Sunday, September 30, 2012

Okinawan Women Against US "Osprey" deployment: "We Shall Overcome"

沖縄の女性たちは、オスプレイ配備に反対す。、普天間基地、大山第一ゲート前で オスプレイ配備に反対 歌で平和を訴える

Okinawa women against US military V-22 "Osprey" aircraft deployment appeal for democracy, human rights & peace at Oyama gate, US Marine Futenma Air Station, Ginowan City, Sunday night, September 29, 2012.

In this powerful one-minute video, you can hear  Suzuyo Takazato, co-director of Okinawa Women Against Military Violence, leading the group in "We Shall Overcome..."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tokyo breaks promise of a nuclear-free Japan

Via The Japan Times via Kyodo/Jiji: "Cabinet fails to OK new nuclear strategy Deadline for abolishing atomic energy by 2030s not endorsed":
The document that the Cabinet signed off on stirred speculation that it gave special consideration to big business and governments that benefit from hosting nuclear facilities, the main entities opposed to the publicly favored zero option."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

An Ancient Jewish Prayer for Peace...

My Yiddish-speaking grandmother handed this picture down to me several years ago. Regardless of religious and cultural beliefs, all peoples hope for the same thing—Peace.

A Prayer for Peace

Let peace reign over all,
Let none, in fear or hate
evermore shed blood in Our presence.
Grant us peace, the blessing above
all blessings we owe Ourselves.
Grant us peace that we may all
live in grace.

I know we will find peace one day.

—Jen Teeter

1980's postage stamp depicting friendship between Arabs & Jews in Israel

Thanks to Makiko Sato for this 1980's postage stamp from Israel of a child's drawing depicting friendship between Arabs and Jews:
Attached is a scanned image of the old postal stamp I have kept for 30 years, from when I had a Jewish penpal in Israel.

Around that time, there was an integrated school somewhere in Israel or Palestine—so children of Jews and Palestinians could share the same classrooms.

I don't know that kind of education still exists, but I hope so.

Saturday, September 15, 2012 Residents of Koodankulam, India protest in the sea against nuclear plant

Photo: Via via via AP

For over two decades, Indian citizens across Tamil Nadu, the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula, have been protesting against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP). Thousands have joined in the past month because they are concerned that hot, radioactively contaminated water discharged from the nuclear plant into the sea will poison fish and other marine life. They are also concerned forced displacement after a nuclear accident, as has happened to residents of Fukushima.

Patibandla Srikant details this history in "Twenty years of resistance at Koodankulam" published at in November, 2011:
According to the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s (AERB) stipulations, a 1.6-km radius around a nuclear power plant should have no habitation, while the next 5-km radius should have a small density of population; in a 16-km radius population must not exceed 10,000. Two reactors, Unit-I and Unit-2, are ready for testing in December this year, but no rehabilitation has been carried out to date. Government after government has changed in Tamil Nadu and in New Delhi, but the plight of the people struggling against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant continues. The central government finally seems to have taken cognisance of the protests thanks to a letter from the Tamil Nadu chief minister. But people in and around Koodankulam village continue to live with the fear of nuclear risk and threat to livelihoods.

The KNPP has its roots in the 1974 Pokhran [nuclear explosion] test conducted by India. Following the test, India came under the influence of the Soviet nuclear establishment because of its isolation from the West (the US had stopped fuel shipments to the Tarapur nuclear power plant after the 1974 test). Against this backdrop the nuclear deal with the Soviet Union was discussed as early as 1979 during Morarji Desai’s prime ministership. Finally, in 1988 the Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi signed the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project deal.

This triggered opposition in and around Koodankulam. The proposal to draw water for the nuclear reactors from the nearby Pechiparai reservoir and to discharge waste water into the sea threatened the livelihoods of the people. In May 1989, around 10,000 people assembled to protest against the plant under the banner of the National Fish Workers’ Union (NFWU). During this protest, police opened fire and disconnected the mike, preventing anyone from speaking. However, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev losing power and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi stalled the Koodankulam nuclear power plant.
Unfortunately, the nuclear project picked up steam again. Over the past decade,Tamil Nadu residents attempted legal and environmental challenges, but were blocked by manipulative tactics.

Indians have engaged in popular resistance against nuclear plants throughout the country, but, as in Japan, they are up against "economic growth-oriented development" that require national sacrifice zones that will destroy natural environment and victimize locals. Srikant explains:
In the context of globalisation, government after government in India has pledged 8-9% growth rates. Such growth rates would naturally require more energy for consumption. Given increasing awareness of environmental issues, nuclear energy is often perceived as a viable alternative to high-polluting thermal power plants and big dams.

It is in this context that increased investments in nuclear power plants need to be seen. In spite of the high costs and risks involved, successive governments showed keen interest in pursuing nuclear energy.
Such a pursuit of growth rates is putting an enormous burden on many people, particularly the marginalised sections of society – rural populations, tribals, dalits, women, the poor and others. Big projects like nuclear power plants are posing a threat to the livelihoods of these people, while putting them in a hazardous situation in the long run.
Therefore the people of Koodankulam are fighting for their survival. During a brutal repression over the last two days by police, Anthony Samy, a fisherman, was killed.

Japan's ongoing nuclear melt-throughs have not only shocked almost everyone in Japan into nuclear-free action, but have spurred others everywhere, including those were previously silent about the nuclear radiation in their backyards, and those who have long been actively resisting nuclear power, as the people of Koodankulam, to see the interconnections of nuclear issues across borders and to work for a nuclear-free world.

On Aug. 7, 2012, people of Koodankulam, India praying for the
victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima
"We have chance to save Koodankulam...."
Photo: Amirtharaj Stephen,

Kumar Sundaram, editor of, a India-based nuclear-free world advocacy organization that is a long-time supporter of the Hydrangea Revolution, understands the planetary history and structures of the nuclear industry. DiaNuke engages at multiple levels: critical, scientific, public-dialogical, prophetic (truth-telling) & organic (making connections, showing the common ground between diverse people).

DiaNuke articles, including those by Tokyo-residents Ruthie Iida and Jacinta Hin on the weekly Friday night protests, support a public dialogical working through of the collective shock and trauma that those of us exposed to nuclear radiation and those threatened with nuclear radiation must deal with as we also work to make our world nuclear-free.

DiaNuke's meta-message of the primacy of humanity always brings home the common ground that unite us all. This post is a shout out of gratitude to DiaNuke for their support of the Hydrangea Movement; facilitation of deep dialogue; and a heartfelt prayer for the people of Koodakulam and throughout India, that they may live free of fear of radioactive fallout; and for the political leaders in India for the wisdom to see and hear the profound message of these nonviolent resisters spoken with the power of truth (satyagraha).

(Arundhati Roy, via

Friday, September 14, 2012

ドキュメンタリー・ドリーム・ショー—山形in東京2012 Documentary Dream Show - Yamagata in Tokyo 2012

6 more days...

The Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival is the largest and most prestigious international film festival for documentary in Asia, and runs every other year in the northern Japanese city of Yamagata.

In the off-years, the festival brings a part of the previous year's screening program to Tokyo.

Close to 100 films will be screened during a festival period of Aug. 18 - Sept. 21 this summer at two Tokyo art house cinemas: Auditorium Shibuya and Pole Pole Higashi-nakano.

Most films will be screened with English subtitles, including many from Asia and Japan.

Venue: Aug. 18-31 Auditorium Shibuya

Sept. 1-21 Pole Pole Higashi-nakano

For details:
For inquiry: 03-5362-0671 (Cinematrix)

August 18 at 1until September 21 at 11:45pm in UTC+09
オーディトリウム渋谷, ポレポレ東中野

自分の目で見る。感じる。 いざ、ドキュメンタリーの祝祭へ


会期:8月18日〜31日 オーディトリウム渋谷
9月1日〜21日  ポレポレ東中野

料金:当日1回券 一般=1400円 3回券 当日・前売=3600円


Heiwa Kataoka: Friday Night Nuclear-Free Protest in Tokyo

Friday night Nuclear-Free Protest. Photo: Heiwa Kataoka

KJ Fresh Currents: Ongoing Friday Nuclear-Free Protests in Kyoto & Osaka

Via KJ Fresh Currents:
The Japanese government's commitment to a zero nuclear future is a significant step forward, but their ill-defined and somewhat distant deadline (sometime in the 2030s), and contradictory commitment to maintain the reprocessing program at Rokkasho cannot satisfy those who have been protesting each Friday since the controversial restarts in Fukui. The anti-nuclear movement has gained ground this week, but protests will continue until all the nuclear facilities are shut down for good. Here are the details for the Friday protests in Kansai (same time every week).


Kyoto 17:00-19:00
Outside Kanden Kyoto

Osaka 18:00-19:30
Outside Kanden


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Solidarity With Tohoku: Summer School Campfire & Drumming

Solidarity with Tohoku:
The neighborhood in Tsukidate consists of both the old rice farming community, and the new evacuee community from the coast. The children were thus part of an event that brought both communities together.

Evacuee residents from the neighboring temporary container housing were invited to join camp events...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

18 months after 3/11 - 343,000 still living in temporary housing (mostly shipping containers) in Tohoku

Tsukidate container temporary housing. Photo: Solidarity with Tohoku (SWTJ)

Sept. 11 marks 18 months since 3.11 and the start of the Fukushima meltdowns.

Kyodo's photo essay and progress report, "Tohoku long way from healing 18 months on" (published at JT) reveals hundreds of thousands are still homeless:
Tuesday marked the 1½-year anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters that devastated the Tohoku region, with confirmed deaths standing at 15,870 and 2,814 people still missing.

An additional 1,632 people died of disaster-related causes, including fatigue and poor health while living in evacuation shelters.

Some 343,000 people still live in about 136,000 temporary housing units, including private properties rented by the government...

A population drain has been a major problem in the disaster zone because many who evacuated have started new lives elsewhere and have no plans to return.

In Pacific coastal areas hit hard by the tsunami, authorities have been slow in preparing housing sites for collective relocation to safer ground.

Reconstruction has been particularly slow in Fukushima Prefecture amid the triple-meltdown disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which spewed massive radioactive fallout. And the effectively nationalized Tepco has been slow to mete out damages payments.

A number of municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture plan to construct "temporary towns" for evacuees to help them assemble outside their hometowns, but they have made scant progress.

Official data show that about 71,000 people from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures had evacuated outside their prefectures as of August, including about 61,000 from Fukushima alone.

In Sendai, which is now home to more than 3,000 households of evacuees from outside the city, efforts have been made by the local social welfare council to put together residents hailing from the same localities...
Asahi reports:
As for homes for disaster victims, construction has begun on only 470 houses out of some 23,000 units planned to be built, while 24 homes have been completed. The construction of some 15,000 homes is not expected to be completed by the end of fiscal 2013, which is the deadline for evacuees to move out from temporary housing complexes. While some 21,500 homes in about 310 districts in 26 municipalities are planned to be relocated under the anti-disaster collective relocation promotion project, the relocation of only about 8,600 homes in some 150 districts in 18 municipalities has been given the green light from the central government.
One of the best close-up sources of English-language information on 3/11 survivors we've found is at Kyoto-based Solidarity with Tohoku's blog. The group is engaged in consistent support at multiple levels for the people of Tohoku.
...more than 300,000 people lost their habitual hometowns. These coastal people now mostly live in temporary container housing built for them by the government at the edge of towns and villages in the hilly interior of the country. However, little is done to socially integrate these displaced people into the culturally different rice-farming communities of the interior regions of northeastern Japan.
Container houses are made out of recycled shipping containers or new containers of similar design. They're also called "prefab" or "cargo container houses."

Photos of architect-designed shipping container housing reflect some (albeit stark) elegance. Shigeru Ban's shipping container housing appears pleasant inside, although the exterior could use greenery. The Ex-Container Project, formed by a group of architects, advocates for the use of new ex-containers as temporary, even permanent housing in Tohoku.

Shigeru Ban + Voluntary Architects Network + MUJI's Container Housing in Onagawa, Miyagi.
Photo: John Tubles, Archinect blogs

Apparently old shipping containers are being marketed worldwide as low-cost housing for migrant workers and trendy habitats and commercial buildings (restaurants, art galleries) for the economically privileged. This article published in August at an online design magazine reports on shipping container work camps for temporary oil field workers in Texas and a UK shipping container mobile hotel.

Why shipping containers? Is there a surfeit of them? The article cited above and comments at this architectural discussion forum say this is the case. Shipping containers are being marketed as housing and commercial units in countries with negative trade balances with China (where they come from) because these containers travel one-way; it's expensive to ship them back to China empty from the US & Japan.

However, their use for habitation has raises issues, especially when addressing their suitability for long-term or even short-term (depending on the condition of the container) temporary housing.

Steel conducts heat and cold therefore shipping containers used as homes in environments with extreme temperature variations (Tohoku winters) will normally have to be better insulated than most brick, block or wood structures. In temperate climates, moist interior air condenses against the steel, becoming clammy and forming rust unless the steel is well sealed and insulated.

Of more concern, Brian Pagnotta at Archdaily says "...the coatings used to make the containers durable for ocean transport also happen to contain a number of harmful chemicals, such as chromate, phosphorous, and lead-based paints. Moreover, wood floors that line the majority of shipping container buildings are infused with hazardous chemical pesticides like arsenic and chromium to keep pests away. The entire structure needs to be sandblasted bare, floors need to be replaced, and openings need to be cut with a torch or fireman’s saw. The average container eventually produces nearly a thousand pounds of hazardous waste before it can be used as a structure. All of this, coupled with the fossil fuels required to move the container into place with heavy machinery, contribute significantly to its ecological footprint."

This is a photo of a temporary shipping container shelter in Tanohate in Iwate prefecture (the entire village was washed into the sea) that does not look it meets basic standards.

Martin Frid of Kurashi (who is taking a closer look) responds:
What I saw and photographed in June 2011 in Minamisanriku looked very temporary, clean and organized. We stopped there briefly to open our vans and many people emerged who appreciated the clothing, books, candy, food.

What I heard was that some people rejected the design and the sterility of the environment, but for some, it is the only way to manage. I also saw the large water tanks and sewage systems that go with this setup. Camps (if that is the right word) are often located near schools or on other public land, but residents in the neighborhood (in normal housing, untouched by the tsunami) may have complaints too, I don't know. Obviously the entire supply side, including stores and banking and postal services are another huge issue.
There are some permanent housing projects, including this beautiful collaboration between Rias no Mori and Kogakuin University. John Tubles of Archinect notes, "This community of 11 units perched atop a hill overlooking Shirahama Coast. According to one of the residents the not only the thought of permanence is comforting, but as well the tangible familiarity of these materials contribute to the easiness of living in place that was severely affected by the disaster."

"A permanent housing community aimed towards building “re-normalizing” the life of victims by creating a permanent housing unit that utilizes as much traditional material (ie. domestic wood beams+columns, slate and plaster) and carpentry as possible. A collaboration between Rias no Mori and Kogakuin University, this community of 11 units perched atop a hill overlooking Shirahama Coast." Photo: John Tubles, Archinect blogs

However, Tubles adds that isolation is also an issue at this scenic site as well as Ban's project in Onagawa:
Both are away from any form of community amenities like shopping, civic buildings or place of work. Moreover locating housing communities on hilltops and making it a viable solution demands for higher density, therefore more housing units and adequate social spaces takes the back seat.

For example, when I visited the Onagawa housing facility, there are designated social spaces that were locked and not used because of the lack of managing personnel, and the main covered public space is only really utilized during market days which is once a week. So often young children are not out playing and socializing with neighbors instead they are limited within the confides of their housing units.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gavan McCormack: "This is no longer an opposition movement but a prefecture in resistance, saying “No.”

A must-read for anyone who follows Okinawa and Japan...Published on Sept. 9, at the Ryukyu Shimpo, (one of Okinawa's two major newspapers): Gavan McCormack's "This is no longer an opposition movement but a prefecture in resistance, saying 'No.'”
Great issues are at stake in the Osprey contest and the 5 August Meeting. After four decades of lying to, discriminating against, and betraying Okinawa, time and again, decade after decade, the governments of Japan and the United States now seem to have provoked it to an intolerable degree. By determining to impose on it something that the people of Okinawa say they will not accept, they substitute authoritarianism for democracy...

Two decades after the end of the Cold War, the relationship between Tokyo (backed by Washington) and Okinawa resembles nothing so much as that between Moscow and Budapest or Warsaw at the height of the Cold War. Okinawan views are as much respected and listened to in Tokyo and Washington today as once Hungarian and Polish sentiments were respected in Moscow.

After decades of struggle, however, on these issues there is no longer an Okinawan “government” and “opposition.” Local government heads and assemblies, social and citizen groups are one, and it is the conservative Governor who suggests that if the Osprey are so safe they could be deployed to Hibiya Park or Shinjuku Gyoen. This is no longer an opposition movement but a prefecture in resistance, saying “No.” Japanese history has no precedent for this.

There is of course much more at stake than the Osprey. The Okinawan movement that says “No” to the Osprey says “No” also to the Futenma substitution project at Nago and “No” to the Osprey Helipad construction project at Takae. It also is deeply sensitive to other signs of intention to militarize the Southwestern islands in general and turn it into a front-line of confrontation with China: to construct a new (Self-Defence Force) base on Yonaguni, to have US and Japanese forces gradually merge and share the existing bases (in the name of “bilateral cooperation”), and to turn Shimojishima airport on Miyako Island and Mageshima in Kagoshima Prefecture into bases.

When the DPJ abandoned one by one its 2009 electoral pledges and began to morph into a clone LDP, mainland Japan sank into a stupor of political disillusion, but Okinawa returned to struggle with renewed energy...

Today’s Okinawa struggle is a root a struggle over how Japan is governed and how it should be governed. In a rapidly changing world in which the US is losing both its economic and its moral authority, how can it be in the national interest for Japan to cling to its client state dependence on the United States and to steadily militarize? The anti-militarist Okinawan struggle constitutes a precious resource, pricking the national conscience and spurring mainland Japan to greater civic courage...
Gavan McCormack is a scholar specializing in East Asia and a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. His recent books include Client State: Japan in the American Embrace and Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States (excerpted today at APJ.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ryukyu Shimpo: "Okinawan people’s mass rally to reject Osprey deployment: Protect the sanctity of human life & become a cornerstone of peace"

(Photo courtesy of Ms. Yoko Miyazato)

The Ryukyu Shimpo, one of two major Okinawan newspapers, points out threat to public security is just one of many issues addressed by the rally opposing US V-22 Osprey aircraft low-level training and testing in Okinawa.  The rally is also about democratic process, environmental justice, decades of profoundly unequal and abusive relations between the US and Okinawa characterized by violent seizures of land by "bayonet and bulldozer" from owners, environmental destruction, toxic weapons testing, noise, military sexual assaults, and other crimes) 

The rally is also an Okinawan witness and testimony for peace, as their prefecture was the only Japanese battlefield during the Pacific War: 
For the people of Okinawa, today is the day of an historic mass rally. In this rally the young and the old, men and women and people of all walks of like will participate to express their opposition to the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. People who value the spirit of democracy and the democratic process are filled with a sense of impending crisis. This thoroughly bipartisan rally will be the first motion that will culminate in a huge wave of opposition. The Okinawan people will not accept the “inherently defective aircraft” that threatens their lives, property, safety and security. Washington and Tokyo are advised to take this situation seriously, because people are standing up to take up action over the sanctity of life – the Government needs to understand that this rally is a committed cry of the people. Okinawans have applied themselves many times in various ways in an attempt to resolve base-related issues since the end of the war. Now, resentment towards the military-first policy that the governments of Japan and the United States have foist upon them has built up to a broader and deeper extent than ever before...

After the war, Okinawa faced many difficulties because the U.S. military forces seized Okinawan people’s land at the point of a bayonet and bulldozed everything in its path to construct military bases. To add insult to injury, U.S. military personnel further trampled on Okinawan people’s human rights by raping Okinawan women. In 1959, a military aircraft crashed into Miyamori Elementary School in Ishikawa, killing 18 pupils.

The deployment of the Osprey to Futenma essentially represents an “indiscriminate attack” on the Okinawan people among the many inhumane acts perpetrated in Okinawa by the U.S. military forces. If the Japanese and the U.S. government force the deployment of the Osprey aircraft on the prefecture, the Okinawan people will undoubtedly come to oppose not only the U.S. Marine Corps but all four arms of the U.S. military.

There are 20 airspaces and 28 water areas used for training under the U.S. military administration around the islands of Okinawa Prefecture. Local people are not allowed to freely use the land, sea and sky that belong to Okinawa. Taking advantage of the Status of Forces Agreement, which grants privileges to the U.S. forces in Japan, U.S. forces exert extra-territorial rights to an inordinate extent. Does the U.S. government think that Okinawa is an American colony?

After Okinawa’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty, there have been 522 accidents, including U.S. military aircraft crashing, or making emergency landings. Up until the end of December 2011 those accidents had caused 34 casualties with another 24 people missing. The fiery explosion of a U.S. Marine helicopter that crashed onto the campus of Okinawa International University in the summer of 2004 is still fresh in our minds...

We cannot help but feel that the world is now asking us, the people of Okinawa, about our historical standpoint and our broader viewpoint. Japanese government leaders express rivalry with the emerging China. Should Okinawa play the role of the cornerstone of the Pacific from a military standpoint, or should we play the role of the cornerstone of the Pacific from a peaceful perspective in order to serve as a bridge between Asian nations. We would like the people of Okinawa to think of this rally as the starting point for action that shapes a future of their choice.

Resolution: "Osprey"-Free Okinawa Rally, September 9, 2012  決議文: 9月9日オスプレイ配備反対沖縄県民大会

100,000 attend V-22 "Osprey"-free Okinawa Rally Photo: NHK

Via Okinawa Outreach, this photo is of an action at today's prefectural rally,
undertaken by friends of the 24/7 activist villagers of Takae:
"Save TAKAE, Be Aware. V-22 Osprey Helipads are already under construction.
Save the habitat [Yanbaru rainforest] of the Okinawa woodpecker.

The image on their placard is a Kathe Kollwitz wartime depiction.

Over 100,000 Okinawans attended the rally. Mainland Japanese citizens also held rallies around the Parliament Building in Tokyo, in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi (where the US marines are stationing V-22 "Osprey" aircraft before planned deployment to Futenma air base for low-altitude testing & flight training in Okinawa and the mainland) and Ishigaki and Miyako islands.
The Okinawa Prefectural Citizens’ Rally Against Osprey Deployment: Resolution

We are gathered here today to protest with indignation against the forceful deployment of the vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft, the MV-22 Osprey, and to call for the withdrawal of its deployment plans.

 Due to the presence of the US forces’ bases, the citizens of Okinawa prefecture have been imposed with a multitude of damages related to military facilities. Looking just at the years since the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, the number of criminal cases involving US military personnel and/or other related persons has reached close to 6,000. At present, incidents, accidents, and noise damage related to the US forces still continue.

 With the abduction and rape of a local schoolgirl by three US servicemen in September of 1995, The Okinawan People’s Rally was held in October of the same year where 85,000 citizens gathered to voice their anger and protest against the US forces. In response to the strong protest by the people, the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) was established, and both governments of Japan and the United States agreed to the full return of MCAS Futenma.

 However, it has been 16 years since the agreement was concluded and MCAS Futenma still remains in the middle of a densely populated urban area and continues to threaten the lives and assets of the Okinawan people.

 Against this background, the United States government gave notice that the “structurally defective” Osprey aircraft is going to be deployed to the dangerous facility of MCAS Futenma, and these aircraft have already been unloaded at MCAS Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Furthermore, it has become apparent that the Osprey would be in operation not just at MCAS Futenma, but also in training at Kadena Air Force Base and at the Northern Training Area. With the risks of crashes, accidents, and noise issues resulting from the training and operation of the Osprey which spans throughout all of Okinawa, the concern, anxiety and indignation of the citizens have risen to unprecedented levels.

 The Osprey has had repeated accidents since its development stages and has caused a large number of fatalities. We have even seen this year, the crashes in Morocco and in the State of Florida. Experts are citing its structural deficiencies and thus, we cannot accept the Osprey deployment without sound confirmation of its safety.

 The citizens of Okinawa adamantly oppose further burdens imposed by the military bases. Moreover, if the national government ignores the calls of the people of the prefecture, we declare that we will work to unite the general consensus of the prefecture’s citizens opposing the bases.

 We strongly urge both governments of Japan and the United States to take seriously and sincerely the indomitable resolve of the citizens against the Osprey deployment and to immediately withdraw the deployment plans, and to close and remove MCAS Futenma.

The above is resolved as stated on this 9th day of September, 2012.

The Okinawa Prefectural Citizens’ Rally Against Osprey Deployment












Saturday, September 8, 2012

Okinawan author Tatsuhiro Oshiro: "Okinawa and disaster-struck Tohoku region sacrificed for Tokyo"

National sacrifice zones are part of every industrialized nation, located in areas where regional economies are not essential to national finance and industry. Nature and people who live in these national sacrifice zones are considered expendable. National sacrifice zones include communities and entire regions that "host" uranium mines, nuclear plants, nuclear waste sites, chemical plants, coal fields (mountaintop removal sites), fracking sites, oil fields, factory farms, uranium and nuclear weapons testing sites, and military bases.

Tokyo's use of Okinawa as a "national sacrifice zone" began during World War II, when Japanese government leaders knew they would inevitably lose the Pacific War against the US.  Some leaders, including Prime Minister Konoe, pushed for an early surrender, however his and other voices were drowned out by those who decided to "sacrifice" Okinawa in a last, hellish battle, seeking to prolong the war, in the belief this would result in better terms of surrender.

The cost of this decision: one third (100-150,000) of the population of Okinawa, 70,000 Japanese soldiers and 12,000 American soldiers; the dislocation of 90 percent of the Okinawan people, and the near-total destruction of material Ryukyuan culture. In the postwar period, Tokyo ceded Okinawa to Washington which seized and destroyed entire villages "by bayonet and bulldozer" throughout the prefecture, to make way for massive military bases used for weapons testing and training during US wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Even after the 1972 "reversion" to Tokyo rule, the US military bases remained.

In the 1990's, Washington resurrected expansion plans (including a massive war training base at Henoko and Oura Bay that dated back to the 1960's). Okinawans have protested this plan since its inception. 

Tohoko (along with Fukui) was decided upon as a national nuclear sacrifice zone also during the postwar period when US nuclear industry companies sought to introduce the "peaceful atom" to Japan. Eiji Oguma details Tohoku's history and the selection process (which exploited the region's economic poverty) in"The Hidden Face of Disaster: 3.11, the Historical Structure and Future of Japan’s Northeast", published at The Asia-Pacific Journal on Aug. 1, 2012. 

Mainichi writer Yudai Nakazawa article (published on March 16, 2012) gives voice to Okinawan novelist Tatsuhiro Oshiro's insights into the connections betweenTokyo's sacrifice of Okinawa and Tohoku.
Okinawa and disaster-struck Tohoku region sacrificed for Tokyo: Okinawan novelist

It was through Tatsuhiro Oshiro's collection of stories, "Hatsukayo," that I learned that hibiscus have a special place in the culture of Okinawa. I had arrived in Japan's southernmost prefecture amidst a festival celebrating the New Year in the afterlife, and the sight of people placing offerings of hibiscus -- known as "flowers of the afterlife" -- on their ancestors' graves in the cold rain was something to behold. It overlapped with Okinawa's tragic history.

Newspaper headlines that day were all about the U.S. military realignment, including the transfer of U.S. troops to Guam and the Futenma air station relocation issue.

"The papers here are like this all the time," Oshiro, 86, said as he glanced at the headlines. "I wrote some 20 years ago that Okinawa was a domestic colony, and I wondered at first if I'd gone too far. But these days, the expression 'domestic (internal) colony' has become widely accepted."

Looking over at the window, Oshiro continued: "It's cold these days, so I bury myself under the covers and wonder whether the people living in the disaster areas (in the Tohoku region) are warm enough. Who would've thought that Okinawa and the Tohoku region would be linked this way in solidarity?"

Oshiro says that the Tohoku region holds a special place in his heart. When he attended the award ceremony in Tokyo for the Akutagawa Prize, which he received for his novel "Cocktail Party," he had also traveled through Fukushima on the suggestion of a former college classmate.

So what is the "new solidarity" this writer -- who for years has focused on the suffering of Okinawa -- talking about? The answer is this: sacrifice that state power imposes on the weak. In other words, political discrimination.

The islands have been a part of Japan only since the late 1800s, when the Meiji government annexed the Ryukyu Kingdom and eventually renamed it Okinawa Prefecture. After the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty were signed in 1951, Okinawa Prefecture was put under U.S. military administration. As a result, while Okinawa constituted a mere 0.6 percent of Japan's land area, more than 70 percent of U.S. military bases in Japan were built there. Meanwhile, the Tohoku region, which relied heavily on the agricultural and natural resource industries, became an enormous source of labor for Tokyo. Furthermore, the electrical power produced by nuclear power plants that have been built in high concentrations in de-populated areas has not benefitted local communities, but rather Tokyo and other major metropolitan areas.

Both the numerous incidents and accidents that occur because of the military bases in Okinawa and the dangers of nuclear disasters in Tohoku have ostensibly been set off with massive subsidies handed out to local communities. However, we've arrived at a point now where we can no longer overlook the history of the weak being placed at the mercy of national policies, or the contradictions and inconsistencies that have long been left unaddressed.

"This imposition of sacrifice is a carrot-or-stick situation," Oshiro said. "To change this situation, there's nothing but for Diet members from Okinawa to do their job well..."

It was when Oshiro refolded his arms over his chest that a deafening roar was heard outside.

"That's a military plane," Oshiro explained. "They're always flying above, so this area's been designated as a noise pollution area. The nearby Shuri Junior High School is a soundproof facility. There are times when the planes fly even lower, and we have to stop talking altogether." This, I learned, was Okinawa's reality.

Last year, Oshiro published "Futenma yo" (To Futenma), a book of short stories. In the first story, whose title is that of the book, Oshiro eagerly tackles the Futenma relocation through a family who lives near the air station.

The story reaches its climax when the musical accompaniment to a Ryukyu dance is drowned out by the noise from U.S. helicopters, but our heroine continues to perform. Her determination symbolizes the local culture that refuses to be defeated by the heavy burdens of military bases. At the same time, however, the heroine's grandmother's plan to find a family heirloom buried on ancestral lands that have been seized by the U.S. military ends in failure.

In the book, Oshiro addresses uncompromising will and crushed hopes. "These two extremes represent the essence of the military base issue," Oshiro said. "My intention was to write about the identity of the Okinawan people who want to weave our history together and regain the land that's steeped with memories."

The Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami and nuclear disaster have forced many people from the Tohoku region from their homelands. Asked whether this tragedy is something that can be shared with Okinawa, Oshiro rips open a package to reveal the March issue of the literary journal Bungakukai. It features a debate between two of Oshiro's acquaintances -- Fukushima resident, novelist and monk Sokyu Genyu and former foreign ministry official Masaru Sato -- in a section titled "Interpreting 'Japan' through Fukushima and Okinawa."

Oshiro said: "I think it was Jan. 9 that Genyu stopped by here when he was in Okinawa to give a lecture. That's when he told me about his interview with Sato. Genyu said, "We have to do something that puts us in confrontation with the state.'"

In the magazine interview, Genyu said there was a parallel between the proposed construction of an intermediate storage facility for radioactive waste in Fukushima and the issue of U.S. military bases. Here, too, the government's failure to act has already led partly to the imposition of sacrifices. Amid the ongoing political confusion in Japan, is there any reason not to be pessimistic?

"Japanese people have grown accustomed to luxuries in their everyday lives, right? I wonder if an ideology or policy that will trim off the excess fat and desires from our lives won't emerge," he said. "But my outlook is not grim."

Asked why, Oshiro responded: "After the massive earthquake, those in the disaster areas didn't panic, and have been acting levelheadedly while being considerate of each other. That's hopeful. There's a very old concept of mutual support in Okinawa, too, called 'yuimaru.' If we're able to foster this spirit around the country, I believe that we'll be able to build a new kind of civilization."

Suddenly, instead of the roar of military jets, birds could be heard chirping outside.

After the interview, I got into a car driven by a local friend of mine, heading toward U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan. The city was in the midst of mayoral elections, and candidates and their campaign crews drove around, loudly appealing to voters for their support.

"Look, it's a KC130 refueling aircraft!" my friend said, suddenly. "It's a touch-and-go landing."

We watched as a dark aircraft made a sharp dive in the air right above us. Its explosive noise drowned out election pledges being shouted through amplifiers. This was everyday life here, I thought. Experiencing, if just for a moment, the "sacrifice being imposed on the weak," I was struck again by the weight of Oshiro's words.

(By Yudai Nakazawa, Evening Edition Department)

Friday, September 7, 2012

WAM Exhibition: "Comfort Stations in Okinawa & Sexual Violence by U.S. Forces" • June 23, 2012 - July 30, 2013 • Tokyo

Map of military sexual slave stations in Okinawa.

Kyodo correspondent Keiji Hirano's "Exhibition portrays Okinawa's wartime sex slaves" covers the
Women's Active Museum's exhibition on wartime Japanese military sexual slavery and postwar US military sexual assaults in Okinawa. The exhibition's opening in June coincided with the 40th anniversary of Okinawa's ostensible reversion to Japan:

In a yearlong exhibition through next June, the Women's Active Museum on War and Peace shows there were at least 145 "comfort stations" in the islands, at which women not only from Japan but also from Korea and Taiwan were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.

The exhibition, "Comfort Stations in Okinawa and Sexual Violence by U.S. Forces," also introduces testimonies from 300 Okinawa women who were sexually assaulted by U.S. military personnel in the postwar era, although they are believed to be just the tip of the iceberg.

"We hope to show that women have faced sexual violence by military forces in Okinawa in wartime as well as even in the postwar period," said Mina Watanabe, secretary general of the museum known as WAM.

"We expect visitors to the exhibition to be aware this has resulted in Japan's creation of comfort stations and its policy of forcing the bulk of U.S. military bases in Japan on Okinawa," she said.

The findings presented on more than 30 panels at the exhibition are based mainly on decades of research by historians, activists and journalists, who examined documents compiled by the Japanese military and municipalities of Okinawa while collecting testimonies of those who lived near the comfort stations and witnessed the exploitation of women, the organizers said...''

A panel quotes a history book compiled by the municipal government of Yomitan: "There were four Korean comfort women. On holidays, soldiers stood in line (in front of a comfort station) from daytime, leading the village residents to turn their eyes away from them."

A Haebaru resident remembers a girl aged around 13, who served as a nanny in the daytime and as a "comfort woman" in the evening, saying, "She sometimes innocently showed me money that she received from soldiers," another panel indicates.

Comfort stations were built even in remote islands, with Tokashiki Island, now a major diving spot, having seven Korean comfort women aged 16 to 30.

Among them was Bae Bong Gi, who was taken to the island from Korea in 1944, and forced to provide sex under the Japanese name, "Akiko."

She remained in Okinawa even after the end of the war and engaged in marginal work. Suffering headaches and nerve pain in old age, she died in 1991 at the age of 77 without returning home. Another of the seven on Tokashiki, meanwhile, died in a U.S. attack at the end of the war.

While Bae talked about her life in interviews before her death, "many women remained unable to come out," Watanabe said...
The exhibition was also held in Okinawa through mid-July.

The Women's Active Museum of War and Peace opened the summer of 2005, the sixtieth anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II, to focus on "violence against women during wars and armed conflict, from a gender perspective."

See also "Statement of protest against the sexual assault on an Okinawan woman by a US Marine Corps serviceman, & demand for withdrawal of US Military Forces" posted on September 5, 2012, about a recent protest by Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence (OWAAMV) of yet another US military sexual assault upon an Okinawan woman (while returning to her home).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ahn Sehong's "Layer-by-Layer Project" - Gallery Furuto, Tokyo through Sept. 9

Photo: Photographs of the Soul. Courtesy of Ahn Sehong

Ahn Sehong's "Layer by Layer Project: Military Sexual Slavery by Japan During the Second World War" is being exhibited (the second time this year) at Gallery Furuto in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward through Sept. 9.

The exhibition features 36 black-and-white pictures of 12 Korean women who were abandoned in China, after being forced into Japanese military sexual slavery during the Pacific War.

The first exhibition, at Nikon Gallery, encountered rightist backlash, a pattern used to repress controversial views in Japan since the postwar period. Tomoko Otake's Aug. 19 article at The Japan Times details Ahn's experience and gives voice to the photographer's compassionate and humanitarian motivation, just as he gives some voice to these displaced, forgotten victims of military sexual violence and war:
"This is not an issue of Japan-Korea relations," he said. "It's an issue of how war can infringe on the human rights of women who are the most vulnerable members of society. Japanese prostitutes were also taken (to other parts of Asia) as comfort women, and their rights were significantly trampled upon as well."
Toyohiro Mishima's Sept. 4 article at The Asahi explains how the second exhibition came about through the support of Kozo Nagata, a Musashi University professor and Kazuo Tajima, the manager of Gallery Furuto.

Twelve of the photographs are available for viewing at Ahn's website, Photographs of the Soul.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Yoshio Shimoji defends the Japanese Peace Constitution

Yoshio Shimoji's defense (published at The Japan Times on June 14, 2012) of the Japanese Peace Constitution:
...Article 9 is one of the most important provisions in the Japanese Constitution. Three principles of idealism permeate it throughout: pacifism, liberty and democracy. Article 9 embodies man's universal aspirations for peace. I think Article 9 was postwar Japan's manifestation of its deep regret for what it had done during the war.

But look at what the U.S. government has done since Japan's new Constitution was promulgated and came into force in 1947. It has forced Japan to rearm, compelled police reserve forces-turned self-defense forces to act as a real army and, more often than not, called on Japan, either openly or under cover, to revise its Constitution so that Japan could engage in a "collective defense" and fight a global war along with U.S. forces.

All nations, not to mention the U.S. and Kolb's Austria, should add an Article 9-like provision to their constitutions. It's not a worthless article as Kolb suggests. Rather, it's a star of hope every nation should aspire to. Japan should be proud of possessing it.
Read the entire letter here.

Yoshio Shimoji, born in Miyako Island, Okinawa, M.S. (Georgetown University), taught English and English linguistics at the University of the Ryukyus from April 1966 until his retirement in March 2003. He is a contributor to The Japan Times and The Asia-Pacific Journal.

Craig Martin: The LDP's dangerous proposals for revising the Japanese Peace Constitution

Important article on Article 9, "LDP's dangerous proposals for amending antiwar article," by Washburn University School of Law professor Craig Martin, published at The Japan Times on June 6, 2012:
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) published its new draft constitutional amendment proposal in late April. The draft reflects a number of significant changes above and beyond those advanced in the proposal unveiled by the LDP in 2005. The proposal includes a complete overhaul of Article 9, the war-renouncing provision of Japan's so-called Peace Constitution. These changes to Article 9 are important, and on balance, dangerous...

As such, the changes would utterly undermine the normative power of the third pillar of the Japanese constitutional order — that is, the principle of pacifism and nonuse of force. For those who believe that this core principle of Japan's constitution has served it well over the last 65 years, it is important to understand the ramifications, and indeed the real intent, of the LDP's amendment proposals.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Renowned nuclear-free activist Arnie Gundersen speaks in Kyoto tonight

Arnie Gundersen will be speaking at Heartopia in Kyoto tomorrow night (Monday, September 3rd). See the full-sized pdf of the flyer above.
What all involved in nuclear power must learn from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
Lecture and Q&A in English, with Japanese translation.
Arnie Gundersen has 40-years of nuclear power engineering experience. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where he earned his Bachelor Degree cum laude while also becoming the recipient of a prestigious Atomic Energy Commission Fellowship for his Master Degree in nuclear engineering.
Arnie holds a nuclear safety patent, was a licensed reactor operator, and is a former nuclear industry senior vice president. During his nuclear power industry career, Arnie also managed and coordinated projects at 70-nuclear power plants in the US. Arnie is the chief engineer for Fairewinds Associates, Inc.
Date & Time: Monday September 3rd: 18:00~20:45 at Heartopia Kyoto
Entry: 500 yen (students: 300 yen)
Children under junior high age free
Directions: Heartopia is just a minute walk from Marutamachi Station on Subway Karasuma Line (which you can take from JR Kyoto Station). From Kyoto station the train will take approximately 7 minutes / is 4 stops. Just go out from Exit #5 of Marutamachi station, and you will be standing just below the building of Heartopia Kyoto. Take the Heartopia Kyoto elevator to the 3rd floor. Here is a map.
Deep Kyoto is a reliable source of important event (and dining!) information for those in the Kyoto area. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we are reposting DK's post on this critical event tonight. See you there!- Jen