Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Coalition for Peace on the Korean Peninsula ask for calm and more investigation re the mysterious sinking of S. Korean warship Cheonan

From Narae Lee of Peace Boat USA:
The Statement on the Current State of Affairs for Peace on the Korean Peninsula

We, Korean civil society, gather here today to overcome the crisis and conflicts caused by the Cheonan incident and to take a major step forward toward our goal of democracy, co-existence and peace.

Since the South Korean Cheonan navy warship mysteriously sank on March 26th, our society has grieved the tragic incident together, and tried to clarify the cause and to provide comprehensive countermeasures to prevent its recurrence.

However, a handful of governmental and military officials have tightly controlled the relevant information in the name of military secrets and national security, checking these voluntary acts of citizens to find out the truth of the incident. Despite the fact that the Lee Myung-bak administration kept warning of a premature conclusion, the administration released the resulting reports which contained a number of unexplained hypotheses and caused questions before necessary investigations were finished. The investigation was conducted by the military which should have been reprimanded. In addition, without allowing enough time for the public and the National Assembly to review the investigation, the Lee administration unilaterally announced dangerous diplomatic and military countermeasures against North Korea without a national agreement. These are the types of measures that make ineffective the ‘peaceful crisis-management system’, which has been gradually established since the “July7 Declaration” by the Roh Tae-woo administration. As a result, the Korean Peninsula is facing the most devastating tensions since the end of the military regime. As a result, the Korean Peninsula is facing the most devastating tensions since the end of the military regime.

Do you think that such impetuous and dogmatic measures by the Lee administration are helping to resolve the situation? Instead, those actions are shaking the very foundation of the systems of peace and prosperity, which would secure the future of the Korean Peninsula. Amid the international economic crisis, our economy was slowly recovering but now it is faltering again. The efforts of the Six-Party-Talks as well as the denuclearization of North Korea are missing in the Lee administration’s enforcements of military and economic countermeasures against North Korea.


Did you witness such military tension when peace and engagement policies were consistently pursued in the past? Now we are at crossroads and need to decide whether to go back to the adventurism of the Cold War era, which the issue of security was ill-used for politics and blinded people to the truth. Or to take future-oriented peaceful realism, which emphasizes the democratic process, checks on the abuse of the administrative and military power, and seeks ways for peace and co-existence rather than provocative slogans.

In this regard, we express our opinions.

First, both North and South Korea should immediately stop the military confrontation, which will bring the Korean Peninsula to war and economic crisis. The South should withdraw its series of dangerous military measures and economic sanctions against North Korea, which were enforced without debates with the public, the Nation Assembly, and concerned countries. In addition, the North also should refrain from provocative rhetoric and radical military actions but instead cooperate with a rational process of uncovering the truth of the case.

First, we call on the South Korean government to take an additional measure to clarify the facts of the case, which should be able to answer a number of remaining questions regarding the sinking of Cheon-ahn vessel. In that regard, the National Assembly should be given a free hand in clarifying the truth and reviewing the investigations. Furthermore, an international investigation committee - including concerned parties, the United States, and China - should be established so as to ensure the credibility of investigation findings.

First, both the South Korean government and the media should not abuse this case, for the upcoming election, which is directly connected to the safety of people. The government and the majority party should explain if it was necessary to release the premature results of the investigation and to announce military countermeasures. In addition, we urge the government to immediately stop abusing its political and legal power to pressure the voters who raise rational questions to the government’s report and reactions.

We appeal to you!

The crisis on the Korean Peninsula took place without our intention, but we should be responsible to clarify the real cause and seek ways to resolve this problem in an appropriate way. It is directly related to our future of democracy and peace. It is time to call upon your wisdom and courage to achieve peace.

At 3 pm, on May 29, let us show our will to uncover the truth and accomplish real peace on the Korean Peninsula. From today, let’s begin to light up candles for peace of the Peninsula, each and every night.

On June 2, election day we will judge the situations of the country and the time with a sense of ownership and open our future toward democracy, co-existence, and peace for ourselves.

May 26, 2010

The Coalition for Peace on the Korean Peninsula

Creative Korea Party / Democratic Labor Party / Democratic Party / New Progressive Party / The People’s Participation Party / 91 South Korean NGOs

Yayori Awards seek to honor activists, artists, journalists working on women’s issues worldwide

The organizing committee for the Yayori Awards is pleased to announce that nomination forms are now available for the 2010 competition of its program.

The Yayori Awards were created through the final will and funds of the late Yayori Matsui, a well-known journalist and activist on feminist and human rights issues. Her many accomplishments include establishing the Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center (AJWRC), organizing the Violence Against Women in War Network, Japan (VAWW-NET Japan), and acting as a key organizer for the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery held in 2000.

The Yayori Awards are presented during each competition round in two separate categories:

1) The Women's Human Rights Activities Award (commonly referred to as the Yayori Award) is presented to a grassroots-level woman activist, journalist, or artist who works with socially marginalized peoples to solve serious social issues in Asia and other regions, and whose work helps to create a 21st century free from war and discrimination against women.

Nomination forms for this award must be submitted in English. Self-nominations will not be accepted.

2) The Yayori Journalist Award is presented to a woman journalist or artist (either an individual or group) who vividly portrays the situation of women from a global gender perspective.

Self-nominations for this award are acceptable. Since the nominee’s future work shall be subject to publication in Japanese, however, all submissions must be in the Japanese language.
Winners in both categories will receive a certificate and a monetary award in the amount of 500,000 yen. In the event that multiple awardees are selected for the Yayori Journalist Award, the money will be divided amongst all recipients.

Past winners have included a group of women working to bring justice to victims of sexual violence committed during the civil war in Guatemala, a feminist photojournalist from Nepal working on issues of peace and human rights, and numerous others doing important work for empowerment and justice at the grassroots level. The Japan Times did a feature story on the 2008 Yayori Journalist Award winner's work on the fight against nuclear power plants in a Japanese town.

The organizing committee is seeking nominations from around the world for both awards, and will send printed leaflets upon request. The deadline for this year’s competition is August 31, 2010.

Detailed information regarding the awards, including a pamphlet, nomination forms, and list of all past award recipients are all available on the Yayori Award website.

Japanese Anglicans Apologize for Meiji Japan's Invasion of Korea & Pray for Peace for Asia

Anglicans say sorry for Japan’s Korea invasion

June 30, 2010
By Paul Hwang, Seoul
UCA News

Japanese Anglican bishops have agreed to issue an apology for Japan’s annexation of Korea 100 years ago.

The decision was made during a June 28-29 meeting of Japanese and Korean Anglican bishops on Jeju island.

Japan annexed Korea on Aug. 29, 1910 and its occupation lasted until 1945 when World War II ended.

Koreans have accused Japanese forces of wartime atrocities.

During the recent meeting, bishops from both countries agreed that the Japanese bishops would issue an apology on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the annexation.

Japanese Anglicans would also make a pilgrimage to South Korea’s Ganghwa island, a stronghold of the Korean Anglican Church, in October, as a way of repenting for their country’s aggression.

Bishops from both countries also agreed to hold their second “peace meeting” in Okinawa, Japan, in October 2011, to pray for peace in Asia.

The first such meeting was in Paju, near the Demilitarized Zone with North Korea, in 2007.

Participants from the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the Philippines and the United States discussed world peace, focusing on the Korean peninsular in particular.

Eleven Japanese and three Korean bishops participated in the June 28-29 bishops-only meeting, which is held irregularly.

However, a joint committee comprising bishops, priests and laypeople meets every April.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Aquarium plans to take a bite out of Umekoji park - Demonstration in Kyoto, July 15

On July 15, Kyoto City residents will take to the streets to raise awareness about the planned construction of an aquarium in Umekoji Park.

Should construction proceed as planned, this "aquarium," which is more like an glamorized swimming pool, would doom the animals trapped inside to a shorter life-span, and encourage children to embrace a culture of dominance over animals (and others) rather than one of symbiosis and respect.

Thank you Michael Lambe for bringing this to our attention:

Earlier this month (June), despite a strong public outcry from local residents, Kyoto City gave the real estate company Orix permission to build an aquarium on our popular local park.

I think I may have given the impression in my previous post that they were going to build over the entire park. They aren't, but they are going to take a big bite out of it as you can see from the plans below (the planned construction area is shaded in grey at the top of the picture).
Orix has defended the aquarium on the grounds that the facilities will be a chance to use "edutainment" to teach children about nature, the environment, and give them a chance to come into contact with wild animals they would not normally see.

I think it's obvious that a large inland concrete structure filled with fish, penguins and deeply depressed dolphins is about as far away from natural as you can get. Many of the animals will undoubtedly have much shorter lifespans as a result of being kept in captivity. The planned dolphin show is also deeply objectionable, teaching children as it does that it's ok to treat wild animals as if they are toys that exist for our own entertainment. It has also been pointed out that the structure itself will produce vast quantities of CO2.

But above all, destroying much loved green space in favour of an artificial environment and then claiming that this action is environmental is just mind-boggling nonsense!
For more information or to find out about how you can get involved, check out these groups: Thinking for the Future: Umekoji Park/Kyoto Aquarium (Japanese), the Institute of Biodiversity in Japan (Japanese)

OR visit Michael's original post (English) which provides information about the demonstration and ideas on how to bring the international spotlight on the construction plans intended to demolition Kyoto's heritage and abuse animal rights for the sake of "edutainment."

Aquarium plans are in the grey area

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Peaceful New Earth Celebration" in Tokyo spotlights Okinawa, indigenous cultures, sustainability, & global networking

This past Sunday afternoon, the normally boisterous outdoor stage area in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park was silent except for the sound of a Native American flute. The slow, penetrating melody was soon joined by rhythmic drumming and chanting, which gradually rose to an energetic crescendo. The musicians—all Japanese people with intimate connections to North American indigenous cultures—were purifying the space with a Lakota Sun Dance ritual in preparation for the day’s event: Peaceful New Earth Celebration.

Supported by Peace Not War Japan and Spring Love Harukaze, the celebration was the inaugural event for the Neo Ryuku Arc Network. The organization was recently formed in response to the critical issue of the Japanese and U.S. governments declaring plans to construct military facilities in Okinawa and Tokunoshima—both part of the Ryukyu archipelago—despite the strong objections of local citizens. The day’s events included a morning peace parade through Tokyo’s busy Shibuya district, followed by a lineup in the park of talented musical performers and talk sessions on militarism and peace-related issues.

Sun Dance ceremony performers Arakawa Shizuka, who lived among the Lakota and married a medicine man, and Nonaka Katsumi, who has close connections with the Hopi in Black Mesa, Arizona

“The purpose of the Sun Dance is to give thanks to the sun and the universe, and to pray that all living beings may live together in peace,” explained performer Arai Norihito. An ecologist, Arai was invited to join the Lakota tribe as a family member following a chance encounter in South Dakota, United States where members heard him singing. “Since the Sun Dance is traditionally performed during the summer solstice, the timing could not have been more perfect to coincide with this event’s call for peaceful relations in Okinawa, Japan, the Asia-Pacific, the United States, and elsewhere.”

“My own roots are from Jewish settlers who came to Japan, which is, in fact, not at all a homogenous country, as some would claim,” Arai remarked following the ceremony. “I believe that this diversity represents the potential for us all to unite together in peace—both within Japan and beyond.” Arai's own organization, Peace Seed, promotes seed-saving and biodiversity programs, and also supports sustainable community gardening on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota through its "Lakota Peace Garden" project.

Peace Seed's Arai Norihito

"Recent events have made it clear that anyone could be targeted by the U.S. military at any time," commented Neo Ryuku Arc Network organizer Akazaki Hitomi following the ceremony. "Standing up to the United States government is no small undertaking, and so we must put our strengths together with other peace movements overseas. In doing so, we must use the positive energy of the indigenous cultures from our islands—where we have lived in harmony with nature for centuries—to help us ensure a peaceful future.”

Akazaki Hitomi

Peace Not War Japan’s Fukui Hiroshi spoke next, explaining the reasoning for the festival’s timing:
Humanity is now at an urgent crossroads: Will we continue to relate to each other within the framework of militarism, or will we make the shift to more sustainable, ecological, and peaceful ways of living?

The situation in Okinawa is at the center of this question, and it is therefore critical that we utilize our democratic rights at this time to continue speaking out for peace.

We must also reach beyond the limitations of the mass media to forge connections with peace movements in places such as Guam and Hawaii, where similar struggles against U.S. military bases are also taking place.
After a spirited performance from roots reggae singer Ailie and Native American flautist Masago Hideaki, seasoned activist Sakata Masako from the Kenju no kai (an organization to protect Mt. Takao) gave an impassioned, heartfelt speech drawing connections between the anti- military base struggle and her own lifework to save the mountain (located an hour from Tokyo) from highway tunnel construction.

Ailie, Masago Hideaki,and a belly dance performer

“When governmental ministries prioritize the perceived need for things like military bases and highways over the lives that stand to be annihilated as a result, it shows how far they have become disconnected from the existence of life itself,” she asserted. “Military bases are used for the purpose of war, which translates into the reality of wounded and maimed children in other lands—just as tunnels through mountains spell death for countless living beings. We must never forget this fundamental truth.”

“As the host nation for the COP10 conference coming up in October, it is an absolute contradiction that Japan has plans to destroy the biodiversity existing in places like Henoko and Mt. Takao,” she concluded. “This represents an enormous opportunity for our movements to take a giant step forward.”

Sakata was then joined onstage by two representatives from Yuntaku Takae, a Tokyo-based group offering support to the sit-in movement to stop the construction of U.S. military helipads near Takae Village in Okinawa’s Yanbaru “Broccoli” Forest.

“In an attempt to spread fear within our movement, the government sued members of our nonviolent sit-in protest movement—including an eight year-old child and the spouse of a protester, who was not even on the scene at the time—and forbid us from doing any further activism or blogging,” explained one of the speakers. “We have managed to continue our sit-in, but since the government is threatening to resume their watch over our actions beginning in July, we need all the assistance we can get. We gratefully welcome supporters to Takae to come join our movement.”

Sakata Masako (center) with Yuntaku Takae representatives (photo left) Information from the struggle to protect Takae Village (above)

Next onstage was Tei Kazuma, a singer/songwriter from Tokunoshima Island. Introducing his opening number, “Hito no hatake” (“Peoples’ Farms”), he explained, “I wrote this piece as a tribute to people whose farms have been in their families for generations—including my own—but are now being threatened with destruction by U.S. military facility construction plans.” A video of Tei performing the song, which includes footage from protest demonstrations on Tokunoshima and stunning scenery from the island, may be viewed here.

Tei Kazuma

Tei’s performance was followed by a talk on the military base issue from an ecological perspective given by Hoshikawa Jun, the director of Greenpeace Japan. “The reasoning behind recent lawsuits has held that military base construction—with all of its resulting destruction to the dugong and the region's biodiversity—would never be allowed in the United States, and so by the same logic, it most certainly should not be permitted in Okinawa either,” he commented. He also explained the activities of the Japan-US Citizens for Okinawa Network (JUCON), of which he is a member. JUCON's counterpart in the U.S., Network for Okinawa, recently released an official statement on the U.S. military base relocation issue that may be read here.

Hoshikawa, who was born in Tokyo but identifies as a Ryukyu islander after having spent more than thirty years living in the region, has a fascinating background as a translator and writer on topics such as peace and Native American spirituality. “View from Two Ground Zeros”, his deeply thought-provoking 2004 piece on the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and anti-American sentiment, may be read on here.

Hoshikawa Jun (right), who was joined onstage by Arakawa Shizuka and Arai Norihito

The next talk session, “Okinawa, Gaza and Militarism,” featured journalists May Shigenobu and Shiva Rei, both of whose work has focused closely on Palestinian-related issues. Both were invited to speak at the event in light of the recent deadly attack by the Israeli military on the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid ship traveling to Gaza.

"The recent attack represents only the surface level of much deeper lying issues represented by Gaza and the Palestinian occupation itself, which must continue to be addressed," explained Shigenobu. “We must also understand the occupation as a fundamental violation of human rights. Would we tolerate the idea of Tokyo being put under lockdown, with no food or supplies being allowed inside? If people can imagine this happening to themselves, they will understand the urgent need to act against the injustices that are now being committed against Palestinians.”

Shiva Rei commented next on the similarities between the Okinawan and the Palestinian experience. “While the day-to-day realities are obviously extremely different, comparisons may be drawn simply with regard to the shared status of living under occupation in a militarized region,” he explained. “We must go back in history and look at how both the Ryukyu people and the Palestinians have been oppressed by their occupiers in the process of establishing these systematized inequalities.”

“It is obvious that that the U.S. remains in Okinawa not because its military bases are necessary, but because it is such a cozy operation for the U.S., with Japan heavily subsidizing its presence,” continued Shigenobu. “The fear-based policy that the U.S. government has perpetuated since 9-11 has enabled it to engage in massive military spending, while also painting North Korea as a threat. The real truth, however, is that the U.S—with its endless appetite for wars and its history as the only nation on earth to have used the atomic bomb—is the country that people should be afraid of.”

Shiva Rei and May Shigenobu

The event included several more performances, including an unscheduled reading of US for Okinawa member Rob Pott’s catchy, piercingly worded hip-hop poem “Okinawa o shiranai” ("Unknown Okinawa"), before finishing with two more Ryukyu-themed musical acts. Asazaki Ikue, a traditional folk artist from Amami-Oshima island, first sang a lineup of gorgeous, ethereal, several centuries-old songs that she herself has described in past interviews as “trance-like” and “touching us in a place so deep that only our souls can remember.”

Asazaki Ikue

The event concluded with a spirited performance from Japanese chindon (street performance) band Jintaramuta, who were joined for the final lineup by the Shisas (from “shisa”, the mythological Ryukyu lion-dog), including a folk song that was written by someone whose entire family had been killed in the Battle of Okinawa.

Jintaramuta and Shisas

Peace Not War Japan’s Hiroshi Fukui reminded attendees that with constitutional elections coming up on July 11th, people have an opportunity to choose politicians who will implement the ideals of peace and sustainability that underscored the day’s event. “This is our democratic right—and we have the responsibility to exercise it.”

The event finished with video messages from Okinawan singer and popular peace icon Kina Shoukichi, as well as Ginowan City Mayor Iha Youichi and several mayors from towns on Tokunoshima Island. A powerful message of solidarity was also read onstage that had been received from Hawaii activist Kyle Kajihiro on the occasion of the recent Spring Love Harukaze event , underscoring the network's commitment to collaborating with peace networks overseas.

Peaceful New Earth Celebration was followed on hundreds of Twitter reports throughout the day, and was also recorded and broadcast live on UStream--reportedly being Sunday’s top watched program in all of Japan.. The stream is available here.

The Neo Ryuku Arc Network is planning several upcoming events, including one in Tokyo to coincide with the Peace Music Festa to be held in Henokohama, Okinawa this coming October. Watch for details!

US for Okinawa's Rob Pott performing “Okinawa o shiranai

Masayan, whose traveling shop features his own handmade crafts using all natural materials, such as bracelets using woven grass, natural dyes of persimmon and indigo, and hand-picked mountain seeds

- Text and photos by Kimberly Hughes

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Masahide Ota: "The war is still going on for the people in Okinawa."

Today Okinawans commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa, an ongoing battle for their island they are now fighting against former enemies who killed 90,000 Okinawan civilians and who refuse to leave.

Former Governor Masahide Ota describes the situation and collective feelings of Okinawans in this eloquent essay published in Magazine 9, "The war is still going on for the people of Okinawa."
After World War II, when I was released from the internment camp, I went around collecting the remains of my friends and teachers who died in the war.
I couldn’t forget about my suffering in the war and the internment camp, and I often woke up from nightmares.
My body and soul were totally worn out, and I didn’t feel like doing anything.
That continued for a whole year, I think.

But one day, a teacher of mine showed me the new constitution, asking, “Have you read this?”
That was in 1947. The constitution read, ”…the Japanese people forever renounce war, and military forces will never be maintained“.
Upon reading this, I was deeply impressed, feeling, “Ah, we will be free from war forever”.
This constitution gave me the power to live.

I can never forget how impressed I was.
That’s why I cannot let anybody change Article 9.
Under no circumstances will I ever agree to changing to changing Article 9.

The younger generation knows nothing about how dreadful war is.
I can’t blame them their lack of experience, but I do feel they should study more.
Even newspaper reporters don’t know what war is actually like.
I fear that the media is changing and becoming dangerous.

In Okinawa, many people who went through extreme conditions under the war are even now experiencing extreme anxiety and depression.
The remains of 4000-5000 dead Okinawans have yet to be collected.
Unexploded bombs are all over, without being treated.
Some experts says that it will take 50-60 more years to complete the treatment of unexploded bombs of the battles in Okinawa.
Not only that, even after the war, at least 5200 Okinawans have been the victims of crimes committed by American soldiers.

Thus the war is still going on for the people in Okinawa.
Why shall we start preparing for a new war, while the old war is not over yet?

I truly don’t understand.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe calls for reduction in U.S. bases, in compliance with Article 9

Yesterday The Mainichi Daily News reported "Nobel laureate Oe calls for reducing U.S. bases in Okinawa" in compliance with Article 9, the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause:
Kenzaburo Oe, the 1994 Nobel laureate for literature, on Saturday called for reducing U.S. military bases in Okinawa Prefecture and establishing amicable ties with other nations, particularly with China and also with the United States, in accordance with the ideal of the pacifist Constitution.

"While we are under the nuclear umbrella of the United States, the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty will become unnecessary if we could pursue peaceful relations, rather than relying on military deterrence," Oe told some 2,000 people at a meeting of the Article 9 Association in Tokyo. "I want to achieve this."

The meeting was held on the 50th anniversary of the automatic enactment of the revised bilateral treaty on June 19, 1960, following a 30-day Diet stalemate after the government under then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi railroaded the revision.

Oe, one of the nine founders of the association, also said, "I have to ask myself if we have kept the principle of Article 9 and if we have taken advantage of it. I believe it is necessary to recreate the treaty in accordance with our Constitution."

Two other founders of the Article 9 Association also gave speeches at the meeting.

Hisae Sawachi, a prominent writer, told the audience Japan's Self-Defense Forces have huge military capacities now, although armament expenditures must be zero under the Constitution and that people in Japan need to get out of the nuclear umbrella and the SDF powers.

"I hope we can establish new ties with the United States, particularly through transactions with U.S. citizens, and could revise the bilateral security treaty by placing Article 9 as the origin (of the negotiations)," she said.

Article 9 stipulates that Japan forever renounces war "as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes."

It also says, "Land, sea, and air forces as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized."

Another founder, Yasuhiro Okudaira, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo specializing in constitutional studies, said, "Article 9 has inspired us. I'm proud of it."

The participants, meanwhile, mourned late popular playwright Hisashi Inoue, also a founder of the association who succumbed to lung cancer on April 9 this year at the age of 75.

The Article 9 Association was found in June 2004 with the aim to protect the war-renouncing clause of the Constitution, and has generated more than 7,500 like-minded groups across Japan so far.

Japanese former U.S. Marine debunks deterrence myth

Kyodo reporter Shinsaku Yokota's "Japanese ex-marine strives to debunk deterrence 'myth'" reposted at The Japan Times reveals insights from a Japanese former U.S. Marine turned activist. The vet describes American forces as racists and Tokyo as a compliant 'sugar daddy' to the U.S. military:
After he began publicly speaking on the issue of U.S. forces in Okinawa, the fearless ex-marine gained a following among activists and members of university faculties in the prefecture. At their request, he is giving talks about what he perceives to be the injustices of keeping U.S. military installations in Okinawa.

He delivered his first speech as a former marine at Okinawa University in Naha on May 23, the very day then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama paid a visit to the prefecture...

"U.S. Marines are stationed all over the world and they are fighting at this very moment," said Takanashi. "There would be no conflicts if the marines were serving as an effective deterrent." Takanashi argues that the word "deterrent" is a fictitious mantra the government uses to pull the wool over people's eyes.

When asked whether the world would face any difficulty if the marines were not in Okinawa, he said the marines can operate effectively in any place in East Asia, meaning their presence in Okinawa is not indispensable.

"The Marine Corps is still in Okinawa because the United States built its military bases here after Japan's defeat in World War II and the situation has gone unchanged ever since," Takanashi said....

"U.S. soldiers tend to think they won't face criminal charges whatever they do here and also know that it is unfair," Takanashi said. "They don't talk about this because the inequities (inherent in the SOFA) are advantageous for them."

Takanashi argues that their attitude reflects their disregard for human rights and racism. "Japan is like a colony of the United States and the most important issue facing Okinawa is neither military nor political but ethnic," he added.

He is also critical of the way Japan pays money for the U.S. armed forces as host-nation support is squandered.
Read the entire article here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Secret nuclear trade-off deal for Okinawa (NHK Documentary Tonight)

Wakaizumi negotiating secret deal with the U.S. (Image:NHK)

According to the original agreement between Japan and the U.S., Okinawa would be reverted to Japan in 1972 without the presence of nuclear weapons. However, behind the scenes, a Kyoto Sangyo professor, Wakaizumi Kei convinced then Prime Minister Sato Eisaku that Okinawa would not be handed over to Japan unless Japan allowed U.S. nukes on Japanese soil. In 1969, Sato gave Wakaizumi the green light to draft a secret proposal where Japan would eventually concede the condition calling for a nuke-free Japan, in order for it to be reverted to Japanese sovereignty as planned.

On Saturday night, NHK brodcast "The Truth Behind the Reversion of Okinawa." detailing the behind the scenes negotiations.  The documentary film was based on the 1994 memoirs of the late confidential agent Wakaizumi entitled  I wish I could believe there were no other options (Tasaku nakarishi woshinzamuto hossu).  After 25 years of silence, he revealed documents which verified the existence of a secret agreement on nuclear weapons between the U.S. and Japan.

 NHK will air the program in English and Japanese on Monday, June 21st at 8pm, Tokyo Time. That NHK would show a documentary about such a controversial topic bears proof that the majority of people in Japan are disillusioned by and fed up with the games being played with Okinawan lives.

In an introduction to a November 2009 article that appeared in The Asia-Pacific Journal, research professor for Hiroshima Peace Institute Yuki Tanaka demands that any agreement like this based on nuclear deterrence be considered a "crime against humanity":
The revelation of the details of the secret agreements on nuclear weapons in itself cannot bring about a decisive solution to Japan’s nuclear problems, above all since irrefutable evidence has long been available in U.S. documents and circulated widely among Japanese journalists and researchers. The most important question is not the secrecy concerning the U.S. nuclear weapons program in Japan, but the foundations of that secrecy, i.e., Japanese support for the U.S. policy of nuclear deterrence. In the absence of a clear DPJ policy on the issues, it can be expected that similar secret deals will be made to sustain Japanese support for the U.S. policy of nuclear deterrence, including the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Japan....
Thus, the question that requires urgent attention is not whether U.S. nuclear weapons have been or will be brought into Japan secretly, but the entire structure of U.S. nuclear deterrence deployed in Japan. It is precisely this structure that leads American policymakers to view Japan as a “vassal state”; without transforming this policy it will remain impossible Japan’s democracy and freedom of information to function autonomously. If Japan’s new Democratic Party government genuinely wishes to establish an “equal partnership” with the U.S. based upon the principle of national “independence,” it must seriously consider freeing Japan entirely from the U.S. nuclear umbrella and its nuclear deterrence strategy.
It is important to recognize nuclear deterrence policies for what they are: a “crime against peace” as explicated in the Nuremberg principle. This is because “nuclear deterrence” effectively means planning and preparation to commit indiscriminate mass killing, or in other words a “crime against humanity,” using nuclear weapons. In this regard, “nuclear deterrence” is no different from the “nuclear terrorism” that the U.S. and other nuclear powers so strongly condemn.
For more information about the NHK documentary in Japanese, click here. You can watch a preview of the documentary if you click on the grey button on the top right of the page which has a green play button on the left of it (The button reads: 番組予告動画を見る). For information in English, click here.

-Posted by Jen Teeter

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Not Just in Okinawa—Expanding Iwakuni Marine Station on Mainland Japan into the Biggest Air Base in East Asia

On May 5th, the US Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station held an annual event called "Friendship Day for US-Japan amity exchange." 265,000 citizens came to watch acrobatic flights by both the US and Japanese jet fighters above and around a newly constructed runway.

Peace Link Iwakuni, a grassroots group, demonstrated for 24th time—along with Rim Peace Iwakuni. This video from Yamaguchi Broadcasting Station covers the protest.

The expansion of the Iwakuni base began at the same time as the proposed move of the Futenma Marine Base to Henoko, Okinawa—14 years ago. The ostensible reasons were the same: the reduction of noise pollution and possible jet crashes. But the real reason for the relocation was to move runways offshore. Though uncompleted, the total cost for this project is¥250 billion and an additional budget of ¥91,8 billion for a hangar has been appropriated in the annual "Sympathy Budget (for the US stationed forces )." Japanese taxpayers are paying for all the costs of this sympathy towards the U.S. military.

After completion in 4 years, 59 jet fighters, which are currently based in Atsugi Naval Air Facility in Kanagawa, will move to the Iwakuni Base. This will double the base's size, making it the biggest air base in Far East Asia.

Along with the relocation of jet fighters, about 4,000 people (1,900 military personnels and the families) will move from Atsugi to Iwakuni. For their housing, a budget of ¥19.9 billion has been alloted along with the construction costs.

Most of the citizens seemed to enjoy the jet acrobatic event (more FA-18 Super Hornets were seen than usual) without any awareness of the ongoing base expansion. However, opposition camapign groups handed out over 2,000 flyers to passers-by in just 20 minutes. These groups entered the base with some highschool students for on a "Peace Education" tour.

Japan's new administration ran on the platform of the review of the U.S. relocation issue during last general election, but the relocation and expansion plan is being carried out as if there had been no such election promise.

On May 23rd, the Iwakuni Great Rally, grassroots group will hold the Iwakuni Great Rally opposing this US base expansion on May 23rd.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Neo Ryukyu Arc Network Presents “Celebration for a Peaceful New Earth” in Tokyo, Sunday, June 20th

“Celebration for a Peaceful New Earth," scheduled for this Sunday, June 20th, seeks to support the people of Henoko and Tokunoshima—part of the Ryukyu archipelago—in their struggle to halt the construction of U.S. military bases on their islands. The event will feature the incredible power of music from some of Tokyo’s finest performers, plus a series of talk sessions from a number of seasoned grassroots social activists working both locally and around the world.

Come and add your energies and enthusiasm to this event, which promises to leave you inspired on many levels—as well as help us all move closer to the reality of a world based not upon military violence, but rather upon compassion, respect and justice.

Venue: Yoyogi Park Outdoor Stage

Event timetable (performer/speaker times subject to change):

• 10:45 AM: Meet at the Hachiko statue in front of Shibuya station

• 11:00 AM: Peace parade from Shibuya to Yoyogi Park. Bring instruments, colorful clothing, and enthusiasm!

• 12:00〜12:15 Parade arrival ceremony and opening remarks

• 12:15〜13:00  The ARTH (Club/Dub/alternative)

• 13:10〜13:40  Ailie (roots reggae singer) and Masago Hideaki (Indian flute)

• 13:40〜14:25 Speakers: Sakata Masako (Kenji no kai organization to protect Mt. Takao) and a representative from Yuntaku Takae (organization to stop the construction of U.S. military helipads in Takae Village, located in Okinawa’s Yanbaru “Broccoli” Forest)

• 14:25〜14:55  Tei Kazuma (singer/songwriter from Tokunoshima Island)

• 14:55〜15:40 Speaker: Hoshikawa Jun (Director, Greenpeace Japan; Member, Japan-US Citizens for Okinawa Network (JUCON)/Network for Okinawa)

• 15:40〜16:10  Miyake Yohei from Albatrus

• 16:10〜17:00 Speaker: Shiva Rei (freelance journalist)

• 17:00〜17:25  Takeru (reggae)

• 17:25〜17:50  Rakita (pop performer from Okinawa)

• 18:00〜18:50  Jintaramuta (Japanese chindon street music fusion)

• 18:50〜19:00 MC

• 19:00〜19:45  Asazaki Ikue (traditional performer from Amami-Oshima Island)

• 19:45〜20:00 Finale/ Closing MC remarks

Video messages also scheduled to be received from:

Kina Shoukichi, member of Parliament, globally renowned Okinawan musician, and peace advocate

• Mayors from several towns on Tokunoshima Island

The event calls for the following:

•  Adamant demand for the withdrawal of governmental plans for new U.S. military base construction in Henoko and/or Tokunoshima]

•  Strong opposition to Hatoyama’s administration trampling over the expressed desires of local citizens with regard to this issue, and the Kan administration’s announcement that it will adhere to its predecessor’s policy in this regard

•  The creation of a Neo Ryukyu Arc Network, connecting the shared peace movements of those in the Ryukyu and Amami Islands (located in Japan’s southern regions of Okinawa and Kagoshima prefecture), as well as other peace movements around the world

•  Renewed commitment to the protection of the rich natural environment and biodiversity found in the Ryukyu and Amami Island regions

Peace actions are also scheduled to be organized by the network in Tokyo, the Ryukyu archipelago, and beyond in conjunction with the following (watch for upcoming details!):

July: Elections in Japan
August: Japan-U.S. accord
September: COP 10
October: Peace Music Festa event
November: President Obama’s visit to Japan

Additional event details:

・Admission is free!
・Event will take place rain or shine!
・There will be no information or food booths at this event. (Sorry folks!)
・ Please be sure to leave the venue as clean as you found it!
・This is a completely volunteer-organized event. Your donations will be greatly appreciated!

Event organizers:

Peace Not War Japan

Spring Love Harukaze Organizing Committee

Neo Ryuku Arc Network

With support from:

“Don’t trample on Okinawa!" Emergency action organizing committee

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Remembering the 1960 ANPO Struggle: “The souls of the dead live on”

Kato Tokiko, Ueno Chizuko, Hosaka Masayasu, Oguma Eiji, Linda Hoaglund
(Photo: Kimberly Hughes)

Last night, in a packed auditorium at Tokyo University, a panel of scholars gathered to commemorate  the 1960 ANPO Struggle  and how its legacy continues to affect peace movements today.

The symposium featured three panelists: author Hosaka Masayasu, professor Oguma Eiji, and film director Linda Hoaglund.

ANPO (a Japanese abbreviation for the “Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan”) was signed on June 19, 1960, despite massive opposition by a vibrant peace and democracy movement spearheaded by citizens from all walks of life, including students, artists, and activists.

Central to the symposium discussion was the idea of how both individual and collective memory has continued to impact struggles for peace in decades following the ANPO protests.

“For many people in Japan, the presence of U.S. military bases had been all but completely forgotten about in recent decades—until the issue became dragged out of the shadows by the Futenma base conflict,” explained Oguma, a social historian. “And since the United States has not bothered to provide any explanation whatsoever about what the benefits of this air base might provide, it is only too obvious that this treaty is based upon a completely unequal relationship between the two countries.”

Renowned feminist sociologist Ueno Chizuko, who moderated the discussion, noted that the Futenma issue has been presented by the media with no accompanying historical context such as the resistance against the ANPO treaty.

The event featured a screening of a 15-minute clip from the documentary film ANPO: Art X War, directed and produced by Linda Hoaglund, an American who was born and raised in Japan. The film tells the story of the 1960 protests through the eyes of numerous artists who have spent their lives working to achieve peace.

When queried regarding her motivations for portraying the ANPO resistance movement through art, Hoaglund replied that this presented her with a departure point from which she was then able to explore the issue at increasingly deeper levels. “Ever since I learned as a child that my nation dropped an atomic bomb on Japan, it has become my lifework to seek peace while also exploring the distorted relationship between these two countries.”

“I wanted to the world to know what was really happening with the ANPO struggle—especially given existing media portrayals, such as The New York Times’ dismissing the protesters as just a bunch of crazy communist kids,” she continued. “It fascinates me to explore the idea of individuals rising up to demand justice when their governments are clearly doing the wrong thing.”

Hosaka, author of The Truth about the 1960 ANPO Struggle, commented, “In Japan, education in recent years has managed to convey the idea that Japan is somehow ‘not qualified to wage war.’ This is the completely wrong focus. Instead, we must begin teaching the idea that war is wrong, and that no country must wage it.”

The evening finished with brief and yet poignant remarks from famous singer and actor Kato Tokiko, who was herself a student at the University of Tokyo in the late 1960s. Kato has been deeply involved with peace and ecology movements together with her late husband Fujimoto Toshio, a student movement leader who was jailed in the early 1970s and later founded the Daichi o mamoru kai (Association to Preserve the Earth).

“I was sixteen years old when the ANPO protest occurred, and I remember feeling a fierce sense of despair that the revolution we were fighting for did not end up happening,” she told the audience. “We had a vision for a different kind of world, and so the way that events played out—including the death of Michiko Kamba—were completely shocking.”

Kato then led a moment of silence to honor Kamba, who was killed by police exactly 50 years earlier when protesters surrounded the Diet to demand that the ANPO treaty not be implemented.

“History is not something that can be forgotten; it lives on in every one of our hearts—as do the souls of those who died in war or fighting for peace,” she told audience members, of whom several were visibly moved.

“An amazing energy was born from our movement—and it will continue to grow and transform without end.”

--Kimberly Hughes

("ANPO: Art X War" will open in Japan on September 18, 2010)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mainichi: "Legacy of 1960 anti-security treaty movement still remains"

(Photo of Protesters surrounding the Diet Building: “Tenno-empire” and the Struggle Against Established Power in Japan – One Historian’s Engagement" by Tessei Matsuzawa, The Asia-Pacific Journal)

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Michiko Kamba who died during a protest against the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty (AMPO) that drew over a million participants to the streets of Tokyo from April to June in 1960. A June 6 article, "Legacy of 1960 anti-security treaty still remains," at the Mainichi takes a sensitive look at this history and those the University of Tokyo student left behind:
Yuichi Yoshikawa visits the southern entranceway of the Diet building on June 15 every year to offer flowers in memory of a female college student, who died there in a clash between police forces and anti-Japan-U.S. Security Treaty demonstrators on the day 50 years ago.

Hundreds of thousands of protestors surrounded the building every day to express their opposition to the bilateral treaty "as we still had vivid memories of World War II, which had ended only 15 years ago, and believed the treaty would lead to another war," Yoshikawa, a 79-year-old veteran peace campaigner, said.

"When only a few people started a march with a flag, other people joined at their own initiative to make it hundreds of demonstrators at last, with antiwar sentiment stirred also by the outbreak of the Korean War and the launch of the Self-Defense Forces in the 1950s," he said.

The death of the student, Michiko Kamba, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Tokyo, happened in the uproar, and those who went through it have wondered about the meaning of the largest mass movement in postwar Japan and how it has affected their subsequent lives and careers over the past half-century.

(Photo of Michiko Kamba: “Tenno-empire” and the Struggle Against Established Power in Japan – One Historian’s Engagement" by Tessei Matsuzawa, The Asia-Pacific Journal)

Among them is Akiko Esashi, who was a freshman at Waseda University and joined the demonstration for the first time in May 1960.

"I was just an ordinary student who cheered on baseball games between Waseda and its rival Keio University, and I was told by my father when I left my home in Hiroshima City not to join the student movement," she said. "But I started taking part in the marches frequently after Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi railroaded the revision of the bilateral treaty."

The revised treaty, automatically enacted on June 19, 1960, after a 30-day Diet stalemate, committed the United States to help defend Japan if it came under attack and it provided bases and ports for U.S. armed forces in Japan, stirring public concerns that Japan may be involved in unintended wars.

"The protestors' focus gradually shifted from concerns of war to the shape of Japan's democracy" in the face of the government's hard-line stance, Yoshikawa said.

After graduating from Waseda, Esashi started editing fashion magazines, "but I always felt doubts about my work, given the magazines' stance to flatter Japan's high economic growth in those days," which was promoted by Kishi's successor, Hayato Ikeda, under the "income-doubling plan."

Esashi gradually became involved in the women's liberation movement and anti-Vietnam War activities, initiated by the Peace for Vietnam Committee, known by its Japanese acronym as "Beheiren." It was founded in 1965 by late influential writer Makoto Oda and prominent philosopher Shunsuke Tsurumi. Yoshikawa was its secretary general.

She eventually became a freelance writer and penned an award-winning biography of a female writer who faced the 1945 atomic bombing on Hiroshima and other books featuring female activists and reporters, while giving lectures on women's studies at several colleges.

Koichi Kato, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, was a law student at the University of Tokyo in 1960. "I didn't have a clear idea about whether the security treaty was good or wrong," he said, but he was involved in the demonstrations a few times "in accordance with the conclusion of class discussions as a nonpolitical student."

His father was promoting the security treaty as a then ruling LDP lawmaker. But Kato, now 70, did not fully support either the treaty or the protests involving students and labor union members as well as the Socialist Party and Japanese Communist Party.

"But it urged me to have an interest in social issues and I made up my mind to devote my life to dealing with the Chinese Communist Party" after pondering over how Japan should proceed for the future in international society, he said.

As a diplomat and China expert, he contemplated policy toward China, and as a lawmaker subsequently, he was critical of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine. He now says, "Japan sent unsolicited troops to China, and those who were victimized will never forget it."

Some of the 1960 demonstrators are now trying to hand down the legacy of the movement to later generations.

Prior to the 50th anniversary of Kamba's death, Esashi, 68, put out her biography, "Michiko Kamba -- Legend of a Sacred Girl," from major publisher Bungeishunju Ltd. last month by interviewing those who knew her well and examining many documents, including her writings.

"I wanted to review the explosive experiences in 1960 by writing the biography of Ms. Kamba," she said. "I expect young people to read it and know that there was a woman who tried hard to change politics and society."

Kato, who has held prominent positions such as then Defense Agency chief and LDP secretary general, now advocates the security treaty. "It is unconvincing to say we do not need to possess deterrence, particularly given the brinkmanship of North Korea. Can we feel safe without the nuclear umbrella of the United States?"

His relations with China, meanwhile, have continued.

He assumed the chairmanship of the Japan-China Friendship Association in 2008, succeeding Ikuo Hirayama, a prominent painter who died last December, and says without hesitation that the 1960 movement has affected his career.

"I think Japan, China and the United States need to form 'an equilateral-triangular relationship' to keep each other in check," he said. "The three bilateral ties should work effectively, and the Japan-U.S. ties are situated under the security treaty."

Yoshikawa is still involved in various peace campaigns and calls for abolishing the bilateral security treaty.

"Under the security treaty, the SDF have been deployed to where the United States needs them, such as Iraq. It goes against the pacifist Constitution," he said in his recent lecture at Keio University, focusing mainly on the 1960 protests.

He was invited there as one of several guest lecturers for a contemporary social history course "so we could share history by hearing what those who have gone through it have to say," according to Koichi Takakusagi, professor at the university.

He also suggested the abolishment of the bilateral treaty is the key in addressing the issue of U.S. military bases in Japan, particularly in Okinawa, which hosts the controversial Futenma air station.

Yoshikawa will visit the Diet building with other peace activists on June 15, as in the past years, to leave flowers for Kamba.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Karel van Wolferen: New U.S. military base construction at Henoko "not implementable"

In an interview with The Diplomat, Karel van Wolferen said that Washington unrealistically wants to go back to the days when the LDP rubber-stamped U.S. demands upon Tokyo. The Japan commentator goes on to say that proposed U.S. military expansion in Okinawa is not implementable:
Washington wants an administration like they had before, that will do what they say. Although of course the Liberal Democratic Party wasn’t doing that—they had a way of shoving it ahead of them. The LDP had been postponing this whole base plan for six years and they were going to postpone it further.

Why? Because it’s not implementable. That’s a very basic point, which the Tokyo-based media haven’t been sufficiently pushing because they haven’t been paying attention to Okinawa...

The most important thing to remember is that the LDP would not have carried out the Henoko relocation plan, because you can’t carry it out. It’s impossible. It also means that Naoto Kan’s cabinet could also be torpedoed by Washington. And it may well happen. Because Japan is not an ally of the United States—Japan is a protectorate.
He also notes that:
Twenty or 30 years ago there were quite a few American correspondents in Tokyo who had a pretty good historical background on the relationship, and they’d have put all this in perspective.

But today, the American media gets what they write about this from informants in Washington.

There are a couple of people in Tokyo, but they don’t bring the same kind of depth and understanding to it. Which means the story becomes the story that Washington wants people to see and read. And if you were the government in Washington, you’d want it to be like that. So in other words, there’s no countervailing interpretation of what’s going in Japan to what is coming out of Washington.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Message of PEACE from Henoko, Okinawa

Thanks to Makiko Sato for this photo she received from a Henoko activist.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Anna Lappé on healing our planet and the conversion to a climate-friendly food system

Anna Lappé, daughter of Frances Moore Lappé, author of the ground-breaking 1971 Diet for a Small Planet reveals more about the "power of food to heal our communities, our countries, and our planet" in her new book, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It .

Lappé points out that the unsustainable multinational industrial food industry (dependent on fossil fuels; toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers) is responsible for as much as 1/3 of all greenhouse gases.

However, around the world, small farmers and their supporters are resurrecting traditional and creating new forms of sustainable agriculture that reverence our planet and life. This is a lifestyle that can cool and heal our planet.

In her book, Lappe spotlights people working for sustainability in Korea and China, as well as Mali and the U.S.

UN Report: Go VEGAN to stop Global Warming

From the June 2 Guardian: "UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet: Lesser consumption of animal products is necessary to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change, UN report says:"
A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change, a UN report said today.

As the global population surges towards a predicted 9.1 billion people by 2050, western tastes for diets rich in meat and dairy products are unsustainable, says the report from United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) international panel of sustainable resource management.

It says: "Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products."

Professor Edgar Hertwich, the lead author of the report, said: "Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels."

The recommendation follows advice last year that a vegetarian diet was better for the planet from Lord Nicholas Stern, former adviser to the Labour government on the economics of climate change. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has also urged people to observe one meat-free day a week to curb carbon emissions.

The panel of experts ranked products, resources, economic activities and transport according to their environmental impacts. Agriculture was on a par with fossil fuel consumption because both rise rapidly with increased economic growth, they said...

Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday.
Read the entire article (with links) here.

Kathy Freston wrote an even better article on this topic, "Vegetarianism is the New Prius," published three years ago at HuffPost.

And Kim Hughes' meditative post, "Fucha cuisine: Buddhist tradition offers lessons in nonviolent simplicity through food," takes this subject even deeper: exploring how conscious and reverential cultivation, preparation and enjoyment of food can be a practice of peace—thereby inherently contributing to a cooler, calmer world on subtle as well as physical levels.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Betty Williams: "The insanity of what's going on militarily in the world has got to be challenged."

I have to sit in rooms with men who justify military budgets by telling me it's for defense...

No doubt the dead and dying are very gratified they're defending them so well.

The insanity of what's going on militarily in the world has got to be challenged...

To look forward to a demilitarized world is not for idealistic fools. They call us idealistic fools. I've been called many names, but that's one I object to the most. It's not idealistic to say that the world must begin to live together without guns or bombs or better and bigger ways to destroy each other...
-- Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Sunday, June 6, 2010

NO LOCAL CONSENT: 84% Okinawans oppose more U.S. military construction in Henoko, Okinawa; 55% think ANPO should become a "Peace Treaty"

Nago Citizens' Gathering on May 28 to protest the U.S. and Japanese Governments' joint statement to build a new base in Henoko. 1,200 people attended. (Photo: Dugong Keijiban blog)

From Satoko Norimatsu at Peace Philosophy Centre, "Okinawa's Voice Reconfirmed and Reinforced:"
Latest Mainichi Shimbun poll:

84% of Okinawans oppose a new base construction in Henoko.
6% agreed.

Support for Hatoyama: 8%
(drop from 63%, in November 2009)

71% don't think Marines are needed in Okinawa
15% think they are needed.

50% think US military bases in Okinawa should be reduced, and 41% think
they should be removed.

55% think Japan-US Security Treaty should be changed into a Peace Treaty,
and 14% think it should be abolished. 7% think it should be maintained.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

SAVE HIRABARI SATOYAMA: How can Nagoya City allow the destruction of this biodiverse treasure while hosting a UN conference on biodiversity?

From Takuya Kamibayashi of Hirabari Satoyama Conservancy:
Hirabari Satoyama is in real danger...

On the 29th of May, developers started blocking visitors' entry to Hirabari Satoyama.

Inside of the Satoyama, local children were growing rice inside of buckets—not inside the rice fields that actually exist inside of Satoyama. But once the developers started the blockade, the children were forced to remove buckets. The only available alternative location for the rice buckets seemed to be the public pathway that actually runs inside of Satoyama; but without a clear explanation, it was also blocked. Some locals asked Nagoya City for an explanation why it allowed the blockade of a public road, but the city turned them away.

I also had a chance to plant rice seedlings inside of buckets, and also to tour inside of Satoyama. What I witnessed there: shining eyes of kids–finding out how their food grows, looking up at the big Totoro tree, discovering the mystery of life. Now, they have not only mystery of the nature, but also the mystery of disappearance of nature.

Hiroaki Somiya, a retired professor at Nagoya University, lives right next to this problematic land. The coordinator of activities at Hirabari Satoyama including rice planting—he cannot help but wonder:
Why does the nature of Nagoya City, the host of COP10 (upcoming UN meeting on the Convention for Biodiversity), keep being destroyed?

How are we—who live in the cities—supposed to understand the importance of biodiversity?

Our Satoyama might be a small problem compared to really big issues, but it all relates to each other. There is no reason we can destroy small ones.
Professor Somiya sees how the struggle between Nagoya City's and the developers and the Hirabari Satoyama Conservancy over these 12 acres is a microcosm of the ongoing global epic between destructive forces and people who respect and want to preserve their natural environments.

This year Nagoya City seeks the prestige of holding a UN conference, touting the slogan "Life in Harmony, into the future," following a 2008 Japanese government announcement of its "Satoyama Initiative." According to Eric Johnston in "Battle lines drawn across Nagoya land: Loss of 'satoyama' risks loss of face ahead of biodiversity summit" published in the Japan Times on March 4, Tokyo plans push this initiative during the October U.N. meeting "to promote protection worldwide of natural habitats from urbanization. Thus if the site comes under development, this would be a major embarrassment."

What does this contradiction between talk and action say about about Nagoya City's and the Japanese government's commitment to saving biodiversity when they are unable to figure out how and commit to saving an irreplaceable biodiverse treasure in Nagoya's own backyard?

There's still time to change course and save the Hirabari Satoyama. Its fate will determine whether Nagoya's holding the COP10 conference and Tokyo's "Satoyama Initiative" reflects a sincere commitment to a sustainable and biodiverse future or a tragic, transparent pretense.

What is a satoyama?

Satoyama (里山) is a manifestation of the traditional Japanese keen awareness of healthy and respectful symbiosis between people and their natural environment. An ancient Japanese concept describing the transitional space between mountain foothills and flat farmland, the word derives from Sato (里) meaning homeland, and yama (山) meaning mountain. Japanese farmers have refined satoyama, havens of biodiversity, through centuries of small-scale farming and forestry.
Because of unsustainable historical changes, many satoyama have been destroyed. In the 1980's and 1990's, renewed awareness resulted in a satoyama conservation movement.

See Jen Teeter's post "Where Children can see Totoro: Hirabari Satoyama and COP10" on Hibaraki Satoyama and one of its defenders, website designer and book binder Takuya Kamibayashi, who shared this latest disturbing news with us.

Please visit the English-language website for the Hirabari Satoyama Conservancy and its Facebook site (lots of wonderful photos that show what's at stake).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Finding Connections: Sea, Forest & Our Lives—Pacific Asia Resource Center DVD features individuals who saved their eco-systems

The Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC) has worked since the 1970’s to promote sustainable development and fair trade in Asia. The Japanese NGO has released their newest DVD, Finding Connections: Sea, Forest and Our Lives, produced to encourage sustainable development and biodiversity conservation in Japan and abroad—particularly in rapidly developing Asian countries.

In the name of "development," humans are destroying ever-increasing swathes of our planet; thus wiping out entire eco-systems which we depend upon for food production and the continuation of life itself. Finding Connections: Sea, Forest and Our Lives features ordinary people who defy this trend living in harmony with nature—often against overwhelming forces. By listening to their experiences, we learn about the intimate interconnections between humans and nature.

Patterns of human relationships with nature reflect values that have changed with time. During the 1960's, Japan’s oceans, rivers, forests and fields underwent major changes as the country attempted to double its national income by exporting industrial products. At this time, productivity and efficiency ruled. Finding Connections: Sea, Forest and Our Lives paints a picture of staggering environmental damage throughout the Japanese archipelago:

• Coastal tidal flats, precious habitats for various aquatic species that sustain the food chain of the sea, were destroyed when corporations reclaimed shores to build industrial plants.

• The flows of rivers, which bring rich nutrition from mountains to the sea, were interrupted by dams built to generate electricity, prevent floods, and create reservoirs. The government build the dams meet projected increases of industrial and domestic water demand.

•  Broad-leafed trees, the natural vegetation of the Japanese archipelago, were replaced with conifers in order to meet growing demand for wood, which later began to face fierce competition from imports.

•  Planted conifer trees were left abandoned; their reduced water-holding capacity resulted in floods and landslides.

•  Chemical fertilizers and pesticides were introduced to agricultural fields through which rivers and oceans flowed.
However, ordinary citizens, who dedicated their lives to saving the natural eco-systems that make up their homes and provide their livelihood, made a difference:

Kudoh Kohta (Representative director of Iwaizumi Pure-wood Funiture): “All living things are protected by the environment and the earth...humans are just one of these species.”

Kohta believes that trees must only be used sustainably, taking into consideration the pace of forest regeneration. The furniture artisan runs a furniture work shop that operates on the concept, “Making furniture that last for 300 years with trees that have lived for 300 years.”

Kumagai Hiroyuki (Former Executive Director of the Campaign Coalition Against the Niitsuki Dam): “We’ll never get back those 27 years. We spent blood and sweat, but now we have peace of mind. We preserved the foundation of our livelihoods.”

Kumagai led the campaign coalition against a local dam project for almost three decades; engaged in relentless civil research and promotion until the project was finally frozen in 1997. He was elected as a local city council member.

Hatakeyama Shigeatsu (Oyster farmer, Representive Director of Mizuyama Sea Farm): “It’s important to raise awareness among people living in the river basin.”

Hatakeyama, a fisher, planted broad-leaf trees along upstream mountains along a river slated for a dam project, to let people know that rivers are vital sources of nutrition for the blessings of the ocean. His movement, named “The Forest Is the Sweetheart of the Sea,” gathered widespread attention.

Ohno Kazutoshi (President of Funabashi City Fishery Cooperative): “Rivers flowing into Tokyo Bay were once full of aquatic species. Tokyo Bay and its tidal flats were also habitats for various marine species. But human beings destroyed these habitats. They didn’t do so on purpose, but out of ignorance.”

Ohno lived on Tokyo Bay for over 60 years carrying out his family’s fishing business. Its tradition may be traced back to the 17th century. He contributed to the conservation of Sanbanze, an 1800-hectare tidal flat remaining in Tokyo Bay. The fisher emphasizes its importance for the fishery.

Onodera Hiroshi: “With wet rice paddies, you can harvest a certain amount of rice without fertilizer, since the water from forests is rich in nutrients.”

Onodera, a farmer living upstream of the basin, joined “The Forest Is the Sweetheart of the Sea” movement, thereby becoming inspired to stop raising broiler chickens and become an organic farmer.

With natural resources rapidly disappearing throughout the world, we believe the Japanese experience can help us reconsider the concept of “development” itself—helping us to relearn what we’ve lost. It is our hope that more people will make the choice to return to natural, sustainable lifestyles.

For further information, please contact Natsumi Koike from PARC: Tel: +81-3-5209-3455 Mail:

PARC would be very happy to provide sample DVDs upon request.

Video information:
Title: Finding Connections ; Sea, Forest and Our Lives
Directed by Suzuki Toshiaki, Produced by Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC), May. 2010

● 35min, DVD (NTSC or PAL)
● Bilingual (Japanese/English)
● Price $20 for developing countries, $60 for developed countries
● “Finding Connections; Sea, Forest and Our Lives”


Chapter 1: Nature Changed by People
Humans and Nature in the Modern Era / Reclaimed Tidal Wetlands and the Impoverished Sea

Chapter 2: Severed Connections
The Agricultural Basic Law and the National Income-Doubling plan / Extensive Forestation and Increased Timber Imports

Chapter 3: The Roles of the Forests and Rivers
The Soil and Water Holding Capacity of Mountains / Proliferating Dams / Connecting the Mountains and the Sea / Awareness Changed Reality / Harnessing Nature in the Mountains

Chapter 4: Interconnected Lives
Culture of Broad-leaf Forests / Sanbanze, a Fishing Ground in Northern Tokyo Bay / Values behind Choices

The video website page is here.