Monday, September 22, 2014

MP Keiko Itokazu representing Okinawa at the Indigenous World Conference starting today at the UN headquarters in New York

(Photo: MP Keiko Itokazu)

Upper House Member of the Japanese Diet, Ms. Keiko Itokazu, is representing Okinawa at the Indigenous World Conference starting today at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Indigenous peoples around the world have gathered. Mr. Shisei Toma, of the Association of Indigenous Peoples in the Ryukyus, is also in attendance.

Groups and individuals for peace, including Okinawan Americans and Japanese Americans who live in the NYC area, are supporting the Okinawan delegation's appeal to the U.N. community regarding human rights violations under ongoing forced US military expansion in Henoko and Takae.

The traditional local cultures and histories of Okinawa are deeply intertwined with the islands' distinctive ecosystems. Indigenous sacred places called utaki are situated in forest groves. Many have been destroyed or are now within US military bases built on land forcibly acquired in the aftermath of the Pacific War and during the 1950's "Bayonets and Bulldozers" period of military seizures of private property for base expansion. The Sea of Henoko is also considered sacred because it is the habitat of the Okinawa dugong, a sacred cultural icon, and because of the magnificence and abundant biodiversity of sea's coral reef.

Coral reefs have been an traditional part of Okinawan (and other Pacific Island) cultures for many centuries. However, most of the coral reefs on Okinawa Island are now dead, because of landfill, pollution, and coastal construction. Marine biologists say the coral reef at Henoko and Oura Bay is the best and most biodiverse coral reef in all of Okinawa prefecture. Okinawans are seeking to establish a marine protected area in Henoko to preserve the dugong and coral reef habitat and interconnected rivers, mangrove forests in this beautiful eco-region.


On Tuesday, September 22, Ms. Itokazu spoke on the "fulfillment of the rights of indigenous peoples at the national level and regional level" at the conference. She described forced new military base construction, adding that, in spite of the strong opposition of Uchinanchu (the indigenous people of Okinawa), the state is continuing to force the military base construction. Ms. Itokazu's conclusion: Uchinanchu are being deprived of the right of self-determination, contrary to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

(Photo: MP Keiko Itokazu)

(Photo: MP Keiko Itokazu)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Int. Day of Peace 2014 - Think PEACE, Act Peace, Spread PEACE - Imagine PEACE

Via Yoko Ono on the Int. Day of Peace 2014,
Surrender to PEACE:
love, yoko
#SurrenderToPeace #PeaceOneDay

Saturday, September 20, 2014

9.20.14 "All-Okinawa" Henoko Rally with Nago Mayor Susumi Inamine, Senator Keiko Itokazu, Gubernatorial Candidate Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga, & 5,500 Okinawans Representing Seven Generations...

Nago Mayor Inamine, wearing his dugong, sea turtle and coral reef fish cloak,
 addresses 5,500 participants at the rally at Henoko on 9/20/14. 
(Photo: New Wave to HOPE)

Upper House Member of the National Japanese Diet, Ms. Keiko Itokazu 
addresses 9.20.14 rally at Henoko. (Photo: MP Keiko Itokazu)

Okinawan elected political leaders raise "fists of anger" 
to demonstrate unity and determination at the 9.20.14 rally at Henoko. 
(Photo: MP Keiko Itokazu)

Some of the 5,500 rally participants.  
(Photo: New Wave to HOPE)

Okinawans protecting their sea. 
(Photo: Pietro Scòzzari)

Henoko preservationism is a multi-generational family activity. 
The grandchildren of these children will represent the Seventh Generation 
of Okinawa's democracy and peace movement which began at the end of WWII. 
The Seventh Generation is a Native American ecological concept that urges the current generation to live sustainably, for the benefit of the seventh generation into the future.
(Photo: Pietro Scòzzari)

Henoko elders greeted by gubernatorial candidate, Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga. 
The elders, youth during WWII, represent the second generation 
of the Okinawan Movement. 
(Photo: Pietro Scòzzari)

Not forgotten: Takae Village in Yanbaru, Okinawa's subtropical rainforest. 
(Photo: Pietro Scòzzari)

Wonderful photo of Ms. Etsuko Jahana, director of the House of Nuchi du Takara 
(Life is Precious) at Iejima. The small island, just west of Okinawa Island, 
is the birthplace of Okinawa's democracy & peace movement.  
Jon Mitchell's description of House of Nuchi du Takara:
 "Upon entering, visitors are confronted with a small set of bloodstained clothes 
and the description that they belonged to an Okinawan child 
stabbed by Japanese troops to keep it quiet when U.S. soldiers were in the vicinity. 
Other displays record the postwar “bayonets and bulldozers” period when, in the 1950s, 
the Pentagon violently seized farmers’ land to turn the island into a bombing range.
 Exhibits include photographs of islanders’ homes razed by U.S. troops 
and several dummy nuclear bombs dropped on the island during Cold War training drills."
(Photo by Kizou Takagaki, via Save the Dugong Campaign Center)

The Okinawan Movement draws inspiration from the African American Civil Rights Movement, including its anthem, "We Shall Overcome." 

Henoko's signature Rainbow Peace Flag. 
The rainbow flag has been adopted internationally as a symbol of the peace movement
 and was first used in a peace march in Italy in 1961.
(Photo: Pietro Scòzzari)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

New Development: Dugong Lawsuit • Brown Bag talk • DC office of Center for Biological Diversity • September 9, 2014

Via  JELF (Japan Environmental Lawyers Federation):  Everyone welcome at a Brown Bag update on the Dugong Lawsuit at the DC office of the Center for Biological Diversity with Peter Galvin, co-founder and director of programs. Date and time: September 9, 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

United Nations asks the Japanese government to respect Okinawan people’s opposition against US military airbase at Henoko

Upper House Member of the Japanese Diet Keiko Itokazu and Naha City Councilman Caesar Uehara
 testify before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
(Photo via Keiko Itokazu on FB)

Via Ryukyu Shimpo:
On August 20 and 21, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) investigated on racial discrimination in Japan. They also discussed policies on the U.S. military bases in Okinawa...One of the committee members stressed that the rights of Okinawan people to access traditional land and resources should be recognized and guaranteed. Another claimed that residents should be included in the decision-making process for policies that might affect their rights. They agreed that there should be local participation at the early stages of decision-making, especially regarding the U.S. military base issues...

To the Japanese government which does not recognize Okinawan people as “Indigenous People,” one of the committee members pointed out that it is important to consider how people in the Ryukyus identify and define themselves. Another pointed out UNESCO recognizes that Ryukyu/Okinawa has unique language, culture, and tradition and urges the Japanese government to recognize and protect such uniqueness...

One of the committee members claimed the Ryukyu Kingdom’s long relationship with Ming and Qing Chinese dynasties, the history of annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879 and assimilation policies promoted by the Japanese government all verify the indigeneity of Okinawans. He said it was wrong that Japan does not recognize this. Another said the Japanese government should respect Okinawan people’s will and guarantee their rights in light of this history.