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)


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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hibakusha stands with Okinawans in call to save dugong & coral reef natural cultural heritage site

Sign: The Sea is the Mother of our Heart. 
Photo of Mr. Yonezawa at Henoko via Sunshine Miyagi on Twitter.

Hiroshima nuclear bomb survivor, Mr. Tetsushi Yonezawa, stands with Okinawans, in call to save the coral reef and dugong habitat at Henoko, Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site, from US-Japanese government  destruction. The ecoregion is home to the critically endangered Okinawa dugong, a natural monument and beloved cultural icon, and Okinawa's only fully intact and best coral reef.  The area is a living manifestation of the most important Okinawan values: Nuchi du Takara, the right to life, including the right to life of nature.

Mr. Yonezawa witnessed the nuclear bomb hitting Hiroshima from a streetcar when he was 11-years-old.  He wrote a book about his experience after the Fukushima multiple meltdowns spoke to his conscience about the need to publicly witness for a peaceful, nuclear-free world.

The Asahi published a short account of Mr. Yonezawa's memories last year:
"Something flashed somewhere with a strong blinding light. Spontaneously, I closed my eyes. Then, I heard a tremendous sound that was the most terrible sound I have ever heard. It was like a hundred thunderclaps crashing all at once just a short distance away."

...As the streetcar approached the front of the Fukuya department store at the center of downtown, the A-bomb exploded. They were then about 750 meters (0.5 mile) from the hypocenter. It is said that the bomb blast that hit them had a wind velocity of some 220 meters (720 feet) per second. The windows of the streetcar all broke at once and the streetcar filled with screams.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What was the truth of the hidden US-Japan ground war in Okinawa?

A US Army cameraman filming the fierce US-Japan ground war in Okinawa did his job "filming US soldiers fighting bravely" at first. But after he witnessed the terrible suffering of Okinawans, he couldn't stand it. The cameraman started to photograph the entire war, but his film was censored by the U.S. military. NHK produced a documentary on his experience in 2011 and it will be rebroadcast tomorrow.

The U.S. military recorded the Battle of Okinawa on film in detail; however Okinawan civilian noncombatants and locations were not identified. Over 140,000 Okinawan civilians were killed. Combatant deaths were significantly lower: around 12,000 US soldiers and 70,000 Japanese soldiers.

The "One-foot Film Movement", an Okinawan postwar grassroots organization bought documentary film (one foot at a time) from U.S. government archives  — to preserve the memory of these people, their families, their wartime history and to show why the Okinawan people desire peace.  The nonprofit started in 1983 as the Civil Movement to Provide Children With Lessons of the Battle of Okinawa and closed its 30-year operations in 2013 at a ceremony held at the Yashio Rest House in Naha. The organization had collected 50 hours of film.

Since February,  NHK has been rebroadcasting documentary films of this wartime history including Okinawan "One Foot Movement" documentary films.

In a 2005 documentary , a NHK director searched for the real people and places in these films, the visible memory of their wartime experience. Over 240,000 people were killed during the fierce US-Japanese ground war in Okinawa. What was the truth of this war? 

These and other archival NHK documentaries, especially the films and footage collected by the Okinawan One-Foot Film Movement, explore this history in a search for the memories of Okinawans who were killed during or somehow survived the worst ground battle of the Pacific War.

The NHK documentaries will be rebroadcast through July 5.


Info on broadcast and more on the ground war between the US and Japan in Okinawa via Okinawa Prefectural Peace Center (沖縄国際平和研究所):

『戦後70年企画 NHKが見つめた沖縄戦』
「カメラマンが見た沖縄戦 隠された戦場の事実」


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Okinawa Gov. Onaga: "Okinawa has never voluntarily provided bases. Futenma, & all other bases, were taken with 'Bayonets and Bulldozers' while Okinawans were in concentration camps during & after the war."

On March 23, Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga demands that the Japanese government
 stop landfill preparation at the natural cultural heritage site at Henoko 
so that the prefectural government can assess damage to Okinawa's only fully intact coral reef, 
and habitat of the critically endangered Okinawa dugong, a protected natural monument.
(Photo: Japan Times via Kyodo)

Unofficial summary/translation of Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga's response to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at their April 5, 2015 meeting:
As you [Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga] said, Okinawa, which comprises 0.6% of Japanese terrirtory, has been burdened with 74% of US bases in Jp. Okinawa has supported the Ampo(US-Jp Security Treaty) system for 70 years after the war, with mixed emotions, both pride and pain at the same time.

With my political background, I fully understand the importance of Japan-US Ampo. You talk about the Senkakus, but unless the whole nation is ready to take the burden of Ampo, what would this kind of national defense (one in which Okinawa is overburdened) look like from the eyes of other nations? Japan's security, Ampo, & the Jp-US military alliance must be done as the people of Japan as a whole (not just Okinawa).

You said you might move [V-22 transport aircraft] Osprey to the mainland, but without any of the major bases relocating to the mainland, our overburden may not change. That's been the case in the last 70 years.

And no matter how much we express what we need, Okinawa's concerns won't be taken care of within the existing SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement).  SOFA must be fundamentally revised.

I want to stress that Okinawa has never voluntarily provided bases. Futenma, and all other bases, were taken with "Bayonets and Bulldozers" while Okinawans were in concentration camps during and after the war.

You took land from us, you made us suffer until today, and now you think it [Futenma] is dangerous and has to be removed. Then you ask us to take the burden of replacement. You ask us whether we have an alternative plan. You ask us to think about the security of Japan. (Why do we have to think about these?) It just shows deterioration (daraku) of Japanese politics.

.... two years ago, the day when the [1952] San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect was celebrated. It was a celebration of Japan's regaining independence. But it was the day when Okinawa was detached from Japan. It was a sad day for us. When we heard "Banzai!" at the ceremony, I thought, "Are they even thinking about Okinawa?"

During those 27 years under US military occupation, when Japan enjoyed economic prosperity, we were struggling to gain autonomous rights during. The hardship was beyond anyone's imagination.

You and I both went to Hosei University. But until I was 22-years-old, I used my [USCAR (US Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands) "Resident of the Ryukyus"] passport, and had money sent in US dollars. When I look back, I wonder, "What was Okinawa really supporting during those 27 years?

You always use the word "shukushuku to" (solemnly).  It means you are just going ahead with the Henoko base construction and we have no say. Such attitude reminds me of Lt. Gen Paul W. Caraway, US High Commissioner in the old time. He said there was no such thing as autonomy for Okinawa. Whenever you use the word "shukushuku', it reminds me of Caraway, and makes me wonder what did those 70 years (after the war) mean for us?

Then the guy called Price came, and with what was called "Price Recommendation," US tried to buy out land from Okinawans [with one-time] lump sum payments [for tens of thousands of acres private property the US military forcibly seized from 230,000 Okinawans from WWII through the 1950's]. We were all poor then, and desperately wanted the money, but rejected the offer.

Now, the land [albeit leased to the Jp and US govts] is ours. In light of such history of our struggle, no such word as "shukushuku" can threaten us. The more you use such condescending words, the more the minds of Okinawan people are turned away, and the angrier they become. I absolutely believe that it is impossible to build the Henoko base.

It is the power of the Okinawan people... our pride, our confidence, and our thoughts for our children and grandchildren, coming together. It is impossible to build the base. And the Japanese government bears the entire responsibility for any costs associated with cancellation of this base. The world is watching this test of Japanese democracy.

Let me ask you. Both you and Rumsfeld think Futenma was the "most dangerous base in the world." You try to brainwash Okinawans and the people of all of Japan, telling them that "in order to remove Futenma's danger, Henoko is the only way." Is it? Will Futenma stay permanently if the Henoko plan falters?

You talk about the base reduction, but after all these bases are returned, what will be the base burden ratio for Okinawa? It will only reduce from 73.8% to 73.1%. Why? Because all these bases will be relocated WITHIN the prefecture, including Naha military port and Camp Kinser. Your talk of base reduction may sound convincing, but if you really look at the numbers, this is what it is about (from 73.8% to 73.1% only).

And you say you will return Naha military port by 2025, and Camp Kinser by 2028. Then what? It (the agreement) says the rest will be returned "later." What kind of Japanese language is that? You give a sweet talk to get through the day, but then quickly you forget about it. It has been our experience of the past 70 years. This is why, even when you talk about moving Osprey to this place and that place, we are in doubt, thinking that maybe it will take another 50 years.

Prime Minister Abe keeps saying he will, "take Japan back." Does that "Japan" include Okinawa?

.. the only difference between me and Mr. Nakaima is Henoko. There was a difference of 100,000 votes between me and him. Understand that I won on the Henoko issue, not other issues.

Now, the economy. When 9/11 happened, Okinawa lost 40% of its tourists. The damage was significant. Senkaku, I understand them as Japan's inherent territory. Once something happens there, I can see the million tourists to Ishigaki going down to 10% of the current number.

Okinawa's soft-power can be utilized when its peace is secured. With US bases, considering the advancement of the missile technology, one or two misses will destroy Okinawa. I suspect US and its military want to withdraw from Okinawa, and only Japan wants to keep them there for "deterrence."

I would like to meet with Prime Minister Abe too. You are a minister in charge of reducing Okinawa's base burden. I want you to cancel the Henoko plan, have proper dialogues, and resolve the base issue.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Urgent Appeal by Nobel Prize Laureate OE Kenzaburo and 20 other leading Japanese intellectuals calling for the immediate suspension of construction of the US military base at Henoko, Okinawa.

Urgent Appeal by Nobel Prize Laureate OE Kenzaburo and 20 other leading Japanese intellectuals calling for the immediate suspension of construction of the US military base at Henoko, Okinawa.

We are deeply concerned about issues surrounding the construction of an American military base in Henoko, Okinawa. The will of the people of Okinawa prefecture is beyond doubt. INAMINE Susumu, who opposed construction of the military base in his election manifesto, was reelected mayor of Nago City in an election held in January 2014. In the November election of the prefectural governor, ONAGA Takeshi, who also opposed construction, defeated the incumbent NAKAIMA Hirokazu by an overwhelming 100,000 votes; and in the general election held in December, anti-construction candidates won every seat. The fierce determination of the people of Okinawa prefecture to oppose construction of the American military base at Henoko has been demonstrated by “all Okinawa” in a way that transcends ideology and creed, politics and party affiliation.

The Abe government, nevertheless, is aggressively pressing ahead with land reclamation, using as justification the Public Waters Reclamation Accord signed by the previous governor Nakaima, who late in 2013 reneged on his election manifesto. The outrageous conduct of the national government is an act of violence that insults the will of the Okinawan people and destroys the foundation of democracy and regional autonomy in Japan.

The new governor has decided to establish an “Independent Committee on Procedures Involved in the Public Waters Reclamation Accord with Regard to the Construction of a Replacement Facility for the Futenma Airfield” (henceforth “Independent Committee”) to begin investigating whether there were any legal irregularities in the procedures undertaken by the previous governor NAKAIMA Hirokazu in concluding the Public Waters Reclamation Accord. In other words, there is a real possibility that the legitimacy of the reclamation accord, or the environmental assessment upon which it rests, may be stripped away. For the government of a purportedly democratic nation, the obvious course of action should be to suspend landfill operations at least during the period of investigation.

Governor Onaga announced a new decision on March 23. He ordered the Okinawa Defense Bureau to halt all operations, including boring exploration. In the event that his order is not carried out, he is considering rescinding the permit allowing coral reef shattering along the Henoko coast. If the government continues to insist on aggressively pushing ahead with construction, we fear not only a serious confrontation with the people of Okinawa prefecture and the fomenting of mistrust toward the mainland, but also the collapse of trust toward the nation of Japan inside the country and abroad.

We hereby declare our support for Governor Onaga’s position rejecting base relocation and our full support for his decisions pertaining to the order to suspend operations and to rescind the permit allowing reef shattering. We urgently call upon the government to heed the following requests:

The Japanese government should immediately suspend all operations relating to Henoko land reclamation [landfill], including boring exploration of the sea floor. The “Land Reclamation Accord” concluded by former Governor Nakaima, which the government uses as the basis for such operations, has been repudiated by the people of Okinawa prefecture.

Recently, the Japanese government has refused even to meet with Governor Onaga who represents the collective will of Okinawa. Such refusal repudiates regional autonomy guaranteed under the Japanese constitution and violates the spirit of democracy. Respect for the will of the people forms the basis of democracy. The government should accede in good faith to Governor Onaga’s request for a meeting and participate in serious talks about the issues at hand.

We call upon the Japanese government to put into practice its own slogan of “Regional Creation” by transferring to Okinawa Prefecture the actual authority to resolve issues connected to military bases and the construction of an autonomous economy.

The Minister for the Environment has a responsibility to provide appropriate commentary from a standpoint of environmental conservation with regard to the contents of the Environmental Impact Evaluation Report on reclamation operations for the construction of the American military base at Henoko. According to the Environmental Conservation Guidelines for the Island of Okinawa, Henoko and surrounding coastal regions in particular, designated as “zones for evaluating the strict preservation of the natural environment” (Rank 1), are precious bodies of water inhabited by numerous endangered species, not least of which is the Dugong. There is an extremely high risk that the artificial destruction and modification of natural formations will bring about absolute irreversible damage from which the island cannot recover. We urgently call upon the Minister for the Environment to carry out the solemn duty of preserving the beautiful Okinawan sea, a candidate for selection as a World Heritage Site.

Frustration and anger at a situation in which 74% of US military bases are forced onto Okinawa, which comprises only 0.6% of Japanese territory, underlie the determination of the people of Okinawa prefecture to oppose the construction of a new base at Henoko. We call upon Japanese citizens to squarely face this situation, which may be said to be a form of structural discrimination; and urge that all Japan should include this burden in considering issues of Japanese security.

April 1, 2015
(Translated by Charles Cabell. List of petitioners omitted.)