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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dalai Lama in Yokohama, Japan from June 18-28; Public Talk in Yokohama on June 26

For a larger view, click here.

The Dalai Lama will be in Japan from June 18-28. Public event schedule here (English):

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will give Public teaching and talk in Yokohama on 26th June 2010 [Saturday] at Pacifico Yokohama Exhibition Hall. The teaching and the talk will have Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, Mongolian translation. Detail of the teaching and talk is as follows.

Public Teaching

Topic : Virtue and Practice of Connectedness and Generating Kind Heart
Time: 10:00 ~ 12:00 hrs. [The hall will open at 08:00 hrs]

Prayer Recitation by monks from Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Taiwan and Tibet [13:00 ~ 14:00 hrs]

Public Talk

Topic : Essence of Happiness and Healthy Co-existence
Time : 14:00 ~ 16:00 hrs

Brief content of the Teaching and the talk

Everywhere in the world humans are in trouble. Between wars, economic collapse, injustice and environmental problems, our problems sometimes seem as high as the mountains.

Given all this, how should we live in our new century? What is the essence of happiness?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks of the importance of our environmental challenge, our struggling economy and the possibilities of science. His Holiness will suggest what is required of us to live happily in the future, with the world and with each other.

Venue

Pacifico Yokohama Exhibition Hall, Yokohama
Address: 1-1-1 Minatomirai Nishiku, Yokohama »Access Map
Access guide phone : 045-221-2166

JR Yokohama line / Yokohama Subway : Sakuragicho Station. 12 minutes walk
Minatomirai LIne (Tokyutoyoko Line Direct) : Minatomirai Station 3 minutes walk

Ticket guidelines

Those in Japan can buy ticket from TICKET PIA machine in Sunks and Family Mart convenience stores.
Electronic ticket PIA http://pia.jp/t/ (PC & Mobile)
P-code: Lunch set 617-110 / Without Lunch 617-019
TICKET PIA Tel booking: 0570-02-9999 [Audio guidance]

S - Seat Lunch set Yen 10,500 / Without Lunch Yen 10,000
A - Seat Lunch set Yen 8,500 / Without Lunch Yen 8,000
B - Seat Lunch set Yen 5,500 / Without Lunch Yen 5,000
C - Seat Lunch set Yen 3,500 / Without Lunch Yen 3,000
A lunch-pack can be ordered along with the ticket for additional Yen 500. In order to avoid waste of time and security recheck, a ticket with lunch pack is recommended.

For more information contact

Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Hayama Bldg 5 (5F), 5-11-30 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022, JAPAN
Tel: 03-3353-4094 Fax: 03-3225-8013
Email: lohhdl@tibethouse.jp Website: www.tibethouse.jp

More info in Japanese here.

Dalai Lama & Wang Lixiong conversation on Twitter

Friday before last, the Dalai Lama and New York-based Chinese dissident novelist (and convert to Tibetan Buddhism) Wang Lixiong conversed for an hour on Twitter. Their conversation drew more than 8,000 followers. This was the first time that the Dalai Lama has interacted with such a large number of mainland Chinese.

The monk expressed hope for Tibet's future:
Some Party members who have worked in Tibet in the past and who are now retired, as also many Chinese scholars, have been saying that the present nationality policy is not appropriate and have suggested that it needs to be reviewed. Therefore, I believe that there will be a change and a decision in the not too distant future.
English-language translation of their conversation here.

Some recent aphorisms from the Dalai Lama on Twitter:
My message is the practice of compassion, love and kindness. Great compassion is the root of all forms of worship. 2:46 AM May 20th.

The increasing recognition that we cannot continue to mistreat our natural environment without serious consequences is a cause for hope. 2:57 AM May 19th.

When we can recognize and forgive ignorant actions of the past, we gain the strength to constructively solve the problems of the present. 2:46 AM May 17th.

Freedom is the very source of creativity for both individuals and society. 4:53 AM May 16th.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mizuho Fukushima maintains integrity on behalf of constituents in face of Hatoyama capitulation to U.S. demand for more military expansion in Okinawa

Via NHK: "Fukushima dismissed, govt approves base relocation:"
After releasing the statement, Hatoyama met Fukushima to attempt to persuade her to sign the policy document at the Cabinet meeting called to approve the process.

But, Fukushima refused to accept the relocation of the Air Station to a coastal area of US Camp Schwab in the Henoko district, as it is still within Okinawa. She said she would not sign the document.

Hatoyama then dismissed Fukushima and appointed Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano to serve as her replacement.

Observers say Fukushima's dismissal is believed to be a serious blow to the Hatoyama administration.

At the same time, they say, criticism against Hatoyama and his government is only likely to mount, as the Prime Minister has failed to fulfill his electoral pledge to transfer the Futenma base out of Okinawa...

Before approving the policy at an extraordinary Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama dismissed Consumer Affairs Minister Mizuho Fukushima for her refusal to support government policy.

Obama & Hatoyama choose 2006 Bush-Koizumi proposal • Can the indebted US & Japan afford more military spending? • What about "local consent"?

Although President Obama campaigned on promises of "change," his foreign policy choices in Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific turned out to be more expansive versions of the Bush administration's neocon militarization goals.

Japanese people were among those worldwide who cheered Obama's victory, believing his message of hope. No one in Okinawa is cheering Obama or Hatoyama (who campaigned on the same promise of "change') anymore. Although these heads-of-state are set on the 2006 Bush-Koizumi deal—they still need local approval.

It's astonishing that these highly militarized, deeply indebted nations would pursue even more military spending.

As Washington continues to spend record sums to deepen the U.S. military footprint worldwide, most of the country remains mired in economic malaise and overwhelming environmental crises. The U.S. government's ever-increasing national debt hit $13 trillion this week; $4 trillion held by foreign countries, mostly China.

The Japanese sovereign debt (ratio of debt to GNP) is worse than that of the U.S. Analysts compare it to a "ticking time bomb."

Can the U.S. afford to carry out and maintain the Bush 2020 "Full Spectrum Dominance" plan for ever-expanding U.S. militarization throughout the entire world? Can Japan afford to continue its massive subsidies for the U.S. war in Afghanistan and U.S. plans for military expansion in the Asia-Pacific? Is any of this escalation necessary in the Asia-Pacific?

In this week's China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogues, China and the US committed to strengthening and stabilizing their partnership:
In fact, our two sides sitting together, having in-depth communications, candid exchanges, and rational discussions on our common interests and differences existing between us, this in itself is the most significant outcome of this round.

As our economic relationship gets increasingly close, we are now able to take into full consideration our differences in history, culture, national conditions, development stage, economic structure, and market sophistication. We are now able to manage our differences and problems arising in the course of growing economic relationship with a more rational and mature manner.
With this latest development of deepening economic integration between China and the U.S. (and Japan and the rest of the world), it seems highly unlikely that Beijing will launch a nuclear attack or land invasion upon Japan, its major trading partner, and fellow U.S. ally.

That leaves North Korea as the only possible arch-enemy for Japan and other U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific.

With formidable military presence extant in the Asia-Pacific (the U.S. already has 90 bases throughout Japan and Okinawa), and Japan has a powerful, up-to-date Self Defense Force. South Korea has a formidable military. Tthe idea that another U.S. base in Okinawa is necessary to stave off an unlikely North Korean missile attack does not make a lot of sense. Moreover, the real purpose of U.S. bases in Okinawa is for training Marines and other US troops in simulated battlefields before they set out for Iraq and Afghanistan (and before that, Vietnam).

For some perspective on the North Korean threat, it's wise to compare military spending and capability. From Bill Quigley's "Number One in War:"
...the USA is number one in war.  This coming year the US will spend 708 billion dollars on war and another $125 billion for Veterans Affairs – over $830 billion.  In a distant second place is China which spent about $84 billion on its military in 2008...

The US has 5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for more than 40% of the military spending for the whole world.
North Korea is not even on the chart, spending $5 billion a year. Japan spent $47 billion; South Korea $29 billion at last count (2008).

North Korea (1.1 million) does have the world's most militarized population, but the Chinese (2.1 million); the U.S. (1.5 million); and the Indian military forces (1.3 million) are larger. For more military facts, see the Guardian's "Information is beautiful: war games."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fucha cuisine: Zen Buddhist tradition offers lessons in nonviolent simplicity through food

Periods of war and political turmoil in ancient and medieval China and Japan were also times of deep cultural development, including cuisine. Not only as a means of sustenance or expression, but also as a form of personal renewal.

Great inspiration may be found in small, everyday examples of positive human connection.

Bon, a charming restaurant in Tokyo’s shitamachi (old downtown) district features fucha ryouri (fucha cuisine). Their English-language menu describes the tradition best:
Fucha ryouri is a distinctive tradition within shojin ryouri, the vegetarian cuisine of Zen Buddhist monks in China and Japan. About 300 years ago, it was introduced to Japan by cooks who came from China with the monk Ingen, the founder of the Chinese style temple Mapukuji, at Uji near Kyoto. This was the first temple of the Obakushu Zen sect in Japan, and since its establishment, the authentic tradition of Fucha has been handed down by devotees of the sect.

The two characters used to write “fucha” mean “drinking tea together with all people”, but the word is also used to mean a meal eaten in Chinese style (each dish is served from a single large bowl) which begins and ends with tea, aiming to create friendship and peace among those eating together.

At Bon, we have tried to develop a style of Fucha ryouri which, while suggesting aspects of Zen, the basis of this tradition also provides for the tastes of the general public. In particular, we aim to provide the fine dishes from the best obtainable seasonal ingredients.

The name of our restaurant, Bon, means “Buddhist believer” and was chosen as a sign of our respect for the origins of Fucha as a way of Buddhist practice.
Entering the restaurant and absorbing its deep, still sense of calm, I found myself strongly wishing that the military powers of subsequent centuries—the present-day United States in particular—would draw lessons from its peaceful simplicity and example for positive cultural exchange.


First course, served with a tea of orchid flowers in plum vinegar (left) Shun kan, described by the menu as a decorative presentation of cooked seasonal vegetables (above)

Lovely descriptions of additional aspects of fucha’s origins may be read here via Akasa Media, and an earlier Ten Thousand Things post by Jean Downey. The New York Times also ran a review of Bon almost 25 years ago, available in its archives here.



Un pen, a rich 17th century Chinese soup traditionally made with leftovers and eaten in a spirit of gratitude for the vegetable bounty (left)


Yu ji, mixed tempura in a classical basket, and plum wine (above)


Is it me, or does this piece of tempura resemble the number 9? Perhaps a deliberate statement of peace for Japan’s Constitutional Article 9?




--Text and photos posted by Kimberly Hughes

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Buddhist Plea to End Killing in Thailand • 2 experts debate: grassroots movement or attempted c'oup? • Clear context from Walden Bello at FPIF

Violent fighting has subsided. But the injustices and grievances precipitating class conflict in Thailand remain.

The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) issued a plea to end violence and for government and workers to engage in respectful and peaceful conflict resolution:
Public Statement – A plea to put an end to massive killing in Bangkok: All Lives are Sacred: A plea to put an end to massive killing in Bangkok

Since the beginning of the demonstration by the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), aka “Red Shirts”, on 12 March 2010, there have been many hundreds of casualties. In the past five days, attempts to disperse the demonstration in Ratchaprasong have become been violent, with a further effect of provoking violence. The government’s actions have so far failed to deter the demonstrators.

The present clash of political views is one of the great crises in Siam’s modern history. The country was previously acclaimed for settling conflict peacefully and democratically. Now it appears that both sides, the government and the UDD, are clinging to an illusion of victory over another. The entire nation is hostage to their conflict. Buddhist wisdom is relevant for those absorbed in hatred, greed and delusion. The Dhammapada, Verse 201 says:
Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered is unhappy. Persons who have given up both victory and defeat, the contented, they are happy.
The International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), representing a diversity of socially engaged buddhists from around the world, is gravely concerned about this standoff. We wish for all parties address the conflict with reason and tools of peace, to recognize the ancient Buddhist wisdom that neither the so-called winner nor loser will be contented and happy. We encourage those who do not fall into one of the two camps can help this process wherever possible. Only through peaceful negotiation and dialogue can all parties concerned return the country to its true nature as a flourishing democracy and a peace-loving nation.

Our heartfelt plea is for both parties to stop any act that may cost lives and injuries; to reclaim the time-tested wisdom of reconciliation and nonviolence.

Whenever INEB can help bridge the gap between the opposed parties we are willing to do all that we can.

We trust that in the light of upcoming international Vesakh celebrations in Thailand, supported by the United Nations 22-26 May 2010 and the subsequent local Vesakh celebrations, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and the passing away of the Lord Buddha, all parties will unite in taking responsibility for their conduct and for bringing about lasting peace, transformation towards social justice and shared well being for future generations.

To close, in Verse 5 of the Dhammapada the Buddha proclaims:
Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By love alone is hatred appeased. This is an eternal law.
International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB)

Patron, Advisory Committee and Executive Committee Name Lists

PATRONS

His Holiness the Dalai Lama,Tibet
Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, France/Vietnam
Venerable Phra Rajpanyamedhi, Siam (Thailand)
Venerable Bhikshuni Chao Hwei,Taiwan

ADVISORY COMMITTEE (AC)

Sulak Sivaraksa, (Founder Chair), Santi Pracha Dhamma Institute, Siam, www.sulak-sivaraksa.org
Raja Dharmapal, Dharmavedi Institute, Sri Lanka
Jill Jameson, Buddhist Peace Fellowship Australia
Dharmachari Lokamitra,Jambudvipa Trust, India, www.jambudvipa.org
Ven. Tsering Palmo, Ladakh Nuns Association, Ladakh/India
Phra Maha Boonchuay, Mahachulalongkorn University, Siam, http://www.mcu.ac.th
Phra Phaisan Visalo, Buddhika Network for Buddhism and Society, Siam, http://www.budnet.org
Bhikkhuni Dhammananda Songdhammakalyani Monastery, Siam
Venetia Walkey, Dhamma Park Foundation, Siam,www.dhammapark.com
Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, Jungto Society, South Korea, www.jungto.org
Rev. Alan Senauke, Clear View Project, USA, www.clearviewproject.org
Ven. Sumanalankar, Parbatya Bouddha Mission, Bangladesh, www.pbm-cht.org
Hisashi Nakamura, Ryukoku University, Japan, www.ryukoku.ac.jp
Rev. Masazumi Okano, International Buddhist Exchange Center , Japan
Swee-hin Toh, University for Peace, Costa Rica, www.upeace.org
Frans Goetghebeur, European Buddhist Union, Belgium, www.e-b-u.org

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (EC)

Harsha Navaratne (Chairperson), Sewalanka Foundation, Sri Lanka, www.sewalanka.org
Hans van Willenswaard, GNH Program, Netherlands, (Vice Chairperson), School for Well Being, www.schoolforwellbeing.org, Siam
Somboon Chungprempree (Interim Executive Secretary), Spirit in Education Movement (SEM), Siam, www.semsikkha.org
Douangdeuane Bounyavong, Buddhists for Development, Laos, www.bdp.org.la
Hsiang-chou Yo, Fo Guang University, Taiwan, www.fgu.edu.tw
Jonathan Watts, Think Sangha, USA/Japan
Anchalee Kurutach, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, USA, www.bpf.org
Poolchawee Ruangwichatorn, Spirit in Education Movement (SEM), Siam, www.semsikkha.org
Pipob Udomittipong, Sathirakoses-Nagapradipa Foundation (SNF), Siam, www.snf.or.th
Ros Sotha Buddhists and Khmer Society Network, Cambodia, www.bksn.wordpress.com
Mangesh Dahiwale, Jambudvipa Trust, India, www.jambudvipa.org
Prashant Varma, Deer Park Institute, India, www.deerpark.in
Erica Kang , Jungto Society, South Korea, www.jungto.org
Minyong Lee, South Korea
Eddy Setiawan, HIKMAHBUDHI, Indonesia, www.hikmahbudhi.or.id
Matteo Pistono, Nekorpa and RIGPA Fellowship, USA
Tashi Zangmo, Bhutan
Vidyananda (KV Soon), Malaysia
Harn, Burma/Myanmar
It's been impossible for those of us on the outside to discern what is really happening in Thailand. Obviously the Red Shirts are poor and desperate. Many are exploited and abused migrant workers. Obviously, the Thai government has been repressive.

Two experts have very different views about the political-economic nature of the conflict. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! moderates a debate between KJ contributing editor Phil Cunningham, a former resident of Thailand, and Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai dissident:
In Thailand, the government has rejected an offer by anti-government protesters to enter talks after a bloody week in Bangkok that has left at least thirty-eight protesters dead. Some fear the standoff could lead to an undeclared civil war. The protesters are mostly rural and urban poor who are part of a group called the UDD, the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship, more commonly known as the Red Shirts.

We host a debate between Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a Thai dissident living in exile in Britain who supports the Red Shirt movement; and Philip Cunningham, a freelance journalist who has covered Asia for over twenty years.
"The Long Winding Red Road to Ratchaprasong and Thailand’s Future" written by Cunningham for Japan Focus and this article "Thailand: What Would End the Violence in Bangkok?" by Ungpakorn posted at The Monthly Review further explain their opposing takes.

Walden Bello's "The Battle for Thailand" posted at Foreign Policy in Focus brings context and clarity to this tragic class conflict:
Nearly a week after the event, Thailand is still stunned by the military assault on the Red Shirt encampment in the tourist center of the capital city of Bangkok on May 19. The Thai government is treating captured Red Shirt leaders and militants like they're from an occupied country. No doubt about it: A state of civil war exists in this country, and civil wars are never pretty.

The last few weeks have hardened the Bangkok middle class in its view that the Red Shirts are "terrorists" in the pocket of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. At the same time, they have convinced the lower classes that their electoral majority counts for nothing. "Pro-Thaksin" versus "Anti-Thaksin": This simplified discourse actually veils what is — to borrow Mao's words — a class war with Thai characteristics...

But the main push will come from the people themselves. Thailand, it is clear, will never be the same again. A taxi driver summed up where things stand at this point: "The Bangkok rich think we are stupid people, who can't be trusted with democratic choice. We know what we're doing. So yes, they say Thaksin is corrupt. But he's for us and he's proven it. The Bangkok rich and middle classes see us as their enemy. If they think we're finished, they should think again. This is not the end but the end of the beginning."

FPIF columnist Walden Bello is a member of the House of Representatives of the Philippines and author of "A Siamese Tragedy: Development and Disintegration in Modern Thailand,"(London: Zed, 1998).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Joint Statement by Ginowan City & Nago City Mayors: Futenma replacement proposal shows "total disregard" for environmental impact & human rights

Via Satoko Norimatsu at Peace Phillosophy Centre and Martin Frid at Kurashi (who adds this preface), "By the way, there are demonstrations all over Japan: peaceful groups of people who will not accept the usotsuki うそつき (lying) of the elected politicians. Time for honesty and frank dialogue. How refreshing. Non-violent protests, from sincere people with no wish whatsoever to continue host American military bases. Other Japanese bloggers are, of course, truly angry."
"Okinawa: Joint Statement by Mayors to Oppose the Construction of Futenma Replacement Facility within Okinawa

(Issued on the day of the Futenma Human Chain Campaign, May 16, 2010)

Over fourteen years have passed since the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement was concluded by the United States and Japanese Governments. In this agreement, both governments promised to return the entire land of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, located in the middle of heavily populated Ginowan City, within five to seven years. However, both governments have failed to implement the agreement, and as a result, Futenma Air Station still remains within the city as it was fourteen years ago.

The initial goal of the SACO agreement was to ensure safety of the people of Ginowan by removing the dangerous Futenma Air Station, which produces enormous aircraft noises and poses constant risk of an aircraft crash. This also includes reducing the burden on the people of Okinawa caused by disproportionately concentrated US military bases on this small island.

In the SACO final report in December 1996, however, both US and Japanese Governments set terms that the land of the air station should be returned after a removable Futenma replacement facility, with a 1500-meter runway, was constructed within Henoko, Nago City on the east coast of the main island, Okinawa. This decision greatly disappointed the people of Okinawa.

Although Nago citizens expressed their opposition against the relocation of the air base in a referendum in December 1997, the former Liberal Democratic Party(LDP)-led administration divided citizens by using a carrot-and-stick policy, which consisted of offering government subsidies in return for cooperation with the wills of US and Japanese Governments. As a result of the LDP policy, an unhealthy and tense situation developed in the local community.

“Ojii and Obaa” (grandfathers and grandmothers) in Henoko, backed by various supporters, have continued a sit-in campaign, against the construction of the Futenma replacement facility, for their children and grandchildren for fourteen years. This prolonged sit-in has effectively blocked progress on the project.

In the Nago mayoral election this past January, a candidate, who pledged not to allow the construction of a new US military base either on land or sea, was voted into office. Nago citizens, in this election, showed their strong will to fight against the relocation of Futenma Air Station within Okinawa. A majority of Okinawan people were encouraged and proud of the election result, which paved the way for a unanimous decision by the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly to hold the “4. 25 Kenmin-Taikai” (April 25th prefecture-wide rally) in order for the people of Okinawa to express their unwavering clear opposition against the Futenma base relocation within Okinawa.

We have no other recourse than to retrieve the peaceful island life without military bases for our citizens, as well as for the future of Okinawa. To this end, we have decisively concluded that there shouldn’t be any new US military bases constructed within the prefecture. Okinawa is a small island consisting of only 0.6 percent of the total land mass of Japan. Further new construction of military bases shows complete disregard for the human rights of this small community, who have unwillingly hosted the US military for over 60 years. There is also total disregard for the environmental impact which would fatally disrupt the habitat of the endangered Okinawa Dugong in the beautiful ocean surrounding Okinawa.

The danger-plagued FAS should be removed without any delay from Ginowan City. Both governments must prioritize safety and security of the people of Okinawa by abandoning the project and not continuing to promote Okinawa as being essential to regional security and a deterrence to regional threats. We will step up for calling for the removal of dangerous military air operations from Futenma Air Station and immediate closure and return of the base.

Now, we announce our strong resolution to oppose any plan on the base relocation within Okinawa, including the Hatoyama administration plan currently nearing completion. The Japanese Government should review and see the real picture of the plan on the relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and strongly negotiate with the US Government regarding the immediate and unconditional closure of Futenma Air Station.

The Ginowan and Nago City Governments used today’s event to continue working hand-in-hand and cooperate in voicing opposition to the base relocation within Okinawa.

Yoichi IHA
Mayor, Ginowan City
Okinawa, Japan

Susumu INAMINE
Mayor, Nago City
Okinawa, Japan

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action—Transforming Crisis into Compassionate Activism



"Fierce Light" is filmmaker Velcrow Ripper's term for what Martin Luther King called "Love in Action" and Gandhi called "Soul Force." These concepts reflect nonviolent social change philosophy and action rooted in compassion, faith, and what Gandhi called "satyagraha," the power of truth.

Ripper's 2008 documentary Fierce Light: Where Spirit Meets Action tells several stories that show the victories of grassroots activists relying on nonviolent methods against seemingly overwhelming forces of hate, oppression, greed, and violence.

The Canadian director begins his film by sharing his personal reactions to the assassination of his friend, journalist Brad Will, killed by government paramilitary gunmen in Oaxaca, Mexico, while filming a teacher's strike. He then asks himself this question:
Why do I keep working to change the world when we're up against impossible odds and how can I even think about spirituality when they're killing my friends?
The film follows how Ripper and others respond to this question by affirmative attitude and action—regardless of specific outcome. And many of the multi-leveled outcomes are not what they initially appear to be.

Compassionate activists featured include civil rights activist John Lewis, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Archibishop Desmond Tutu, Daryl Hannah, eco-activist Julia Butterfly Hill, Ralph Nader, eco-organizer Van Jones, eco-activist John Quigley, actor Danny Glover, and Engaged Buddhist Joanna Macy.

Congressman Lewis described how spirituality formed the heart of the American Civil Rights Movement. His strategic advice:
Get in the way.
Fierce Light followed the movement to save South Central Farms, an urban cooperative farm and garden project in Los Angeles, in real time. Daryl Hannah, Julia Butterfly Hill and John Quigley joined a mass sit-in of urban farmers who attempted to prevent the eviction and closure of the farm.

Van Jones observed during this struggle:
Our whole species is on trial.
In the episode on war and the wounds of war, Thich Nhat Hahn talks about actions that come from the heart. He emphasizes that war, as with all violence, starts at the level of thought and emotion.
If we want to end the war in the world, we need to end the war in our own hearts.
Two million Vietnamese people and 60,000 Americans died during the Vietnam War. Fierce Light shows Hahn returning to Vietnam in 2007 after 40 years of exile, leading a ceremony to help heal the wounds of war. At dusk, with candles floating on lotus flowers illuminating the sacred space those who have gathered have created, the Buddhist monk invites all the souls of deceased people to gather with them for release.

In the segment on the Civil Rights Movement John Lewis relates how social change for human rights merged with the movement to end the war in Vietnam. During this period, Thich Hahn and Martin Luther King became colleagues in their struggle to show the connections between racism, neo-colonialism, militarism, and war.

How do we stay strong, clear, and focused in our grassroots work to support the shift from a primitive and unsustainable civilization based on structural exploitation and state violence to an affirmative and sustainable civilization based on cooperation?

Congressman Lewis guides us:
We've been in the storm so long, I don't know of any other way—but the way of Love...
The Fierce Love on YouTube offers many inspiring "video diaries" spotlighting Aung San Suu Kyi & Alan Clements (the first American ordained Buddhist priest in Burma) and the movement for democracy in Burma; the creation of Bat Nha monastery and its persecution by the Vietnamese government; Congressman John Lewis; the World Social Forum; and Gandhi's Phoenix Ashram and Robben Island in South Africa; and more.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Battleground Okinawa" — Sonia Narang reports on Okinawan opposition to U.S. military bases

For the most part, the English-language news media has ignored the voices of the people in the Okinawan struggle against Washington and Tokyo's imposition of military bases on their island. The focus, is, instead upon the interactions between Prime Minister Hatoyama and the Obama administration. This narrow approach effectively distracts their audience from the urgent and unanimous Okinawan appeal for no more bases.

Sonia Narang, a journalist with the Global Post defies this trend with her video report "Battleground Okinawa —Tensions between Locals and Political Leaders Rise over a US Miltary Base." In this seven-minute video filmed during Prime Minister Hatoyama's visit to Okinawa in the beginning of May, she outlines the situation in Okinawa through interviews with local people, Ginowan City Mayor Iha, U.S. military personnel, and academics, highlighting how policy leaders and U.S. military officials are out of touch with the day-to-day experience of Okinawans living near the bases.

One protester appeals for a base-free Okinawa for future generations


Mayor Iha expresses his disappointment over Hatoyama's broken promise to move Futenma Air Field out of Okinawa



A resilient protester dedicated to ensuring that Washington and Tokyo no longer force bases on Okinawa


The fragile ecosystem at beautiful Henoko Bay at risk from the U.S. military base expansion proposal


Fumiko Shimabukuro has been engaged in sit-ins at the relocation site for over 2000 days

Unable to live surrounded by noise pollution and fear caused by the Futenma Airfield, this
shop owner had no other choice but to move away


More protesters dedicated to the struggle for a base-free Okinawa until the end

Follow this link to watch the entire video.

Sonia's biography and her previous stories for Global Post can be found here:

Sonia Narang covers Japan for GlobalPost. She is a multimedia reporter who previously worked as a video journalist for NBC News, where she reported, filmed, and edited stories for the "Nightly News" and msnbc.com. She was also an associate interactive producer at the PBS international documentary program Frontline/World, where she reported an award-winning multimedia series in rural India. Sonia’s video and print work has also appeared in Forbes, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New York Times Magazine. She has filmed and photographed throughout Asia, and she lived in Japan six years ago.

PBS broadcast "Battleground Okinawa" on "News Hour," its daily news program, and posted the video with a transcript at its website.

—Jen Teeter

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Local government officials, democracy & peace activists form human chain around US Futenma Air Station in demonstration for its removal from Okinawa

                                                                            (Photo: NHK)
Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972, but the Okinawan people's hopes for peace were not fulfilled, and Okinawa was used to strengthen US military power. So, this monument is not an expression of joy nor victory.


-- Inscription on a monument at Kunigami Village, Cape Hedo, in northern Okinawa It's been sixty-five years since the U.S. military first started building their 30 military bases and facilities that now cover 20 percent of the island. It's been thirty-eight years since the U.S. "reverted" Okinawa to Japan, raising the expectation American bases would be closed.

How long will Okinawans wait for freedom, democracy, and peaceful self-determination?

From NHK, "Protesters calling for the closure of the US Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture formed a human chain around the base on Sunday."
The movement, led by local municipalities and peace organizations, coincided with the 38th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan from US occupation.

Despite the rainy weather, the protesters lined the 13-kilometer road surrounding the base, and raised their hands as they called for its closure and voiced their opposition to its relocation within the prefecture.

The organizer says about 17,000 local residents joined the protest along with labor union members from Okinawa and other parts of the country.

It was the first time in 5 years that a human chain had surrounded the base.

A 90-year-old woman who took part said she has lived in the area for 60 years and hopes the base will be gone soon...

The participants in Sunday's protest stressed their opposition to any move that would involve relocation within Okinawa.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

250 March for Okinawa in Kyoto - Saturday, May 15, 2010


Photo courtesy of Kyoto Shinbun. The placard reads "Close the dangerous Futenma Base and return it to the Okinawan people! We will not let you keep moving bases around in Okinawa!-Kyoto Action in Solidarity with the people who live around Futenma Base"


250 people marched in Kyoto Saturday to show their support for the human chain that Okinawans will form around the Marine Air Corps Base at Futenma on Sunday May 16 calling for the removal of the base and abolishment of all bases from Okinawa and Japan.

"Let's create a peaceful Okinawa without military bases."

                  Protest in Okinawa's capital, Naha, on Saturday (Photo: Channel News Asia)

Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972, but the Okinawan people's hopes for peace were not fulfilled, and Okinawa was used to strengthen US military power. So, this monument is not an expression of joy nor victory.

-- Inscription on a monument at Kunigami Village, Cape Hedo, in northern Okinawa Thousands of people rallied for peace, democracy and protection of the dugong and other species threatened by proposed U.S. military base construction in Okinawa this morning of the 38th anniversary of its reversion to Japan from US occupation, as the island seeks to cut its still heavy US military presence.

Around 2,500 people marched in several groups around the subtropical island, chanting: "Let's create a peaceful Okinawa without military bases."

The U.S. reverted Okinawa to Japan on May 15, 1972, following 27 years of official US occupation. The announcement a year earlier resulted in the Okinawan expectation that the U.S. would remove its military bases, but the U.S. and Japan refused to remove them, citing the Japan-US security alliance.

Because of U.S. pressure, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama backtracked on an election pledge made last year to move the noisy and dangerous Futenma Air Base entirely off the island. He has propsed the expansion of this base and its transformation into an even more noisy and dangerous heliport for Osprey aircraft, known for malfunctioning and deadly crahes. The proposed plan would damage a coral reef that is the habitat of the federally protected and critically endangered dugong, a cousin of the manatee. Villagers in Henoko, a fishing village adjacent to the expansion site, have been protesting since the announcement of the U.S.-Japan plan in 1996.

On Sunday, demonstrators will form 13 kilometer- ong (eight miles) human chain around the airbase to protest against the relocation plan.

Half the 47,000 US troops in Japan are stationed in Okinawa. Okinawans have sought to remove the bases since the end of the Second World War, when the U.S. constructed them in anticipation of an invasion of mainland Japan. The bases create noise, pollution, accidents and crimes.

This year, the mayors, prefectural leaders, and people of Okinawa—in democratic unanimity—have demonstrated repeatedly for the closure of Futenma Air Base and in opposition to any new military construction in Okinawa. But the U.S. government has thus far refused to acknowledge and respect democratic process in Okinawa and a U.S. federal judicial ruling on behalf of protection of the dugong habitat.

Center for Biological Diversity Letter protesting new base construction in Okinawa delivered to Prime Minister Hatoyama

On Wednesday, the serendipitous sighting of a dugong off the Nago coast near Henoko in central Okinawa created a cosmic prelude to the orchestra of Okinawan activities accompanying the Peace March this weekend.

Today marks the 38th anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. Okinawans expected that the reversion would result in the closure of U.S. military bases on their island. After this did not happen, Okinawans protested and have demonstrated for peace on the anniversary ever since.

Yesterday members of the Japan Environmental Lawyers Federation hand-delivered a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama demanding the closure of the Futenma military base and protesting its relocation.

This same letter was delivered to President Obama last week and is signed by more than 500 environmental, peace, justice, and religious organizations — demanding the immediate closure of the base and the cancellation of plans to relocate it to Henoko Bay, Okinawa. On May 16, 30,000 Okinawans will create a human chain around the Futenma base’s 11.5-kilometer circumference in a remarkable demonstration against the base relocation.

On April 25, in a stunning display of solidarity and perseverance, more than 90,000 citizens of Okinawa, Japan protested the relocation of a U.S. military base on their tiny island.

Concurrently, in Washington, D.C., members of the Network for Okinawa — of which the Center for Biological Diversity is a member — rallied in front of the Japanese Embassy in support of the Okinawa protest. Meanwhile, the network and the Tokyo-based Japan-U.S. Citizens for Okinawa Network sponsored a full-page ad in The Washington Postaimed at reaching a larger U.S. audience.

Despite these highly visible demonstrations—on behalf of democracy and environmental protection—against the relocation, and a campaign promise to remove the base from Okinawa, Prime Minister Hatoyama, under heavy U.S. pressure, reiterated that the base will be relocated to Henoko Bay, Okinawa. This beautiful coastal area is a habitat for more than 1,000 species of fish; almost 400 types of coral; three species of turtle; and the beloved Okinawa dugong, a rare relative of the manatee.

As Center Conservation Director Peter Galvin explains: “Destroying the environmental and social well-being of an area, even in the name of ‘national or global security,’ is itself like actively waging warfare against nature and human communities. We implore the U.S. and Japanese governments to cancel any plans to construct or expand military airbases in the last remaining Okinawa dugong habitat.”

Learn more about the Center’s campaign to close Futenma.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Prime Minister Hatoyama gives up May 31st deadline; targets mainland Japan for Futenma "replacement" base

Today NHK also reported on Prime Minister Hatoyama's acknowledgement that he will not be able to persuade Okinawans to accept a new base in Okinawa by May 31st.

In a related story, Hatoyma announced he is seeking alternative sites for the "replacement" base for the U.S. Marines at Futenma within mainland Japan.
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is to ask prefectural governors across Japan to cooperate in accepting some functions of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Okinawa.

Hatoyama met in Tokyo on Thursday with Fukuoka Governor Wataru Aso, who leads the National Governors' Association. Hatoyama asked Aso to open a governors' meeting within the month.

The prime minister said that his government is making various efforts to relocate the Futenma base, and that he wants to ask the governors in person to accommodate some functions of the US military facility.
Major U.S. bases in mainland Japan include Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture in northern Honshu Island; the joint U.S.-Japanese Yokota Air Base complex in Tokyo; Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo; Iwakuni Marine Air Base near Hiroshima (this base is doubling in size to include personnel formerly stationed at Atsugi Air Base near Tokyo which is closing because of complaints about crime and noise); and Sasebo Naval Base near Nagasaki.

The U.S. also maintains munitions depots, communication bases, port facilities, warehouses, and firing ranges thoughout Japan.

NHK: Conservationists oppose latest base proposal

A May 13 report, "Conservationists oppose base relocation plan," from NHK:
A conservation group says it opposes the Japanese government's plan to build an offshore elevated platform for relocating a US air base in Okinawa Prefecture. It says it would have a serious impact on the environment.

The World Wide Fund for Nature Japan released a statement saying that constructing a runway on pilings in shallow waters in Okinawa will seriously affect seaweed beds and coral reefs.

The WWF also says it will endanger dugong, a rare marine mammal, which feed on seaweed.

Referring to another plan to partially transfer some US base functions to Tokunoshima Island in neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture, the group says the effect on coral reefs and migratory birds will be inevitable.

It says it is concerned that constructing a new facility will put species inherent to the Okinawa area at risk of extinction.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Okinawan democratic Mojo: 13-kilometer human chain on May 16th

Okinawans are readying for a 13-kilometer human chain in the latest demonstration of their fourteen-year demand for the closure of Futenma Air Base and for no more military base construction on Okinawa.

Saturday marks the 38th anniversary of Okinawa’s return to Japan by the United States. Okinawans expected that the 1972 "reversion" would result in the closure of U.S. military bases throughout their island. They've been protesting on the anniversary since then. Tens of thousands of Okinawans are expected to participate in the annual Peace March that begins Friday in northern Okinawa and ends Saturday afternoon at a rally in Ginowan Seaside Park.

From NHK:
The Japanese government plans to build a pile-supported runway in the coastal area of US Camp Schwab in Nago city, Okinawa. It also hopes to move Futenma's helicopter unit to Tokunoshima island, in Kagoshima Prefecture.

The people of Ginowan and other municipalities accommodating US bases, together with peace activists, plan to surround Futenma Air Station with a human chain on Sunday to demand its removal.

The event's organizers are calling for more than 30,000 participants, as the air field has a circumference of 11.5 kilometers...

On Tuesday, the Okinawa prefectural assembly confirmed it would demand that the government continue efforts to move functions of the Futenma base out of the prefecture, or out of the country.
How have Okinawans maintained their zeal for freedom and democracy during the fourteen-years they've protested despite relentless authoritarian oppression by the U.S. and Japanese military-industrial-governmental-complexes?

It's because Okinawans have mojo: the positive and purposeful energy that flows from doing what's right. That's why and their millions of supporters worldwide are drawn to them and their cause.

Mark Harrison, of the United Methodist Church—when asked why they were supporting Okinawans, answered with one word: "Democracy."

Why have the U.S. and Japanese governments remained ossified in their Okinawan policy for fourteen years?

The U.S. and Japan are fixated in what historian Barbara Tuchman called a "mental standstill" in The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, a study of the recurring pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests. The cause is always the impotence of reason in the face of greed and moral cowardice. The result is always cynicism and a loss of citizens' trust in government:
In the first stage, mental standstill fixes the principles and boundaries governing a political problem.

In the second stage, when dissonances and failing function begin to appear, the initial principles rigidify. This is the period when, if wisdom were operative, re-examination and rethinking and a change of course are possible, but they are as rare as rubies in a backyard.
Tuchman concludes that "to recognize error, to cut losses, to alter course, is the most repugnant option in government." It is also the wise and effective route.

During the Vietnam War, millions of people in the U.S. and around the world protested to convince the U.S. government to stop its destructive policies. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, millions of people around the world protested, trying to convince the U.S. to stop. Now U.S. destructive policies continue in Iraq and have spread to Afghanistan.

In both situations, the millions of people at the grassroots were right—just as are the local elders of Henoko, Okinawans across the island, and their millions of environmentalist, democratic, and faith-based supporters around the world are now right to steer the U.S. and Japanese governments away from destructive folly and towards flexibility and respect for democracy.

(For more information on the human chain and the Osprey aircraft (the noisy, crash-prone "Widow-maker") U.S. Marines want to bring to Yanbaru Forest and the Nago coast, read Martin Frid's comprehensive post at the Kurashi Blog.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SDP, all of Okinawa, (& millions of people in the U.S., Japan & rest of the world) oppose Washington-Tokyo dealings

Jun Hongo of the Japan Times reports "Hatoyama plans return to Okinawa."
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is planning to go back to Okinawa Prefecture around May 23 and formally propose his plan for the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, government sources said Tuesday...

While it appears unlikely an agreement will be reached by Hatoyama's self-imposed May 31 deadline, Japan and the United States are scheduled to hold working-level talks Wednesday in Washington to discuss a plan to move some of Futenma's operations to Camp Schwab in Nago, Okinawa, as well as Tokunoshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture...

But an agreement between Japan and the United States on the relocation won't be enough to fully resolve the contentious issue...

The Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), both minor coalition partners of the Democratic Party of Japan, oppose Hatoyama's plans.

The pacifist SDP is unyielding and insists on removing Futenma from the country, while Kokumin Shinto has expressed reservations about a proposed elevated runway on pilings in the sea off Camp Schwab.
Read the full story here.

Of course, all of Okinawa, hundreds of thousands in Japan, and millions people worldwide who make up the membership of the NGOs in the Network for Okinawa coalition also insist on the unconditional removal of Futenma and no new military base construction in Okinawa and Tokunoshima.

Seva Haiti Project: Communities unite in Tokyo to raise funds, awareness for earthquake survivors


If it is true that tragedy’s silver lining is found in people uniting to create healing in its aftermath, one heartwarming example occurred last month in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. A collection of NGO supporters, medical workers, yoga enthusiasts, and artistic performers gathered inside Joenji Buddhist Temple on a balmy Friday evening for a common purpose: supporting those who continue to suffer following Haiti’s massive earthquake.

“I have many close friends in Haiti, and felt so hopeless being unable to do absolutely anything for them following the disaster,” said event coordinator Miki Suita, who has spent considerable time in the country learning traditional Haitian dance. “I decided to engage my yoga community in a fundraising event organized around the concept of ‘seva, a Sanskrit word meaning something like ‘service’ or ‘caring for and cherishing others’, which also provided a natural way to connect with organizations providing humanitarian assistance to Haitans.”

The evening began with ethereal chanting from Shizen Yoga’s Nao Watabe, followed by a relaxing series of yoga poses led by seasoned yoga instructor Kaori Santosima. The group then moved upstairs for a passionate presentation by Sachiko Ozawa, a medical doctor from Yamanashi prefecture and the founding director of Haichi tomo no kai (Friends of Haiti).

Miki Suita speaking to event attendees, assembled inside the temple on their yoga mats. Photo: Kei Hosomi

“Economic sanctions forced people in Haiti to cut down trees for fuel, resulting in severe deforestation that made the impact of this disaster all the worse,” said Dr. Ozawa, who flew to the country immediately following the recent earthquake. Her support for Haitians—which she described as her lifework—was essential following the disaster, particularly since she is one of only a few number of overseas doctors who speaks the Haitian Creole language.

Following Dr. Ozawa’s presentation, Suita danced to the backdrop of traditional Haitian drumming by Tokyo-based artist Gaku Watanabe, who explained that his rhythm was an invocation of the crossroads between dimensions, where mortals may greet both their ancestors and descendants.

Dr. Sachiko Ozawa, right, with traditional Haitian drumming performer Gaku Watanabe. Photo: Miki Suita

Proceeds from this creative, inspiring event, which included the sales of colorful postcards hand-embroidered by Haitian women, raised a total of 128,000 yen for Friends of Haiti’s ongoing work in the country.

Individuals interested in supporting their cause may find more information on membership, volunteering and contributions at the Friends of Haiti website.

--Kimberly Hughes

Monday, May 10, 2010

Where Children can see Totoro: Hirabari Satoyama and COP10

Website designer and book binder Takuya Kamibayashi and film director Hayao Miyazaki find similar inspiration in the Hirabari Satoyama. Miyazaki named the forest "Nagoya no Totori no Mori", or 'Totoro's Forest of Nagoya," after he joined the movement to save this wonderland of biodiversity from developers.

Hirabari Satoyma sits in the middle of a residential area, a five minutes walk from a driving school. It measures only 12 hectares, yet holds three rice fields, bamboo forests, zoukibayashi (wooded areas), and three ponds that provide water to three rice fields.

The satoyama is only 40 minutes away from the site of the tenth Conference of Parties on Biodiversity (COP10) in Nagoya. To appeal to COP10 participants to pressure developers to halt their plans that would destroy Hirabari, Takuya is creating a guide to this picturesque site of sustainable farming maintained in harmony with surrounding ecosystems. This guide will appear as an insert in the next edition of Kyoto Journal.. The special issue--one of the few pieces of English print media available to the international and Japanese audience--will be distributed to all COP10 attendees.

Eric Johnston reports in the Japan Times that shortly after the death of its owner at an advanced age, a real estate developer purchased the land and conveniently received approval to "develop the land" on the last day the mayor, with alleged ties to the real estate bidders, was still in office.

The present mayor Takashi Kawamura publicly denounces the proposed destruction of Hirabari, calling the plans an embarrassment not only to Nagoya, but also Japan. However, he has failed to raise funds to pay off developers, and in December 2009 the mayor ended up granting permission to them to proceed with their plans to demolish the satoyama. The real estate group's conception of development is contrary to sustainable development: it will destroy an ecosystem that has supported wildlife and human communities for decades.

During several trips to the area, Takuya has interviewed local citizens about the importance of Hirabari Satoyama in their lives:
When the city mayor was replaced, the development was put on hold, but last year December, it resumed. What is obvious is there are all the dirty hook-ups in back, and there actually are. With this in my mind, I interviewed Ms. Fujioka, a Nagoya resident and one of the primary members of Hirabari Satoyama Conservancy (HSC).

I asked her, "What do you want to emphasize the most about Hirabari Satoyama to the people who do not know about this place yet?"

She replied, "How fun and how much this Satoyama can offer to the local residents and especially to the kids. This Satoyama ecosystem provides not only a place to run around, but to learn how the nature relates to us. And at Hirabari Satoyama, children don't have to go far from home. They can learn right outside of their rooms."

I answered, "But there seems to be so many wrong things going on behind the scenes. Don't you want to let people know about that also?"

She replied to me that the most important thing about Hirabari Satoyama is what it means to children.

Before I was assigned to make a slip-in for Kyoto Journal COP10 issue, I didn't even know what Satoyama was. After witnessing and experiencing the nature of Satoyama, I finally understood the reasons of HSC's activities.

I saw two boys taking a walk in Hirabari Satoyama, and I asked them why they came. They simply said, "because we saw a forest and we wanted to see inside."

A mother taking her two daughters on a walk told me that it was her regular sampo (walk) course. Her daughter, Nana Kito, sang me "Nanohana no Uta' (song of the rape blossoms), and ran around to find dandelion puffballs. I thought then was that kids really can find their fun in Satoyama.

The area that kids can engage with nature now is so much smaller than that of adults. There used be urayama (backyard mountains) all over Japan. Now, kids in urban area do not have a chance to experience nature like this. That is why Hirabari Satoyama needs to be saved.

We adults cannot see Totoro; it is only visible to children.

I am now contributing to the next issue of Kyoto Journal to get more people to think what we are about to cut down. Is it only the trees, or is it more?

I hope many spectacular articles in the magazine and my slip-in will be triggers to bring more interest in environmental issues in the reader's local areas.

To find out how you can support community efforts to stop the bulldozing of Hirabari Satoyama, please visit this website: http://www.wa.commufa.jp/~hirabari/index_english.html

-- Posted by Jen Teeter

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nuclear Power as Dangerous as Nuclear Weapons

Haider Rizvi of IPS, reports on warnings from nuclear non-proliferation experts at the NPT conference in NYC in "Nuclear Power Nearly as Dangerous as Weapons, Critics Say."

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad similarly advocate the proliferation of nuclear energy. The latter argues: "It's clean. It's cheap."

However, experts say that nuclear power and nuclear weapons go hand-in-hand; nuclear energy companies would fail if not for corporate welfare, and hidden costs from environmental degradation and health consequences need to be considered:
The quest for nuclear disarmament is likely to fail if governments and corporations continue to promote nuclear technologies as a solution to the world's energy needs, say independent experts.

"If you believe that by spreading nuclear power around the world you could stop proliferation of weapons, then you are over-optimistic. It's unlikely to happen," he said David Krieger, president of the U.S.-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Their warning comes as international talks on the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) continue here at U.N. headquarters in New York. The review meeting on the 1970 treaty is due to conclude by the end of this month.
Read the rest here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Monju resumes operation after 14 years; Citizens' Nuclear Information Center calls this playing "Russian Roulette"

The governor of Fukui prefecture has allowed the fast experimental breeder nuclear reactor Monju to resume operation after a suspension of more than 14 years. The reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, in western Japan, was activated today.

Monju was shut down after a sodium leak from its coolant system caused a fire in December 1995. Authorities attempted a cover-up, but accurate information from the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center allowed Japanese citizens and the world to know what really happened.

Local residents filed a lawsuit against the government, asking for the nullification of the original permission to build the reactor at Monju. In 2003, they prevailed at the level of Kanazawa branch of the Nagoya High court (the first Japanese public victory in a lawsuit concerning a nuclear reactor). The court reasoned the safety screening of a government agency before the reactor's construction was inadequate. However, in 2005, the Japanese Supreme Court reversed this ruling. Local resident and scientific opposition have not abated.

The Citizens' Nuclear Information Center likens the re-opening of Monju to a game of chance:
From a safety perspective, if anything the danger of operating Monju is even greater than it was before the sodium accident. During the fourteen years that Monju has been sitting idle, pipes and equipment would have degraded. However, it is impossible to check for cracks and holes throughout the whole plant, especially where sodium prevents visual inspection. Furthermore, Japan Atomic Energy Agency's (JAEA) attitude has not changed. Its instinct is still to cover up problems, as evidenced by its proposal not to report false alarms of sodium leaks. The condition of the plant and the nature of the operator both suggest that more trouble lies ahead. To restart Monju now would be like playing Russian roulette.

Regarding cost, Monju is one of Japan's most wasteful projects. If the government is serious about redirecting taxpayers' money to where it is most needed, it should not wait for further troubles to arise before withdrawing support for Monju and the FBR program.
There is also the enormous problem of nuclear waste and proliferation.
Japan's fuel cycle program, of which Monju is a key part, represents a serious nuclear proliferation problem. The rationale for Japan separating plutonium from spent nuclear fuel was to supply its FBR program, but there were warnings from all around the world about the massive stockpile of surplus plutonium that Japan would accumulate in the process. (See for example an article in NIT 20, Nov./Dec. 1990 by Jinzaburo Takagi entitled "Plutonium: 50 Years on".) These warnings were proved correct. Japan now has about 47 tons of separated plutonium, nearly 10 tons of which is stockpiled in Japan. The rest is held in France and the UK. Regardless of Japan's own intentions, this plutonium stockpile sets a bad example for other would-be nuclear proliferators.
The Citizens' Nuclear Information Center continues to have the best and most comprehensive coverage of Monju, including an appeal by Japanese scientists who describe the restart reparation as "sloppy."
There are almost no examples world-wide of reactors being restarted after such a long shut down, and there are no such examples for FBRs.

Monju's operator, the JAEA, claims that preparations are complete and the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) has approved the restart. However, hardly any checks of coolant system piping, tests to detect non-penetrating cracks and holes in the steam generator heat transfer tubes, or studies of the integrity of fuel assemblies in the reactor core have been undertaken, so there is no knowing what defects might be lurking.

In the course of preparations to restart Monju, it was discovered by accident, as a result of false alarms, that hundreds of contact-type sodium detectors had not been checked. Also, corrosion of the exhaust duct was left untreated. Problems such as these exposed the sloppy nature of the preparations and the restart date was extended on four occasions. There is no guarantee that other important checks have not been missed. Nor do we believe that organizational issues related to problem response, such as frequent late reporting, have been rectified. Many experienced people have left, giving rise to human resource problems. Under these circumstances it is dangerous to restart Monju. We believe there is a big risk of another accident.

It was resumed after a shutdown of 14 years and 5 months, following last month's approval by the Fukui governor.

A fast-breeder reactor generates electricity by burning plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel, while turning unburned uranium in the reactor core into plutonium.
Ironically, the creators named this now decrepit and always problematic reactor after the Buddhist bodhisattva of wisdom.

This Sept. 24, 2009 post is about Takagi Jinzaburo, the founder of the Citzen's Nuclear Information Center.

(Update:Monju was closed three months after opening, after a 3.3-ton fuel relay device fell into the pressure vessel when a loose clutch gave way).

--Jean Downey

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Japanese & Okinawan scholars urge Tokyo to stop relocating bases & reconsider revising the Cold War-era US-Japan security arrangement

Okinawan and Japanese scholars, writers, and journalists have written this statement questioning the real issues at hand regarding the Futenma Base and its "replacement" at Henoko and Tokunoshima.

They say that instead of playing musical chairs military base construction throughout Okinawa and Japan--that the Japanese government needs to reexamine its outdated Cold War security agreement with the U.S. They urge a reconsideration of the Japan-US Security Treaty system, including the Status of Forces Agreement and the Guidelines (Japan-US Defence Cooperation Guidelines).
"For the Withdrawal of the US Marines, (Second) Statement on the Futenma Replacement Problem"

The US Marine Air Base at Futenma, set in the middle of a residential district, is the most dangerous base in the world and it should be immediately closed and dismantled. The former LDP government “agreed” with the US on construction of a Futenma replacement base at Henoko in Northern Okinawa (on-shore at camp Schwab), but this amounted to the construction of a large, new base in Okinawa, and so the Okinawan people have taken every opportunity to express their opposition to it.

The Autumn 2009 change of government, and the electoral pledge of the DPJ for [Futenma transfer] “out of Japan or at least out of Okinawa” transformed the situation and gave hope to the Okinawan people. In the January 2010 Nago mayoral election, Inamine Susumu, the candidate opposed to any Futenma relocation, was victorious. In February, the Okinawan Prefectural assembly passed unanimously a resolution calling for “Futenma base to be moved out of Okinawa.” It was supported even by the LDP and Komeito, both of which had hitherto accepted transfer within the prefecture. Also, all 41 Okinawan town and village mayors have called for the base to be shifted out of Okinawa and the conservative-backed Governor, Nakaima Hirokazu, has begun to speak of the outlook for [relocation] within Okinawa as “harsh.” Okinawa has adopted an “all-Okinawa” stance of outright opposition to relocation within the prefecture.

However, the Hatoyama government, having postponed any “decision” until May 2010, has begun to move in the direction of a resolution of the matter on a “within Okinawa” basis, with plans for a Camp Schwab land-based structure and for reclamation off the Katsuren peninsula.

Deeply concerned over the moves by the Government, we issue the following Statement.

(The first group of 18 signatories listed below are those over whose names the January 2010 statement by scholars and intellectuals was issued. The second group comprises 20 scholars and intellectuals from Okinawa. Since they have also issued previous statements in Okinawa demanding withdrawal of the Marines, this Joint Statement may be considered a “Second Statement” for both.)

1. We oppose not just the Henoko land-based Camp Schwab plan and the Katsuren peninsula offshore plan, but all plans for Futenma base transfer within Okinawa. Okinawa’s burden must not be made heavier. Okinawa’s feelings must not be ignored. Okinawa’s environment must not be destroyed.

2. At the House of Representatives election in 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan’s position was for Futenma transfer “outside Japan, or at least outside Okinawa.” In the Nago City mayoral election, it supported the candidate, Inamine Susumu, who opposed any move to Henoko, and he was victorious. If the DPJ was to decide now on a transfer within Okinawa it would be a clear breach of promise and a betrayal of the people of Japan and the people of Okinawa. Even taking for granted the current US-Japan security treaty system, the Hatoyama government must make the utmost effort to explore the possibilities of relocation beyond Okinawa.

3. One proposal is that, in the event of there being no place, either elsewhere in Japan or in Okinawa, that will accept a Futenma transfer, Futenma air base should continue being used as it is now. This must not be allowed. This dangerous base that threatens the lives and livelihoods of the people living in its vicinity must be promptly closed.

4. Should it be the case that, after searching for a relocation site elsewhere in Japan, there is no place ready to accept the base, that would mean that the people of Japan have no desire to have any Marine base and in that case there would be no alternative but for the US Marines to quit Japan completely. It would mean that the people of Japan had the will to play a positive role in building peace and security in East Asia without the US marines. The US would have to respect the will of the Japanese people.

5. What the Hatoyama government has been intent on, and what the media attention has concentrated on, is the search for a (new) “base site.” Is it really this that we should be concentrating on at this time?

Is it not rather necessary for us to cast doubt on the notions of “deterrence,” “enemy,” “alliance” as they exist in Cold War logic, and to cast off their spell? Notions of “common security” and “human security” now emerge in international society and become a major force pushing for dissolution of Cold War hostilities.

What we should be questioning is not how to shuffle US bases around by finding new sites but the very structure under which US bases are kept in Okinawa and on the mainland and the US military is allowed to use them as it wishes. The US-Japan Security Treaty is a relic of the Cold War era. There has never been a better time than now to undertake a fundamental reconsideration of the Japan-US Security Treaty system, including the Status of Forces Agreement and the Guidelines (Japan-US Defence Cooperation Guidelines). We call on the government and people of Japan to begin this task.

Issued by:

Chiba Shin, Professor of Political Thought, International Christian University
Endo Seiji, Professor of Politics, Seikei University
Harashina Sachihiko, Professor of Environmental Planning, Tokyo Institute of Technology
Kamo Toshio, Professor of Politics, Ritsumeikan University
Kawase Mitsuyoshi, Professor of Ecomomics, Kyoto Prefectural University
Koseki Shoichi, Professor of Law,  Dokkyo University
Kobayashi Masaya, Professor of Politics, Chiba University
Komori Yoichi, Professor of Japanese Literature, Tokyo University
Miyamoto Kenichi, Professor Emeritus of Osaka City University, Former President of Shiga University
Mizusima Asaho, Professor of Law, Waseda University
Maeda Tetsuo, Critic
Nishikawa Jun, Professor Emeritus of Waseda University
Nishitani Osamu, Professor of Philosophy, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Okamoto Atsushi, Editor in chief of Magazine SEKAI
Teranishi Shunichi, Professor of Economics, Hitotsubashi University
Uzawa Hirofumi, Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University
Yamaguchi Jiro, Professor of Politics, Hokkaido University
Wada Haruki, Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University

Arasaki Moriteru, Professor Emeritus of Okinawa University
Gabe Masaaki, Professor of International Relations, University of the Ryukyus
Hiyane Teruo, Professor Emeritus of University of Ryukyus
Miki Ken, Journalist
Miyazato Seigen, Representative, Okinawa External Study Group
Miyazato Akiya, Journalist
Nakachi Hiroshi, Professor of Administrative law, Okinawa University
Nakazato Isao, Journalist
Ohshiro Tatsuiro, Writer
Ohta Masahide, Former Governor of Okinawa Prefecture
Sakurai Kunitoshi, Professor of Environmental Planning, Okinawa University
Shimabukuro Jun, Professor of Political Science, University of Ryukyus
Shinjo Ikuo, Professor of Japanese Literature, University of Ryukyus
Takasato Suzuyo, Former Vice Chairperson, Naha City Assembly
Takara Ben, Poet, Critic
Takara Tetsumi, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Ryukyus
Teruya Hiroyuki, Professor of Public Administration, Okinawa International University
Tomikawa Moritake, Professor of Economics, Okinawa International University
Yamashiro Noriko, Journalist
Yui Akiko, Journalist