Friday, April 30, 2010

Int. Conference For a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just & Sustainable World: Challenging A-P Militarism & Arms Race TODAY in NYC

Peacemakers are gathering together at the Int. Conference For a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World meeting at the Riverside Church in New York City today and tomorrow.

Gensuikyo, Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament, American Friends Service Committee, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, the Institute for Policy Studies and Peaceboat is co-sponsoring the "Challenging Asia-Pacific Militarism and the Arms Race" session. Presenters include a Delegate from Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament, John Feffer, Joseph Gerson, Kyle Kajihiro, Melvin Won Pat-Borja, Taeho Lee, Akira Kawasaki, Yayoi Tsuchida, and Katsuma Yagasaki.

Mayors for Peace is sponsoring "The Role of Cities (Economic Jusice/Human Needs Track)." Panelist include Hiroyuki Fujita, Takashi Yoshihara, Hiroshi Shimizu, Michel Cibot, Alain Audoubert, Franck Demaumont, Kheder Kareem Mohammed, and Michael Menser.

Gensuikyo, the International Peace Bureau, and BANg are co-sponsoring "Global Hibakusha: Testimonies of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Witnesses/Survivors." Panelists include: Junko Kayashige, Matashichi Oishi, Claudia Peterson, Abbacca Anjain Madison, Kin Yongkil, Claudia Peterson, and Natalia Mironova.

The Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Peace Philosophy Center, and Vancouver Save Article 9 is co-sponsoring "Atomic Bombings and Indiscriminate Attacks on Civilians." The moderator is Satoko Norimatsu and the panelists are John Chappell, Khder Kareem, Haruko Moritaki, Yuki Tanaka, and Marilyn B. Young.

The International Network for the Abolition of Military Bases and many other groups are co-sponsoring "Winning the Withdrawal of Foreign Military Bases." The panelists include Rubens Diniz (Brazil), Kyle Kajihiro (Hawai’i), Raed Jarrar (Iraq), Oh Hye-Ran (Korea), Katsuma Yagasaki (Okinawa), Baltazar Pinguel (Philippines), Agneta Norberg (Sweden), Carlos Fernando Salamanca (Colombia), Kozue Akibayashi (Okinawa), David Vine (United States), and Melivin Wonpat-Borja (Guahan).

On May 2, people are rallying for an "International Day of Action" to say to the world and the leaders who will come to the UN for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

• We want a Nuclear Free Future!
• Fund Human Needs, Not War!
• End the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan!
• Protect the planet instead of destroying it with war and nuclear proliferation!

They will begin at 2:00 with a rally of speakers and performers and greetings from the international delegations. At 3:30, they will have a spirited march across town to the United Nations ending with the International Peace and Music Festival where there will be music from around the world as well as tents and tables that will provide information and organizing resources to support continuing work for a safe, nuclear-free, peaceful and just world for all!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Saving Whales: Junichi & Toru, & Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd

On Earth Day, the International Whaling Commission put forward a deal that would legalize commercial whaling for the first time in a generation. This deal rewards the unenlightened governments of Iceland, Norway, and Japan for years of defying international law. It does their bidding by suspending the whaling ban for 10 years. It opens up the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary to whaling. And it will not stop them from trading in whale meat or killing whales under legal loopholes like “scientific permits.”

Worse, the Obama Administration backed this proposal, which would suspend the international ban on whaling and make it legal again to kill whales for profit. Please tell the White House to oppose this deal that would legitimize the killing of whales.

It's not just open war on whales--but also on those who seek to protect these beautiful mammals. NHK reported on April 30 that the Japan Coast Guard wants to arrest Paul Watson, leader of Sea Shepherd, an organization that is organizing responses to the U.S. and IWC whale-killing agreement. Check out their site for online actions addressing these latest attacks on whales.

Australia Indymedia's "Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd criticize commercial whaling resumption proposal" details the reasons this deal--which negotiates with poachers--goes backward:
Conservationists from both Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace have attacked the proposal, "At the moment, it appears that the whales are making all the concessions, not the whalers and this proposal keeps dying whaling industries alive and not the whales." said Greenpeace Japan Programme Director Junichi Sato.

The current compromise deal being negotiated behind closed doors would halve the current quotas by Japan, Norway and Iceland and disallow new countries from whaling; all international trade in whale products would be banned; whale-watching ships would be monitored; accurate reporting of time of death and means of killing of all whales; and DNA samples of all whales killed would be reported to a central registry to assist tracking of whale meat. Limited subsistence whaling by indigenous peoples would also be allowed to continue in the United States, Greenland, Russia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Further changes are possible and the proposal must win the approval of three-quarters of the members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) at its annual meeting in Agadir, Morocco, in late June 2010.
(Greenpeace is still collecting signatures on behalf of Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, the "Tokyo Two," whose next trial starts in May.)

The First Annual Vegan Earth Day @Kyoto (Sunday, May 2nd 10-5): Interview with Chiko

  • May all living things being able to live in a world of peace and harmony.

  • That we prevent our environmental problems from getting worse so that our children may be able to keep living on this earth.

  • May we live lives in health and with beauty.
These three ideas are the inspiration behind the logo for the first ever Kyoto Vegan Earth Day to be held in Kyoto during Golden Week this year on May 2, 2010. Organized by the same people that bring us the largest vegetarian festival in Japan year after year, the Kyoto Vegetarian Festival,(see post on 2009 Vegetarian Festival) the Vegan Earth Day will focus on the relationship our diets and Mother Earth:
As you know,the world already produces more than enough food, plant sourced for everyone. We would like suggest the way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the world's livestock, among the most serious contributors to global warming. We should care about climate change because if we don't, we can’t leave our children and their children sustainable earth.

Our vegetarian festival committee have hold vegetarian(vegan) festival since 2003 every October. a rare event bringing together vegan & vegetarian-, environment-, and peace-mind people from all over the country. An event for all ages, the festival gives you place to enjoy vegetarian food and listen to music while learning about vegetarianism, the environment, and more.
According to the Vegetarian Festival website 18% of greenhouse gases originating in the livestock industry. When one beef rice bowl requires over 2 tons of water to produce, versus 120 liters for a bowl of udon, the benefits to the earth of reducing meat consumption are quite obvious.

To find out more about how Vegan Earth Day was brought to life, Kyoto resident Jennifer Teeter interviewed Iwasa Akiko (a.k.a. Chiko), who has been organizing the Vegetarian Festival since 2003 (email correspondence translated from Japanese to English).

Can you tell us a little bit about the Vegetarian and Vegan scene in Kyoto?

9 years ago, when the first Vegetarian Festival was first held, people had only heard of the word vegetarian and many thought "vegetarian" simply meant vegetables. Also, many people thought it was strange for people to chose to lead a lifestyle where they didn't eat animals for religious purposes.

However, as the years have passed, judging by the people who come to the VegFest, questionnaires, the number of vegetarian restaurants and the media attention vegetarianism has garnered, we can see that the image of vegetarians has changed.

Perhaps Kyoto and Tokyo can be considered the easiest places for vegetarians to live in all of Japan. Kyoto is well-known for the vegetarian cooking of Buddhist monks called shojin ryori, and in addition, Kyoto attracts many foreigners, so the number of restaurants in Kyoto that are conscious of the diet of vegetarians has grown.

How did the Vegan Earth Day festival come to life?

The vegetarian festival started 9 years ago, but it was already an ALL VEGAN festival. Tokyo Earth Day, the largest open-air event in Japan, is quite famous, but many of us felt a little uncomfortable at the event. Despite the presence of many wonderful booths at Earth Day selling recycled plates and silverware, eco-bags, et cetera, we wondered why was there so much food with meat in it. There were only a few vegetarian shops on the premises and it felt as if there wasn't any vegetarian food at all but just long lines for restaurants selling animal products. It was a very strange atmosphere. While it is impossible for everyone to all of a sudden become vegan, couldn't we, on Earth Day at least, go without food made from animals?

So, now that people in Japan understand what it means to be vegetarian, we hope that the next step will be that people understand what VEGAN means. We have received requests that we have a Vegetarian Festival twice a year from the many people that come and stalls at the Vegetarian festival. It is from these requests that Vegan Earth Day was born.

Over the year, do you feel that the Vegetarian Festival has had an influence on the vegetarian scene in Kyoto?

I don't think we have influenced the vegetarian scene. It is more the hard work of vegetarian restaurants, the influence of celebs from overseas, and the health boom. These and other factors have played a part and and people in Japan are increasing their understanding about vegetarianism.

What changes have you seen over the years?

Now, there is more of a positive response when people say "I am a vegetarian." You hear more often people responding with "Wow, that's cool" and "Teach me some recipes." Also, we receive lots of messages telling us how people have become vegetarian after coming to the festival and learning about environmental problems and the devastating situation of animals for the first time. A great part of this open-air event is that while eating delicious food and learning, people can have a great time and reflect on their own eating habits and ways of thinking.

Do you have any advice for people that are thinking of becoming vegetarian or vegan?

It is not that difficult. First you have to give it a try. After two weeks, your body will feel great and you won't be able to stop.

The media presents a variety of ways to be vegetarian, from macrobiotic diets to the raw food diet. But, everyone is different so you need to find the way that works for you and enjoy your vegan life. Also, be confident in how wonderful it is to find vegan friends and together expand the circle of vegan friends for the future of the earth.

Finally, what is your favorite vegan food?

I guess I am a Japanese person after all, so my favorites are miso soup with tofu and brown rice, and I like eating lots of in-season fruit.

Chiko also explained the logo for Vegan Earth Day:

The logo has three green sprouts branching out from the center. They represent:

1. All living things being able to live in a world of peace and harmony

2. Preventing our environmental problems from getting worse so that our children may be able to keep living on this earth

3. Health and beauty (this is purposefully the smallest sprout:)

We created the logo to incorporate these ideas.

Thank you Chiko for your inspiring answers! From this interview, it is clear to see that this event promises to be thought-provoking, educational, and fun. Hope to see you there!

- Jen Teeter

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Protest at the Japanese Diet: Voices from the Okinawa grassroots

Yesterday morning, amidst cold and drizzly weather, more than 100 people gathered for a sit-in event at the Diet in Tokyo to demand policy changes regarding the issue of U.S. military bases in Okinawa. While a sudden downpour of rain sent many of the demonstrators temporarily scattering for cover during my time available for interviews, I was able to speak with several of them beforehand.

Okada Yoshio, a member of the Okinawa Citizens' Peace Network, told me that he and the other grassroots activists in his group had hoped to have an audience later that afternoon with officials at the U.S. Embassy to voice their concerns about American military bases in the region. The group was refused by Embassy officials, however, who said they would only meet with Okinawan lawmakers.

“While we certainly share many views with the delegation of Okinawan politicians, there are certain areas where our opinions as NGO members and citizen activists diverge from the official message,” he told me. “And since U.S. government actions have a direct impact upon average citizens, it was very disappointing that they were not willing to hear our views directly.”

While Okada and the other citizen network members considered staging a protest outside the U.S. Embassy during the official meeting, they ultimately decided upon a compromise course of action by convincing the official delegation to include one of their leaders, long-time activist Takazato Suzuyo, in the discussion with Embassy officials.

Activists Takazato Suzuyo, who also heads Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, and Okada Yoshio

“Even the official Okinawa delegation was unable to meet with top U.S. Embassy officials, who were busy attending to the hurriedly organized visit to Japan by U.S. State Department official Kurt Campbell,” Okada added. “Since this visit was arranged immediately after the anti-base rallies were announced, it is more than obvious that the U.S. strategy was to try and neutralize this outpouring of discontent by getting to Tokyo with its message first—rather than waiting until public anti-base sentiment continued to grow.”

Also participating in the sit-in were citizens from Takae Village in the lush Yanbaru Forest, where construction plans are underway for six U.S. military helipads to accommodate dangerous Osprey aircraft training. While I was unable to locate anyone from their group following the rainstorm, the pamphlet they distributed reads, in part, as follows (translation mine):
When government officials came to Takae last February to hold an “explanation meeting” for local citizens about the proposed construction, they did nothing other than repeat the same phrases again and again. They had no clear answers regarding our pointed questions about things like the Osprey helicopter deployment, the flight path, noise problems, safety, etc. This meeting accomplished nothing beyond intensifying our already existing sense of distress.

The government officials acknowledged their lack of explanation, and said they would hold another meeting—but then added that in the meantime, plans for construction would continue to move forward. Clearly, these officials have no understanding regarding why any explanation is even necessary! If they wish for a peaceful solution to the presently continuing negative cycle of “construction without explanation” vs. “citizen sit-in protest”, they must desist their violent construction plans and begin engaging us in real dialogue.
Prior to the downpour, I was also able to speak with Uehara Seishin, an uchinanchu (Okinawan) with an extremely kind demeanor who has lived in Tokyo since the age of 17, but still maintains a strong connection with his homeland. He told me about a creative peace action spearheaded in 1990 by uchinanchu from around the world. In the hopes of fighting back against the U.S. militarization of Okinawa, 500 individuals donated 10,000 yen each (around U.S. $100) to purchase a small plot of land from a sympathetic landowner inside the gates of the Futenma Air Base. The group was later sued by the Japanese Department (now Ministry) of Defense, who has been pressuring them ever since to lease the land to the government.

“The land we purchased is only around 50 or 60 cm in length—maybe the size of a single sheet of newspaper spread out—but it happens to sit right in the path of a runway guidance light,” Uehara told me. “The government wants that piece of land, and it is exerting every ounce of power that it can to try and take it from us.”

Activist Uehara Seishin, sitting in front of a banner protesting plans to relocate Futenma within Okinawa 

“I lost my father during the war—he was back in Okinawa at the time, and we don’t even know what happened to him,” continued Uehara. “I have been an activist for peace ever since, and it makes me so angry that the Japanese government continues to create this false climate of fear to justify the military-based Japan-U.S. alliance when they could legally cancel the agreement today if they wanted to.

“The Japan-U.S. relationship is so unequal and so unfair…I wish more people would wake up and see this situation for what it is.”

Citizens supporting the Okinawa protesters at the sit-in. As residents who live near the Atsugi Naval Air Station (also pictured at the top of this post), they are presently suing the Japanese government for noise pollution . “The noise is so bad that children suffer from insomnia and sometimes even nervous spasms—it is inhuman, and it just is not right,” one man told me. “We want people in the United States to know what we are suffering."

- Kimberly Hughes

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NHK: Will democracy prevail in Okinawa? • Elected representatives bring prefecture-wide protest to Tokyo

Via NHK, "Sit-in for removing Futenma base staged:"
Political leaders from Okinawa staged a sit-in near the Diet building in Tokyo on Tuesday, calling for the removal of a US military base.

About 70 people, including the mayors of Ginowan and Nago cities, and prefectural assembly lawmakers were fresh from a large anti-base rally in Okinawa on Sunday. The rally participants demanded the transfer of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station outside Okinawa, or Japan.

They sat down on the sidewalk in front of the Diet building and raised a banner to express their opposition to the relocation of the base within the prefecture.

Yoichi Iha, the mayor of Ginowan, which hosts the Futenma base said it will destroy the lives of residents in the neighborhood. He added that his city opposes the relocation of the base within Okinawa.

Iha complained that the media has been reporting that the base will eventually be moved to the Henoko area of Nago City in Okinawa but says such plan cannot be accepted.

The protestors appealed to passersby to understand the situation on Okinawa, where military facilities are heavily concentrated, placing a heavy burden on locals.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Historic Solidarity in Okinawa: NO! to New US Base!

Another great shot from a member of the great Japanese organization, Translators for Peace. She received it from a friend who attended the rally in Okinawa, and forwarded with her remarks:
For the first time in history, public officials in Okinawa were solidly united with the people. They helped distribute yellow ribbons of solidarity to people who could not attend it. Heads of all municipalities in Okinawa attended, even the governor.

I put on a yellow jacket with "Solidarity with Okinawa NO! to New US Base in Okinawa" written on the back and went around my neighbourhood, unable to attend any solidarity rally.

Great photos and report of Kyoto's Solidarity Rally for Okinawa at Deep Kyoto

Deep Kyoto has posted some great photos and a good report of the Kyoto Tea Party in support of Okinawan democracy.

More Photos of Tokyo's April 25, 2010 Candlelight Vigil for Okinawa

From bilingual blogger Makiko Sato...

Just the start of grassroots reports on rallies in Okinawa & Tokyo...

(Photo: The Manichi Daily News)

Via  Martin Frid who attended the Tokyo vigil and helped form the first "A" in "OKINAWA" in the candle formation:
Over 90,000 in Okinawa is truly terrific for an event like this. That's a great show of strength.

SDP's Mizuho Fukushima participated at the event tonight in Tokyo in Meiji Park.

She spoke forcefully and clearly and it was good to have at least one government official there for the huge candle vigil, with candles forming letters spelling out NO BASE OKINAWA.

Lots of media were there including NTV, Asahi TV and Kyodo (in a helicopter). The Mainichi says 1,200 people participated.

(2nd and 3rd Photos: Shimura's Blog)

90,000 Okinawans attend massive April 25, 2010 rally demanding the closure of the Futenma U.S. Marine Base & opposing a "replacement" base in Henoko

From Martin Frid at Kurashi, two shots of the massive rally in Okinawa on April 25. 90,000 people attended. Many more intended to join the rally, but were stuck in traffic en route.

(Governor Nakaima addresses crowd)

From Satoko Norimatsu of Peace Philosophy Centre Blog:
Number: 90,000. With the rallies on the two other islands, 93,700. Not quite reached the goal, but significant.

My husband said: "Governor Nakaima just had a loud voice."

Nakaima made two main points: elimination of Futenma danger, and reduction of base burden of Okinawans. Both ambiguous terms. He made only one clear point though: permanent use of Futenma could not be tolerated.

People's New Party's Shimoji, the only MP who was absent (Even LDP's Shimajiri was there!!!), could say all those things too and stay politically correct.

But again, any Nakaima is better than No Nakaima.

The three mayors, Iha of Ginowan, Inamine of Nago, and Shimabuku of Uruma, all made powerful and convincing statements, pretty much what they have been saying every day.

Japanese Communist Party's head Shii was there. He was the only party head present. I am disappointed Social Democratic Party's Fukushima did not attend.

All 41 municipalities participated: 39 mayors attending and 2 their reps.

The biggest significance was that this was the first all-party rally of this magnitude in Okinawa and Japan.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

PM Hatoyama on eve of historic Okinawan rally: Building a base — with runways that would destroy a fragile marine habitat — would be "blasphemy against nature."

AFP reports that Prime Minister Hatoyama has ruled out the 2006 Bush-Koizumi agreement to build a U.S. military base in an environmentally sensitive area of Okinawa. Their proposal called for the destruction of the habitat of the federally protected Okinawan dugong, a critically endangered species.
Japan's premier ruled out a plan for a new US airbase on Okinawa island Saturday, on the eve of a mass rally against the planned facility, in a row that has soured ties with Washington for months.

The centre-left Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama last year launched a review of a 2006 pact to move an unpopular US base from a crowded city area of the southern island to a quieter coastal area, where locals also oppose it.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that Tokyo had agreed to broadly stick with the original plan, in an online report published a day before 100,000 people on Okinawa were expected to protest against the US military presence.

Hatoyama, whose approval ratings have dived into the 20-percent range amid the long-festering row, denied the report and said he rejected the plan to build the replacement US airbase in Okinawa's coastal area of Henoko.

"It must never happen that we accept the existing plan," Hatoyama told reporters in televised comments, effectively scrapping the agreement to move the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma there in coming years.

Building the new base — with runways that would destroy a fragile marine habitat — would be "blasphemy against nature," Hatoyama said, according to the Jiji Press news agency.

The comments were the latest twist in an issue that started when Hatoyama's government took power in September, ending more than half a century of conservative rule and vowing "more equal" relations with Washington.

Hatoyama and his left-leaning allies pledged to ease the burden of the people of Okinawa, who have since World War II hosted a heavy US military presence and often complained of noise and frictions with American soldiers...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't Force Bases onto Okinawa! - Open Air Tea Party (3pm) • Rally (5pm) • Demo (6pm) in Kyoto-- Sunday, April 25th!

Give the U.S. and Japanese governments a YELLOW CARD!

Yellow-garbed, peace-loving people will gather together on Sunday, April 25th in Honolulu, Washington D.C., and Tokyo in solidarity with the 100,000 person strong rally that will be held in Okinawa opposing the continued presence of military bases.

On the same day, Kyoto Action against bases in Henoko and Futenma is also organizing a simultaneous action along the Kamo River in Kyoto City. For more information about the activities of Kyoto Action, click here to see a previous Ten Thousand Things post.

In the spirit of ensuring that all voices and opinions are heard with respect and compassion, there will be a river-side Open Air Tea Party where participants can exchange their thoughts on the military build up in Okinawa and the world. Participants will also have the chance to create origami of the endangered dugong, one of the beautiful cousins of the sea cow whose habitat will be destroyed should the U.S. military succeed in inundating Henoko Bay with concrete to build a new base.

Should you not be able to make it to the Tea Party, check out this video of how to make the dugong and learn more about the actions of the Osaka and Tokyo-based Save the Dugong Campaign Center watch the following video:

The Tea Party will be followed by a rally and then a demo through the sakura streets of Kyoto. Join us in raising our voices against continued military occupation and expansion!

Open Air Tea Party

Time: 3-5pm
Place- Along the Kamo River near Sanjo Street

Activities: Discussion, origami, sanpin tea, and sata andagi (sweet Okinawan buns)

Mouth-watering Sata andagi

Wear Yellow (In solidarity with the Okinawa people )

Time- 5pm
Location- Along the Kamo River near Sanjo Street

Demo  Departure
Time- 6pm
Location- Start at Kamo river near Sanjo, end at Maruyama Park

For more information, call Kyoto Action at: 090-2359-9278

Supporting Organizations*

Group Chanpuru (ぐるーぷちゃんぷる)
Kyoto Resident Uchinanchu Group (京都在住うちなーんちゅの会)
Kyoto Association of people from Okinawa Prefecture (京都沖縄県人会)
Kyoto Peace Constitution Organization (平和憲法の会・京都)
Kyoto Organization for a Nuke and  Base-free Okinawa (核も基地もない平和な沖縄をめざす京都の会(京都沖縄の会))
Ainu Okinawa wo Kangaeru Kai (アイヌ・沖縄を考える会)
Anti-war Senior Club- Kyoto (反戦老人クラブ・京都)
Kyoto Co-op Workers Club (京都生協の働く仲間の会)
US for Okinawa
and many more...

(*Note, theses are my English translations of the organizations' names and are not official.

-Jen Teeter

Historic United Okinawa Prefectural Rally April 25, 2010: ""Move Futenma Outside of Okinawa out of the prefecture, out of the country!"

Via Satoko Norimatsu's Peace Philosophy Centre Blog:
100,000 Okinawans are expected to show up at the Okinawa Prefecture Rally on April 25, at Yomitan Sports Park. Above is the flyer, which reads:

"Move Futenma Outside of Okinawa out of the prefecture, out of the country! Express our determination to Japanese and U.S. Governments!"

April 25 Prefecture Citizens' Rally

• To call for immediate closure and return of Futenma Air Station

• To Oppose inter-prefectural relocation

• To call for out-of-country or out-of-prefecture relocation

Location: Yomitan Sports Park

Let's All Go There!

3:00 PM, April 25 (Sunday)
Rain or Shine

Mayors of 37 out of 41 municipalities of all the Okinawa islands will attend the rally. The four remaining mayors, of the islands of Kumejima, Ishigaki, Ginoza, and Tokashiki, will send their representative, if not attend themselves.

Governor Nakaima, after vacillating, finally decided to attend. According to NHK News at noon on April 23, Nakaima was reported as saying, "I hesitated to make a decision while the Japanese government had not made a decision; but I decided it was a good opportunity to express my opinion about the over-burden of bases by Okinawa."

DPJ's Cabinet Secretary Hirano pressured Nakaima not to attend, but Hirano, knowing Nakaima's decision, said, "It is the Governor's choice."

April 18 Ryukyu Shimpo quotes:

Inamine Susumu, Mayor of Nago: "I have been saying not only the Henoko Shore plan but also the Camp Schwab in-land plan was unacceptable. I want to show the power of our opposition."

Shimabukuro Toshio, Mayor of Uruma ( White Beach): "I want the government to show a policy consistent with their election pledge."

Iha Yoichi, Mayor of Ginowan (Futenma Air Station): "The U.S. is planning to move Futenma's helicopter units to Guam. I want the Government not just to talk about building an alternative base, but to explain to the people of Japan and to the parliament what the U.S. plan is about."

The rally starts at 3 PM, but Makishi Yoshikazu, an Okinawan architect and blogger says: "Starting as early as noon, there will be songs and performances by young people. Let us get a bottle of water and leave home by 10 AM."

Many municipalities, including Ginowan City, will arrange free shuttle buses for the convenience of rally-goers.

Those who cannot attend are encouraged to wear or have something yellow to show solidarity.

There is no doubt that it will be a historic event, with the Governor and all the municipal leaders on a united front of the hundreds of thousands of people of Okinawa.

琉球新報 4月18日

「普天間」県民大会、37首長参加へ 全市町村で「県内反対」2010年4月18日


沖縄タイムス 4月23日



Thursday, April 22, 2010

OKINAWAN SOLIDARITY: Gov. Nakaima officially decides to attend & will make a speech at mass rally in Okinawa!

Another up-to-the-second report from Satoko Norimatsu of Peace Philosophy Centre:
You may not believe me any more, but Governor Nakaima officially decided to attend and give a speech at the prefectural rally on April 25th.

No matter how indecisive, any governor is better than no governor. His presence will make a difference, and clearly communicate that the whole Okinawa is on a united front.

The Earth Can't Afford Mo War Any More! World People's Conference on Climate Change & the Rights of Mother Earth • Carbon Footprint of War

On April 22, people from around the world will converge in Cochabamba, Bolivia on Earth Day to promote real solutions and a human rights approach to the climate crisis.

The World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth will push the world's leading carbon emitters, who promote unjust and false solutions such as carbon offsets, stricter binding carbon reductions and reparations for industrial-driven environmental destruction, to change course in preparation for the next round of UN Climate talks which will take place this December in Cancun, Mexico.

A major piece of the climate crisis that is not often discussed is the impact or carbon footprint of the US military. Did you know that the US military burns 3.5 million gallons of fuel every day on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? United for Peace and Justice member, the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice , has put together a great little Earth Day flier connecting climate destruction and war.

Lets amplify the voices of the people in Bolivia and make the connection between war and climate crisis during this years Earth Day events. Please Download a UFPJ version of the flier here and distribute it at Earth Day events in your community!

For a good article on the Peoples Conference:
Download UFPJ "Carbon Footprint Of War" flyer

Long-time UFPJ member group Global Justice Ecology Project will be providing media support for the North America the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance-Indigenous Environmental Network delegation is attending with the aim of amplifying the perspectives of frontline communities resisting the impacts of climate change. Information will be posted on the Climate Connections blog:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NO BASE! OKINAWA Candle Action Event in Meiji-Koen, Tokyo - April 25, 2010

A mass rally will be held in Okinawa on April 25, with people gathering from all over the prefecture and Japan.

They are demanding that no more bases be forced on Okinawa!

In solidarity, people from throughout Japan will gather together to spell out with candles the message "NO BASE! OKINAWA" and send their support to the Okinawan people.


NO BASE! OKINAWA ~キャンドルで人文字をつくろう!

☆日 時:4月25日(日)18時~
APRIL 25th, from 6 pm

☆場 所:明治公園 新宿霞岳町、渋谷区千駄ヶ谷一丁目

☆アクセス:JR「千駄ヶ谷」下車 徒歩5分
地下鉄大江戸線「国立競技場」(E25)下車 徒歩2分

☆内 容:歌、スピーチ、キャンドルによる人文字

☆協賛:沖縄一坪反戦地主会関東ブロック/WORLD PEACE  NOW


☆ Event:
Simultaneous actions for a base-free Okinawa
Candle event spelling out "NO BASE! OKINAWA"

☆ Date: April 25, 2010 (Sunday)

☆ Time: From 6 pm

☆ Place: Meiji Park, Sendagaya Icchome / Shinjuku Kasumigaokamachi

☆ Access: 5 mins walk from Sendagaya station, JR Sobu Line
2 mins walk from Kokuritsu Kyogijo station, Oedo Subway Line
15 mins walk from Gaienmae station, Ginza subway line

☆ Contents: songs, speeches, candle action
※ Donations of 500 yen for candles requested!

☆ Organised by Simultaneous actions for a base-free Okinawa Tokyo
☆ Co-sponsored by the Kanto Block of landowners against military bases and WORLD PEACE NOW

☆ Contact:

★ Appeal ★

Next April 25, a people's gathering will be held in Okinawa to call for the closure of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma,the return of the land, and to oppose construction of another base elsewhere in Okinawa,

The US-Japan Security Pact signed by the mainland Japanese government resulted in Japan's consent of allowing the U.S. to force its unwanted military bases on the people of Okinawa. The U.S. bases have damaged Okinawa's rich environment, and created daily issues: noise pollution, accidents and crime, and the linked dangers of war.

The problems of the bases in Okinawa are not Okinawa's problem. They are, instead, a problem of those of us from the mainland who are forcing this burden onto the people of Okinawa.

We must seriously consider this issue now--more than ever.

If no site in mainland Japan is willing or planning to accept the bases in its own territory, then this burden must not be forced onto Okinawa. We cannot push the problem around within Okinawa and pretend that we are not aware that this is happening.

The U.S. Marine Corps must withdraw, and the Futenma Air Station must be closed.

The people of Okinawa are united in their opposition to the forced placement of the Futenma base in Okinawa.

On April 25, on the same day as their prefectural event, actions will be held simultaneously throughout Japan and hopefully the world to join our voices together with Okinawa in solidarity to oppose new base construction in Okinawa.

This action is being called for by a coalition of well-known Japanese individuals, including university professors, authors, artists, lawyers, educators, commentators, musicians and representatives of NGOs including Peace Boat, WWF Japan and Greenpeace Japan.

Citizens around the world are also called upon to hold events on the same day, and send messages and photos in support
and solidarity.

We thank you for your cooperation!


Tokyo Event to send our message to the April 25 Okinawan People's Gathering

★ A demonstration will be held after the event
Date: April 25 (Sun), from 3 pm
Place: Miyakezaka Hall, Shakai Bunka Kaikan
(4 mins from Nagatacho Station, Yurakucho/Hanzomon Line)

Organised by the Kanto Block of landowners against military bases.
Co-sponsored by the Organising Committee against base construction in Henoko

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Military experts question U.S. Marine presence in Okinawa

Military analysts question the need for a U.S. Marine presence in Okinawa in "Okinawan marines said dispensable," published in The Japan Times a couple of days ago.

Friday, April 16, 2010

NO MORE US MILITARY BASES IN OKINAWA -- Rally on April 25, 2 p.m. in front of the Japanese Embassy, Washington D.C.

Network for Okinawa:  Please come and oppose new US military expansion in Okinawa!

What: To protest a new US military base in Okinawa (Japan)
When: April 25th, Sunday at 2 pm
Where: In front of the Japanese Embassy
2520 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008

The new Japanese government, pressured by the US, seems to be leaning toward building a new US military base on Okinawa, which is a tropical island in Japan. The people of Okinawa, who already host more than 30 U.S. bases, don't want another base that will further destroy the beautiful natural environment of their island.

Okinawans are planning to hold a rally of 100,000 people against the US bases in Okinawa on April 25th. The people of Washington, DC will show our solidarity with the Okinawans with our own rally, in front of the Japanese embassy on Sunday, April 25 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

• Become a fan on our Facebook page

● The Network for Okinawa (NO) is a grassroots network that draws together representatives from US-based peace groups, environmental organizations, faith-based organizations, and think tanks.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Love Harukaze 2010: Music festival-goers feel the love; explore issues of peace and sustainability

For the second year in a row during the first weekend of April, amidst cherry blossoms at their peak and near-perfect (if slightly chilly) weather, the Spring Love Harukaze festival transformed Tokyo's Yoyogi Park into a space of positive energy and peaceful vibes.

The event featured some of Japan’s top musical talent, as well as a series of talk sessions related to various peace and environmental issues. In addition, the festival included a flea market with natural and eco-related goods, food stalls with organic and various world cuisines, tents with information from peace and environmental NPOs/NGOs, a DJ tent where young dancers enjoyed chilled-out grooves, and jam sessions/performances spontaneously organized by festival-goers that cropped up all over the venue throughout the weekend.

The festival was the result of a collaboration between Harukaze organizers, who put on rave parties of the same name in Yoyogi Park during the 1990s, together with the volunteer collective Peace Not War Japan, which organizes events combining music and peace. By bringing back the festival as Spring Love: Harukaze and including the educational component, their goal expanded to encourage festival attendees—including youth who may never before have thought about these social topics—to consider war, militarism, peace and sustainability.
Masudo Ikue and Peace Not War Japan coordinator Fukui Hiroshi

One speaker was Masudo Ikue, a television and film actor, well-known by her former stage name, Takagi Saya. While still making occasional public appearances, she decided in 2008 to scale back her work to focus on natural pursuits such as running her own beachside eco-gallery, growing some of her own food, and free-diving (she is a champion record-holder in Hawaii!).

“The modern capitalist system that we live in encourages us to spend our energy gathering material possessions while gradually drifting further and further away from nature and healthy ways of living, ” Ikue declared. “It is up to each one of us to look deep inside and reconnect with our own deepest selves to see what we truly want out of this life.”

Another discussion, titled “Building sustainable, non-militarized economies: examples of organic, small-scale, community-based alternatives to a military-dependent economy,” featured three well-known peace and environmental activists and offered a similar message.

“When you structure your life the way the capitalist system demands—working as a slave to one single company—your individuality has absolutely no meaning, since the instant you are gone, you will simply be replaced by another cog in the wheel,” explained speaker Tanaka Yu. “The recipe for happiness is to be in control of your life by diversifying your income sources, and always doing what you want to do rather than what some boss is telling you to do.”

Panelist Kosaka Masaru, a thirtysomething who runs his own organic café/bar and grows his own soybeans and rice, said that his greatest happiness is listening to great music and cooking tasty, healthy food.

Also on the panel was writer, translator, and activist Kikuchi Yumi, whose family lives in a restored farmhouse and grows all of their own organic vegetables and rice. She emphasized that growing one’s own food is as easy as starting with one simple herb planter at home; anyone can do it. She also described the local currency system in her region of Awa, southern Chiba, where residents may buy certain products using “Awa Money" in addition to Japanese yen.

“This kind of local currency movement is the basis for building peaceful societies, as opposed to what happens with Japan’s major banks—where money in peoples’ savings accounts are used without their knowledge to purchase things like cluster bombs used in U.S. wars,” concluded Tanaka, who also serves as executive director of the Mirai Bank (“Bank of the Future”)—a model for other sustainable community projects such as the Artist Power Bank. “We have the power to create peaceful societies by choosing how and where we use our money.

Supporters of Takae Village, Okinawa, portraying the kuina bird that is endangered by U.S. military base construction in Yanbaru, a subtropical rainforest in northern Okinawa 

The third talk session also focused closely on creating alternatives to existing ills. Titled “Listen to citizens' voices: No more wasteful, destructive construction projects!," the panel discussion featured speakers from groups working to save Mt. Takao from a highway tunnel; stop the construction of a nuclear power plant in Kaminoseki, on the Inland Sea; and protect the lush Takae Village in Okinawa’s Yanbaru forest from construction of U.S. military training helipads. In the latter case, the Japanese government has brought a lawsuit against villagers who organized to stage a nonviolent sit-in protest against the construction.

“The role of a government is supposed to be protecting its citizens, but the Japanese government is clearly doing the opposite by exposing locals to these helipads, which carry very real risks of accidents using the unstable, dangerous Osprey aircraft,” explained Peace Not War Japan coordinator Fukui Hiroshi. He organized the panel to create solidarity among various domestic movements, all facing a common goal: to protect human beings and nature alike from militarism’s endless capacity for destruction.

The event’s final talk session, titled “Why should Japan's Constitutional Article 9 (the peace clause) be protected?,” considered the ways in which governments should function--as opposed to how they often do in reality. “With Japan’s peace constitution in danger, we must also look at other examples of peace constitutions at work, such as the case of Ecuador, which successfully ousted a U.S. military base,” said panel moderator and Peace Boat staff member Matsumura Masumi.

“Japan must protect its peace constitution in order to avoid becoming a country like the United States, where systematic poverty results in young people being shipped off to fight destructive wars,” agreed freelance journalist Shiva Rei, a firsthand observer of war and violent occupation areas like Iraq and Gaza. “We must also do what we can to solve other related problems, such as making sure that we use natural energy sources rather than nuclear power—something that requires that we act on both personal and social/political levels.”

Panelists Shiva Rei, Kamebuchi Yuka and Matsumura Masumi 
discussing issues related to Japan's Constitutional Article 9

"This kind of topic might not come naturally for some of us,” concluded the third panelist Kamebuchi Yuka, a gospel singer and director of the Harukaze planning committee.“But one thing that every single one of us here can do is to go home tonight and talk to others about what we heard here at this festival. Another thing we can do is to get educated about the constitutional change election that is coming up next month.”

The event featured two stages: the main Spring Stage, where most musical acts and peace talks took place; and the smaller, cozier Love Stage, which housed DJs, smaller musical acts, and presentations from representatives of several of the NPOs and NGOs in attendance. One group was US for Okinawa, composed mostly of foreign residents in Japan committed to demonstrating their support for the halt of U.S. military expansion in Okinawa. The group organized a booth at the event with a photo exhibition, FAQ sheet, and petition that show the destructive impact of U.S. military bases. Coincidentally, many of the network's core members were actually on a study tour to visit U.S. bases in Okinawa on the very same weekend as Spring Love—their report of their fruitful tour may be read here.


Another speaker on the Love Stage was Clara Shinobu Iura, a Japanese-Brazilian who is one of the 13 indigenous grandmothers featured in the film For the Next Seven Generations. It recounts how the women came together from around the world to impart their knowledge and healing wisdom to younger generations before it is too late.

“I was warned by my sister to be careful when visiting Mt. Fuji, because I am such a sensitive person and might be susceptible to particular energies there,” Iura told festival listeners. “Well, that is exactly what happened…it was as if the mountain was speaking to me, and telling me to dedicate my life to trying to save the earth.”

Iura, who is now a practicing shaman in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil, will visit Amami Oshima island in southern Japan with the other grandmothers this coming October for a festival event, where they will conduct healing prayers and workshops. More information is available about the grandmothers’ project here.

Clara Shinobu Iura, seated right

Many other organizations participated—including From Earth, an ecology/fair trade shop promoting organic lifestyles; and the nonprofit groups Habitat for Humanity and Natural House, partnering to spearhead a unique fundraiser for survivors of the earthquake in Haiti by selling handmade bricks for ¥500 in a project simulating the construction of new homes.

Many of the performing artists echoed messages onstage supporting the spirit of the event. “Even if we feel we cannot make a difference on a large scale with our individual actions, it is still important to live every single moment with purpose and clarity; this in itself is a step toward creating a peaceful world,” said the spokesperson for Gocoo, a phenomenal 11-piece wadaiko (Japanese drum) ensemble.

The event’s closing artist, Sandii Bunbun, offered one of the most striking stage performances of the entire weekend. An internationally-known rock singer who collaborated with many famous artists during the 1970's and 80's using various stage names, Sandii—who grew up in Hawai’i—returned to her roots some years ago by performing more Hawai’ian music, and also earning the rank of Kumu Hula (hula master).

春風2010 SANDII~SandiiBunbun with Earth Conscious and Hula All 

After purifying the energy of the space, Sandii began her set by singing and drumming several numbers dedicated to Pele, the Hawai’ian goddess of passion and fire, while flanked by a troupe of her dancing students, known as the Hula All Stars. This was followed by an energetic set with her band, Earth Consciousness, which featured instrumentation including a didgeridoo, as well as stunning background visuals projected behind the stage.


Just prior to her performance, Peace Not War Japan shared a powerfully poignant message of solidarity that had been received from activist Kyle Kajihiro in Hawai’i, which may be read in full here.

Peace Not War Japan coordinators Fukui Hiroshi and Kimberly Hughes

The festival received thoughtful solidarity messages from Sung-Hee Choi, an activist with the No Base Stories of Korea website and Peace Not War Japan founder Dom Pates.

"I enjoyed myself here so much," said one event-goer, a third-year university student of social issues and history. "Coming here made me feel like it is possible to change the world to make it a better place!"

Peace Not War Japan extends deepest thanks to all artists and participants who helped make the Spring Love Harukaze event possible, as well as the 40,000 some attendees who dropped by the event over the weekend to make it their own—and everyone who took the time to read this report.

Truly…each one of us represents the peace we wish to see in the world!

-- Kimberly Hughes

Thursday, April 8, 2010

US for Okinawa - Revelatory journal & photos from Naha, Ginowan City, Henoko, & Takae

Via our friends at US for Okinawa:  findings and photos from Naha, Ginowan City, Henoko and Takae, Okinawa:
DAY 1: Up at 03:30 AM and off to Okinawa to experience what is really happening with our own eyes. There has been a lot of news recently dealing with the Futenma Air Base issue and what should/will be done in Okinawa regarding its relocation or closure. We are here to learn as much as possible while visiting the island, through interviewing locals and talking with those on the front lines, in order to make our own opinions on the subject.

Immediately upon arrival we noticed that Naha wasn't your typical airport. Self-defense and U.S. military planes line the runway while fighter jets screamed overhead and men with military backpacks wait in the airport for their flights. We tried to keep a tally of the number of military aircrafts that we heard; 6 helicopters and 4 jets in the first hour that we were there...we lost count half-way into the third hour. Emilie noticed how strange it was to hear but not see the various military aircrafts.

During a taxi ride I asked the driver how he felt about so many foreigners in Okinawa. His initial response was that he liked the business but upon further inquiry he admitted that he could do without the bases.

DAY 2: Upon viewing Futenma from an aerial perspective, we were struck by its location - right in the middle of the city. One member from US for OKINAWA, Danielle Pierre told us about her life growing up in Colorado Springs, USA, surrounded by various army bases, the Air Force Academy, and other military facilities, but she never felt that the military presence adversely affected her daily life. "I can't imagine, however, that the Futenma locals feel the same", she said. A sizable military base was placed right in the middle of their lives, bringing with it planes and helicopters that fly in a pattern nearly double the radius of the original agreement. Not only that, but a representative of Ginowan City Hall stated that these planes fly on average every 5 minutes near the base. Can you imagine trying to carry on a normal life with that noise?

Another shocking fact, upon many, that we learned from the Mayor Iha himself is how many accidents happen near Futenma...

Altogether, what we've learned so far highlights the necessity for Futenma to be closed. Having a conversation last night with a foreigner living in Okinawa reminded us that it is also important to think about what happens next, and not to leave Futenma in a vacuum after so many years of having a military base that stimulates the local economy. Thankfully, Mayor Iha has already taken sizable steps in the next direction. He explained his outline to restore the area to its original form, rebuilding a valuable avenue that was once lined with native pine trees and land that was once a source of livelihood for local farmers.

DAY 3: We left our guesthouse in Ginowan early in the morning and headed toward the Henoko region of Okinawa, where locals have been struggling for about 13 years to stop Futenma's Air Field from being transferred (along with a plethora of other new construction).

A number of different plans have been proposed over the past decade, starting with the construction of an air field inside of Camp Schwab, which is located on a cape in Nago City next to Oura Bay, Henoko. However, this plan was overwhelmingly rejected because it would simply transfer the problems of noise pollution and safety risks from Ginowan City to Nago City.

So the plan changed to a large airfield that would be built in a section of Oura Bay (right over its coral reefs!), but local people--mostly elderly men and women--resisted this plan so strongly (by holding daily sit-ins that continue even today, by occupying a platform in the bay that was erected to start planning the construction, and by paddling sea kayaks in the way of the motorized boats that came to carry out the construction) that it was finally scrapped.

Then the plan changed to expanding the perimeters of Camp Schwab so that it would extend out into Oura Bay, and building the runway on this extension. Locals have fought this plan, too, and now the government is talking about building the runways inside Camp Schwab--the very same plan that was rejected more than 10 years ago!

In Henoko, our first stop was to Tent Village on the shoreline of Oura Bay, where locals were marking more than 2,100 days of consecutive sit-ins. One of their representatives, Onishi-san, used photos to tell us about the history of their non-violent struggle (which, incidentally, was inspired by the non-violent resistance of Martin Luther King Jr.).

Then we walked over to a beach that is divided by a long stretch of curled razor wire that functions as a border to Camp Schwab. Peace lovers had covered just about every inch of the wire with colorful ribbons and banners calling for no war, no killing, no bases, protection of the dugong, and so on.

Apparently, the U.S. military used to regularly remove these ribbons (once, even by setting fire to them all!), but people kept retying them with such persistence, that the military finally gave up trying to remove them. One funny aside: on the way to the beach, we passed by a municipal sign that said: "Keep this beach clean--please take your garbage home with you."

To this sign, locals had pencilled in the word "base," so that it read: "Keep this beach clean--please take your base and your garbage home with you..."!

From Henoko, we travelled to the Takae and Yambaru Forest area to see the U.S. military's Northern Training Area, which the U.S. military has used for jungle warfare training since 1956--initially to prepare for jungle warfare in Vietnam (to our shock, we learned that the U.S. military even forced local villagers to play the role of Vietnamese people in their jungle warfare trainings!).

This training area occupies thousands of hectares, much of which wasn't being used, so the U.S. military finally agreed to give part of it back to Okinawa. However, the part they agreed to give back has seven aircraft landing pads, and the construction of 7 new landing pads elsewhere was made requisite for its return.

Unbelievably, the area chosen for the new construction is rich in biodiversity, and home to endangered species such as the Okinawan woodpecker and Okinawan rail.

Opposition to this plan finally led to it being discarded, and a new plan was drafted: this time the landing pads would be built around a small village of fewer than 150 people. However, this village is already surrounded by 15 other landing pads, and the people were opposed to more being built around them, because of the danger and noise problems that they pose. So they went to Henoko, and learned from the people of Henoko how to build a sit-in tent and carry out resistance activities.

Again, unbelievably, the government sued 14 people for stopping the construction work from beginning (charges were later dropped against 12), and the case is now making its way through the court. In other words, instead of using civil law to protect citizens, the government is using civil law to prosecute them, and our local guide explained that this sets a very dangerous precedent around the nation, because if it gets established, people who protest against things the construction of nuclear power plants or big dam projects in their communitities can also be sued by the government.

What's worse, the villagers are being sued under the Hatoyama administration's government, which is an enormous betrayal for them (and for us!), because they had voted for him and his party after he promised to lighten the burden of the military bases on Okinawa. We asked them if they planned to countersue, but they said it's difficult because their numbers are so small, it's difficult to balance a livelihood and stay fully active at the same time, all expenses would have to come from their own pocket, and it takes them 3 hours just to get to Naha, where the district court is located...

With heavy hearts, we left the Takae area and returned to the Henoko area just in time to participate in a peace candle night in front of Camp Schwab. Peace candle nights have been held in front of Camp Schwab every Saturday evening for the past 6 years, and were started by a base-protester who wanted to give young children and others who could not participate in physically risky resistance activities a way to get involved in the movement. The organizer explained that flames symbolized the soul, and that many souls have been lost because of the bases in Okinawa, given that they have been used to attack Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas. So he taught his three young children to hold the candles carefully, and to see them as souls that need caring and should be cherished...

Afterwards, we headed to the guesthouse we would be staying at that night--a haven next to the sea that was lovingly built by a longtime base resister named Mr. Teruya. He built it largely from recycled wood, and decorated it beautifully with driftwood and polished glass he had picked up from the coastline. In the garden area of the guesthouse, an underwater photographer set up a screen and gave us a slideshow presentation of all the rich, beautiful life that can be found in Oura Bay, as well as in the mangrove lined rivers feeding into Oura Bay. It's hard to believe that anyone could consider pouring dirt and concrete over such rich and rare biodiversity--and of course, those who are proposing to do so are far removed from it, in offices in Tokyo and Washington.

DAY 4: On our final day, we headed to the Save the Dugong Center to meet with Takuma Higashionna, who has been working tirelessly to protect the dugong and other sea life in Oura Bay and to raise awareness of the issue inside and outside Japan. He told us about how U.S. and Japanese officials always shift the responsibility to one another when he presses them about protecting Oura's biodiversity from base construction. Japanese officials claim that the U.S. is ordering the construction in Henoko and that they have no choice to follow it, and U.S. officials claim it's Japan that insists on this site and wants the construction for its security--so much so, that they are even willing to pay for it. Higashionna-san led us to a beach across the bay from Camp Schwab, and told us how he and others have dived extensively in the bay in order to map out all its coral reefs and delicate points in order to gain a better understanding of how to conserve its ecosystem and vitality. He looked across the bay and pointed to Camp Schwab, noting where its barracks, ammunition storage area, and firing ranges are located, and said it was his dream for Japan and the U.S. to one day work together to covert the camp into a nature conservancy center for all to enjoy and learn from...