Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hawai'i-based Ukwanshin Kabudan perform at Governor Takeshi Onaga's All-Okinawa Victory Celebration

Via Save Henoko, an informal group of Okinawans and Overseas Okinawans who view the preservation of the dugong and coral habitat at Sea of Henoko as integral to the preservation of historic, traditional culture and the protection of human rights and dignity in Okinawa:
Members of Ukwanshin Kabudan (traditional performing artists) from Hawaiʻi were asked to play kachaashii at Onaga's headquarters to celebrate the victory right after the results were announced. But before kachaashii, they took it upon themselves to sing Kagiyadefu, to celebrate the auspicious day in true Uchinaa tradition.

Thanks to Brandon, we were able to share in this historical celebration of Onaga's landslide victory over Nakaima in the Okinawa governor's election which solidly showed the Okinawan people's stance against the new base in Henoko...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki: "Demilitarization of Okinawa is necessary for peace in East Asia"

(Image: Ryukyu Shimpo)

Toshinobu Nakazato, a former Speaker in the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, has initiated a postcard campaign to support the All-Okinawa Movement to halt the plan to landfill and build an offshore and military port over the coral and dugong habitat at Henoko, Okinawa.  

89 mainland Japanese celebrities have replied, including anime director Hayao Miyazaki, who wrote, "Demilitarization of Okinawa will be necessary for peace in East Asia."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Takeshi Onaga wins governor's race on platform to save Henoko

Governor and First Lady of Okinawa. (Via SNA)

Today Okinawans elected former Naha City Mayor Takeshi Onaga for governor in a landslide  election; and Naha residents of Naha elected  former Vice-Mayor Mikiko Shiroma, to replace Onaga. Both ran on platforms promising to save Henoko's dugong and coral ecosystem from the US-Japan plan to landfill it and  military port and offshore runway construction.

Michael Penn, (Shingetsu News Agency (SNA)):
The numbers coming in show landslide victories for both Onaga and Shiroma.  Onaga beat Nakaima by about 3:2 margin. Exit polls find only 25.5% of Okinawan voters find Henoko base construction to be acceptable.
Eric Johnston, JT:
Onaga also promised to deliver a strong message to Tokyo and Washington that the Henoko plan was unacceptable and that those who thought Okinawa could be bribed by being offered central government funds for development projects were wrong.
Filmmaker Chie Mikami:
The moment the Henoko villagers launched a Committee to Protect Life, they raised their voices in opposition [to the new base/military port plan] -- for 17 years,  I stood by and witnessed.

I did not see this day coming. This proved an All-Okinawa Movement could support a win for an All-Okinawa Governor...
Ryukyu Shimpo (one of Okinawa's 2 major daily newspapers):
 Onaga served as a co-representative of the executive committee that held an Okinawan people’s rally in 2012, which called for the closure of the Futenma base and the cancellation of the MV-22 Osprey aircraft deployment to Okinawa. He has insisted that Okinawan people should unite in an ‘All-Okinawa’ approach that goes beyond the framework of the conservative-versus-progressive party, in order to resolve the base issue. The ex-Naha Mayor has promised to follow-through on a petition to Prime Minister Abe requesting the easing of the base-hosting burden. This petition bears the signatures from the mayors of all 41 municipalities in Okinawa and the chairmen of the various assemblies.

Onaga is backed by the Social-Democratic Party, the Communist Party, the Okinawa Social Mass Party and the People’s Life Party. The Naha City Council’s conservative group members, who were expelled from the LDP after opposing the relocation plan, also supported the ex-Naha Mayor. They criticized Governor Nakaima’s approval of landfill required for the new base in Henoko.

In August, the government started a drilling survey for reclamation work in Henoko. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said Tokyo will go ahead with construction based on the incumbent governor’s approval. Despite Onaga’s victory, it appears the government still intends to carry out the relocation work. Onaga will consider revocation or withdrawal of Nakaima’s landfill approval. The result of the election will have a serious impact on the relocation plan.
Peter Ennis, Dispatch Japan, "Okinawa election puts Tokyo and Washington in a bind":
The victory on Sunday of Takeshi Onaga in the race for governor of Okinawa came as no surprise...

But the size of Onaga’s victory – roughly 100,000 votes ahead of Nakaima, with two-thirds of voters joining Onaga in opposition to construction of a new US Marine base in the prefecture – was stunning, putting both Tokyo and Washington in a serious bind...

... it won’t be easy for Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to maintain his stance that the Futenma-Henoko controversy “is a thing of the past.”

Onaga’s electoral success poses a big dilemma for the LDP, heading into Lower House elections that PM Abe is expected to call for December 14. Sentiment against the ruling party’s stance on the Futenma Replacement Facility controversy has already affected other elections. Henoko is a district of Nago City, whose mayor, Susumu Inamine, is a fierce opponent of the new Marine facility. He is backed by a majority of the city assembly. Meanwhile, also on Sunday, the city of Naha voted for a new mayor to replace Onaga, and elected an opponent of the new base.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Analysis of the Okinawa Movement: SNA's Interview with Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine

Michael Penn's interview with Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, at Nago City Hall, two days before the election for a new Okinawa governor:

INAMINE: The election is about the ideas of the citizens of Okinawa, whether they can be heard in Tokyo and Washington. Or if the ideas are only about bases for those two governments will be quietly accepted by the next governor.

SNA: Why are both conservatives and progressives supporting Onaga?

INAMINE: First, a governor is a politician who must honor promises. Clearly, Governor Nakaima did not do what he promised to do.

Second, in Okinawa, both conservatives and progressives agree that the damage from military bases must come to an end now. The hearts of conservatives and progressives are united, and in this election, they have come together with one voice.

SNA: How did Governor Nakaima lose so much support after eight years in office?

INAMINE: First, as I said, he violated his campaign promise. Also, he views development as separate from military bases, that economic progress is related to accepting military bases. That is different from Okinawa's stance in the past.

SNA: Is there a connection between this election and fundamental issue of democracy?

INAMINE: More than 80% of Okinawans oppose building a Henoko base.  In a democracy, you can't just ignore the voices of the people. If you do ignore them, it's a big problem. It's something that cannot be allowed in a democratic society.

SNA: What about the connection between US bases and economic development in Okinawa?

INAMINE: Conservatives and progressives divided in the last elections. But this time, some business leaders backed Mr. Onaga.

Tourism is a leading sector in Okinawa's economy. Military bases account for less than 5% of Okinawa's economy. The idea that Okinawa needs bases to survive economically is just a myth spread widely throughout mainland Japan.  Tourism is the industry that can put Okinawa on its own feet.

SNA: Do you have any concern that Mr. Onaga might change his policies after the election?

INAMINE: I think Mr. Onaga is very different from Mr. Nakaima. Mr. Onaga has put his political life on the line in this election, and the main issue is the Henoko base issue. So if you ask if Mr. Onaga will tone down his opposition, you have to realize he has put everything on the line.

I have faith Mr. Onaga will not betray our expectations.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Kya Kim & Peace Mask Project: The art of symbolism in peace building

Journalist, peace activist and Peace Mask Project team member Kya Kim reminds us of the powerful role of symbolism in creating change towards lasting peace. Kyoto-based Kya Kim and her team strive to spark this lasting peace across Japan, China and Korea:
A divided world creates more insecurity and fear. And fear, too often results in violence. Trust is the courageous act of being the first to break through that fear and reach out to "the other." Peace Mask Project is itself an act of trust, from the idealism that inspires the effort to the individual act of being a Peace Mask Model to the support and participation of hundreds of individuals in a collective effort to advance into a sane and healthy future.

Today tensions are rising in East Asia and many regions around the world. Fear and insecurity are also on the rise. This tension we are seeing does not guarantee violence, but, instead, could be seen as a great opportunity.

Conflict is natural and always present. It is neither negative nor positive in itself. Violence and repression are only one possible response to a conflict and one our societies turn to far too often.

There are many reasons for this: the profitability of militarization for a handful of corporations and individuals; the control and manipulation of a population through fear. But mostly I think it's due to a lack of creativity and cooperation. We are stuck in old habits and old ways of />
Today young people have an unprecedented understanding of the greater world. We are becoming increasingly aware of how we are interconnected and interdependent. We find beauty in other cultures. And by reflecting on our own, we are open to growth and to change. This is the reality of our future, and one that needs to be reflected in our societies. Conflict is no longer synonymous with war. It is, rather, an opportunity for growth, an opportunity for peace...

We hope that Peace Mask Project will provide a platform for their shared vision of peace, to build trust by building lasting relationships, and to help them become leaders of a better world...

We do not need for the conflicts of our time to erupt in violence or be resolved through aggression. Everyone of us has a role to play in determining the outcome of our shared conflicts.

How will we participate?

What opportunities will we present through our actions?

Which future will we choose?