Wednesday, December 18, 2013

UN calls Syrian Refugee Crisis "Greatest humanitarian tragedy of our times" • Maronite Archbishop of Damascus likens Syria to Christmas Story

Newly arrived Syrian refugees carry their belongings and children 
after crossing into Jordan's Ruweished camp on December 5.

The UN has called the Syrian refugee crisis the "greatest humanitarian tragedy of our times."  The war has resulted in the biggest humanitarian crisis in modern history.  2.3 million Syrians have fled to makeshift camps in neighboring countries. Half that number are children, whose families and communities have been torn apart. 6.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced, unable to be reached by aid workers, because of the level of violence. 

Syrian Christians, Shiite Muslims, and moderate rebels have been targeted by foreign (Al Qaeda-backed) Sunni jihadists who have joined the Syrian civil war for their own religio-patriotic reasons.  Weapons sent by the Obama administration to Syrian rebels have been captured by Al Qaeda now in Syria

Last week Amnesty International asked European nations to help resettle more refugees from Syria, "to lighten the immense burden borne by the main host countries, particularly Lebanon and Jordan." However, few have responded:
...In September Sweden granted permanent residency to all Syrian asylum-seekers in the country. It was a compassionate decision, but also a logical one: the conflict is showing no sign of ending and refugees won’t be able to return to their country anytime soon.

Meanwhile, Germany announced that it would offer temporary residencies to 10,000 Syrian refugees from the main host countries.

Just this week, Syria broke another record: it is the subject of the UN’s largest-ever humanitarian appeal for the second year running. Half of Syria’s population of 22 million will need humanitarian assistance in 2014. Up to three million Syrians are refugees, 6.5 million are displaced internally and 600,000 refugee children are out of school.
The Maronite Archbishop of Damascus likens the situation of Syrian refugees to the story of Christmas:
Christmas Reflection from the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus - The Refugees before The Crib

Syria, at this Christmas time, resembles very much, the crib: an opened crib, with no doors, cold, deprived and extremely poor.

The Child Jesus doesn't lack companions in Syria - thousands of children who lost their homes are living under tents as poor as Bethlehem’s crib.

Jesus is not alone in his extreme poverty. Syrian Children, abandoned children and scarred by scenes of violence, want to be in the place of Jesus who has parents that surrounding him, cherishing him.

This taste of bitterness is very visible in the eyes of these Syrian children - their tears and their silence.

Some of them envy the Divine Child because he found a manger to be born in and to be sheltered, while some unlucky Syrian children are born under the bombs or on the exodus way.

In her difficulties, Mary is not alone anymore; ill-fated mothers, less lucky, are living in extreme poverty and handle family responsibilities alone without husbands.

The insecurity, the precariousness, of Bethlehem’s crib brings a consolation to these mothers crushed by intractable problems and despair.

The reassuring presence of Joseph at the side of the Holy Family is a source of jealousy for thousands of families deprived of a father - deprivation which breeds fear, anguish and insecurity. Our unemployed envy Joseph the carpenter who saves his family from being in need.

The Shepherds and their flocks, close by the manger, speak to the many Syrian farmers who lost 70% of their livestock in this war. The nomadic life on this biblical earth that dates back to Abraham and even further back, brutally disappears with its ancient customs of hospitality and its traditional culture.

The dogs of the Christmas shepherds have compassion for the fate of the domestic animals in Syria scarred by the deadly violence; roaming amongst the ruins and feeding themselves with corpses.

The infernal sound of war suffocates the “Gloria” of the Angels... This symphony for peace gives way to the hatred, division and cruel atrocities.

May the three Magi bring to Syria’s crib, the most precious Christmas gifts: Peace, Forgiveness and Reconciliation, so that the CHRISTMAS STAR might shine again in our dark nights.

 Let us pray to the Divine Child. Lord, graciously hear us.

 + Samir NASSAR Maronite Archbishop of Damascus

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WAR IS OVER (If You Want It)

Yoko Ono's holiday message for decades, available for download in 100 languages at
Dear Friends

Download, print & display these posters
in your window, school, workplace, car
and  elsewhere over the holiday season.

Send them as postcards to your friends.

We say it in so many ways, but we are one.

I love you!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Share Your Christmas With Tohoku, Japan!

Jacinta Hin, Jeffrey Jousan, and the others at "Share Your Christmas With Tohoku, Japan" personify good will, good cheer, generosity, and love — everything the spirit of Christmas is supposed to be about. This will be their third "Share Your Christmas" series of gift giving (December to February)  to people in Tohoku, of all ages, who have been affected by the natural disasters and the ongoing nuclear meltdowns.

Their first delivery will be in Fukushima at Esperi, a "farmer's market set up by local farmers trying to overcome the 80 percent drop in vegetable sales since Fukushima Daiichi exploded. It will be an evening of Christmas music, cakes and hopefully many wonderful presents! This is our first pre-Christmas delivery so we can use everyone's support. Please send presents as soon as you can. There will be children, parents and grandparents."

Here's the link to their website: And to their Facebook page: (uplifting to follow) and  their message:

Send a personal Christmas present to someone in Tohoku!

Share Your Christmas collects presents and delivers them on your behalf to someone in Tohoku, Japan, affected by the Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster of March 11, 2011, and still living in difficult circumstances. We are collecting gifts from now until the end of January. We are especially looking for gifts for our first delivery on December 17. Scroll down for details on how to send us a gift.

To unconditionally share a gift is a small thing in many ways, but for the people of Tohoku it means so much. Connection. Comfort. Love. Someone somewhere cares, is thinking about them, if offering a small piece of their heart from somewhere far away.

This will our third year to bring Christmas joy and warmth to the people of Tohoku. We collect gifts from now until end of January. Our first delivery is December 17, to an organic farmers community in Fukushima. We plan to visit several more places in Tohoku during the first months of 2014. We distribute presents at Christmas parties we organize.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in "Temporary" housing with permanent housing a distant dream and making ends meet is an uphill battle. Many older people have resigned themselves to dying in their temporary residences. The people of Fukushima still live with the fear of the long term effects of radiation and the immediate danger of another accident at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Every year, fewer and fewer people visit the region and residents move away. People feel that they have been forgotten.

This is why we are going back again this year (and for many years to come) to Share Your Christmas! Please help us bring some warmth to the hearts of the people of Tohoku.


Pack your gift and post it to:

Share your Christmas,
c/o Jeffrey Jousan
Katsuragi Nesaki 45-1
Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0824
Tel: 81-29-828-4990

Please wrap the gift in clear wrapping with a bow and card attached. You can write a message, your name and even contact information if you would like the recipient to contact you. You can even include your picture if you like.

We also accept donations in place of presents. We use them to buy party supplies, buy extra presents, purchase needed supplies and cover transportation costs.

For more details on Share Your Christmas, reports on past deliveries and instructions for sending a gift or making a donation, please visit:

Thank you in advance for your heart for Tohoku!

Jacinta Hin & Jeffrey Jousan


今年の"あなたのクリスマス"を、ギフトを贈ることで東北の人たちとシェアしましょう!"Share your Christmas"はクリスマスのプレゼントを集め、あなたの代わりに東北へとお届けする団体です。









c/o Human Arts Experience
ジェフリー ジョーサン



Share Your Christmasのさらに詳しい情報、ギフトの送り方、寄付の仕方、過去のSYC活動の様子、プレゼントの写真などは、下の日本語サイトでもご覧になれます。シェア-ユア-クリスマス/


Jacinta Hin & Jeffrey Jousan

We found these guys as the sun was going down over Ishinomaki city. They are on top of the foundation of a building that was washed away. It's actually in front of the Manga Museum. It was early July when came across them and the sounds of reggae music (an Ishinomaki original song about never giving up). It was the first time after 3.11 that a felt a sense of hope. When I was there again on 11.11 the stone "Kabigon" was still there. (Jeffrey Jousan) — at Ishinomaki.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hundreds of Japanese citizens are engaged in a crowd-sourced effort to measure Fukushima radiation

Nice article at Yes! Magazine by Erika Lundahl about Safecast, the citizen radiation monitoring in Japan: Measuring Fukushima's Impact: How Geeks and Hackers Got Geiger Counters to the Masses: Hundreds of ordinary people are contributing to a crowd-sourced effort to measure Fukushima's impact:
Hundreds of ordinary people are contributing to a crowd-sourced effort to collect data on radiation levels for scientists and ordinary citizens to use and interpret. The project was launched by SafeCast, an organization formed in the wake of the 2011 earthquake to supplement the sparse data provided by the Japanese government on radiation travel patterns.

"We were completely appalled that there was no way to get this data," SafeCast co-founder Sean Bonner said, "and that people couldn't see what was happening to their environment."

Through online collaboration with scientists and programmers, Bonner and his collaborators engineered an easily reproducible and highly accurate GPS-enabled Geiger counter, which they call the bGeigie. They distributed the first batch of 100 to volunteers who crisscrossed Japan in cars, delivery vehicles, and on foot, collecting data on radiation unmatched in scope and accuracy. To make the information from the bGeigies widely available, SafeCast publishes copyright-free maps of the readings that come in from the devices.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Analyses of state secrets law & fallout

Protest of state secrets law at Hibiya Park. (Photo: Kimberly Hughes) 

Some great analyses on what Abe's state secrets law means and the ripple effects its questionable passage is having on Japanese politics: 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ten Years of Peace Candles (every Saturday evening) & Prayers to Protect Henoko, Okinawa...

Via Ryukyu Shimpo:
...the “Peace Candle” gathering held on November 24 in protest against the building of a new base marked its tenth year...

The couple prays for world peace, offering “rays of hope” that the governments will give up on building the base.

The gathering started in November 2004. Back then the Toguchis lived with their son Takeryu and newly born twin sisters Kazuki and Wakana in Sedake, which faces Oura Bay where the governments plan to build the base.

They started the protest gathering, with like-minded people then taking part to oppose the plan. They stand beside National Route 329, holding a banner written in English and Japanese saying, “Let’s protect our sea of Henoko.” They wave and call to passersby and people involved with the U.S. military...

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima will decide in December or beyond whether or not to grant approval of the application documents to reclaim land off Henoko.

Takekiyo said, “We will continue to hold the rally until the governments give up on the plan. I want to bring it to an end in this, its tenth year.”

Saturday, December 7, 2013

"Okinawan Heart" Witness for World Peace: From the Pacific War to the Present

Elder survivor pays respects at the Cornerstone of Peace memorial in Okinawa. 

90 million people were killed by state violence in the 20th century — so far the bloodiest century in human history. 20 million people of these war dead (mostly civilians) were killed in Japan's wars in the Asia-Pacific, that began against Korea and China, even before Dec. 7, 1941.

Even after US firebombings decimated all of Japan's major cities, including Tokyo, the militarist government would not admit defeat, until after its loss in the Battle of Okinawa (the last battle of the Pacific War), and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This is why Okinawa, together with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has remained a center of peace activism and peace education in Japan.

Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial:
In late March 1945, a fierce battle such as has rarely been seen in history took place on these islands. The "Typhoon of Steel" that lasted for ninety days disfigured mountains, destroyed much of the cultural legacy, and claimed the precious lives of upward of 200,000 people. The Battle of Okinawa was the only ground fighting fought on Japanese soil and was also the largest-scale campaign of the Asia-Pacific War. Even countless Okinawan civilians were fully mobilized.

A significant aspect of the Battle of Okinawa was the great loss of civilian life. At more than 100,000 civilian losses far outnumbered the military death toll. Some were blown apart by shells, some finding themselves in a hopeless situation were driven to suicide, some died of starvation, some succumbed to malaria, while other fell victim to the retreating Japanese troops. Under the most desperate and unimaginable circumstances, Okinawans directly experienced the absurdity of war and atrocities it inevitably brings about.

This war experience is at the very core of what is popularly called the "Okinawan Heart," a resilient yet strong attitude to life that Okinawan people developed as they struggled against the pressures of many years of U. S. military control.

The "Okinawan Heart" is a human response that respects personal dignity above all else, rejects any acts related to war, and truly cherishes culture, which is a supreme expression of humanity. In order that we may mourn for those who perished during the war, pass on to future generations the historic lessons of the Battle of Okinawa, convey our message to the peoples of the world and thereby established, displaying the whole range of the individual war experiences of the people in this prefecture, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum.