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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..

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"Militarization & Human Rights Violations in Okinawa, Japan" • Sept. 21, 2015 • U.N., Geneva



Today Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga left for Geneva to address the U.N. Human Rights Council to inform the international community of Okinawa’s opposition to the plan by the US and Japanese governments to landfill, thereby destroy, Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site, the coral reef and dugong ecosystem at Henoko, to make way for a U.S. military port and offshore air strip.

Gov. Onaga is expected to cancel his predecessor's landfill permit when he returns to Okinawa the following Thursday.

While at the U.N. on September 21, he will also speak at a symposium organized by a civic group in Okinawa:
Upcoming events related to Governor Onaga's September 21 speech at UN on human rights violations by the US and Jp governments in Okinawa.

OBJECTIVES: The vision of the parallel event is to provide a clear picture of situation of human rights violations due to the heavy US military burden in Okinawa, Japan. It will provide information on the violations of environmental rights, freedom of expression and speech, and the right to self-determination caused by the expansion of US military base. The governor of Okinawa, Takeshi Onaga will also identify the historical discrimination against Ryukyuan/ Okinawan people by the Japanese and US governments. It will highlight the role of international community to take measures to support the right to self- determination of Ryukyuan/ Okinawan people.

STAKEHOLDERS: The parallel event will aim to reach a broad range of stakeholders, all of whom will benefit from the outputs of the parallel event. The event expects to engage with approximately 200-250 participants.

Key stakeholders include; · Indigenous leaders/ organisations ·Human rights defenders from/ engaging with Okinawa, Japan and the United States · Environmental activists ·NGOs and INGOs ·Diplomats and government officials engaging · Academics and others interested ·National and international media representatives

CONTENT AND PROGRAMME: This parallel event will address the human rights violations in Okinawa in the format of a special report by Okinawan governor, Takeshi Onaga followed by a key note speech from Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. There will also be testimonies from human rights expert, journalist and environmental activist. It will also screen the short video addressing the islands’ history and on-going human rights violations including the rights to environment, freedom of speech and self-determination.

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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Iranian filmmaker & dissident Jafar Panahar (#SupportIranDeal): "War & sanctions bring about crises & crisis is the death of democracy, peace, and human rights...Let people choose their own destiny by ratifying the Iran Deal."



In 1995, Iranian filmmaker and dissident Jafar Panahi achieved international recognition with his film debut, The White Balloon, a 1995 film about a 7-year old Iranian girl on a quest to buy a goldfish for her family's New Year's Day celebration.  Depicted from a child's unique view of place, the city of Tehran itself plays a central role, supported by a cast of Dickensian characters who range from the kindly to the villainous.

Panahi's films reflect his deeply humanistic perspective on life in Iran, often focusing on children, girls, women, and the poor. His widely disributed 2006 Offside features a group of young Iranian girls who disguise themselves as boys (women are not allowed to watch soccer in Iran) to sneak into Azadi Stadium to watch the World Cup qualifying football playoff game between Iran and Bahrain.

In March 2010, the Iranian government arrested Panahi, his wife, daughter, and 15 friends, charging them with anti-government propaganda. Despite global support from filmmakers and human rights organizations, in December, Panahi was sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media, or from leaving the country.

While appealing the judgment, Panahi made This Is Not a Film, a documentary feature in the form of a video diary of his house arrest.  It was smuggled out of Iran and shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and released on DVD, introducing Panahi, as a person as well as filmmaker, to people around the world.  In February 2013 the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival showed Closed Curtain (Pardé) by Panahi and Kambuzia Partovi, for which Panahi won the Silver Bear for Best Script.

As in the The White Balloon, Panahi casts the city of Tehran as a star of his newest film Taxi, which premiered  at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015, and was awarded the Golden Bear. Berlin Jury president Darren Aronofsky described the heart-warming film as "a love letter to cinema...filled with love for his art, his community, his country and his audience."

Jafar Panahar supports the Iran Deal:
I work with imagination, but not imagination alone. Imagination immersed in reality.

At present, I sense that what is happening in the US congress is imagination with no sense of reality. They think or they imagine that with sanctions and war, things can be accomplished. This is not so, this is not the reality of my country.

War and sanctions bring about crises and crisis is the death of democracy, the death of peace, and the death of human rights and civil rights. I ask the US congress to open their eyes to the reality on the ground and let people choose their own destiny by ratifying the Iran Deal."
More on the grassroots Iranian campaign for peace at "Prominent Iranians launch campaign calling on Congress not to kill Iran deal: Scores of high-profile Iranians, many of them sentenced to lengthy prison terms or enduring solitary confinement, express their support for the nuclear deal."via The Guardian:
Dozens of high-profile Iranians, many of whom have been jailed for their political views, launched a video campaign calling on the American people to lobby Congress not to jeopardise the landmark nuclear agreement.

The campaign includes messages from celebrated film-maker Jafar Panahi, Nobel peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, and British-Iranian activist Ghoncheh Ghavami.

Many of the campaign’s participants have been persecuted in Iran for their beliefs or activism, sentenced to lengthy prison terms or even solitary confinement. But they have expressed support for the Vienna nuclear agreement struck in July between Iran and the world’s six major powers, calling it a good deal which could avert threats of war.

Mohammadreza Jalaeipour, one of the organisers of the campaign, said the video was intended to show “that those who have paid the highest prices for the cause of democracy and human rights in Iran are supporting the deal”.

The video messages were gathered, to show to the world “that not only the overwhelming majority of Iranians, but also almost all the leading human rights and pro-democracy activists, prominent political prisoners and the independent voices of Iran’s society are wholeheartedly supporting the Iran deal,” the activist, who spent five months in solitary confinement in Iran, said...

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?