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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Peace for 70 years and infinity: MESSAGE FROM JAPAN to ASIAN COUNTRIES AND THE WORLD, 2015.



Via  SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy) Japan:
Published on Dec 24, 2015

《Peace for 70 years and infinity: MESSAGE FROM JAPAN to ASIAN COUNTRIES AND THE WORLD, 2015.》

Happy X'mas そして、そろそろ今年も終わりですね。SEALDsで今年を締めくくる動画をつくりま­した。思えば激動の一年でした。法案は可決されましたが、今年得られたものはたくさん­あるはずです。戦後から70年。そして71年を迎え、戦後から100年たっても戦争し­ない国であることを願います。困難な時代にこそ希望があると信じて。そして一歩踏み出­す勇気を。
・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・­・・
終戦から70年が経ちました。戦後日本の平和と繁栄は、先の大戦の大きな犠牲と引き換­えにもたらされたものです。私たちはいまこそ、この国の平和憲法の理念を支持し、それ­を北東アジア、そして世界の平和構築に役立てるべきだと考えます。自由、民主主義、普­遍的人権。それらの価値は、けっして紙に書かれた絵空事ではありません。人びとの自由­を護り、平和を築くために、過去から私たちに手渡された大切な種です。私たちがあきら­めてしまわない限り、日本国憲法の理念はその力を失うことはありません。知性と理性と­ともに、私たちは平和と、アジア諸国家の自由と民主主義の尊重を求め続けます。

Seventy years have passed since the end of war. The peace and prospect of post-war Japan were led by profound sacrifice of the war. We support the pacifist constitution of this country and use it for peacebuilding in north-east Asia and the world. Liberty, democracy, and universal human rights; these values are not just imagination. They are the important seeds that we were given by the past for defending liberty of people and constructing sustainable peace. The ideal of Japanese Constitution never loses its power unless we give it up. With intelligence and reason, we continue to claim for peace and respect for liberty and democracy in Asian Countries.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

10,000 sing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" — Japan's Beloved Anthem of Peace


This is a video of the Osaka "Number Nine Chorus"—10,000 singers who perform "Ode to Joy" (originally named "Ode to Freedom") every December. The soloists and orchestra are professionals; however the rest are singers from the community.

The Japanese love of "Ode to Joy," the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, began during the First World War, when German prisoners of war performed the Ninth Symphony for the first time in Japan in 1918.

The Japanese nickname for the uplifting movement — "Daiku" ("Number 9") — alludes to Article 9, the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause which outlaws war as a means of conflict resolution.  Beethoven's  lyrics are from a poem celebrating human unity by Frederick Schiller.  The 19th-century century German philosopher was preoccupied by the quest for freedom and human rights. Like many of his era (which spanned the American Revolution), he championed political ideals based not on coercion and tyrannical brute force, but instead by reason, goodwill, dialogue, and democratic process.

Worldwide, "Ode to Joy" has long been considered a peace anthem, a song of resistance to not just war, but also state repression. Chilean democracy demonstrators sang the song during PInochet's dictatorship. Chinese protesters sang it during the march on Tiananmen Square. This year, the music and lyrics are even more meaningful to the Japanese and Okinawan supporters of democracy and Article 9, the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause.

...Brother love binds man to man
Ever singing march we onward
Victors in the midst of strife
Joyful music lifts us onward
In the triumph song of life...

Human rights attorney Scott Horton tells us that Beethoven was drawn to Schiller's writings because the composer longed for liberty, however omitted the "deeper, more political charge" of the final stanzas of "Ode to Joy" to veil his challenge to the repressive Hapsburg regime from which he received patronage.
...the work is radical and blatantly political in its orientation...It imagines a world whose nations live in peace with one another, embracing the dignity of their species as a fundamental principle, and democracy as the central chord of their organization. Its long appeal to Beethoven lay in just this intensely subversive, revolutionary core. To start with, as Leonard Bernstein reminded his audiences, the poem was originally an “Ode to Freedom” and the word “Joy” (Freude instead of Freiheit, added to the third pillar, Freundschaft [Friendship] came as a substitute for the more overtly political theme...

Beethoven reckoned, of course, that his audience knew the whole text, just as he knew it, by heart. He was by then a crotchety old man, Beethoven, but he knew the power of a dream, and he inspired millions with it, to the chagrin of his Hapsburg sponsors.

Schiller’s words are perfectly fused with Beethoven’s music. It may indeed be the most successful marriage in the whole shared space of poetry and music. It is a message of striking universality which transcends the boundaries of time and culture. It is well measured in fact to certain turningpoints in the human experience.
Some of the lines from Schiller's poem omitted from "Ode to Joy":

...Persist with courage, millions!
Stand firm for a better world!
...Deliver us from tyrants’ chains...


(-JD, originally posted Dec. 25, 2014, reposted because the themes are even more important for Japan, Okinawa, and the entire world given heightened popular activism for freedom, liberty, human rights, democracy, and peace, in the face of growing global state authoritarianism and militarized repression of nonviolent citizen movements.) 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Historian Jeff Kingston: "The Japanese people who are proud of their pacifist constitution see Abe trampling on their values."

Video by Richard Grehan of last week's protests in Tokyo

Brilliant analysis on the security-related legislation ("Abe war bills") by Temple University historian Jeff Kingston in this September 20 CNN interview:
People are outraged...People think it's unconstitutional, that he's trampling rule of law...Even though he has passed the legislation, it lacks legitimacy...Abe has delivered on all of the US wish list...

But the Japanese people don't buy Abe's argument that this is going to increase deterrence. Sure they think they live in a dangerous neighborhood, but they don't think this is the way to promote peace.

So the Japanese people who are proud of their pacifist constitution see Abe trampling on their values...Japanese people are concerned...they will be dragged into conflict by Washington..

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Japanese citizens protesting as LDP/Komeito postpone Abe war bills until 8:50 a.m.; former Supreme Court justice warns the unpopular government that it is unlikely that the "unconstitutional" legislation would survive a legal challenge.


 (Photographer: Shinta Yabe)

Update: Sept. 18 - A citizens’ group is preparing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the national security laws that were enacted on Saturday to the Japanese government to send soldiers to fight in foreign wars. The suit now has 1,000 plaintiffs, according to Jiji via JT.

Update: Sept. 17 - The opposition parties submitted a no-confidence motion to the committee chair Yoshitada Konoike. Then Masahide ("Moustache") Sato took over the chairman's seat, after which opposition members made very long speeches to defend the motion. However, following the script, the committee voted against the motion.

Then as Konoike returned to his chairman's seat, dozens of opposition members rushed towards Konoike, appearing as if they were trying to stop the voting on the bills. The "scuffle" made worldwide newspaper headlines.

Some analysts are asking why the opposition parties stopped blocking the entrance, and allowed the September 17 committee meeting to take place, knowing their no-confidence motion was going to, of course, be defeated.

In the meantime, over 200 lawyers in Japan have issued a statement calling the "voting" among the wild scuffling at the special committee illegal and invalid.

Many are asking why opposition party members allowed this final assembly to happen after they said they would do everything to stop the bills.

Update: 5:10 a.m. - After opposition party members physically blocked the entrance to the special committee room on September 16, the special committee was delayed until 8:50 a.m.  The protest is still ongoing: http://iwj.co.jp/channels/main/channel.php?CN=4

The not-so-young politicians inside the building must be exhausted.

Update 2:05 a.m. - The Upper House Special Committee on the Abe war bills has not started yet as of 2 AM in Japan. LDP/Komeito is planning to get the committee to vote for the war bills tonight.

If it begins, it will be livestreamed here: http://www.webtv.sangiin.go.jp/webtv/index.php.

The protest outside of the Parliament is being livestreamed now at Iwakami Yasumi journal:
http://iwj.co.jp/channels/main/ .

Along with the majority of the Japanese mainstream citizenry, cultural figures such as Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, former prime ministers, the majority of Japanese lawyers, including former Supreme Court justices are protesting the bill as unconstitutional.

Former Japanese Supreme Court Justice Kunio Hamada on Abe War Bills called the bills "unconstitutional and "illegitimate."  Hamada warned that it is “extremely optimistic” for the Abe government to think that Supreme Court will not rule against the legislation if its constitutionality is challenged in court.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"Never Again." Japanese & Okinawan war refusal will be streamed online, if not televised, or covered by all newspapers

Left, from top: Asahi, Mainichi, and Tokyo newspapers.
 Right, from top: Yomiuri, Sankei, and Nikkei.

Via Kimberly Hughes: Notice the top three right-leaning Japanese daily newspapers, lined up in the right-hand column did not cover the sea of 120,000+ Japanese citizens at the Diet building on Sunday, August 30, protesting  PM Abe's war bills that would allow him to send Japanese soldiers to fight in US regime change wars in contravention of the Japanese Peace Constitution which outlaws war as a means of international conflict resolution. In contrast, politically centrist Japanese newspapers put coverage of the historic protests on their front pages.

 View from the streets: "NO WAR! NO ABE! We hope for peace! We love peace! 
Don't kill anyone! Save Okinawa from Shinzo Abe."

Despite (or because of spotty coverage in Japanese newspapers and broadcast news), the historic Japanese and Okinawan multigenerational antiwar protests have dominated youth social media as Philip Brasor points out in "The revolution will be streamed online," published on Aug. 29 at The Japan Times.  

More analysis via public scholar Jeff Kingston, again at JT, on Sept. 5, "Students oppose Abe’s assault on the Constitution":
SEALDs was launched on May 3, Constitution Day, highlighting the group’s concern that Abe’s security legislation is tantamount to a stealth revision that fails to follow proper constitutional procedures...Professor Akihiko Kimijima at Ritsumeikan University says that SEALDs wants Japan to be a nation based on the rule of law, and the group believes Abe is flouting the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. Apparently, there is no shortage of Japanese citizens who agree with them. In mid-June, three eminent constitutional scholars dismissed Abe’s security legislation as unconstitutional in Diet hearings, putting wind in SEALDs’ sails.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Kya Kim: "Conflict is no longer synonymous with war. It is, rather, an opportunity for growth, an opportunity for peace...Everyone of us has a role to play in determining the outcome of our shared conflicts...Which future will we choose?"

Myong Hee Kim, Founding Artist of Peace Mask Project at the
History+Art = Peace Festival, organized by Alpha Education, Toronto, Canada, 
August 15-21, 2015

In "The Art of Symbolism in Peace Building," an Autumn 2014 presentation about the Peace Mask Project at TEDxKyoto, team member Kya Kim emphasizes that we are all co-creators of our shared world, and can choose to think and work for a peaceful present and future:
A divided world creates more insecurity and fear. And fear, too often results in violence. Trust is the courageous act of being the first to break through that fear and reach out to "the other." Peace Mask Project is itself an act of trust, from the idealism that inspires the effort to the individual act of being a Peace Mask Model to the support and participation of hundreds of individuals in a collective effort to advance into a sane and healthy future.

Today tensions are rising in East Asia and many regions around the world. Fear and insecurity are also on the rise. This tension we are seeing does not guarantee violence, but, instead, could be seen as a great opportunity.

Conflict is natural and always present. It is neither negative nor positive in itself. Violence and repression are only one possible response to a conflict and one our societies turn to far too often.

There are many reasons for this: the profitability of militarization for a handful of corporations and individuals; the control and manipulation of a population through fear. But mostly I think it's due to a lack of creativity and cooperation. We are stuck in old habits and old ways of thinking.

Today young people have an unprecedented understanding of the greater world. We are becoming increasingly aware of how we are interconnected and interdependent. We find beauty in other cultures. And by reflecting on our own, we are open to growth and to change. This is the reality of our future, and one that needs to be reflected in our societies. Conflict is no longer synonymous with war. It is, rather, an opportunity for growth, an opportunity for peace...

We hope that Peace Mask Project will provide a platform for their shared vision of peace, to build trust by building lasting relationships, and to help them become leaders of a better world...

We do not need for the conflicts of our time to erupt in violence or be resolved through aggression. Everyone of us has a role to play in determining the outcome of our shared conflicts.

How will we participate?

What opportunities will we present through our actions?

Which future will we choose?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tim Shorrock: "WAR in Korea is unthinkable despite what @CNN is telling you. This too shall pass."

Turned to Asia analyst Tim Shorrock for insight into the annual US media proclamations of imminent war following the annual mutual provocation between the Koreas. (This year, the S. Korean government refused to respond to the N. Korean government's calls to stop blasting propaganda from loudspeakers over the border; so the N. Korean military lobbed a rocket into S. Korea, and the S. Korean military returned the same.).
Tim Shorrock ‏@TimothyS 2h2 hours ago
WAR in Korea is unthinkable despite what @CNN is telling you. This too shall pass.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Koshichi Taira: Thinking about True Peace during the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII • Nago Museum Gallery • Aug. 14-30, 2015



Koshichi Taira Photography Exhibition
Thinking about True Peace during the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII,
focusing on the aftermath of the Himeyuri Student Nurses Corp.

8/14 (Friday)-8/30 (Sunday)
Nago Museum Gallery
Nago City, Okinawa 
Admission: free

Okinawan photographer Koshichi Taira's photography is as unblinking, empathetic, and profound as that of Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu.  But where Tomatsu is known (albeit not well known), there is almost nothing about Taira's brilliant work translated into English.

The Nago Museum's exhibition of Taira's photography, which opens today, invites viewers to think about the nature of true peace during the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.

222 Okinawan female high school students, aged 15 to 19, were mobilized as the Himeyuri Student Nurse Corps in March, 1945 as the US-Jp battle in Okinawa began on the ground. (US bombing of Okinawa began in October 1944). During the battle, about 200,000 lives were lost, including 120,000 Okinawan civilians, one-third of the population. Among the Himeyuri nurses, 123 students and 13 teachers were killed.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Kenzaburo Oe: "Hiroshima must be engraved in our memories: It’s a catastrophe even more dramatic than natural disasters, because it’s man-made. To repeat it, by showing the same disregard for human life in nuclear power stations, is the worst betrayal of the memory of the victims..."



"Japanese Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe on the 70th Anniversary of US Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," via Democracy Now!:
...KENZABURO OE: [translated] So, three years ago, the day after the disaster, the weeks after the disaster, I believe that all Japanese people were feeling a great regret. And the atmosphere in Japan here was almost the same as following the bombing of Hiroshima at the end of the war. And at that time, because of this atmosphere, the government at the time, which is the Democratic Party of Japan, with the agreement of the Japanese people, pledged to totally get rid of or decommission the more than 50 nuclear power plants here in Japan. However, the situation following the disaster, particularly in Fukushima, where so many people are suffering from this, has not changed at all.

And the current atmosphere or attitude of the government now in Japan has totally changed...the Liberal Democratic Party...led by Prime Minister Abe, is...completely having no regret and no looking back on ...what happened to Japan, and is instead actually actively pushing this forward. And I’m very fearful now that actually all throughout Japan and through the Japanese people, the atmosphere which is now growing and increasing is a spreading of this Prime Minister Abe’s ideology and worldview.

AMY GOODMAN: Yet he was elected as prime minister.

KENZABURO OE: [translated] Yes, he has won in two elections until now. But, however, now, because he has the majority in both of the houses of the Japanese Parliament, it means he is, in essence, able to do anything, go forward anything. And the first thing he is also trying to do now is to revise the constitution, which was created democratically by the Japanese people following the loss in World War II and Hiroshima and Nagasaki experience....

And now, under the current Prime Minister Abe administration, Japan is moving toward actively participating in United States wars. And what I am now most fearful about is the unfortunately likely possibility under Prime Minister Abe that this second pillar of Article 9 will be in danger, but not only this, that even the first pillar, that Japan may actually, within the next year or two or three or four years, actually directly participate in war...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

300,000 Japanese: "Protect the Constitution! Protect Okinawa from Shinzo Abe! Don't Start a War!"



Great video via Michael Penn of Shingetsu News Agency (SNA): Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) protest against the Abe War Bill, forced U.S. military base construction in Okinawa, and in favor of the Peace Constitution, rule of law, and democratic society.

Michael Hoffman's "A political turning point for Japan’s youth," published at The Japan Times on August 1, 2015, explores the mass student movement for democracy and peace for Japan and Okinawa:
Somebody needed to make the point that Abe’s primary accountability is not to U.S. lawmakers but to the people of Japan. Cynical calculations that the people of Japan wouldn’t bother were not unreasonable...

Years pass and nothing happens — then, suddenly, something does, and nothing is the same. What is the catalyst that turns passivity into activism? It’s like asking why this particular straw and not that one broke the camel’s back...

On July 1, 2014, the Abe Cabinet adopted a resolution sharply reinterpreting the Constitution as permitting what for decades had been regarded as forbidden: a global military role for the “pacifist” nation under the name “collective self-defense.”...On July 15, after a debate whose striking features were the vagueness of the government’s explanations and its hamfisted bullying of opposition lawmakers posing awkward questions, the Lower House voted, brushing aside the doubts of Constitutional scholars and of the public...

That was it. The camel sank to its knees...Sunday Mainichi magazine ventured a bold headline: “It’s begun — 300,000 people surrounding the Diet!”

That figure — 300,000 — is deeply significant. It takes us back to May 1960. The prime minister of the day, soon to be ousted, was Nobusuke Kishi, whose administration forced through the Diet a revised Japan-U.S. security pact in a manner strikingly similar to Abe’s handling of the current security legislation. Three hundred thousand is the prevailing estimate of the size of the enraged crowd that massed in front of the prime minister’s official residence, shouting for Kishi’s head. They got it. He resigned a month later.
The 1960 protests against PM Kishi's ramming through of the US-Japan Security Treaty (ANPO)
drew millions of protestors from all walks of life in multiple protests over months. 
 Demonstrators at the Japanese parliament building, Tokyo, June 18, 1960. 
(Photo © Asahi Shimbun Photoarchives)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Japanese Scholars: "Now, 70 years after the war, Japan stands at a critical juncture. One path is that of a nation that does not wage war. The other, a nation that wages war."

Appeal by the Association of Scholars Opposed to the Security-related Bills:
Today, 70 years after the war, Japan stands at a critical juncture. One path is that of a nation that does not wage war. The other, a nation that wages war. The Abe administration has submitted an International Peace Support Bill and an omnibus Peace and Security Legislation Consolidation Bill amending 10 war-related laws for the worse to the Diet, where they are currently being deliberated. Violating Article 9 of the Constitution, these bills would provide for Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to cooperate actively with U.S. and other foreign military operations overseas. We very strongly appeal for the Diet to consider them most carefully and to defeat them in keeping with the Constitution.

If adopted, the legislation would allow (1) using military force, even if Japan is not attacked, if another nation is attacked and the administration deems this situation a threat to Japan’s survival, (2) sending SDF units anywhere in the world where the U.S. or other militaries are waging war and having them provide support in close proximity to combat zones, and (3) deploying the SDF alongside U.S. and other allied forces and authorizing them to fire their weapons ostensibly in defense of their military and other supplies.

Although Prime Minister Abe contends the use of military force would be limited, the legislation opens the way for unbridled use of force by the SDF and violates the principle of exclusively self-defense. Anywhere the SDF uses military force will automatically become a combat zone. As such, the bills are in clear violation of Article 9 paragraph 1’s prohibition against the use of force in combat. For over 60 years, successive administrations have understood that the exercise of collective self-defense violates the Constitution, yet the Abe administration seeks to overturn this and pave the way for Japan’s SDF to take part in American wars of aggression. Should this legislation pass, there is a very real danger that Japan could become a party to hostilities and the SDF an army of aggression in violation of international law.

We bear a special historical burden in that universities collaborated with Japan’s war of aggression and sent numerous students off to battle. Profoundly repentant of this history, we have adopted Article 9 as our own, have engaged in research and education as the bedrock for world peace, and have worked so as to never again be visited by the horrors of war. We cannot allow a situation to arise anew in which our young people are sent off to war to kill and be killed.

In the name of scholarship and conscience, we most strongly protest this unconstitutional legislation’s having been submitted to the Diet and are appalled it is even being deliberated by the Diet. We stand in resolute opposition to this legislation.


June 15, 2015
Association of Scholars Opposed to the Security-related Bills


Aoi Miho (Gakushuin University, law)
Asakura Mutsuko (Waseda University, law)
Awaji Takehisa (Rikkyo University, civil law lawyer)
Chiba Shin (International Christian University, political thought)
Hama Noriko (Doshisha University, international economics)
Higuchi Yoichi (constitutional law, Japan Academy member)
Hirota Teruyuki (Nihon University, education)
Hirowatari Seigo (Senshu University, law, former President of Science Council of Japan)
Horio Teruhisa (University of Tokyo, education)
Ichinokawa Yasutaka (University of Tokyo, sociology)
Ikeuchi Satoru (Nagoya University, astrophysics)
Ishida Hidetaka (University of Tokyo, semiology and media)
Ito Makoto (University of Tokyo, economics)
Kaifu Norio (National Astronomical Observatory, astronomy)
Kaino Michiatsu (Waseda University, law)
Kaneko Masaru (Keio University, fiscal policy)
Katoo Takashi (Seikei University, political philosophy)
Kawamoto Takashi (International Christian University, social logic)
Kimishima Akihiko (Ritsumeikan University, constitutional law and peace studies)
Kobayashi Setsu (Keio University, constitutional law)
Komori Yoichi (University of Tokyo, modern Japanese literature)
Kubo Toru (Shinshu University, history)
Kurihara Akira (Rikkyo University, political sociology)
Mamiya Yosuke (Aoyama Gakuin University, economics)
Masukawa Toshihide (Kyoto University, physics, Nobel laureate)
Mishima Ken’ichi (Osaka University, philosophy & history of thought)
Miyamoto Hisao (University of Tokyo, philosophy)
Miyamoto Ken’ichi (Osaka City University, economics)
Mizuno Kazuo (Nihon University, economics)
Mizushima Asaho (Waseda University, constitutional law)
Nagata Kazuhiro (Kyoto Sangyo University, cellular biology)
Nakatsuka Akira (Nara Women’s University, modern Japanese history)
Nishikawa Jun (Waseda University, international economics)
Nishitani Osamu (Rikkyo University, philosophy & history of thought)
Nishizaki Fumiko (University of Tokyo, history)
Noda Masaaki (psychopathologist)
Oguma Eiji (Keio University, historical sociology)
Okano Yayo (Doshisha University, history of Western political thought)
Osawa Mari (University of Tokyo, social policy)
Saito Jun’ichi (Waseda University, political science)
Sakai Keiko (Chiba University, Iraqi politics)
Sato Manabu (Gakushuin University, education)
Shimazono Susumu (Sophia University, religion)
Sugita Atsushi (Hosei University, political science)
Takahashi Tetsuya (University of Tokyo, philosophy)
Takayama Kanako (Kyoto University, law)
Uchida Tatsuru (Kobe College, philosophy)
Ueno Chizuko (University of Tokyo, sociology)
Ueno Kenji (Kyoto University, mathematics)
Ukai Satoshi (Hitotsubashi University, French literature and thought)
Uno Shigeki (University of Tokyo, history of political thought)
Utsumi Aiko (Keisen University, Japan-Asia relations)
Uyeda Seiya (University of Tokyo, geophysics, Japan Academy member)
Wada Haruki (University of Tokyo, history)
Washitani Izumi (Chuo University, conservation ecology)
Watanabe Osamu (Hitotsubashi University, political science & constitutional law)
Yamaguchi Jiro (Hosei University, political science)
Yamamuro Shin’ichi (Kyoto University, political science)
Yokoyu Sonoko (ex-Chuo University, clinical psychologist)
Yoshida Yutaka (Hitotsubashi University, Japanese history)
Yoshioka Hitoshi (Kyushu University, history of science)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Greenpeace: Okinawa, Henoko Bay, Save the Dugongs 2015


Via Greenpeace:
Time is running out for Henoko Bay and the last surviving Dugongs of Japan. Please help by adding your name: 


Petition: www.greenpeace.org/henoko
---------
H.E Ms Caroline Kennedy U.S. Ambassador to Japan,

Henoko Bay is the home of the last remaining Dugongs in Japanese waters. It is estimated that there are as few as a dozen left in existence.

We understand that the concrete slabs have already started being dumped into the dugongs primary habitat. We urge you to intervene and halt further construction until a sustainable solution is found which guarantees the survival of this last group of IUCN red-listed Dugongs and protects coral reef and Dugong’s seagrass food supply.

We stand with the local Okinawan people who have voted to elect a prefectural government which is opposed to building a U.S Marine base on this environmentally critical site in Japan.

You have stood up for environmental protection before. We know you can do it again.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Sense of Sacred: Mauna Kea, Hawai'i and Oura Bay, Okinawa


The Okinawan movement to save Henoko and the Yambaru subtropical rainforest is one aspect of a global indigenous movement calling for respect of indigenous cultural heritage, especially natural sacred sites under ongoing threat of destruction.

Indigenous peoples know that sacred sites are centers of collective spiritual and psychological power that go into the past and into the future, connecting generations. Maybe this is why sacred and cultural heritage sites have been targeted for destruction by invading powers for millennia.

In "The Sense of Sacred: Mauna Kea and Oura Bay," published at The Asia-Pacific Journal earlier this month,  Katherine Muzik  compares the similarities between the struggles to save Mauna Kea in Hawai'i and Henoko in Okinawa to introduce William B.C. Chang's analysis of the foreign settler pattern of violating indigenous religious and cultural heritage rights as well as land rights and indigenous human rights:
“Sacred is not necessarily a place. It is a relationship, a deep visceral relationship: beyond reason, beyond law, beyond rationality.”

These words were recently spoken by William B.C. Chang, a University of Hawaii Law Professor, in his impassioned testimony to the UH Board of Regents, about the current conflict on Mauna Kea here in Hawaii.

To the Hawaiians, the Mountain known as Mauna Kea, or Mauna a Wākea, on the Island of Hawaii, is a sacred place. Thus, the proposed construction of the northern hemisphere’s biggest telescope, thirty meters tall (TMT), 18 stories high, on eight acres of the mountain top, costing $1.4 billion, has recently sparked peaceful but ardent protests and occupations by Native Hawaiians, environmentalists and allies across the Pacific. With 13 telescopes already blighting the landscape, the protesters seek to prevent further desecration.

To the Okinawans, the Sea known as Oura Bay, on the Island of Okinawa, is also a sacred place. For nearly two decades, Okinawans have protested its destruction by US/Japan military expansion.

Besides being sacred and beautiful, what else do these two very distant places share? They share history, of illegal takeovers by a foreign power and the subsequent, on-going outrage among the local populations. Locals in Hawaii and Okinawa are deeply angered by the heinous and reckless environmental destruction their islands have suffered. They are frustrated by the destruction that continues, despite prolonged protests. In both cases, illegal land-grabs by the US have resulted in the waste of their natural resources and the disintegration of their cultural identities. However, being sacred, both places continue to inspire passionate and courageous struggles against foreign dominance.

The Hawaiian Islands were once a kingdom, a sovereign nation. In a series of events, the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893 by a group of US and European businessmen, ending in annexation as a “Territory of the United States” in 1900. And so too, were the Ryukyu Islands, sovereign. Invaded by Satsuma forces in 1609, they were formally annexed by Japan in 1879 as “Okinawa Prefecture”. After World War 2, the US “acquired” Okinawa from Japan, establishing military bases which have remained and proliferated, destructively, for the last seventy years.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Women Cross DMZ: "Every step for peace is important!."


Via journalist Tim Shorrock: "Every step for peace is important!" "We're here because we don't believe in war!

The women who just crossed the DMZ include Suzuyo Takazato, co-founder of Okinawa Women Against Military Violence, Ann Wright), Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, an Article 9 and Okinawa supporter, Christine Ahn, a Korea scholar. This action reflects decades of cross-border interconnections between women's networks working for peace and democracy for all of East Asia and the world.

Great article by Jon Letman: "These Women Have Crossed the Line: 30 activists cross North Korea DMZ for peace":
In an historic move, a group of global feminist activists march into the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to create a space for a new type of conversation about truly ending the Korean war.

At the time of this blog post in Seoul and Pyongyang it’s already Sunday, May 24th, International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, when a group of more than 30 women are scheduled to cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at Kaesong from North Korea into South Korea. Their goal: to draw attention to Korea’s “forgotten” and unfinished war, and move toward a real peace that can reunite families and, perhaps, a divided nation...

The Korean War (officially 1950-53) stands out for its bloody toll. Some 4 million people, mostly civilians, perished. Although a “temporary” cease-fire was signed, the last 62 years have been marked by a protracted cold war defined by ongoing threats by both sides of the DMZ, decades of profligate military spending, and what is effectively a permanent state of near-war and the fear of attack. The idea to walk from North Korea into South Korea began with a dream that lead organizer Christine Ahn had several years ago. The concept grew after Ahn connected with feminist icon Gloria Steinem who took a public stand in 2011 against the militarization of South Korea’s Jeju island.

The movement evolved into WomenCrossDMZ as Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia joined Ahn, Steinem and what has grown to more than 30 women from South Korea, Japan, the US, Britain, Australia--at least 15 countries, in all.

Gwyn Kirk, a founding member of Women for Genuine Security, and one of the DMZ marchers, says WomenCrossDMZ is intended to create a space for a new type of conversation about ending the Korean war once and for all. After more than 60 years of tit-for-tat provocations, costly and dangerous brinksmanship and outright nuclear threats, Kirk says it’s time to create a different future.

That this movement is organized entirely by women is natural, says Kirk, pointing to UN Security Resolution 1325 which reaffirms “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction…”
The visionaries are being criticized by mostly male (patriarchal?) journalists who appear threatened by their move to shift public narratives dominating political commentary in East Asia from that of fear and aggression to those of hope and reconciliation:
Independent investigative journalist Tim Shorrock had a different take. In an email from Seoul, he called the DMZ march “an important milestone because it runs against the grain of the militarist approach to Korea taken by the Obama administration and the hostility of the South Korean government.”

Shorrock, who has covered Korea and Japan for more than three decades, said the women’s march and symposia held in Pyongyang and later Seoul, sends a message to the North that peace and reconciliation are possible. He hopes the march will also spur the U.S. to “take measures to defuse the tense situation in Korea and adopt a more flexible approach to settling its differences with North Korea.”
Christine Ahn cuts to the chase of the tragic, absurd 60-year stalemate:
WomenCrossDMZ, Ahn says, seeks to “get to the root cause of the issue of divided families” and what she calls “crazy militarization” and “crazy repression” of democracy in both North and South Korea...

Ahn describes WomenCrossDMZ as “peace women” who want to find a peaceful resolution to the Korean stalemate. To do that, she says, requires listening, understanding, dialogue and a degree of empathy which is absent today. Dehumanizing the other side won’t bring peace, Ahn says. “It’s a tough place to be, but I really believe there is no other alternative.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tim Shorrock on the Kwanju Uprising in 1980 & Women Cross DMZ on May 24, 2015



Via our friend, journalist Tim Shorrockwho traveled to Korea this week to receive an honorary citizenship of Kwangju, and to report on the Women Cross DMZ.

On May 24, 2015, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, Gloria Steinem, Christine Ahn, and Suzuyo Takazato, founder of Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, and 26 women peacemakers from around the world will walk with Korean women, north and south, to call for an end to the Korean War and for a new beginning for a reunified Korea. They will cross the 2-mile wide De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) that separates millions of Korean families as a symbolic act of peace.

Tim Shorrock, the son of missionaries, grew up in Japan. His parents were colleagues of Toyohiko Kagawa, a Presbyterian minister who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his prewar and postwar peace activism in Japan and East Asia.  Shorrock is one of the most insightful and sensitive observers of Japan, Korea, and East Asia. His cross-border upbringing has given him a wide field of vision on this history, and his perspectives are always deeply grounded in humanitarian and democratic values.

His investigative reportage exposed the US role in South Korea in 1979 and 1980 when the  Carter administration supported the South Korean military "as it moved to crush the Kwangju Uprising, the largest citizens’ rebellion in the south since the Korean War ended in 1953."
As a journalist, I’ve been intimately involved with Kwangju since the first days of the uprising. In May 1980, as a student activist at the University of Oregon, I helped distribute some of the first on-scene reports of the military atrocities in Kwangju smuggled out of South Korea by Christian human rights groups and American missionaries.

Later that decade, I was one of the only journalists to visit Kwangju and document what had happened there. And over the course of the 1990s I obtained nearly 4,000 declassified documents that repudiated the official U.S. story that American officials and generals had no involvement in the events that led up to the rebellion.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

35,000+ rally in unison to protect the marine life at Henoko, Okinawa's most beloved natural cultural heritage site • Coral scientist Katherine Muzik & filmmaker Oliver Stone share messages of support • Hayao Miyazaki joins Henoko fundraising group

Via peace photojournalist Takashi Morizumi

35,000+ rallied in unison today at Naha, the capitol of Okinawa, to call for the protection the marine life at Henoko, Okinawa's most beloved natural cultural heritage site: the only dugong habitat, and last fully intact (and healthiest, most biodiverse) coral reef in the entire prefecture.

Marine biologist Katherine Musik:
The rally right now in Okinawa is absolutely tremendous. Tens of thousands of voices, right now, shouting together, "NO", in perfect harmony! "NO" to the US military presence, how powerful!

Let's all shout, "Yes" to the blue corals, red sea fans, orange clownfish, "Yes" to the endangered dugongs in the sea, the endangered birds (yambaru quina, noguchi gera) in the forest!

"No" to imperialism, "Yes" to island autonomy!
Oliver Stone's message:
You have my respect and support for your protest on May 17. I cannot be with you in person, but in spirit. Your cause is a just one.

A new mega‐base built in the name of ‘deterrence’ is a lie. Another lie told by the American Empire to further its own goal of domination throughout the world. Fight this monster. Others like you are fighting it on so many fronts throughout the globe. It is a fight for peace, sanity, and the preservation of a beautiful world.
Muzik and Stone are part of a group of international scholars, peace advocates and artists, working behind the scenes to support Okinawa. In January 2014, they issued a statement and petition given to representatives of the US and Japanese governments:
We oppose construction of a new US military base within Okinawa, and support the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment

We the undersigned oppose the deal made at the end of 2013 between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima to deepen and extend the military colonization of Okinawa at the expense of the people and the environment. Using the lure of economic development, Mr. Abe has extracted approval from Governor Nakaima to reclaim the water off [landfill] Henoko, on the northeastern shore of Okinawa, to build a massive new U.S. Marine air base with a military port.

Plans to build the base at Henoko have been on the drawing board since the 1960s.  They were revitalized in 1996, when the sentiments against US military bases peaked following the rape of a twelve year-old Okinawan child by three U.S. servicemen. In order to pacify such sentiments, the US and Japanese governments planned to close Futenma Marine Air Base in the middle of Ginowan City and  move its functions to a new base to be constructed at Henoko, a site of extraordinary biodiversity and home to the endangered marine mammal dugong.

Marine biologist Katherine Muzik with Henoko elder community leader Fumiko Shimabukuro
Governor Nakaima’s reclamation approval does not reflect the popular will of the people of Okinawa.  Immediately before the gubernatorial election of 2010, Mr. Nakaima, who had previously accepted the new base construction plan, changed his position and called for relocation of the Futenma base outside the prefecture. He won the election by defeating a candidate who had consistently opposed the new base. Polls in recent years have shown that 70 to 90 percent of the people of Okinawa opposed the Henoko base plan. The poll conducted immediately after Nakaima’s recent reclamation approval showed that 72.4 percent of the people of Okinawa saw the governor’s decision as a “breach of his election pledge.” The reclamation approval was a betrayal of the people of Okinawa.

73.8 percent of the US military bases (those for exclusive US use) in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa, which is only .6 percent of the total land mass of Japan. 18.3 percent of the Okinawa Island is occupied by the US military. Futenma Air Base originally was built during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa by US forces in order to prepare for battles on the mainland of Japan. They simply usurped the land from local residents. The base should have been returned to its owners after the war, but the US military has retained it even though now almost seven decades have passed. Therefore, any conditional return of the base is fundamentally unjustifiable.
Oliver Stone meeting Henoko elder community leaders in 2013
The new agreement would also perpetuate the long suffering of the people of Okinawa. Invaded in the beginning of the 17th century by Japan and annexed forcefully into the Japanese nation at the end of 19th century, Okinawa was in 1944 transformed into a fortress to resist advancing US forces and thus to buy time to protect the Emperor System.  The Battle of Okinawa killed more than 100,000 local residents, about a quarter of the island’s population. After the war, more bases were built under the US military occupation. Okinawa “reverted” to Japan in 1972, but the Okinawans’ hope for the removal of the military bases was shattered. Today, people of Okinawa continue to suffer from crimes and accidents, high decibel aircraft noise and environmental pollution caused by the bases. Throughout these decades, they have suffered what the U.S. Declaration of Independence denounces as “abuses and usurpations,” including the presence of foreign “standing armies without the consent of our legislatures.”

Not unlike the 20th century U.S. Civil Rights struggle, Okinawans have non-violently pressed for the end to their military colonization. They tried to stop live-fire military drills that threatened their lives by entering the exercise zone in protest; they formed human chains around military bases to express their opposition; and about a hundred thousand people, one tenth of the population have turned out periodically for massive demonstrations. Octogenarians initiated the campaign to prevent the construction of the Henoko base with a sit-in that has been continuing for years. The prefectural assembly passed resolutions to oppose the Henoko base plan. In January 2013, leaders of all the 41 municipalities of Okinawa signed the petition to the government to remove the newly deployed MV-22 Osprey from Futenma base and to give up the plan to build a replacement base in Okinawa.

We support the people of Okinawa in their non-violent struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of the environment. The Henoko marine base project must be canceled and Futenma returned forthwith to the people of Okinawa.

Hayao Miyazaki
Last month, anime creator Hayao Miyazaki joined a new high-profile Okinawa- and Japan-based group raising funds for to support Governor Onaga's campaign to save Henoko. The group is buying advertising space in US newspapers  to counter the dearth of media reportage on the daily protests at Henoko and the All-Okinawan Movement. The most comprehensive report on this latest was posted at the pop media site, Rocket News' "Hayao Miyazaki joins politicians and CEOs donating millions to protest U.S. military in Okinawa".

Last fall,  Miyazaki, sent a  handwritten message to a former chairman of the Okinawan Prefectural Assembly, Toshinobu Nakazato, who has been enlisting the support of famous people from across Japan to support the movement to save the coral reef and dugong habitat in Henoko and the adjacent Yambaru subtropical rainforest, both which are threatened by US military training base expansion. Miyazaki's message stated, “Demilitarization in Okinawa is essential for peace in East Asia," which is consistent with the anime director's pacifist and ecologically oriented themes.

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 17: All-Okinawa Mass Rally for Preservation of Henoko, an indigenous sacred site, & Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site, habitat of the Okinawa dugong & the last fully intact coral reef in all of Okinawa


Via our friend, Dr. Masami Mel Kawamura, at Okinawa Outreach:
On May 17, a mass rally will be held at the Okinawa Cellular Stadium in Naha, Okinawa to demonstrate Okinawa’s determination to stop the construction of a US military base in Henoko and Oura Bay in northern Okinawa.

With this year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the battle of Okinawa and of the World War II, this rally will certainly be one of the most important rallies held in Okinawa against the detrimental legacies of the war.

The people of Okinawa have suffered enough from the continuing immense presence of US military, which still occupies 18 % of Okinawa Island today. And for the last 19 years, the people have also suffered from the US and Japanese governments’ reckless pursuit of the Henoko base plan and their complete disregard for Okinawa’s democratic voice against the plan.

While the US and Japanese governments continue to do their talk in Tokyo or Washington, we the people of Okinawa know that the real struggle site that counts most is here in Okinawa. We are determined to fight through to protect our sea, our land, and our life.

Featuring Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, along with other distinguished speakers, the rally will show how the people of Okinawa are united with each other and with supporters from around the world in our fight against the Henoko base construction.

When: Rally starts at 1:00 am on May 17, 2015

Where: Okinawa Cellular Stadium, in Naha
Reverend Kinoshita of Nippon Myohoji
witnessing for the protection of Henoko,
an indigenous sacred site, with shrines & rituals going back millennia, 
and Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site, 
habitat of the Okinawa dugong & the last fully intact coral reef in all of Okinawa. 
(Photo via our friends at Blue Vigil in Solidarity with Okinawa in NYC

Saturday, May 2, 2015

5/3 - Available for online viewing: John Junkerman's Japan's Peace Constitution


Full-length version of John Junkerman's 2005 documentary film, Japan's Peace Constitution available for online viewing from 5/3, Constitution Day, until 5/7, courtesy of Siglo Films: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1gQtnDvMfM&feature=youtu.be. Film description:
This timely, hard-hitting documentary places the ongoing debate over the constitution in an international context: What will revision mean to Japan's neighbors, Korea and China? How has the US-Japan military alliance warped the constitution and Japan's role in the world? How is the unprecedented involvement of Japan's Self-Defense Force in the occupation of Iraq perceived in the Middle East?

Through interviews conducted with leading thinkers around the world, the film explores the origins of the Constitution in the ashes of war and the significance of its peace clauses in the conflicted times of the early 21st century. Key interviews include:

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Dower

Paris-based social theorist Hidaka Rokuro

Beate Sirota Gordon, drafter of the equal-rights clause of the Constitution

Political philosopher and activist Douglas Lummis

Political scientist Chalmers Johnson

Kang Man-Gil, president of Sangji University, South Korea

Shin Heisoo, co-representative, Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan

Korean historian Han Hong Koo

Chinese filmmaker and writer Ban Zhongyi

Syrian writer Michel Kilo

Lebanese journalist Josef Samaha

Linguist and social critic Noam Chomsky

Director John Junkerman is an American filmmaker, living in Tokyo. His first film, Hellfire: A Journey from Hiroshima, was coproduced with John Dower and nominated for an Academy Award. His 2002 film, Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times, also produced by Siglo, received widespread theatrical distribution in Japan, the US, and Europe.

A companion book in Japanese, including the complete interviews with John Dower, Hidaka Rokuro, Chalmers Johnson, Noam Chomsky, Beate Sirota Gordon, and Han Hong Koo has been published by Foil.

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Face of Empire v. the Anti-War Committee of 1000: No base in Henoko, Okinawa! NO WAR 4.26 Shibuya Sound Parade & 4.27 "Protect the Peace Constitution" Action

(Photo: Anti-War Committee of 1000)
The Anti-War Committee of 1000 (co-founded last year by Nobel Prize Laureate Kenzaburo Oe, former Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota,and other Japanese and Okinawan social and cultural leaders) brought the ubiquitous pink Okinawa Dugong balloon to Tokyo's Shibuya district on Sunday for the No base in Henoko, Okinawa! NO WAR 4.26 Shibuya sound parade. About 1000 people attended the "NO WAR in Shibuya! Solidarity in the struggle for Okinawa" rally, which overlapped with the Rainbow Pride parade.

(Photo: Anti-War Committee of 1000)

This is one of the many ongoing  protests in mainland Japan and Okinawa, opposing the Abe administration goal of reviving the Japanese wartime military order under US hegemony. Many onlookers see in the domestic struggle as a replay of the prewar Japanese political contest between pacifists and militarists.  And as a replay of the massive protests against the 1960 US-Japan Security Treaty (ANPO) forced through the Japanese Diet by PM Abe's grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi. The main point of opposition was that it would allow U.S. military bases to remain on Japanese and Okinawan soil.

Hundreds of thousands protested passing of the
 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US andJapan (ANPO) 
that PM Nobusuke Kishi, grandfather of PM Abe, forced through 
the Japanese Diet on May 20, 1960, at the sacrifice of his political career. 

On Monday, the Anti-War Committee of 1000 held another rally at the PM's residence to protest the Abe administration's revision of US-Japan military guidelines which call for the increased integration of the US and Japanese militaries. Approximately 800 people participated in the 4.27 action.

The US has pushed for military integration with Asian countries since the first years of the Cold War.  President Eisenhower articulated the key concept in the early 1950s: "If there must be a war there in Asia, let it be Asians against Asians."  The Nixon Doctrine announced in Guam in 1969 consolidated the US government idea of international military integration under US domination. Historian John Dower's description of the Nixon Doctrine (in "Asia and the Nixon Doctrine: The New Face of Empire," a chapter in Open Secret: The Kissinger-Nixon Doctrine in Asia, published in 1970), also describes the motivation behind the ongoing integration:
...fundamentally a cost-conscious policy, aimed at maintaining a major U.S. role in Asia at less cost in both dollars and American lives. This combination has been given the policy a racist cast perhaps best illustrated by Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker's comment that [this] means changing 'the color of the corpses...

While the primary thrust of the Doctrine is military and budgetary, this thrust interlocks with important considerations concerning the future economic development of Asia...

(Photo: Anti-War Committee of 1000)

Dower added that the US military and economic globalization strategy may be traced back to the Truman era:
...represents ittle more than the new face of American empire. It applies cosmetics to the scarred strategies of the past; here and there, where the old features of imperium have become particularly battered, there is even a bit of strategic plastic surgery. At this stage in history, after..decades of often tragic American policy in Asia, one looks for new questions, sensibilities, and committments which strike to the root of affairs...Upon close examination, it is fundamentally not even a new policy, but rather a pastiche of rhetoric and programs familiar since the early years of the cold war

(I)...containment remains the framework of miiltary strategy...and the U.S has reaffirmed its commitment to counterrevolution.

(II)The network of American bases and manpower commitments abroad is being rationalized and restructured, not reconsidered.

(III) Client armies are being developed to replace American combat troops in crusades largely defined by Washington and at costs to both Asia and the U.S. which are as yet incalculable...

(V) The possibility of the United States initiating nuclear wr in Asia has been immeasurably increased.

(VI) Economic policies remain structured in such a way that many Asian countries face  the prospect of becoming locked into permanent dependency as the neocolonies of the US...
(Photo: Anti-War Committee of 1000)

More:

The guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation have been revised for the first time in 18 years.

The new guidelines, which confirm the direction of the security policies of the Japanese and the U.S. governments, call for “seamless” and “global” security cooperation between the two countries. They will accelerate the “integration” of the Self-Defense Forces with U.S. forces...

Underlying the revision is the Abe administration’s policy initiative to change the government’s traditional interpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defense. This radical shift in security policy was formally endorsed by the Cabinet’s resolution in July last year.

Proposed security legislation in line with the Cabinet decision is the focus of the current Diet session. Although the Diet has yet to start debating the legislation, the new guidelines already reflect the Cabinet decision to make it possible for Japan to use its right to collective self-defense. They also include the SDF’s overseas minesweeping operations, an issue over which the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, Komeito, are at odds...
"Japanese Catholic leaders voice concern over Abe administration in peace message", The Asahi Shimbun, April 28, 2015:
Dated Feb. 25, the statement read: “Seventy years after the war, memory of it is fading along with memories of Japanese colonial rule and aggression with its accompanying crimes against humanity. Now, there are calls to rewrite the history of that time, denying what really happened.

“The present government is attempting to enact laws to protect state secrets, allow for the right of collective self-defense and change Article 9 of the Constitution to allow the use of military force overseas.”

Kazuo Koda, a bishop from the archdiocese of Tokyo who was involved in drafting the document, said he and other priests were initially reluctant to argue specific policy measures. “But we became convinced that we must speak out with clarity that these are wrong,” he said.
Nobel-winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe has stressed that he and others are ready and willing to carry the torch lit by the late constitutional scholar Yasuhiro Okudaira, a leading supporter of the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution.

Oe was one of six people who addressed a rally April 3 on the legacy of Okudaira, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo who died in January at age 85. About 900 intellectuals and activists attended the gathering in Chofu, Tokyo.

The writer said Okudaira believed that Article 9, the clause that outlaws war, has played a major role in molding the character of Japanese who grew up in the postwar period.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Legacy of World War II in Okinawa through Discussion & Music: Panel representing Okinawa Prefecture led by MP Keiko Itokazu • Univ. of Hawai'i Manoa • April 27, 2015


Tomorrow evening a panel of women political leaders representing Okinawa Prefecture will discuss the ongoing aftereffects of World War II throughout communities in the islands.  Senator Keiko Itokazu, a member of the Japanese National Diet will lead the discussion. 

Nago City Councilwomen—Kumiko Onaga, Hideko Tamanaha, Kikue Tsuhako—will also represent Okinawa in this important meeting at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa. Their visit is part of a larger outreach by Okinawa Prefecture to Hawai'i—a call for international support to stop the US-Jp military destruction of the natural cultural heritage site at Henoko and Takae. Ukwanshin Kabudan Ryukyu Performing Arts Troupe will perform. 


Ryukyuan cultural heritage included properties dating back to the Jomon period and the Silk Road era, when the Ryukyuan Kingdom was a major gateway between Tang China to Japan. This was almost all lost: the US-Japan ground war in Okinawa resulted in a near-genocidal civilian death toll and near-total destruction of Okinawan material cultural heritage.

Now, during the 70th anniversary of the World War II sacrifice of Okinawa, the US & Japanese governments want to force through the destruction of Henoko and Yambaru, the most important of what remains of Okinawan natural cultural heritage. The Yanbaru ecoregion includes the prefecture's most biodiverse, healthiest coral reef; only dugong habitat; and a subtropical rainforest. Two species in Yanbaru (the dugong and the Okinawa Woodpecker) are natural monuments. Shrines and shell middens at Henoko go back millennia. 

which strives to preserve the traditions of Ryukyu/Okinawa
 through education using the stage, workshops, and community programs.

The most important Okinawan value, Nuchi du Takara, means "Life, including the life of nature, is the Greatest Treasure." Yambaru is the living manifestation of this cultural value. 

Okinawans, supported by Overseas Okinawans, global environmentalists, and cultural heritage and peace activists are trying to stop this latest attempt at the military destruction of Okinawan natural cultural heritage.

For those who are not in Honolulu, Ukwanshin Kabudan Ryukyu Performing Arts Troupe will be live streaming the event from the Kamakaokalani Center for Okinawa Studies via USTREAM. Please tune in to the following link or search for ukwanshin on ustream. Those of you who can make it, please come in person to show your support!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Interrconnecting Peace Traditions: Blue Vigil in Solidarity with Okinawa on April 25 after Peace & Planet Event • Relaunch of The Golden Rule, a Quaker sailboat that protested US nuclear test bombing of the Marshall Islands in 1958

Blue Vigil in Solidarity with Okinawa in NYC on the coldest day of 2015.

Via our good friends, Blue Vigil in Solidarity with Okinawa in NYC:
With Reverend Kamoshita who has been praying in Henoko and Takae, we will have our monthly peace vigil for Okinawa! Please come and join after the Peace and Planet event.
The Okinawa vigil is part of supporting events  for the Peace and Planet Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just, and Sustainable World gathering in the NY this weekend, April 24-26. The focus of the gathering at Cooper Union in Lower Manhattan is to discuss how to encourage their governments more effectively for nuclear disarmament. Okinawan peace activists and global hibakusha (nuclear bomb and nuclear test bomb survivors) from Japan, Korea, Australia, and the Marshall Islands will participate.

Jun-san Yasuda and Peace Walkers. 
They walked from San Francisco to NYC for the Peace and Planet event. 

The Peace and Planet event precedes the ninth Nuclear Non Proliferation Review Conference which meets at the UN every 5 years. More than180 nations ratified the NPT 40 years ago, including the US, Russia, France, Great Britain and China, all nuclear states.  Article 6 of the treaty called for nuclear states to begin good faith negotiations toward the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately the nuclear states of Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan have refused to the NPT.

While NPT member nuclear states have made some progress in reducing the number nuclear warheads, they [notably President Obama, as demonstrated in his 2009 Prague speech] have strengthened their commitment to "nuclear deterrence" as the cornerstone of their respective foreign policy platforms, and have turned their focus to developing a "new generation" of  "smarter" and more powerful nuclear bombs. Moreover, despite overwhelming evidence of causation of birth defects and cancers, the US government has increased the testing and use of radioactive depleted uranium weapons worldwide.

This Nuclear-Free Movement is now a 70-year old global peace tradition. For decades, downwinder survivors of nuclear test bombing began joining Japanese survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, global atomic soldiers, indigenous peoples whose lands are used for uranium mining,  nuclear test bombing, and nuclear waste storage, together in dialogue and psychological healing.  They have witnessed together at the Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the Nevada nuclear bomb test site, the former USSR nuclear bomb test site at Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands.  Although the struggle to abolish nuclear weapons started as a one-issue campaign, the movement is increasingly integrating at the global level with overlapping peace, environmentalist, indigenous, women's, and faith-based movements.

Albert Bigelow; Bert Bigelow; architect, former Navy commander, and Quaker, 
who sailed the ketch Golden Rule into the U.S. nuclear bomb test site
 in the Marshall Islands in 1958. This act of civil disobedience resulted 
in the arrest of Bigelow and his shipmates and their imprisonment in Honolulu. 

This year, at Peace and Planet, Ann Wright, a supporter of the Okinawa Movement, will tell the story of The Golden Rule, a crew of 4 Quakers in a 38-foot sailboat who attempted to sail from Hawaii to stop U.S. nuclear test bombing of the Marshall Islands in 1958. The U.S. Coast Guard jailed the crew twice to stop them. The Golden Rule inspired the formation of Greenpeace International, a longtime NGO supporter of Okinawa, which used boats to attempt to stop nuclear test bombing in the Pacific.

The Golden Rule was renovated by chapters of Veterans for Peace, another NGO supporter of Okinawa, in northern California. She will be launched on April 22, 2015 in Humboldt Bay, CA and sailed down the coast of California to arrive in early August in San Diego for the national Veterans for Peace conference.

Global Hibakusha will lead a workshop at the NY event at Cooper Union Great Hall on April 25. Participants include Japan Council Against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo): Japanese Hibakusha; Shim Jin Tae (Korean A-bomb survivor); Peter Watts (aboriginal nuclear test victim, Australia); Abacca Anjain-Maddison (Marshall Islands); Manny Pino (Acoma-Laguna Coalition for a Safe Environment). Their testimonies reveal and illuminate the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.  The over 2,000  nuclear test  bombings worldwide have devastated indigenous peoples and their ancestral homelands in the American Southwest, the Asia-Pacific,  Xinjiang,  China,  and Kazakhstan.  This personal level of understanding  is now recognized and discussed in the mainstream debate on nuclear weapons.


The late Western Shoshone leader Corbin Harney
praying at the Nevada Test Site on January 1, 2007.
The nuclear bomb test site was located on sacred indigenous grounds. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

World Heritage Day: Nuchi du Takara (Life—including the life of nature—is the Greatest Treasure)

Nuchi du Takara (Life—including the life of nature—is the Greatest Treasure). 
(Photo: K.M.)

Today is World Heritage Day, a day launched by UNESCO in 2005, to heighten the global public's awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage & the efforts required to conserve it, as well as draw attention to its vulnerability.

Yanbaru subtropical rainforest. (Photo: Yoshio Shimoji)

Yanbaru, the magnificent ecoregion of northern Okinawa—mountains, subtropical rainforest, rivers, wetlands, and Henoko's dugong and coral reef ecosystem—is Okinawa's most important natural heritage site. Henoko is one of the most biodiverse and beautiful coastal areas in all Japan and the Asia-Pacific. With the support of Japan's Environmental Ministry, Okinawa Prefecture nominated the ecoregion for official recognition on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2012.

The coral reef is the last fully intact coral reef in all of Okinawa and Japan. It is home to almost 400 types of healthy coral (including the rare, mysterious blue coral); over 1,000 species of marine life  (including the beloved dugong, an indigenous sacred icon and natural monument); hawksbill, loggerhead, and green sea turtles; crustaceans; anemone; reef fish; and sea grass.  

Henoko's magnificent dugong and coral reef habitat.

Okinawan traditional heritage is inseparable from the natural world: the Okinawa dugong is an indigenous sacred icon. The shell middens on Cape Henoko go back thousands of years and people still observe traditional shrine rites preserved in this district from ancient times. Therefore, Yanbaru meets multiple requirements for UNESCO World Heritage status. It "bears a unique testimony to a cultural tradition which is living." The area is an "outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture, or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change."

Sea Turtle and Okinawa Dugong, a  sacred cultural icon and protected natural monument. 
Photo courtesy: Takuma Higashionna

The international community, from marine scientists to environmentalists to indigenous cultural and historic preservation advocates, have supported locals and Okinawans for 20 years in efforts to protecting this invaluable world natural cultural heritage because the world recognizes its universal value and importance.