Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Japanese & Okinawan anti-nuclear & peace mission find shared concerns in dialogue with indigenous Chamoru and other residents of Guam

A Japanese and Okinawan peace mission visited Guam to share their experience under US military occupation with their counterparts on the small island. Their dialogue with the indigenous Chamoru and other residents of Guam revealed shared parallel US military occupation experiences since the end of the Pacific War and shared concerns about continuing US military escalation on their small islands. DMZ Hawai'i reposted this story by Therese Hart published in the Marianas Variety:
Tsuru Masaaki, leader of the 21-member delegation known as the Kyushu block Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs said yesterday that the delegation’s mission was to share with Guam residents and leaders, the hardships their people have gone through with the military presence in Japan and to learn from local residents and leaders the issues facing Guam and the impending military buildup and its presence here.

When asked by Variety if the group planned to have an alliance with Guam, Masaaki said that they had no particular plan to draft any joint resolution or take any kind of action, but because they met with Guam residents and exchanged experiences, “We promised to continue to help and to have an exchange so in the future, we’re going to do something.”

“We came here to know the situation of Guam because we heard that in Guam people have the same kind of problems as the people in Japan. We came here to see the situation, only, not really have a special purpose of implementation.

Masaaki is from the Fukuoka Prefecture and is an attorney, as well as the executive chairman of Fukuoka local Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs Saga Prefecture.

Uezu Yoshinao from Okinawa shared his views of the military presence in Okinawa, saying that Futenma Airbase is the most dangerous air base in the world.

Yoshinao backed up his statement saying that Futenma airbase is located near residential homes and public buildings. In August, 2004, a U.S. helicopter crashed and parts of the copter flew towards the residential area.

“Years ago, a U.S. helicopter crashed and part of the copter flew towards the residential area and people were really scared. Fortunately, there was nobody who was injured by that accident, but people are always facing that kind of fear,” said Yoshinao.

Yoshinao said that this situation would never have existed in the United States.

“In the U.S. this location cannot exist. Futenma airbase is near a residential area and public buildings. If this were in the U.S. you couldn’t build an airport in that area that is close to a residential area. So why in Japan, can you be allowed to do that and not in the U.S.? So as soon as possible, the airbase should be removed from there,” said Yoshinao.

Yoshinao said that incidents that will never be forgotten is one such as the rape of young Okinawan girls by U.S. military personnel.

The raping of young girls in Okinawa … this is just one example…The people of Okinawa has been suffering so that is why we want the U.S. bases out of Okinawa,” he said.

Yoshinao said he believes that the U.S. bases or military presence in Okinawa is representative of the United States itself. Therefore, the U.S. government must take responsibility for the base.

Senator Tina Muna Barnes said that it was clear from the beginning of the dialogue that local prefectures from Japan have the same concerns as Guam.

“They are on a fact-finding mission. There are concerns and parallels with issues such as ours regarding their land, their marine life, the aspect of how air space is being utilized, and self determination. I think all those things — we share all those concerns as common ground — so when is the United States going to step up to the plate to make sure there’s collaboration and there’s a fair playing field for everyone,” opined the lawmaker.'s Nick Delgado also published a story on the same mission:
Nearly two-dozen officials from various parts of Japan met with island leaders today to get a better understanding of how Guam feels about the relocation of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to the island. And it seems both Japan and Guam are on the same page.

"This group is a peace group they advocate peace," said Senator Judi Guthertz. Local leaders shared similar concerns about the military buildup with a visiting delegation from Japan. Organizations represented in the group include the Social Democratic Party of Japan, the Japan Congress Against A-&-H Bombs, and several Japan labor unions and peace organizations. Officials questioned island senators about the reaction from the community when it came to issues stated in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, as well as how Guam handled the military giving back land they once used.

It's a problem both Senator Ben Pangelinan and Speaker Judi Won Pat say remain unresolved. "We continue to be restricted in full development of this land because of the contamination caused by the United States activities on those lands." "We have so many similarities that not one of their toxic sites have been cleaned up, none of ours has actually with the exception only of one," they said respectfully.

Okinawan Movement for Peace Central Manager Yoshinao Uezu shares his concerns for Guam as he says the people of Okinawa have more than the excepted handful of troubles when it came to the military. "Okinawan people have been suffering from all the environmental problems like noise, not only from the Marines, but all the military personnel they got all the noise and also the incidents and accidents and we have been suffering a lot," said Uezu.

Uezu didn't have much advice to give about life with the Marines, however, he hopes that Guam will not have to be placed in the same battle they're dealing with today. "I think much more complex feelings the Guam people have about the U.S. bases, but now I understand the situation of Guam and learned a lot, so I want to bring this experience to Okinawa," he said.

As the delegation continues their tour of the island, group leader Masaaki Tsuru, who is from Fukuoka, says their goal is to get to the bottom of the real situation that the military has planned for Guam. "We go back to Japan and we let them know what we get to know here and continue to fight against the U.S. bases in Japan," said Tsuru.

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