Monday, January 31, 2011

Bombing Pacific Sea Birds on Farallon de Medinilla in the Northern Marianas

(Pacific Golden Plover. Photo: Wikipedia)

The bombings of Pacific migratory birds on Farallon de Medinilla (a small coral island in the Northern Mariana Islands, around 45 miles north of Saipan) continued this year.

Farallon de Medinilla (FDM) is the habitat of more than a dozen migratory bird species, including breeding colonies of great frigatebirds; masked, red-footed, and brown boobys; red- and white-tailed tropicbirds; white and sooty terns; brown and black noddys; and other species of migratory seabirds. The narrow island, uninhabited by humans, is one of only two small breeding colonies of the great frigatebird in the Mariana island chain, and is also the largest known nesting site for masked boobies in the Mariana and Caroline islands.

The U.S. military uses the island for live-fire training, during which bombers drop mines and bombs and fire high-explosive rounds, machine guns, cannons, and missiles that destroy bird habitat and kill birds.

In 2002, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Defense Department to halt illegal killing of migratory birds and destruction of wildlife habitat. A subsequent court ruling ordered the U.S. Defense Department to cease bombing exercises on Farallon de Medinilla until they came in compliance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act:
Today, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, District Judge for the District of Columbia, issued an injunction immediately halting all military activities at Farallon de Medinilla that would harm or kill migratory birds. The Center for Biological Diversity, represented by Earthjustice, had sued the Navy for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act at FDM, and Judge Sullivan on March 13, 2002 declared that the Navy's use of FDM violates the law. The Navy had nevertheless continued to use the island for live-fire exercises using bombs, air-to-ground missiles, and other munitions, while acknowledging that it was thereby killing migratory birds. Today's ruling enforces the law and stops the Navy's violations.

FDM, about 45 nautical miles from Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, is about 0.3 miles wide and 1.7 miles long, or about 206 acres. It is home to more than a dozen species of migratory birds protected by the MBTA, including the great frigatebird, masked booby, brown booby, red-footed booby, sooty tern, brown noddy, black noddy, fairy tern, cattle egret, red-tailed tropicbird, white-tailed tropicbird, Pacific golden plover, whimbrel, bristle-thighed curlew, and ruddy turnstone. Most of these species also nest at FDM. FDM is one of only two small breeding colonies of the great frigatebird in the Mariana island chain, and is also the largest known nesting site for masked boobies in the Mariana and Caroline islands.

The military has been using FDM for live-fire training, during which bombers drop 500-, 750-, and 2000-pound bombs, precision-guided munitions, and mines; naval ships fire deck-mounted guns, using high explosive, point-detonating rounds; and aircraft fire machine guns, cannons, and missiles at FDM. The resulting destruction of nesting migratory birds has been well established.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) is one of the nation's oldest conservation laws. Enacted in 1918, it implements international treaties between the U.S. and Japan, Russia, Mexico, and Canada designed to "save from indiscriminate slaughter and insure the preservation of such migratory birds as are either useful to man or harmless." The MBTA makes it "unlawful at any time, by any means or in any manner," to, among other prohibited actions, "pursue, hunt, take, capture, [or] kill" any migratory bird included in the terms of the treaties without a permit issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service turned down the Navy's 1996 application for a permit to bomb FDM. The Navy did not appeal or reapply, but continued to bomb the island.

Notwithstanding the MBTA's protections, over 25% of all U.S. bird species are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act or as Species of Management Concern. During the past 30 years, about one-fifth of the bird species native to the U.S. have declined at rates equal to or exceeding 2.5 percent per year. A trend of this magnitude represents a cumulative decline of more than 50 percent over a span of 30 years.

Anticipating the court's ruling, the Department of Defense recently submitted to Congress a sweeping proposal to exempt military activities from the MBTA, along with many other environmental laws. DoD has over 25 million acres of land under its jurisdiction. Since these habitats encompass most of the migratory bird species in the U.S. during some period of the year, the proposed legislation, if enacted, would leave many of the hundreds of migratory bird species vulnerable to wholesale slaughter.

(Photo and map: Pacific World)

The Department of Defense was successful in forcing through exemptions to environmental protections, thereby undermining the U.S. District Court's ruling. The exemptions enabled the U.S. military to resume bombing the magnificent sea birds that live and nest on Farallon de Medenilla.

Please see this petition for more information on past efforts to stop the military destruction of Pacific sea bird habitat in the Marianas.

(Great Frigatebird. Photo:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dolphin Dance Film Screening @Kyoto Fri 1.21

Cranes over Umekoji Park- courtesy of Deep Kyoto
Think "Kyoto." Imagine the ancient capital with its elegant temples. Now, picture dolphins soaring through the crisp Kyoto air. This image just doesn't work, does it?

Well, Orix Corporation (a Tokyo and Osaka-based financial company) is working behind closed doors with Kyoto City officials to impose an aquarium featuring a dolphin show on Umekoji Park. This sanctuary in the center of the urban city was dedicated to the 1200th anniversary of Kyoto's ascension as the imperial capital of Japan and is meant to be a park to "last for hundreds years." City officials seem to have other plans as it distribute the public land at discounted prices to private corporation, ignoring the overwhelming voices of opposition from local residents.

This Friday evening at Urban Guild in Kyoto (Voices for Umekoji event), Kyotoites and their supporters will gather in opposition to the aquarium plans for a night of song, dance, and discussion (in English and Japanese). The home of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, Kyoto is an inland city with no links to the sea. It is an unsuitable location for an aquarium that will add an estimated 5400 tons of CO2 to the atmosphere per year while destroying one of the few carbon sinks and outdoor recreational areas in the city.

Visitors are attracted to Kyoto by its pristine temples, it's well-preserved architecture, and it's strong sense of tradition. People will not make the trip to Kyoto just to see dolphins. Tax-payer yen would be best spent on restoring the city and beautifying its parks, especially since Kyoto has the smallest amount of green space per capita for a city of its size. What more, Japan has more aquariums than any country in the world, measured in pure amount and per capita. Why build another one in a city with no marine links whatsoever?

Even worse, the exploitation of wild animals for entertainment purposes only serves to reinforce existing forms of domination over nature. The work of the Dolphin Dance Project to raise awareness of the beautiful lifestyle of wild dolphins and the man-made threats to them, including their unjust capture for aquariums, cannot be more relevant at this time. Michael Lambe of Deep Kyoto reports:
Watching this video, what’s really amazing to me is the incredibly trusting nature of these dolphins. I wonder why they don’t consider the boat and the humans in it as potential predators? There’s something amazing and quite moving about this trust, but it is also quite sad when you think how easily and how often this trust is betrayed.

One of the many arguments against the building of the Kyoto Aquarium is the issue of cruelty to animals, specifically dolphins. The building of a dolphinarium for “edutainment purposes” is a central aspect of the building plans and having seen those plans I can tell you that the space allotted for the dolphins is clearly both constrictive and cruel. Research has proven that dolphins are both intelligent animals capable of self-awareness, abstract thought, and creativity. They are also emotional animals that exhibit profound familial and social bonds. Some scientists have even suggested they should be considered “non-human persons” and afforded rights equivalent to our own. In other words, we ought to treat them better than taking them out of their natural habitat, confining them in pools and using them purely for our own entertainment.

Many of the postcards designed by Kawagoe Yoshio-san for the anti-aquarium campaign, depict dolphins, and frequently with a message that reads “君とは海で会いたい!” – I want to meet you in the ocean! This message that we should encounter wild creatures such as dolphins in their natural habitat and not in an entirely artificial environment is a strong one. So it seemed serendipitous that Chisa Hidaka the director of the Dolphin Dance Project should offer to show her short movie “Together” at the “Voices for Umekoji” event on Friday. The message is essentially the same.

Dancer and choreographer, Chisa Hidaka, initiated the Dolphin Dance Project in order to promote inter-species understanding. Having encountered dolphins in the wild, Chisa became intrigued by the similarities between dolphin play and human dance and began a project of filming inter-species improvised dance as a means of profound communication. The debut film, ‘Together: Dancing with Spinner Dolphins,’ won ‘Best Experimental Film’ at its world premiere at the Big Apple Film Festival. This film shows a human dancer and a wild spinner dolphin dancing playfully together beneath the waves. Though short, it is beautiful to watch and leaves you wanting more. Happily ‘Together’ is but a pilot for a longer film to be shot in 2011. ‘Sharing the Dance’ will be a full-length documentary about the making of a group dance with several human dancers and a pod of wild dolphins.

We are very proud to be showing the movie “Together” at our event on Friday!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Satoko Norimatsu, Gavan McCormack, & Mark Selden: "New Year 2011, Okinawa and the Future of East Asia"

“Where is Okinawa Going” forum at Okinawa University, December 19, 2010. 
Photo:The Asia-Pacific Journal)

Satoko Norimatsu, Gavan McCormack, and Mark Selden have reported on the December 19, 2010 “Where is Okinawa going?” forum cosponsored by The Asia-Pacific Journal (APJ) and Okinawa University. Speakers addressed environmental, geopolitical, and economic issues and engaged in discussion with nearly 200 participants on goals and ideals while addressing contemporary challenges to Okinawa and the region.

Protest Tent in Takae, Yanbaru Forest, Okinawa. (Photo: The Asia-Pacific Journal)

Their article charts the Okinawan challenge to last year’s failure of leadership in Japan. The authors assert that Okinawan commitment to democracy and peace brought sense to a region spellbound by fear and at risk of falling into a downward spiral of militarization. Those who frame the Okinawan struggle for democracy as simply “local” are mistaken. Instead, the authors argue Okinawan resistance to military hegemony is national, regional, and global in nature, with the future of “Japanese democracy and US strategic planning for its empire of bases across the Pacific in the balance.”

They conclude: “In 2011 the best hope for peace and democracy in Japan and throughout the region is the continuing success of the Okinawan struggle in stalemating US-Japan plans for base reorganization and expansion.”

Henoko residents spell out “NO” with empty cans on Henoko Beach, for PM Kan to see from his helicopter. (Photo: Okinawa Times)

Read the article here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Walk Along the Sea in Okinawa- Photo Exhibition @ Osaka, January 27-30

Photo by Makishi Osamu
The Save the Dugong Campaign will be holding its first annual photo exhibition in Osaka to spread awareness about the intangible beauty of Henoko Bay that is threatened with destruction. The Japanese and U.S. governments intend to inundate the bay with concrete as a part of its relocation plans for the U.S. military base currently occupying Futenma, Okinawa.

A Walk along the Sea in Okinawa- Henoko and Oura Bay
Photo exhibition of the work of Makishi Osamu

January 27-30 - 12pm-7pm

*Talk session on the potential extinction of the dugong on the 30th from 2pm-4pm (Free entry with drink order)

Cafe/Gallary Cassiopeia
(Map here:

Information in Japanese:

Freelance photographer Makishi Osamu was born in Kose, Okinawa in 1950. After living on the mainland and working in the magazine industry as an editor and copy writer, he returned to Okinawa. He currently serves as a semi-retired scuba instructor and scuba guide in Henoko and Oura Bay.

During a trip to Okinawa in December, Democratic Party of Japan leader and current Prime Minister Naoto Kan stated that the "relocation" of a U.S. Marine base from Futenma to Henoko would be a "better" option, despite Okinawan resistance. Construction of a military base in one of the last remaining habitats of the endangered Okinawan Dugong and other rare flora and fauna, a fragile and biodiverse bay, would resound in disastrous impacts on the ecosystem. (See analysis by Gavin McCormack at The Asia-Pacific Journal here).

Photo by Makishi Osamu
U.S. and Japan governmental officials claim that U.S. bases offer hope for a struggling Okinawan economy. However, scholars, citizens, and economists alike contend that the tourism industry is by far the largest contributors to the Okinawan economy. U.S. military bases only threaten the vitality of this industry by destroying the environment and taking up potential land for the tourism industry. Valiantly, Okinawan people and their supporters have not wavered in their movement to prevent the construction of the base by holding daily sit-in demonstrations at the relocation site and other events and rallies throughout Japan, and world-wide.

The Save the Dugong Campaign is one many organizations that has been contributing to the opposition movement for the sake of wildlife in the bay and the Henoko Bay-area residents who will be adversely affected by noise, air, and water pollution and the atmosphere of violence and anxiety that goes hand in hand with the presence of U.S. military base.

For more information about the Osaka and Tokyo-based Save the Dugong Campaign Center, visit their homepage.

Below is an informative video report (in English) on SDCC resolutions proposed to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Congress 2008 in Barcelona.

- Posted by Jen Teeter

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King: "If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive, we must find an alternative to war."

"... We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers...

If we are to survive today, our moral and spiritual 'lag' must be eliminated. Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul. When the "without" of man's nature subjugates the 'within', dark storm clouds begin to form in the world.

This problem of spiritual and moral lag, which constitutes modern man's chief dilemma, expresses itself in three larger problems which grow out of man's ethical infantilism. Each of these problems, while appearing to be separate and isolated, is inextricably bound to the other. I refer to racial injustice, poverty, and war...

Recent events have vividly reminded us that nations are not reducing but rather increasing their arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. The best brains in the highly developed nations of the world are devoted to military technology...

The proliferation of nuclear weapons has not been halted, in spite of the Limited Test Ban Treaty...The fact that most of the time human beings put the truth about the nature and risks of the nuclear war out of their minds because it is too painful and therefore not 'acceptable' does not alter the nature and risks of such war. The device of 'rejection' may temporarily cover up anxiety, but it does not bestow peace of mind and emotional security.

So man's proneness to engage in war is still a fact. But wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the destructive power of modern weapons eliminated even the possibility that war may serve as a negative good. If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war. In a day when vehicles hurtle through outer space and guided ballistic missiles carve highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can claim victory in war. A so-called limited war will leave little more than a calamitous legacy of human suffering, political turmoil, and spiritual disillusionment. A world war - God forbid! - will leave only smoldering ashes as a mute testimony of a human race whose folly led inexorably to ultimate death. So if modern man continues to flirt unhesitatingly with war, he will transform his earthly habitat into an inferno such as even the mind of Dante could not imagine...

...we must fix our vision not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but upon the positive affirmation of peace. We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the discords of war. Somehow we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race which no one can win to a positive contest to harness man's creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all of the nations of the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a 'peace race'..."

– Martin Luther King, 1964 Nobel Lecture

Saturday, January 15, 2011

PechaKucha Night Kyoto Vol 2.- Jan 16 @6:30

Pecha Kucha Night Kyoto Vol 1 (Photo courtesy of Pecha Kucha Kyoto Facebook Page)
PechaKucha Night (PKN) began in Tokyo in 2003 as an event for young designers to show their work and has now spread to 370 cities worldwide as a meeting point for creators and society. For the second Kyoto event, a mix of 10 artists, designers, and creators will be sharing their ideas, visions and adventures.

The format is: 20 x 20: 20 images x 20 seconds each, each speaker has 6 minutes and 40 seconds. For more information on PKN click here:

The second Pecha Kucha Night Kyoto is TONIGHT. Brave the snow and come on down to UrBANGUILD.

Date/time: Sunday, January 16th, 6:30pm
Place: UrBANGUILD, Kiyamachi, Sanjo-sagaru, New Kyoto Bldg. 3F (About 100m south of Sanjo, east side)
Admission: 1000 yen, including 1 drink

Photos from Vol.1:

::: List of Presenters :::

1. Jonah Salz - Interactive Tech-Noh Performance
2. Kazaoto - Wind chime music
3. Mauro Arrighi - Shinto and Art
4. Yanagisawa Kiwamu - Architecture
5. Magali Laigne - Photography
6. Fujimoto Yasuyo - Batik textiles
7. John Ashburne - Photography
8. Setsu Shobun - Calligraphy
9. Miyake Shoko - Contemporary art
10. Sean Roe - Junkroom / Sound artist

Reservations are not necessary.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Voices for Umekoji: One Night of Musical Protest against the Kyoto Aquarium- Friday, January 21

Kyoto’s Mayor Kadokawa has given Orix Corporation the go-ahead to build a massive aquarium/dolphinarium on Umekoji Koen, a public park, despite local protest. On Friday January 21st The Commitee to Protect Kyoto (京都を守る会) will be hosting an awareness raising musical event at Urbanguild to let people know what they can do to protest against this ridiculous decision.
Deep Kyoto believes it is paramount that they act on behalf of the public's interest:
Besides issues such as the cruelty of keeping dolphins in confined conditions, the 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide that the building will exude per year into the atmosphere, and the lack of vision in developing this city with its unique position in Japanese history and culture, there is the issue of public accountability. Umekoji park is very popular with the local people but the aquarium that will be built on it is not. The plan for the aquarium was made behind closed doors between the city administration and private business with very little public input and despite strong public protest. There is something inherently wrong with a system that allows the city mayor to arbitrarily dispose of public land in this fashion.

Now, there are those who say, “Look they’re already building this aquarium. You can’t stop it now. Isn’t it a done deal?” Well, no doubt we can’t stop the Kyoto Aquarium being built. But we have to try. This beautiful city of Kyoto, is considered the “heart of Japan”. How can we not fight for it? And if we can focus enough national and international media attention upon this, perhaps the city administration will be more careful about making this kind of decision again.
For more information, click on this link to access the Deep Kyoto page.

- Jen Teeter

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Keiko Miyamori: Bird Cages & the Gilded Boat, installation with soundscape by Steven Berkowitz @ Ise Cultural Foundation, NY, Jan 14-Feb 26

Keiko Miyamori is preoccupied with making visible the invisible connections between people and nature across our planet. Like many other Japanese-born and Japanese-American artists, she is haunted by the historical trauma of the Second World War. The Philly-based visual artist believes that, if we can better see the interconnections that bind us together with each other and the natural world, we would be less likely to engage in the nonsensical destruction of military violence and war. Her work is a visual artistic cure for the roots of violence: alienation, competition, and fear.

Miyamori's upcoming exhibition incorporates tree rubbings and birdsongs from five different continents to evoke a sense of planetary holism based upon the idea of the supercontinent Amasia:

"Amasia is one of the possible future supercontinents that could be formed by the merger of Asia and North America. It is based on the idea that the Pacific Plate is already subducting under Eurasia and North America and the process will eventually cause it to close...

"This project will share with my related projects a common goal of helping people to experience the 'connections' that exist between all of us with our surroundings...I have struggled to come to terms with terrible events in my cultural history that happened due to lack of feeling connected to the 'other,' the 'there' rather than 'here.' I hope that my installation will allow people to feel, through the freedom of imagination, a sense of global connection..."

Keiko Miyamori: Bird Cages and the Gilded Boat
an installation with soundscape by Steven Berkowitz
Curated by Sean A. Stoops

Ise Cultural Foundation
555 Broadway, New York, NY
January 14 - February 26, 2011

Opening reception: Friday, January 14, 6 - 8 PM

KAMIOTO - USA x Japan sound performance: Thursday, February 3, 6 - 7 PM
Gallery Talk: Saturday, February 26, 2 - 3 PM

(Gilded Boat: "The old found canoe was covered with Japanese washi paper pasted tight to obtain a new uniform skin... As a contrast, the inside of the boat will be gilded with gold leaf to symbolize the “inner” energy of the human vessel, how the human’s physical shell can hold its imagination." Text: Keiko Miyamori; Photo: Kenji Takigami)

As part of the Emerging Curators Program, the ISE Cultural Foundation presents: Keiko Miyamori: Bird Cages and the Gilded Boat a gallery exhibition curated by Sean A. Stoops, featuring a mixed media installation by Keiko Miyamori with an electronic “soundscape” composed by Steven Berkowitz. The exhibition runs January 14 - February 26, 2011, with an opening reception on Friday, January 14, 6 - 8 PM.

Keiko Miyamori explores of her experiences and history through sculpture and installation art. Bird Cages and the Gilded Boat is a new installation of Miyamori’s recent sculptures and works on paper. Bird Cages Without Roofs consists of altered bird cage sculptures with open tops, implying a basic desire to escape the struggles and conflicts that keep people confined in metaphoric “cages;” addressing the dichotomy of captivity and freedom. The Bird Cages are juxtaposed with Gilded Boat, a basic wood canoe transformed into a dream-like vessel and embellished with classical Japanese art materials- washi paper with charcoal frottage from tree bark on the hull and a gilded interior of gold-leaf. Unifying the sculptures are a series of Tree Rubbings with charcoal on washi paper, created from numerous trees in five continents, based on Miyamori’s travels over the past few years. These works on paper are combined with regional grain, corn, and nuts in clear, circular frames, intimating natural cycles of trees and plants. Miyamori’s recent visits to Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Kenya were supported by grants from Philadelphia organizations- the Independence Foundation and the Center for Emerging Visual Artists.

For this exhibition, Steven Berkowitz presents a new sound art work created from tree bark - rubbing patterns in Keiko Miyamori’s installation- turning the visible markings into the musical “notes” of an ambient “soundscape.” Field recordings of specific bird songs from around the world are mixed into the aural environment. Berkowitz researched native bird sounds from the locations that Miyamori visited in her tour of five continents. The resulting multi-channel “soundscape” creates the impression in the gallery of an invisible aviary, with a chorus of birds from around the globe. Keiko Miyamori’s installation, combined with Steven Berkowitz’s audio, allude to journeys between different stages of being and natural elements: air, earth, and water.

On Thursday, February 3, 6 - 8 PM, the gallery presents- KAMIOTO: A Conversation of Forest and City, a “USA x Japan” sound performance with a live internet / video collaboration between New York City and Ryugasaki, Japan. The special event - directed by Keiko Miyamori - features electronic sound art by Steven Berkowitz, video by Hsiang-Chin Moe (both at ISE gallery in NY), and in Japan, percussion by Chikara Miura with children at Ryugasaki kindergarten from the wild Japanse cedar forest.

On Saturday, February 26, 2 - 3 PM, there will be a gallery talk with the curator and the artists discussing the installation and their work in general.

Additional support for this exhibition has been provided by:
the Independence Foundation (Philadelphia) and the Center for Emerging Visual Artists (Philadelphia) Sake Discoveries, LLC (New York City) and the Forestry Agency (Japan).

About the Artists and Curator:

Keiko Miyamori is a Japanese-American artist based in New York and Philadelphia, PA. Keiko Miyamori earned her MFA and BFA at University of Tsukuba, Japan and has lived in Philadelphia, PA since 2000. Miyamori explores of her experiences and history through sculpture and installation art.

Steven Berkowitz has a MFA in Photography from Tyler School of Art, Temple University and is currently a professor there, dividing his time between New York City and Philadelphia. Berkowitz has exhibited and performed in numerous art venues in the United States, Japan, and Europe. Berkowitz frequently creates sound art for gallery installations, both for his own photography and in collaboration with other artists.

Sean A. Stoops is a curator and new media artist living in Philadelphia. Stoops has a MFA in video art and curating from Transart Institute, Donau University -- an international graduate program for new media art, based in Linz, Austria and Berlin, Germany. He earned his BFA in painting from Tyler School of Art, Temple University and studied at Temple Abroad in Rome, Italy. Stoops has curated and exhibited at many art galleries in Philadelphia including: the Painted Bride Art Center, Asian Arts Initiative, International House, and Rebekah Templeton Contemporary Art. This is his first curated exhibition in New York City. See also: "Keiko Miyamori's Tsunagu Series Connects People and Nature throughout the World"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Okinawan Rail: a critically endangered inhabitant of Yanbaru Forest, Okinawa, at risk from U.S. military war training ground expansion

(Yanburu Kuina (Okinawan Rail), a critically endangered inhabitant of Yanbaru Forest in Okinawa, at risk from U.S. military war training ground expansion. Photo: Gaku's Blog)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Save Takae Village and the biodiversity of Yanbaru Forest

More on what is at stake in the Takae residents' struggle to save their village and Yanbaru Forest...

(Yanbaru Forest. Image: Japan Hotspot)

The Guardian's "Biodiversity 100: A campaign to compile a list of 100 tasks for world governments to undertake to tackle the biodiversity crisis" includes Okinawa:
Action: Preserve the biodiversity on Okinawa Island
Okinawa Island is the largest island in the subtropical Ryukyu chain off the south-western coast of mainland Japan – and has been described as "Japan's equivalent of Hawaii."

A U.S. war training base occupies a quarter of biodiverse Yanbaru forest on the northern tip of Okinawa. The U.S. military wants to build six V-22 Osprey aircraft helipads within two of the best-preserved areas in the forest, near Takae village. Takae residents have engaged in a sit-in since 2007 to protest the construction military heliports in Yanbaru Forest

Appropriate legislation for conserving this region should be established, and Tokyo should stop construction completely, if it wants to honor local democratic process as well as preserve biodiversity in Okinawa.

Evidence: Yanbaru's forests are the final stand for a number of threatened endemic species such as the critically endangered Okinawa spiny rat (Tokudaia muenninki), Noguchi's woodpecker (Dendrocopos noguchii) and Namiye's frog (Limnonectes namiyei).

Yanbaru's natural forests are critical habitat for many of Okinawa's native mammal and bird populations, but clearcutting and removal of undergrowth. A paper on the conservation value of the region warned of the "imminent extinction crisis among the endemic species of the Yanbaru forests."

Namiye's frog is an indigenous species of frog to Okinawa. It lives only in headwaters surrounded by mountains. (Image: Japan Hotspot)

See more photos of Yanbaru's animal and plant inhabitants at Japan Hotspot.

And for more information about citizens' efforts to save Takae village and Yanbaru Forest at these previous posts:

Jon Mitchell reports on protests against proposed U.S. military Osprey heliport construction in Takae, an ecologically sensitive area of Okinawa"

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

"Peace Not War Japan's Film/Live Music Festival Highlights Citizen Movements: Mt. Takao, Okinawa's Yanbaru Forest, Iraqi Refugees in Jordan"

• "Takae Village Sit-In Protest against US Helipads in Pristine Yanbaru Forest, Okinawa"

Originally posted on Oct. 27, 2010