Thursday, August 28, 2014

8.27.14: NHK filmed a dugong & turtle swimming together at the Sea of Henoko

On August 27, NHK TV filmed a dugong and turtle swimming near each other, off Okinawa's Henoko coast. Via @Yuric117 on Twitter

Thursday, August 21, 2014

MP Keiko Itokazu testifies about human rights violations in Okinawa at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Japan review in Geneva

(Photo via Keiko Itokazu on FB)

Via Upper House Member of the Japanese Diet Keiko Itokazu with Naha City Councilman Caesar Uehara at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Japan review yesterday in Geneva, Switzerland. The two Okinawan political leaders reported on Japanese government discrimination against the Ryukyuan people on August 19. They cited the Japanese government's use of riot police, security contractors, and military (Coast Guard) to force construction of US military bases at Henoko and Takae, against the democratically expressed will of the people.

The lawmakers asked for the UN body to support the immediate withdrawal of the Henoko new base plan; the withdrawal of planning and immediate cessation of Takae helipad construction; and he immediate closure and removal of the Futenma base.

UNESCO has recognized a number of Ryukyu languages (2009) and the unique ethnicity, history, culture and traditions of Okinawa, which was an independent country for 500 years before the Meiji Japanese military seizure in 1879. Human rights violations suffered by the people of Okinawa during US military rule (1945-1972) and the Japanese government (1972-present) are well-known. CERD has expressed strong concerns about structural discimination of Okinawans on the basis of ethnicity. However, the Japanese government has disregarded the indigeneity of the Ryukyuan people, despite overwhelming evidence, resulting in a continuing violation of their human rights.

Because of concerns, in the past, CERD has urged the Japanese government to engage in wide consultations with Okinawan representatives with a view to monitoring discrimination suffered by Okinawans, to promote their rights and establish appropriate protection measures and policies. However, the Okinawan people require more protection from the Japanese government's ongoing escalation of human rights violations in Okinawa.

Ms. Keiko Itokazu reported strong resentment and questions about the Japanese government's refusal to recognize Okinawans as a separate people; use of military violence to enforce human rights violations in Henoko and Takae, and promised follow-up actions.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Laura Kina's Blue Hawai'i & Wesley Uenten's "Okinawan Diasporan Blues"

"Graves By the Sea" by Laura Kina

In this excerpt from "Okinawan Disaporan Blues," included in Laura Kina's Blue Hawaii exhibition catalogue, Wesley Uenten describes the Japanese colonial rule's erasure of traditional Okinawan culture and ongoing resistance by a group of grandmothers and grandfathers, child survivors of the Battle of Okinawa, to the US plan to turn the habitat of the Okinawan dugong, a sacred cultural icon, into another military base:
...At least on the level of cultural genocide, what happened to Okinawans was similar to what happened to Native Americans. It seems so familiar when I read about the...philosophy of the “Indian Schools” that prohibited Native American school children from speaking their own language or practicing their culture.... By the time that my grandmother was born in 1893, most Okinawan children were in schools, where they would be punished for speaking the Okinawan language and expected to worship the Japanese emperor. A large wooden tag with the words 方言札 (hōgen fuda), or “dialect tag,” was place around the neck of school children who spoke in the Okinawan “dialect.” The tag symbolically relegated the Okinawan language to the inferior status as a backward “dialect” of Japanese, while corporeally ingraining a sense of shame and fear in generations of Okinawans for speaking their own language and being their own selves...

Physical genocide did take place on Okinawa. Japan’s leaders knowingly caused about a fourth to a third of Okinawa’s population to perish in less than 3 months during the Battle of Okinawa when they used Okinawa as a buffer to hold off American troops heading toward Naichi (mainland Japan) 1945...

I stare at "Graves by the Sea." ...Departed souls encased in concrete tombs pushed up against each other. They are testament of the reverence for ancestors and tradition in Okinawa that contradicts the reality of the lack of space on Okinawa...There is a strong and powerful message that the ancestors and land is telling us through Laura’s work.

I end this essay at a time when I have just returned from a trip to Washington D.C. with an Okinawan delegation that was making a direct appeal against plans by the U.S. and Japanese governments to push ahead with construction of a new U.S. Marine Air Station on the clear blue waters of Henoko...At this time, both the Jp and U.S. governments are stepping up their attempts to push past unyielding local Okinawan opposition... Henoko is the site of a large thriving coral reef, turtle spawning grounds, seaweed beds, and an already endangered species of dugong. The blue ocean of Henoko will be no more if this plan goes through.

Most of the officials, politicians, and researchers we met in Washington D.C. [during the Jan. 2014 Okinawan Delegation] had made up their mind about new base construction at Henoko saying that it is the best plan... However, what the delegation was trying to get across to deaf ears was that Okinawans have stopped the construction for 18 years by placing their bodies in front of ships and equipment coming to start construction. Old people, as old and tiny as my Baban in my memories of her, have come to sit on the beach everyday in quiet but unrelenting resistance to American Manifest Destiny and Japanese fatalistic dependency on that destiny...
Wesley Ueunten is an associate professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. A third generation Okinawan, he was born and raised in Hawaiʻi and received his Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Remembering Hanji Kawase: Anti-war Bon dance festival marks 50th anniversary in Hokkaido

Anti-war Bon dance festival marks 50th anniversary in Hokkaido. 
(Photo: Masashi Rokubuichi via Asahi)

Evocative photos and article by Masashi Rokubuichi at The Asahi on the 50th anniversary of an OBon peace festival in Betsukai, Hokkaido. The festival has been held on the farm of Hanji Kawase who died five years ago. His land was in the middle of of a vast tract of land formerly a farming village taken over in 1963 by the Japanese government for the Yausubetsu live-fire training field that is used by both the US military and the JGDF.
“The large turnout can be attributed to) not only the milestone anniversary but also the outpouring of public anger against the Abe administration regarding the right to collective self-defense and other issues,” said Kato, a 72-year-old former junior high school teacher from Hamanaka, Hokkaido...

People from across Japan listened to music and danced at the Kawase farm in the middle of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Yausubetsu drill site, which straddles Betsukai and two other towns.

One big topic of conversation at the festival was the decision of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government on July 1 to reinterpret war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution to lift Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense.

The farm used to be run by anti-war landlord Hanji Kawase who died five years ago.

The mid-August Bon holiday season in Japan is a time when people travel to their hometowns to honor their deceased ancestors. The spirits of the dead are believed to return home during the period. Bon Odori dances are held at local festivals throughout the country.

Sachiko Watanabe, who took over the farm from Kawase about 10 years ago and has lived there ever since, said she is well aware of the symbolic nature of the anti-war Bon dance festival, given Kawase’s continuous defiance of the government.

She indicated that the festival has taken on increased significance because the current administration shifted security policy away from postwar Japan’s pacifist ideals.
Hanji Kawase painting Article 9 on his barn.
(Photo: Asako Kageyama)

More Background: "Defending the Peace Constitution in the Midst of the SDF Training Area," Tanaka Nobumasa, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Dec. 10, 2004. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Nagasaki Journey: The Photographs of Yōsuke Yamahata

Front Cover of Nagasaki Journey. (Photograph: Yōsuke Yamahata)
It was perhaps unforgiveable, but in fact at the time, I was completely calm and composed. In other words, perhaps it was just too much, too enormous to absorb...

Human memory has a tendency to slip, and critical judgment to fade, with the years and with changes in life-style and circumstance. But the camera, just as it seized the grim realities of that time, brings the stark facts of seven years ago before our eyes without the need for the slightest embellishment. Today, with the remarkable recovery made by both Nagasaki and Hiroshima, it may be difficult to recall the past, but these photographs will continue to provide us with an unwavering testimony to the realities of that time.

- Yosuke Yamahata
On August 10, 1945, a day after the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, accompanied by writer Jun Higashi and painter Eiji Yamadea, military photographer Yosuke Yamahata began to photograph the dead victims and survivors. Taking hundreds of photographs within hours – the most extensive photographic document of the immediate aftermath.

Within two weeks his photos appeared in the August 21, 1945 issue of the Mainichi Shimbun. However, the US Occupation government imposed censorship that prevented further distribution of Yamahata’s photographs. It was only after the restrictions were lifted in 1952 that they would appear in Life Magazine.

In 1965 Yamahata was diagnosed with cancer, probably caused by the residual effects of radiation received in Nagasaki in 1945. He died the next year. His son had the negatives of these photographs restored in 1994. An exhibition of prints, Nagasaki Journey, traveled to San Francisco, New York, and Nagasaki in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the bombing.  The photographs may be viewed online at

Thursday, August 7, 2014

George Takei remembers Hiroshima, hometown of his Japanese family; spotlights Nuclear Bombing Survivors' call for abolition of nuclear weapons & world peace

Japanese American actor and activist George Takei visits Hiroshima, Japan—a city where he has roots, a city with a tragic past, and a city now devoted to peace.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Voices from Survivors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki: "I had dreamt the night before exactly as it happened in Nagasaki."

Hiroshima in Flames (Photo: City of Hiroshima)

Voices From Survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (linked at the Gensuikyo (The Japan council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs site) is a profound collection of survivor testimonies describing the hours before, during, and after the atomic bombings.

The lists of titles of the testimonies read like lines of poetry, painting the terrible tapestry of individual human experiences as Hiroshima and Nagasaki passed through the chasm dividing reality before and after the bombings:
Witnesses to Hiroshima from the night of August 5 through the early afternoon of August 6, 1945

I left the place and escaped death.
It was 15 minutes after 8. It was as silent as a graveyard.
Rays shimmered like heat haze on the ground..
I thought Hiroshima was moaning...
I thought I was dead.
The water of the river blown off the ground just like a tornado.
Leaves were burning on the pine trees.
It seemed as if the sun covered half of the sky over Hiroshima.
Na-mu-a-mi-da-butsu, they chanted in their Buddhist prayers...
Witnesses to Hiroshima around noon through the evening, August 6, 1945

The dead sat up abruptly.
The burning bridge fell down.
Flames shot up into the sky like the Niagara Falls inverted.
Now is the time to throw away our pens...
Everybody cried out loud.
My little brother died. I should not have yelled at him.
Maybe it was my mother's soul that visited me.
Witnesses to Hiroshima from August 7 through August 14, 1945

Daybreak, August 7th, 1945 Hiroshima
We dug the riverbank and buried her two daughters
The enemy used a new type of bomb
I was more afraid of the Living than the Dead.
Would this case possibly be caused by radioactivity?

The atomic bomb mushroom cloud over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945
(Photograph by Hiromichi Matsuda, via Nagasaki City - Peace and Atomic Bomb Records)
Witnesses to Nagasaki from the evening of August 8 through through the evening, August 9, 1945

The farewell meal was rice balls.
I had dreamt the night before exactly as it happened in Nagasaki.
I still cannot forget my seven-year-old-son's back.
Three B-29s are heading toward the west.
My shoes were burning
The cloud like a demon was looking down.
People were dead with their eyes open
Cicadas shrieked, "Water, water!"
Don't cry, she was lulling her baby.  The baby was headless.
Even my soul was blown off.
Nagasaki will never recover.
The sun looked bloody red.
Your face looks like a monster.
This must be the end of the world.
It was dreadful to hear the groaning of thousands of people.
I said the prayer of Job.
I have forgotten the prayer.
I walked home crying for Nagasaki on fire.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki August 15, 16 in August to The first ten days of September, 1945 

War made us suffer so much.  It didn't matter whether we won or lost.
Radiation injury was the great majority.
Medical science had no chance against it.
I'd like to go where Saint Mary is, with my hair tied in three-pieces.
Pious and calm struggle against disease.
I have been to the "next world."
My younger brother appeared in my dream and told me the place he died.
"If we could die wet with rain, we were willing to do so."
I have to expose my fox-like face to the public and live.
I'm happy.  Buddha has come to meet me to Heaven.
Evening primroses had been in bloom over a burial mound where we buried the dead people.
Hiroshima Nagasaki, A-bomb victim's opinion.

Opposing to atomic bombs are the voices of A-bomb victims themselves.
We really went to stupid war.
I would want to be pilgrim and go to look for my daughter.
We have to revenge by achievement of peace...
A-bomb survivors must not escape from the fact of being bombed.
Parents, children and grandchildren -- three generations continue to carry on movement against atomic and hydrogen bombs.
Please make use of my story.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Peace Marchers arrive in Hiroshima: Call for a world free of nuclear & uranium weapons; Hiroshima Commemoration & Prayers for World Peace...

A very rare rainy August 6. Anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. 
Every year, many people from all over the world gather 
to commemmorate that tragic day and vow for a world free from nuclear weapons. 

August 4, 2014.  Peace Marchers on the stage of the Opening Plenary of 
2014 World Conference Against A and H Bombs!

Congratulations to our friends at Peace March (sponsored by Gensuikyo, the Japan Council against A and H-Bombs), who have arrived in Hiroshima.

We join all in Hiroshima and  Nagasaki in remembering the people who died and suffered from the nuclear bombings. We also remember all victims of nuclear test bombings (Marshall Islands, US, China, Russia (Kazakhstan), India (Rajasthan), Polynesia...), and uranium weapons since Aug 6 and  Aug 9, 1945. And join their united call for a world free of nuclear weapons, and for peace.

More about Peace March:
The National Peace March is a campaign for a world free from nuclear weapons while walking across Japan literally while calling ‘No more Hiroshima! No more Nagasaki! No more nuclear weapons!’ It starts on May 6 from different prefectures in Japan and converging in Hiroshima on August 4.

The Peace March started on June of 1958 when a Buddhist monk walked from the atomic bomb site in the Hiroshima Peace Park all the way to the World Conference in Tokyo covering a distance of 1000 kilometers. As he passed through several prefectures, many people joined him each day and the delegation became very big when they reached Tokyo.

For more than half a century already, the Peace March has been done every year without a break. Rain or shine more than 1000,000 marchers pass through more than 70% of municipalities in all of Japan’s prefectures each year. Anyone with the wish for the abolition of nuclear weapons is very much welcome to join.

Konnichiwa! Heiwa koushin desu! Hello, this is the Peace March!
See the great photos and read the inspiring entries about everyday Okinawan and Japanese people working for peace and a world without nuclear weapons at Peace March Journals.

August 5, 2015. Hiroshima. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Humanity May Face Choice By 2040: Conventional Energy or Drinking Water

Andy Tully at Oil Price: "Humanity May Face Choice By 2040: Conventional Energy or Drinking Water," via Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism:
A set of studies based on three years of research concludes that by 2040, the need for drinking water and water for use in energy production will create dire shortages. Conventional electricity generation is the largest source of water use in most countries. Water is used to cool power plants to keep them functional. Most power utilities don’t even record the amount of water they use.

“It’s a huge problem that the electricity sector do not even realize how much water they actually consume,” says Professor Benjamin Sovacool of Denmark’s Aarhus University, one of the institutions involved in the research. “And together with the fact that we do not have unlimited water resources, it could lead to a serious crisis if nobody acts on it soon.”

The research, which included projections of the availability of water and the growth of the world’s population, found that by 2020, between 30 percent and 40 percent of the planet will no longer have direct access to clean drinking water. The problem could be made even worse if climate change accelerates, creating more heat and causing more water evaporation.

That means humankind must decide how water is used, Sovacool says. “Do we want to spend it on keeping the power plants going or as drinking water? We don’t have enough water to do both,” he says...

So how to prevent this conflict? The studies agreed on starting with the simplest solution: Alternative sources of electricity that don’t require massive amounts of water.

The recommendations are improving energy efficiency, conducting more research on alternative cooling mechanisms, logging water use at power plants, making massive investments in solar and wind energy, and abandoning fossil fuel facilities in all areas susceptible to water shortages.

This last proposal may be the most difficult to implement because parched areas now include half of Earth. But Sovacool says it would be worth the investment.

“If we keep doing business as usual, we are facing an insurmountable water shortage – even if water was free, because it’s not a matter of the price,” he says. “There will be no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we’re doing today. There’s no time to waste. We need to act now.”