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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 a  part of a global indigenous call for respect of sacred sites and traditional cultural heritage in the face of disrespect of destruction of indigenous cultural heritage, especially natural sacred sites.

Indigenous peoples know that sacred sites are centers of 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 a 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 in her introduction to William B.C. Chang's analysis of the settler pattern of violating indigenous religious and cultural heritage rights as well as indigenous human and land 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.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Guardian details how much US senators were paid to fast-track the TPP corporate investor rights bill • Naked Capitalism explains why President Obama defends slavery in Malaysia • How close is the USTR & Wall Street?


Children at the Lenggeng detention center, south of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,
 face the possibility of being sold into slavery.

The Guardian: "Here’s how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill: Critics of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership are unlikely to be silenced by an analysis of the flood of money it took to push the pact over its latest hurdle":
“It’s a rare thing for members of Congress to go against the money these days,” said Mansur Gidfar, spokesman for the anti-corruption group Represent.Us. “They know exactly which special interests they need to keep happy if they want to fund their reelection campaigns or secure a future job as a lobbyist.

“How can we expect politicians who routinely receive campaign money, lucrative job offers, and lavish gifts from special interests to make impartial decisions that directly affect those same special interests?” Gidfar said. “As long as this kind of transparently corrupt behavior remains legal, we won’t have a government that truly represents the people.”
Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism provides a comprehensive overview of why the Obama administration and neocon Republican political leaders are ignoring Malaysia's notorious record on human kidnapping, trafficking and slavery (including infants and children) as well as foreign migrant workers: "America’s First Black President Throwing Slaves Under the Bus on TPP":
Huffington Post has reconfirmed its reporting from over the past weekend, namely, that the Administration has a hairball to untangle to get Malaysia to sign the TransPacific Partnership. Basically, Malaysia needs to have an anti-slavery provision that was inserted in the bill in committee watered down. And the reason that that has to happen, as our reader Antifa pointed out in comments, is that Malaysia controls the Straits of Malacca, a critical shipping choke point. One of the major objectives of the pact is to strengthen America’s position in the region relative to China. Thus Malaysia’s location makes it a critically important signatory to the pact...

Of course, one might ask why we are now working so hard against China after having made the US dependent on her by allowing, even encouraging, US multinationals to outsource and offshore manufacturing in China...

Since Obama has had the embarrassing spectacle of having set a ministerial meeting for the TPP this week at which the other intended signatories were to give their final offers, based on the assumption that Obama would have Fast Track authority in hand. the negotiators increasingly doubt that Obama can get the bill passed this year, and the general assumption is that Congresscritters won’t touch this issue in 2016, an election year.

I strongly urge you to keep calling your Senators and Representatives. Concentrate on the slavery issue, since there is opposition on the right and left, and the folks on the Hill are likely not well prepared for voter pressure on this aspect of the sausage-making, since the MSM has pointedly ignored it.
Meanwhile American public interest organizations want the USTR Michael Froman to disclose the nature of his relationship with Wall Street by releasing his emails with bank reps:
“Michael Froman is not just President Obama’s trade representative, he is also a former senior executive of Citigroup,” said Justin Krebs, Campaign Director of MoveOn.org Civic Action. “He raised money from Citigroup for Obama’s Senate and presidential campaigns and remained on the Citigroup payroll late into 2008 while helping select Obama’s policy staff as a senior member of President Obama’s transition team – all while Citigroup was making history as the biggest bailout recipient ever.”

...“Citigroup snuck a lobbyist-written Dodd-Frank rollback into last December’s CRomnibus, so we already know they’re willing to hijack unrelated bills to weaken regulations on Wall Street,” said Kurt Walters of Rootstrikers. “Wall Street has been lobbying to include financial regulation in ongoing trade negotiations, and Americans deserve to know what Froman has been privately saying to these big banks.”

“It’s no surprise that the TPP – an unprecedented corporate giveaway – is being negotiated by someone as cozy with Wall Street banks as Michael Froman,” said Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director at CREDO Action. Zaheed continued, “The American people deserve transparency. The Administration must make public all communications between Froman and the massive financial institutions that stand to benefit from proposed trade deals.” Zaheed added “the American people and Congress need to see what kinds of commitments Froman is making to his Wall Street cronies behind closed doors.

Furthermore, stated Michelle Chan, director of Economic Policy at Friends of the Earth: "If the Obama administration gets Fast Track, it would delegate Congress’s constitutional authority to a U.S. Trade Representative who, by background and mindset, responds to Wall Street rather than ordinary people."

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 23, 2015 - Kodansha release of I am Catherine Jane: "50 years ago, a US serviceman raped me too...I want to live my life again from today...With tears in her eyes & in mine, we embraced each other. I did not know her name. But to me, her name was Okinawa."

On May 23, Kodansha released the Japanese translation of I am Catherine Jane, 
Fifty years ago, a US serviceman raped me too. For 50 years, I have lived in sorrow. I am now over 70-years-old...I want to live my life again from today ...With tears in her eyes and tears in mine, we embraced each other. I did not know her name. But to me, her name was Okinawa.
This passage from I am Catherine Jane describes a meeting between a woman sharing the story of rape for the first time after hearing Fisher's story of her quest for survival, healing and justice in the face of U.S. and Japanese government indifference to the assault.

Australian rape survivor begins White Ribbon Violence Against Women" campaign 
outside U.S. military training base Camp Schwab
(Photo: courtesy of Catherine Jane Fisher)

Fisher explains that many elder women protesters at Henoko are survivors of US military rape during this period.

Earlier this month, after giving speeches outside Camp Schwab, rape survivor Catherine Jane Fisher and over 30 supporters tied 100 meters of white ribbon in remembrance of the victims raped by United States servicemen stationed in Okinawa since 1945, to promote awareness of violence against women.  The day before, 35,000-50,000 protestors attended the mass rally for Henoko in Naha.

A longtime supporter of Okinawa, Fisher clearly sees the interconnections between the 70-year history of US military rapes of Okinawan women and US military rape of the land and sea to build military bases. While the media is covering the ongoing Okinawan governent effort to save the coral reef and dugong habitat at Henoko from landfill and military base construction by the US and Japanese governments, background history starts in 1996 or 2006 or 1996, the dates of recent agreements between the two governments.

This framing omits earlier history crucial for understanding the depth of the Okinawan movement: the  US military forcibly seized and demolished a vibrant farming and fishing community to build Camp Schwab during the 1950's period of "Bayonets and Bulldozers. This followed earlier seizures of Okinawan private property during and immediately after the Battle of Okinawa, when 400,000 Okinawans were detained in POW camps.

The 1950s seizures throughout the prefecture were brutal, accompanied by assaults, including sexual assaults, against resisters. US military crimes against Okinawans, especially rapes, took place on a daily basis at this time, according to scholar Miyumi Tanji, in her 2006 book, Myth, protest, and struggle in Okinawa:
Victimization of Okinawan farmers and forceful acquisition of their land was combined with the physical violence inflicted on the locals personally...Violence directed towards the local populace by US military staff, especially rape, revealed the crudest and most brutal aspect of the power relations between the occupiers and the occupied...

'US land acquisition in Isahama and Ie-jima and the rape [and murder of 6-year-old Yumiko Nagayama] resulted the humiliation of all Okinawans, leading to what Arasaki calls the first wave of the "Okinawa Struggle.' ...These rallies became models for mass demonstrations in the community of protest of the future.
 Okinawan women protesting the forced US military seizures 
 of their homes and farms in Isahama, July 1955.

On May 23, Kodansha released the Japanese translation of I am Catherine Jane,
by Catherine Jane Fisher, in which she shares her quest for healing and justice after being raped by a U.S. sailor in Japan.  Vivid published the English-language version last year.

Damon Coulter's review at The Japan Times details Fisher's suffering and challenge to the indifference of the US and Japanese governments:
Fisher was physically raped in 2002 by Bloke Deans, a U.S. serviceman stationed at Yokosuka. Immediately afterward, she faced a psychological ordeal at the hands of the Kanagawa police force, who subjected her to 12 hours of questioning without food, drink or medical attention when she reported the crime. Finally, the United States government violated Fisher twice — first by giving Dean an honorable discharge, allowing him to leave Japan and flee charges, and then by later disdaining their own “zero tolerance” rape policy by refusing to acknowledge or take responsibility for their own corruption...

David McNeill's tells the even fuller story of Fisher's indomitable struggle in "From Yokosuka rape to U.S. court victory, ‘Jane’ commits her 12-year ordeal to print":
"I could have returned to Australia and closed my eyes, but somebody had to stand up.”

...Fisher won a civil suit against him in a Tokyo court in 2004 but the ruling had no jurisdictional authority in the U.S. Last year, after tracking Deans in America for several years, Fisher finally persuaded a circuit court in the U.S. to enforce that judgment for rape against him.

Fisher’s insistence that the U.S. military had helped Deans evade justice and that the Japanese government did little to help her pursue him was strengthened in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court by a statement submitted by Deans in which he claims a U.S. Navy lawyer told him to leave the country. The U.S. court’s decision was a victory for Fisher, but one that left her physically, mentally and financially exhausted, she says.
Fisher is now an advocate for rape survivors, campaigning for 24-hour rape crisis centers, and for making rape kits mandatory in police stations and hospitals. (The US government might consider funding these much-needed centers, as a matter of restitution and atonementl.)

Fisher is an esteemed member of the Okinawan movement for democracy, human rights, justice and healing which is characterized by intermutual respect and support, hallmarks of authentic community.  A visual artist and and author, Fisher created a FB page, Save Henoko, which focuses on inspirational images and thoughts to support the supporters of Henoko.


Born in Australia, Fisher has lived in Japan since the 1980s and has three sons.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Governor Takeshi Onaga's visit to Hawai'i & Washington - May 27 to June 4, 2015

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and Okinawa Gov. Onaga in Honolulu on Thursday. 
Sen. Schatz vowed to support Gov. Onaga's work to save Henoko, 
Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site: 
 the coral reef and dugong habitat at Henoko|. (Photo: Kyodo via JT)

(Note:  Updating this post-in-progress during the visit. )

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga will visit O`ahu from May 27-29th, then Washington DC from May 31-June 4.  The Okinawa governor is taking  the Okinawa people's voice to the US  concerning the US-Japn planned landfill and mega-base construction at Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site, the coral reef and dugong ecosystem at Henoko.

Geovernor Onaga is asking to meet with as many Hawaii Uchinaanchu and supporters as possible on Thursday, May 28th at 7pm at the Hawai`i Okinawa Center.

Eric Wada at Hawai'i-based Ukwanshin Kabudan/ Ryukyu Performing Arts Troupe describes the irreplaceable cultural heritage under threat of destruction by the US and Japanese governments (which destroyed almost all of Okinawa's cultural heritage during their ground war on the islands 70 years ago.):
Governor Onaga has made time to stop here in Hawai`i, a place that Okinawa looks to for support as they believe Hawaii is one of the most active Okinawa populations outside of Okinawa. No governor in history from Okinawa has asked for an audience with the Hawai`i community. We should all try to attend to at least show our support and respect for Onaga and Okinawa, and to listen to what he has to present. His talk will include things that are affecting our ancestral islands, history, culture and economics, as well as the fight to preserve one of the most pristine coral reefs and endangered sea life in the world.

This important event is for everyone who loves Okinawa. If you are active in the performing arts, culture, or researcher, it is a definite kuleana for you to attend this meeting as it affects the sacred places, and areas that are mentioned in the music, dances, and chants or the area that will be destroyed.

In Hawai`i, we hear "kuleana". In Uchinaaguchi, we say "Fichi Ukiin". "Fichi" means to contact or assist. "Ukiin", means to accept, be given, or rise up. When we put this together, it means to assist and rise up. Be responsible. It is not just responsibility for our own self, but it is responsibility for what is around us and what we are connected to that helps to sustain our lives, culture, language, and history. We are connected to Okinawa though our blood, so we are also connected to be and have "Fichi Ukiin". Be responsible in caring and aloha for what has been passed down by our ancestors.

I hope that the Hawai`i Okinawa Center will be filled on Thursday evening as the Hawai`i community shows its Aloha to Okinawa and Governor Onaga. Make signs that say "I love Okinawa!" or wear a light blue ribbon which shows your support.

Yutasarugutu unigeesabira!
Background:

"Hawaii senator to help Okinawa oppose Futenma transfer", The Japan Times, May 30, 2015.
After meeting with Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense, Onaga told reporters he got “a strong statement” from the senator. Onaga quoted Schatz as saying he would do his utmost to help get the plan rejected, and also said the issue needs to be reviewed.
"[Okinawa Crying Out 沖縄は叫ぶ1]Japan and U.S. Refuse to Accept Public Opposition‐Continue Base Construction", Okinawa Times, May 26, 2015:
t has been 70 years since World War II ended, and 43 years since Okinawa reverted to Japan. Still today, the percentage of facilities exclusively for use by the US military and clustered in Okinawa comprise 74% of all such facilities in Japan. In response to the overburden of US military bases along with the endless incidents and accidents arising because of these bases, prefectural residents have voiced their anger, demanded this burden be reduced, and pleaded for the return of their expropriated land...

"Okinawa has never once provided land for bases on its own accord." "Land was forcefully seized after the war." "The entire nation should think about and bear the burden of security." These are Governor Onaga's passionate appeals. Prefectural residents have come together many times to express their feelings in response to the constant incidents and accidents as well as the national governmentfs hard-line stance. Okinawa continues to raise its voice so that a new base will not be built, so that the dugong, coral and the precious ecosystem in the waters off Henoko are protected, and so that people both in Japan and around the world focus their attention on just what democracy and the will of the people mean.
"Governor Onaga heads to Washington to seek cancellation of new base", Hideki Matsudo, Ryukyu Shimpo, May 25, 2015:
The Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga will visit the United States from May 27 to June 5 to block a new U.S. military base from being built in Henoko, Nago. In Washington D.C., he will meet U.S. officials. The Governor will request that the U.S. government, which has left Okinawa with the excessive burden of hosting the bulk of Japan’s U.S. bases for 70 years after the war and is potentially introducing an additional burden to the island, to give up the current building plan.

The Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine will accompany the Governor. This is the first time a Governor of Okinawa and a Mayor of Nago have visited Washington together to appeal directly to US leaders since 1996, when the Government of Japan and the U.S. agreed to close and relocate Futenma Air Station to Nago.
"Governor Onaga tells foreign media: Tokyo’s Henoko policy is like US policy during occupation", Ryukyu Shimpo, May 23, 2015:
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga on May 20 held press conferences at the Japan National Press Club and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“They are using bayonets and bulldozers to forcibly build a military base in the sea,” he said referring to how the governments of Japan and the United States are pushing forward with preparation work for a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago...The governor criticized the central government for its heavy-handed approach, comparing it to the way the U.S. military confiscated land [50,000+acres, displacing 250,000 Okinawans from their homes, farms  and means of livelihood] to build bases during the U.S. occupation of Okinawa.

Governor Onaga is scheduled to visit the United States from May 27. He said, “I will visit many times, if the situation calls for it.” He also said that he would strengthen Okinawa’s outreach to the United States.

The Governor held the press conferences in Tokyo to convey his message of opposition to Henoko to domestic and international public opinion ahead of his trip to the United States.

Onaga stated, “In theory, the former governor’s landfill approval can legally be withdrawn or cancelled. I will exercise the governor’s authority effectively. Working together with Nago Mayor, I will not allow the U.S. base to be built in Henoko. We can stop it.”
Unofficial translation/summary of Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga's response to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at their April 5, 2015 meeting, TTT, April 9, 2015:
Okinawa has never voluntarily provided bases. Futenma, and all other bases, were taken with 'Bayonets and Bulldozers' while Okinawans were in concentration camps during & after the war...

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 to" (solemnly) 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)...

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

Sunday, May 24, 2015

5.24.15 - Human Chain Rally for Henoko @Diet Building, Tokyo • Okinawan elected political leaders, John Junkerman and Catherine Jane Fisher among speakers

Okinawan elected political leaders for Henoko today in Tokyo
 (Photo: Photojournalist Ken Shindo)

The weekend has been a great weekend for peace and justice advocates. Oscar Romero was beatified.  The traditional conservative Catholic priest was assassinated (during Mass) 35 years ago, three after he became Archbishop of El Salvador—surprising many as he became the most outspoken advocate for the rural farmers under assault by a US-backed military dictatorship in El Salvador. Ireland has given full recognition and respect to our beloved LGBT family members and friends. The March Against Monsanto swept through 428 cities in countries. The Women Cross DMZ crossed the DMZ and powerfully countered the media men who would challenge their vision of peace and healing for Korea, still mired in a 65-year-war. 

And in Tokyo, today, May 24, the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament, Japanese people rallied to support Okinawa's quest for similar healing and to save one of the Ryukyu archipelago's few cultural heritage sites that survived the US-Japan ground war in Okinawa 70 years ago.  


Senator Keiko Itokazu
(Photo: Photojournalist Ken Shindo)

15,000 people gathered in Tokyo to form a human chain around the National Diet Building and to make some noise for Okinawa in protest of the Washington-Tokyo plan to landfill Okinawa's most beloved natural cultural heritage site, the coral reef and dugong ecosystem in Okinawa.

US military rape survivor, author, and visual artist Catherine Jane Fisher 

Filmmaker John Junkerman

This rally came on the heels of 3 days of mass rallies in Okinawa including the 35,000 protest in Naha last weekend. (The 35,000 official number for attendees reflects the legal limit for the stadium; according to attendees, many thousands more somehow squeezed in and ringed the facility, bringing the unofficial estimate to around 50,000...)

Speakers at today's rally in Tokyo included filmmaker John Junkerman and US military rape survivor, author and artist Catherine Jane Fisher. Junkerman's new film on Okinawa will be released in June, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the end of the US-Jp ground war in Okinawa. The Japanese translation of Fisher's book has been launched. (More on both soon, along with Gov. Onaga's visit to Hawaii and Washington this week.)

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 & Okinawa supporter, Christine Ahn, a Korea scholar.

This action reflects decades of cross-border interconnections between 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 the narratives dominating political commentary in East Asia from that of fear and aggression to a 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 international 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 up 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.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chie Mikami's Stop (making Okinwana into) the Battlefield, - Opens May 23, 2015 in Tokyo




Chie Mikami's Stop the Battlefield opens May 23 in Tokyo:
『戦場ぬ止み(いくさばぬとぅどぅみ)』劇場予告編

2014年8月14日辺野古沖は「包囲」された。沖縄は再び戦場になった。沖縄で今、­何が起きているのか?

「標的の村」の三上智恵監督が描く沖縄と辺野古。激しい対立だけを描くだけではない。­基地と折り合って生きざるをえなかった地域の人々の思いと来し方。苦難の歴史のなかで­も大切に育まれた豊かな文化や歴史。厳しい闘争の最中でも絶えることのない歌とユーモ­ア。いくさに翻弄され続けた70年に終止符を打ちたいという沖縄の切なる願いを今、世­界に問う。

ポレポレ東中野にて、5月23日(土)より緊急先行公開。7月11日より桜坂劇場、7­/18よりポレポレ東中野にて本上映。
Translation/Synopsis: 

On Aug. 14, 2014, the Siege of Henoko began when the Jp govt. sent a military flotilla against locals protecting their beloved natural cultural heritage, the coral reef & dugong ecosystem. Okinawa was once again a battlefield.

What is happening in Henoko now? Under much hardship, locals have nurtured the rich culture and history of Henoko. They withstand their severe struggle with song and humor. The earnest desire of Okinawans is to end the 70-year military regime at which they have been at mercy. They are asking the world for help.

The film opens at an emergency screening on May 23 at Theater Pole Pole in Nishi-Nakano, Tokyo.

Theater: Address B1F, 4-4-1 Higashi-Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
Transport Higashi-Nakano Station (Chuo-Sobu, Oedo lines)

Theater website: http://www.mmjp.or.jp/pole2/

Film FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/ikusaba.movie

Film website: http://ikusaba.com/

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