara at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Japan review yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland. The two Okinawan political leaders reported on Japanese government discrimination against the Ryukyuan people on August 19. They cited the Japanese government's use of riot police, security contractors, and military (Coast Guard) to force construction of US military bases at Henoko and Takae, against the democratically expressed will of the people.

The lawmakers asked for the UN body to support the immediate withdrawal of the Henoko new base plan; the withdrawal of planning and immediate cessation of Takae helipad construction; and he immediate closure and removal of the Futenma base.

UNESCO has recognized a number of Ryukyu languages (2009) and the unique ethnicity, history, culture and traditions of Okinawa, which was an independent country for 500 years before the Meiji Japanese military seizure in 1879. Human rights violations suffered by the people of Okinawa during US military rule (1945-1972) and the Japanese government (1972-present) are well-known. CERD has expressed strong concerns about structural discimination of Okinawans on the basis of ethnicity. However, the Japanese government has disregarded the indigeneity of the Ryukyuan people, despite overwhelming evidence, resulting in a continuing violation of their human rights.

Because of concerns, in the past, CERD has urged the Japanese government to engage in wide consultations with Okinawan representatives with a view to monitoring discrimination suffered by Okinawans, to promote their rights and establish appropriate protection measures and policies. However, the Okinawan people require more protection from the Japanese government's ongoing escalation of human rights violations in Okinawa.

Ms. Keiko Itokazu reported strong resentment and questions about the Japanese government's refusal to recognize Okinawans as a separate people; use of military violence to enforce human rights violations in Henoko and Takae, and promised follow-up actions.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Japan's 47 News: Okinawa dugong spotted today 2 miles from Henoko Beach; on the same day that destruction of dugong habitat started...

Dugong seen swimming off Henoko coast today. (Image: 47 News via Kyodo)

Today a Japanese media outlet, 47 News, reported that a Kyodo helicopter team filmed a Okinawa dugong swimming 2 miles from Henoko Beach on June 17,  as the Japanese government started the destruction of its habitat. The dugong was seen floating for about 10 minutes before it submerged into the sea. The sea mammal is at an extremely high risk of extinction.

Mariko Abe, chief of the Nature Conservation Society of Japan protection department, who is familiar with the ecosystem of Henoko said, "This is undoubtedly a dugong," after viewing the image.


Background: The Nature Conservation Society of Japan reported in July that it had found more than 110 locations around the site of the proposed construction where dugongs had fed on seagrass this year. The Sea of Henoko has the largest and best feeding grounds for the critically endangered sea mammal. There are seagrass beds at the sea adjacent to Henoko, to the north, at the Sea of Kayo, but the beds are small and would not be able to sustain even the tiny population of remaining dugong.

Since 1955, the dugong has been protected as a cultural monument by the autonomous Ryukyu Prefecture, due largely to its status as a revered and sacred animal among native Okinawans. Since 1972, the species has also been listed by Japan's federal government as a "natural monument" under the country's Cultural Properties Protection Law. It is also protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

In 2004, the US environmental law firm, Earthjustice, on behalf of Okinawan, Japanese, U.S. environment protection groups and Okinawan residents filed a federal lawsuit, the "Okinawa Dugong versus Rumsfeld," in San Francisco, asking for protection for the dugong. The case is still open; after a 2008 ruling that the defendants must negotiate with the plaintiffs regarding environmental issues and protection of dugong habitat. The plaintiffs are still waiting for this discussion.

Therefore on July 31, 2014, Earthjustice filed a new lawsuit in the same court, asking the US government to halt construction plans.

Dugongs have been seen more frequently in the Sea of Henoko and appear at critical times in the struggle over the new base, which is opposed by almost all residents of Henoko, and 75% of Okinawans.

An Okinawan-Hawaiian American explains the significance to Okinawans and Overseas Okinawans, "The Okinawan manatee seem to always appear during times of being threatened as if they are trying to to show that they want their home to be protected and to lay claim. For Okinawans, it is like our ancestors are also saying to protect the land and ocean."

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Okinawa Times: Video of coral, anemone, clown fish, sea urchins at the Sea of Henoko - the most biodiverse & best coral reef in Okinawa...

Okinawa Times video of coral, anemone, clown fish, sea urchins, & more marine life at the Sea of Henoko - the most biodiverse and best coral reef in Okinawa and one of the few coral reefs still alive at Okinawa Island. Most of Okinawa Island's coral reefs are dead from landfill, pollution, and/or disease.

The Sea of Henoko is also the principal and best feeding grounds for the critically endangered Okinawa dugong, a cultural icon.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Struggle for the Soul of Okinawa: "I saw so many military boats in the sea around 7 a.m. It reminds me of 1945."

Henoko on August 14, 2014. (Photo: Chie Mikami on FB)

Film director Chie Mikami on August 14, 2014, on location at Henoko : "I saw so many military boats in the sea around 7a.m. It reminds me of the history of Okinawa, year: 1945."

Today the Japanese government sent a military flotilla to Henoko, Okinawa, to put up buoys and patrol an "exclusion zone" in their plan to force drilling, dredging, landfill, and construction of a US military base at the the Sea of Henoko.  Observers said there were so many vessels, they were uncountable.

Japanese military flotilla surrounds the Sea of Henoko - August 2014. (Image: Ryukyu Shimpo)

US amphibious assault on Okinawa in 1945. 

Local residents have been protested and staved off repeated attempts military base construction at the dugong habitat and coral reef—the most biodiverse and best in Okinawa—since 1962. The current struggle has been ongoing for 18 years.

They are led by the Henoko elders, child survivors of the Battle of Okinawa, the Pacific War's worst battle, and the only battle fought on Japanese territory.  In 1997, they created the “Inochi o Mamoru Kai” (Society for the Protection of Life) to oppose the destruction of the Henoko Sea, which fed them during the Battle of Okinawa, when there were no other food sources. The dugong and the sea both reflect and symbolize the Okinawan core value of Nuchi du Takara: the sanctity of life and the right to life for nature that nurtures life, and human right to live in peace.

85-year-old Fumiko Shimabukuro speaks at a June 28 rally at the Henoko Tent City sit-in. 
During the Battle of Okinawa, she suffered burns from American flamethrowers 
while hiding in a small cave with members of her family and three other families. 
Mrs. Shibakukuro joined the Tent City sit-in on the beach in 1996, when the plan was first announced.
 Mrs. Shimabukuro told the media in Dec. 2013, “This (approval) is not the end. As long as I am alive, 
I will continue to fight the government’s plans." (Photo: New Wave to HOPE)]

The islands have only been a part of Japan only since the late 1800s, when the Meiji government seized the Ryukyu Kingdom and renamed it Okinawa Prefecture. At the end of the Pacific War, knowing defeat was inevitable, the Japanese militarist government used Okinawa as a sacrificial pawn in a battle of attrition against the U.S. The fighting destroyed all the material culture on Okinawa Island and killed around 140,000 Okinawans, one third of the Okinawan population. After the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty were signed in 1951, Okinawa Prefecture was under U.S. military rule until 1972.  While Okinawa constitutes only 0.6 percent of Japan's land area, more than 70 percent of U.S. military bases in Japan were built there. Even after reversion to Japanese rule, the military bases remained.

Okinawans are comparing the forced expansion at Henoko not only to 1945, but also to the traumatic "Bayonets and Bulldozers" period of the 1950's, when the US military used coercion and violence to seize entire villages, the best farmland, the best coastland, utaki (sacred sites), and ancestral tombs throughout Okinawa prefecture to make way for  base expansion. Both Futenma in the middle of Ginowan City and Camp Schwab next to Henoko were built on forcibly acquired Okinawan private property.

This was also the period that the all-Okinawan nonviolent movement began. 250,000 rallied on June 30,1956 in Naha and Koza (Okinawa City). The Japanese and international media covered the struggle, generating global attention. The then president of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the US Army asking it to halt land seizures and related human rights violations. Most of this history has been buried outside of Okinawa. However the Battle of Okinawa and "Bayonets and Bulldozers" remain a living part of the present for Okinawans who see the ongoing struggles as not new "anti-base" protests, but, instead, part of the latest chapter in a seventy-year struggle for property rights, human rights, environmental protection, democracy and peace in the islands of Okinawa.

Okinawan women protest US military seizure of their homes and land in Isahama (Ginowan) in July 1955.
Between 1954 and 1955, the US military forced owners from their property Isahama, 
to make way for the construction of Camp Zukeran, a training base and launchpad for the US war in Vietnam. 
(Photo: Okinawa Prefectural Government)).

In 1957, the US Army constructed Camp Schwab on land acquired by coercion that the Japanese government "leases" for the US  from local owners. The 5,000-acre base is used for live-fire and amphibious assault training, and the 300-acre Henoko ordnance depot, stores ammunition for most of the U.S. Pacific command.

In 1962, the US government began bombing the coral reef to build a military port. This blasts killed large numbers of fish and marine life.  Local resistance halted the destruction then (and again in 2004, the last time the Japanese government attempted a forced construction).

During the US military build-up in Okinawa during the Vietnam War, outsider organized crime gangs came to Henoko to open more bars and brothels. Members of the military trafficked drugs from Southeast Asia and sold military property in the black market. There were two discrete worlds in Henoko: the traditional fishing and farming village and a foreign wartime military subculture, serviced by a seedy, parasitic organized criminal subculture. Locals don't want to see the latter resurrected again, which would happen if the base construction continues.

Okinawan author Tatsuhiro Oshiro has written about Okinawa as a "sacrifice zone" where state power imposes sacrifice upon the weak.  In 2011, Oshiro published Futenma yo (To Futenma), a book of short stories that explores the human consequences of governmental abuses of power. In the first story, Oshiro addresses the history of Futenma through a family whose home and land was taken to expand the training base. The story ends with the heroine continuing to perform a traditional Ryukyu dance although the musical accompaniment is drowned out by the noise from U.S. aircraft training. Her determination symbolizes local Okinawan culture that refuses to be defeated by the heavy oppression of military bases. Oshiro explains. "My intention was to write about the identity of the Okinawan people who want to weave our history together and regain the land that's steeped with memories."

Oshiro's story also reflects the roots of the fierce struggle over Henoko, which may be viewed as an ongoing chapter of a continuation of the post-1945 struggle of Okinawans, a traditionally pacifist people, for recovery of local determination of their land and society.  Postwar U.S. military rule followed the Imperial Japanese pattern of using force to impose a militarist culture upon the islands.

Okinawans are fighting for their soul at Henoko, a place steeped in what little of traditional Okinawan culture survived: the living sea and the living Okinawa dugong, a cherished, sacred icon. After the Pacific War's destruction of almost all material culture, all that was left was the natural environment and intangible culture. The dugong and the sea, symbols Nuchi du Takara, the sanctity of life and the right to life for nature that nurtures life, and human right to live in peace are cultural forms of the Okinawan message to the world for 70 years, their dedicated witness for Nuchi du Takara was borne out of the wartime devastation they suffered because of a Japanese war with the United States.

Like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Okinawa has become a focus for the study of peace because of the Battle of Okinawa, and  because Okinawans continue to appeal for relief from U.S. military bases and US military expansion in their prefecture. Former Governor (1990-1998) Masahide Ota, a child survivor of the battle, created  Okinawa International Peace Research Institute to study war and peace,  to introduce traditional Okinawa peace culture to the world, to lead Okinawa's transformation to an "island of peace," and build a global peace network, and to promote positive peace, peace education, and a peace economy.

Upper House Member of Parliament, Ms. Keiko Itokazu, 
protesting the Japanese government's installation of buoys to create an exclusion zone 
for drilling into and landfilling over live coral and dugong habitat at the Sea of Henoko.

Henoko residents had been supported by an all-Okinawa political coalition until late last year, when under claimed duress by the Japanese government, the current governor broke his 2010 campaign promise to protect Henoko, and signed an approval for landfill that was predicated on environmental protection information certified by engineers, not marine biologists or ecologists.

However, this summer the movement regrouped at the "All-Okinawa Conference" held in Ginowan City on July 27, to an overflowing crowd, under the banner:  “Stop the Enforced Henoko Works - Okinawa United in Resolve."  Takazato Suzuyo, who has long been involved in the movement for human rights and against base and military-related violence against women, issued a call, “At this gathering of people from all over Okinawa let us affirm our determination to really stop Henoko!”The conference resolution concluded:
We reject any future for Okinawa that would continue to be dominated by the bases. It is our duty to pass on to our children an Okinawan future full of hope and we have every right to build freely and with our own hands a truly Okinawan caring society.
July 27 "All-Okinawa" conference in Ginowan City. (Photo: Ken Shindo on FB)

Henoko residents have also been long supported by global peace, democracy, faith-based, and especially environmental advocates who repeatedly praise the wetlands, mangrove forests, rivers that make up the unique and delicate biodiversity of the Sea of Henoko's ecoregion. Its coral reef, the best in Okinawa, is renowned among marine biologists for its vitality and unique species. Most of the coral reefs at Okinawa Island are dead from landfill, pollution, and disease. The Sea of Henoko also has the largest and best seagrass beds, thus habitat, for the Okinawan dugong. The adjacent Sea of Kayo also has seagrass beds, but they're small, and planned landfill and base construction would degrade and eventually destroy them.

The dugong, a sacred icon, is of great cultural and historical significance in Okinawa.
(Image: Ryukyu Postal’s stamp to commemorate the Okinawa dugong's designation 
as a natural monument in 1966 (Via Save the Dugong Campaign Center)

In 1955, the Okinawa dugong, a revered and sacred animal for native Okinawans, was designated as a protected cultural monument by the autonomous Ryukyu Prefecture. Since 1972, the species has also been listed by Japan's federal government as a "natural monument" under the country's Cultural Properties Protection Law. It is also protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Because of the historical and cultural importance of the critically endangered dugong, In 2004, the American environmental law firm, Earthjustice, on behalf of Okinawan, Japanese, U.S. environment protection groups, and Okinawan residents filed a federal lawsuit , the "Okinawa Dugong versus Rumsfeld," in San Francisco, asking for protections for the dugong, under the National Historic Preservation Act. The case  is still open; a 2008 ruling required the defendants to negotiate with the plaintiffs regarding environmental issues and protection of dugong habitat. The plaintiffs are still waiting for this discussion. Therefore on July 31, Earthjustice filed a new lawsuit in the same court,  asking the US government to halt construction plans.


"Okinawa’s “Darkest Year: The Battle of Okinawa, 2014," Gavan McCormack, The Asia-Pacific Journal, August 18, 2014.

“All-Okinawa Conference” Formed at Meeting of Over 2,000 People," Urashima Etsuko, The Asia-Pacific Journal, August 18, 2014.

”Assault on the Sea: A 50-Year U.S. Plan to Build a Military Port on Oura Bay, Okinawa,” Satoko Norimatsu, The Asia-Pacific Journal, July 5, 2010.

"Dugong Swimming in Uncharted Waters: US Judicial Intervention to Protect Okinawa's"Natural  Monument” and Halt Base Construction,"Hideki Yoshikawa, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Feb. 7, 2009.

” A message from Save Life Society, society for protection of all lives and livelihoods, Henoko, Okinawa, Japan,” June 26, 2008.

“Okinawan Dilemmas: Coral Islands or Concrete Islands,” Gavan McCormack, JPRI Working Paper No. 45: April 1998.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Laura Kina's Blue Hawai'i & Wesley Uenten's "Okinawan Diasporan Blues"

"Graves By the Sea" by Laura Kina

In this excerpt from "Okinawan Disaporan Blues," included in Laura Kina's Blue Hawaii exhibition catalogue, Wesley Uenten describes the Japanese colonial rule's erasure of traditional Okinawan culture and ongoing resistance by a group of grandmothers and grandfathers, child survivors of the Battle of Okinawa, to the US plan to turn the habitat of the Okinawan dugong, a sacred cultural icon, into another military base:
...At least on the level of cultural genocide, what happened to Okinawans was similar to what happened to Native Americans. It seems so familiar when I read about the...philosophy of the “Indian Schools” that prohibited Native American school children from speaking their own language or practicing their culture.... By the time that my grandmother was born in 1893, most Okinawan children were in schools, where they would be punished for speaking the Okinawan language and expected to worship the Japanese emperor. A large wooden tag with the words 方言札 (hōgen fuda), or “dialect tag,” was place around the neck of school children who spoke in the Okinawan “dialect.” The tag symbolically relegated the Okinawan language to the inferior status as a backward “dialect” of Japanese, while corporeally ingraining a sense of shame and fear in generations of Okinawans for speaking their own language and being their own selves...

Physical genocide did take place on Okinawa. Japan’s leaders knowingly caused about a fourth to a third of Okinawa’s population to perish in less than 3 months during the Battle of Okinawa when they used Okinawa as a buffer to hold off American troops heading toward Naichi (mainland Japan) 1945...

I stare at "Graves by the Sea." ...Departed souls encased in concrete tombs pushed up against each other. They are testament of the reverence for ancestors and tradition in Okinawa that contradicts the reality of the lack of space on Okinawa...There is a strong and powerful message that the ancestors and land is telling us through Laura’s work.

I end this essay at a time when I have just returned from a trip to Washington D.C. with an Okinawan delegation that was making a direct appeal against plans by the U.S. and Japanese governments to push ahead with construction of a new U.S. Marine Air Station on the clear blue waters of Henoko...At this time, both the Jp and U.S. governments are stepping up their attempts to push past unyielding local Okinawan opposition... Henoko is the site of a large thriving coral reef, turtle spawning grounds, seaweed beds, and an already endangered species of dugong. The blue ocean of Henoko will be no more if this plan goes through.

Most of the officials, politicians, and researchers we met in Washington D.C. [during the Jan. 2014 Okinawan Delegation] had made up their mind about new base construction at Henoko saying that it is the best plan... However, what the delegation was trying to get across to deaf ears was that Okinawans have stopped the construction for 18 years by placing their bodies in front of ships and equipment coming to start construction. Old people, as old and tiny as my Baban in my memories of her, have come to sit on the beach everyday in quiet but unrelenting resistance to American Manifest Destiny and Japanese fatalistic dependency on that destiny...
Wesley Ueunten is an associate professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. A third generation Okinawan, he was born and raised in Hawaiʻi and received his Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Remembering Hanji Kawase: Anti-war Bon dance festival marks 50th anniversary in Hokkaido

Anti-war Bon dance festival marks 50th anniversary in Hokkaido. 
(Photo: Masashi Rokubuichi via Asahi)

Evocative photos and article by Masashi Rokubuichi at The Asahi on the 50th anniversary of an OBon peace festival in Betsukai, Hokkaido. The festival has been held on the farm of Hanji Kawase who died five years ago. His land was in the middle of of a vast tract of land formerly a farming village taken over in 1963 by the Japanese government for the Yausubetsu live-fire training field that is used by both the US military and the JGDF.
“The large turnout can be attributed to) not only the milestone anniversary but also the outpouring of public anger against the Abe administration regarding the right to collective self-defense and other issues,” said Kato, a 72-year-old former junior high school teacher from Hamanaka, Hokkaido...

People from across Japan listened to music and danced at the Kawase farm in the middle of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Yausubetsu drill site, which straddles Betsukai and two other towns.

One big topic of conversation at the festival was the decision of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government on July 1 to reinterpret war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution to lift Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense.

The farm used to be run by anti-war landlord Hanji Kawase who died five years ago.

The mid-August Bon holiday season in Japan is a time when people travel to their hometowns to honor their deceased ancestors. The spirits of the dead are believed to return home during the period. Bon Odori dances are held at local festivals throughout the country.

Sachiko Watanabe, who took over the farm from Kawase about 10 years ago and has lived there ever since, said she is well aware of the symbolic nature of the anti-war Bon dance festival, given Kawase’s continuous defiance of the government.

She indicated that the festival has taken on increased significance because the current administration shifted security policy away from postwar Japan’s pacifist ideals.
Hanji Kawase painting Article 9 on his barn.
(Photo: Asako Kageyama)

More Background: "Defending the Peace Constitution in the Midst of the SDF Training Area," Tanaka Nobumasa, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Dec. 10, 2004. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Nagasaki Journey: The Photographs of Yōsuke Yamahata

Front Cover of Nagasaki Journey. (Photograph: Yōsuke Yamahata)
It was perhaps unforgiveable, but in fact at the time, I was completely calm and composed. In other words, perhaps it was just too much, too enormous to absorb...

Human memory has a tendency to slip, and critical judgment to fade, with the years and with changes in life-style and circumstance. But the camera, just as it seized the grim realities of that time, brings the stark facts of seven years ago before our eyes without the need for the slightest embellishment. Today, with the remarkable recovery made by both Nagasaki and Hiroshima, it may be difficult to recall the past, but these photographs will continue to provide us with an unwavering testimony to the realities of that time.

- Yosuke Yamahata
On August 10, 1945, a day after the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, accompanied by writer Jun Higashi and painter Eiji Yamadea, military photographer Yosuke Yamahata began to photograph the dead victims and survivors. Taking hundreds of photographs within hours – the most extensive photographic document of the immediate aftermath.

Within two weeks his photos appeared in the August 21, 1945 issue of the Mainichi Shimbun. However, the US Occupation government imposed censorship that prevented further distribution of Yamahata’s photographs. It was only after the restrictions were lifted in 1952 that they would appear in Life Magazine.

In 1965 Yamahata was diagnosed with cancer, probably caused by the residual effects of radiation received in Nagasaki in 1945. He died the next year. His son had the negatives of these photographs restored in 1994. An exhibition of prints, Nagasaki Journey, traveled to San Francisco, New York, and Nagasaki in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the bombing.  The photographs may be viewed online at

Friday, August 8, 2014

1st day of Unkhe (Ryukyuan Obon): Henoko residents pray for peace & ask their ancestors for help in protecting their natural cultural heritage at the Sea of Henoko

(Photo: Okinawa Times)

Via our friends at Okinawa Outreach, translated summary of an Okinawa Times story, Henoko locals pray for ancestral support of their efforts to save their natural cultural heritage from destruction by the US and Japanese governments:
Today is the first day of Obon, called Unkhe, Okinawa celebrated the return of their ancestral spirits.

At the gate of Camp Schwab, [a US marine training and weapons testing base in central Okinawa, built on land forcibly acquired from local residents during the 1950's "Bayonets and Bulldozers" period of military expansion throughout the prefecture], local residents prayed for peace and ask their ancestors for help to stop construction of a new US military port and air training base at Henoko/Oura Bay [habitat of the Okinawa Dugong, a sacred cultural icon, and Okinawa's best and most biodiverse coral reef], offering incense sticks.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Voices from Survivors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki: "I had dreamt the night before exactly as it happened in Nagasaki."

Hiroshima in Flames (Photo: City of Hiroshima)

Voices From Survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (linked at the Gensuikyo (The Japan council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs site) is a profound collection of survivor testimonies describing the hours before, during, and after the atomic bombings.

The lists of titles of the testimonies read like lines of poetry, painting the terrible tapestry of individual human experiences as Hiroshima and Nagasaki passed through the chasm dividing reality before and after the bombings:
Witnesses to Hiroshima from the night of August 5 through the early afternoon of August 6, 1945

I left the place and escaped death.
It was 15 minutes after 8. It was as silent as a graveyard.
Rays shimmered like heat haze on the ground..
I thought Hiroshima was moaning...
I thought I was dead.
The water of the river blown off the ground just like a tornado.
Leaves were burning on the pine trees.
It seemed as if the sun covered half of the sky over Hiroshima.
Na-mu-a-mi-da-butsu, they chanted in their Buddhist prayers...
Witnesses to Hiroshima around noon through the evening, August 6, 1945

The dead sat up abruptly.
The burning bridge fell down.
Flames shot up into the sky like the Niagara Falls inverted.
Now is the time to throw away our pens...
Everybody cried out loud.
My little brother died. I should not have yelled at him.
Maybe it was my mother's soul that visited me.
Witnesses to Hiroshima from August 7 through August 14, 1945

Daybreak, August 7th, 1945 Hiroshima
We dug the riverbank and buried her two daughters
The enemy used a new type of bomb
I was more afraid of the Living than the Dead.
Would this case possibly be caused by radioactivity?

The atomic bomb mushroom cloud over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945
(Photograph by Hiromichi Matsuda, via Nagasaki City - Peace and Atomic Bomb Records)
Witnesses to Nagasaki from the evening of August 8 through through the evening, August 9, 1945

The farewell meal was rice balls.
I had dreamt the night before exactly as it happened in Nagasaki.
I still cannot forget my seven-year-old-son's back.
Three B-29s are heading toward the west.
My shoes were burning
The cloud like a demon was looking down.
People were dead with their eyes open
Cicadas shrieked, "Water, water!"
Don't cry, she was lulling her baby.  The baby was headless.
Even my soul was blown off.
Nagasaki will never recover.
The sun looked bloody red.
Your face looks like a monster.
This must be the end of the world.
It was dreadful to hear the groaning of thousands of people.
I said the prayer of Job.
I have forgotten the prayer.
I walked home crying for Nagasaki on fire.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki August 15, 16 in August to The first ten days of September, 1945 

War made us suffer so much.  It didn't matter whether we won or lost.
Radiation injury was the great majority.
Medical science had no chance against it.
I'd like to go where Saint Mary is, with my hair tied in three-pieces.
Pious and calm struggle against disease.
I have been to the "next world."
My younger brother appeared in my dream and told me the place he died.
"If we could die wet with rain, we were willing to do so."
I have to expose my fox-like face to the public and live.
I'm happy.  Buddha has come to meet me to Heaven.
Evening primroses had been in bloom over a burial mound where we buried the dead people.
Hiroshima Nagasaki, A-bomb victim's opinion.

Opposing to atomic bombs are the voices of A-bomb victims themselves.
We really went to stupid war.
I would want to be pilgrim and go to look for my daughter.
We have to revenge by achievement of peace...
A-bomb survivors must not escape from the fact of being bombed.
Parents, children and grandchildren -- three generations continue to carry on movement against atomic and hydrogen bombs.
Please make use of my story.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Peace Marchers arrive in Hiroshima: Call for a world free of nuclear & uranium weapons; Hiroshima Commemoration & Prayers for World Peace...

A very rare rainy August 6. Anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. 
Every year, many people from all over the world gather 
to commemmorate that tragic day and vow for a world free from nuclear weapons. 

August 4, 2014.  Peace Marchers on the stage of the Opening Plenary of 
2014 World Conference Against A and H Bombs!

Congratulations to our friends at Peace March (sponsored by Gensuikyo, the Japan Council against A and H-Bombs), who have arrived in Hiroshima.

We join all in Hiroshima and  Nagasaki in remembering the people who died and suffered from the nuclear bombings. We also remember all victims of nuclear test bombings (Marshall Islands, US, China, Russia (Kazakhstan), India (Rajasthan), Polynesia...), and uranium weapons since Aug 6 and  Aug 9, 1945. And join their united call for a world free of nuclear weapons, and for peace.

More about Peace March:
The National Peace March is a campaign for a world free from nuclear weapons while walking across Japan literally while calling ‘No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! No more nuclear weapons!’ It starts on May 6 from different prefectures in Japan and converging in Hiroshima on August 4.

The Peace March started on June of 1958 when a Buddhist monk walked from the atomic bomb site in the Hiroshima Peace Park all the way to the World Conference in Tokyo covering a distance of 1000 kilometers. As he passed through several prefectures, many people joined him each day and the delegation became very big when they reached Tokyo.

For more than half a century already, the Peace March has been done every year without a break. Rain or shine more than 1000,000 marchers pass through more than 70% of municipalities in all of Japan’s prefectures each year. Anyone with the wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons is very much welcome to join.

Konnichiwa! Heiwa koushin desu! Hello, this is the Peace March!
See the great photos and read the inspiring entries about everyday Okinawan and Japanese people working for peace and a world without nuclear weapons at Peace March Journals.

August 5, 2015. Hiroshima. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Output from shale wells declines so quickly that they will never be profitable • Abandoned, toxic sites throughout US • Test-fracking in Akita

"Shale gas: 'The dotcom bubble of our times' - Comment: output from shale wells declines so quickly that they will never be profitable – when investors realise this, the industry will collapse, writes Tim Morgan" at The Telegraph:
We now have more than enough data to know what has really happened in America. Shale has been hyped ("Saudi America") and investors have poured hundreds of billions of dollars into the shale sector. If you invest this much, you get a lot of wells, even though shale wells cost about twice as much as ordinary ones.

If a huge number of wells come on stream in a short time, you get a lot of initial production. This is exactly what has happened in the US.

The key word here, though, is "initial". The big snag with shale wells is that output falls away very quickly indeed after production begins..

Faced with such rates of decline, the only way to keep production rates up (and to keep investors on side) is to drill yet more wells. This puts operators on a "drilling treadmill", which should worry local residents just as much as investors. Net cash flow from US shale has been negative year after year...

...The US is already littered with wells that have been abandoned, often without the site being cleaned up.

Meanwhile, recoverable reserves estimates for the Monterey shale – supposedly the biggest shale liquids play in the US – have been revised downwards by 96pc. In Poland, drilling 30-40 wells has so far produced virtually no worthwhile production...

Tim Morgan was global head of research at Tullett Prebon 2009-13 and is the author of 'Life After Growth.'
Meanwhile, in April of this year, Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. (30% owned by the Japanese government; also invested in Canadian fracking) started fracking, with the expected poor results, in beautiful Akita.

Fracking is a costly, toxic, wasteful losing game for investors, the natural environment (contaminating aquifers), and local communities. Fracking has a proven link to manmade earthquakes (called "frackquakes" in the US).   Moreover, fracking development diverts attention and resources from implementing energy conservation policies and generating renewable energy investment.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Humanity May Face Choice By 2040: Conventional Energy or Drinking Water

Andy Tully at Oil Price: "Humanity May Face Choice By 2040: Conventional Energy or Drinking Water," via Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism:
A set of studies based on three years of research concludes that by 2040, the need for drinking water and water for use in energy production will create dire shortages. Conventional electricity generation is the largest source of water use in most countries. Water is used to cool power plants to keep them functional. Most power utilities don’t even record the amount of water they use.

“It’s a huge problem that the electricity sector do not even realize how much water they actually consume,” says Professor Benjamin Sovacool of Denmark’s Aarhus University, one of the institutions involved in the research. “And together with the fact that we do not have unlimited water resources, it could lead to a serious crisis if nobody acts on it soon.”

The research, which included projections of the availability of water and the growth of the world’s population, found that by 2020, between 30 percent and 40 percent of the planet will no longer have direct access to clean drinking water. The problem could be made even worse if climate change accelerates, creating more heat and causing more water evaporation.

That means humankind must decide how water is used, Sovacool says. “Do we want to spend it on keeping the power plants going or as drinking water? We don’t have enough water to do both,” he says...

So how to prevent this conflict? The studies agreed on starting with the simplest solution: Alternative sources of electricity that don’t require massive amounts of water.

The recommendations are improving energy efficiency, conducting more research on alternative cooling mechanisms, logging water use at power plants, making massive investments in solar and wind energy, and abandoning fossil fuel facilities in all areas susceptible to water shortages.

This last proposal may be the most difficult to implement because parched areas now include half of Earth. But Sovacool says it would be worth the investment.

“If we keep doing business as usual, we are facing an insurmountable water shortage – even if water was free, because it’s not a matter of the price,” he says. “There will be no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we’re doing today. There’s no time to waste. We need to act now.”

Friday, August 1, 2014

Chie Mikami's Film Shooting Diary in Henoko & Takae: 85-year-old civilian Battle of Okinawa survivor blocks concrete truck at Henoko

“It seems to me [Jp govt officials] are going to have to be ready to lock up and maybe beat up the grandmothers and grandfathers that have been resisting all these years.” - Mark Selden at the Mayor Inamine May 2014 event in NYC .
Update by filmmaker Chie Mikami at Magazine 9, a journal dedicated to the Japanese Peace Constitution. Mikami is working on a sequel to her documentary Target Village which follows the struggle of Takae Villagers protesting the construction of US military V-22 Osprey aircraft helipads in Yanbaru, the subtropical rainforest next to their village.  This new sequel also covers the related Henoko struggle to stop the landfill and construction of military port/air base in Okinawa's best biodiverse coral reef and dugong habitat.

In her work, the former television news producer touches upon all relevant themes: democracy, human rights, the history of Jp and US military occupation of Okinawa, ecological, cultural and historical preservation, and Article 9.

Mikami sees  the 18-year-long struggle in Henoko where the Japanese government is readying to use military force against residents, [including octogenarians] as the forefront of the struggle for Article 9.  People in Japan are not aware what is happening in Takae and Henoko because of a media blackout on the mainland. That is why Mikami is making documentaries, to show the public not only the Okinawan struggle, but also the richness of the natural environment, the splendor of Okinawan community,  and the Okinawan people's refusal to give up their dignity.

The video clip here shows 85-year-old Fumiko Shimabukuro blocking a concrete truck at Henoko. Mrs. Shimabukuro is a survivor of the Battle of Okinawa. She suffered burns from American flamethrowers while hiding in a small cave with members of her family and three other families.

The elder Henoko leader is also a survivor of the 1950's period of "Bayonets and  Bulldozers" when the US military used force to seize the farms and coastal lands of Okinawan owners. Camp Schwab and Futenma were both built on forcibly acquired property.  Okinawan landowners have been forced to "rent" their land to the Japanese government for US military use for decades. American bases use over 20 percent of Okinawa prefecture, and are located on the best agricultural lands (former farming villages)  and the best coastal areas (former fishing villages), as well as sacred sites (utaki), and burial tombs.

The nonviolent Okinawan democratic and peace movement also began in the 1950's, in response to "Bayonets and Bulldozers" and concomitant crimes against Okinawans. Leaders modeled the Gandhian democratic movement in colonial India; Okinawan efforts produced some effects towards  a modicum of justice. Landowners were unable to secure the return of their lands, but were able to maintain titles to their properties and thus prevent outright confiscation without some (albeit inadequate) compensation, and some promise of eventual future return.

Mrs. Shibakukuro moved to Henoko after she married, and joined the Tent City sit-in on the beach in 1996, when the plan to build a military port and air base at Camp Schwab  in Henoko was announced.

When Okinawa Governor Nakaima reneged on his 2010 campaign promise to prevent military expansion at Henoko, and approved landfill, Mrs. Shimabukuro told the media in December 2013, “This (approval) is not the end. As long as I am alive, I will continue to fight the government’s plans."

More Info:'>"An Interview with Mikami Chie: The Pretense of Justice: Okinawa’s Unneutral Struggle," Yamagata International Film Festival website, Oct. 12, 2014.