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Monthly Archives: March 2011

In aftermath of natural disasters & during nuclear crisis, Tokyo moves to build unapproved U.S. Marine deep-water ammunition port at Henoko

Jon Mitchell's latest "Postcard from Henoko" published at Foreign Policy in Focus: The Department of Defense has been busy all week feeding copy to the media on its undeniably heroic work in northern Japan. However that same press machine has been slower to report on another of its military projects currently underway in Maher’s former stomping ground of Okinawa. Since January 2011, the Okinawa Defense Bureau has been building a 50 million yen ($600,000) barrier between Camp Schwab and the public beach at Henoko... Both the Japanese and US governments are remaining silent as to the purpose of its new barrier, but in the nearby sit-in tent, protesters are sure. According to one elderly man, “After they’ve finished building that wall, they’ll be hidden from sight. And then they’ll be free to do whatever they want.”

Please watch this animation from Save the Dugong Campaign Center

Save the Dugong Campaign Center (SDCC) is a coalition member of our Japanese partner, JUCON. The Japanese NGO acts to protect the dugong living in Okinawa, in the southern part of Japan. The Okinawa dugong is a marine mammal which inhabits the warm ocean waters off Henoko. Its existence is threatened by environmental destruction, especially the Japanese government's plan (against unanimous Okinawan democratically expressed choice) to build a U.S. Marine base in its only habitat. Please watch the posted video for some brief information about the dugongs in Okinawa. You can reach and join the SDCC on Facebookhere.

Forced military construction at Henoko unabated during natural disaster aftermath and nuclear catastrophe

More than a week after the country's worst natural disaster in a hundred years, the Japanese government has not been able to resolve a long-predicted nuclear catastrophe. Millions of people are living without running water or power in temperatures that fall below freezing at night. Half a million homes are without power in northern Japan and 2.5 million have no access to water. Food is critically short and bottled water is running low in many cities. Gasoline is scarce and homes are running out of kerosene to power heaters. Yet, Tokyo is still using monetary and military construction labor resources to forcibly build a U.S. mega-base at Henoko, an environmentally sensitive coastal area in northern Okinawa, despite the prefecture's unanimous democratic opposition. The base's ostensible purpose: to protect Japan from an attack from North Korea. However the long-feared nuclear attack on Japan has already come—accidentally, but predictably from within.

Our thoughts are with the victims of the earthquakes, tsunami, and nuclear emergency in Japan

Our thoughts are with the victims of the earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear emergency; those who have lost loved ones; and those who have been made homeless in Japan.

Temporary Reprieve for Takae Village & Yanbaru Forest

On a welcome note, the villagers of Takae, environmentalists, (and the workers caught in the middle of of the Japanese government's forced military construction in Yanbaru Forest) have an uneasy and much-needed reprieve for the next couple of months. Tokyo has stopped heavy equipment construction because the reproductive season of the critically endangered Okinawa Woodpecker has begun. The rare woodpecker, an ecological and cultural Okinawan icon, lives only in Yanbaru Forest. The few remaining pairs of Okinawa woodpeckers are on the brink of extinction from ongoing destruction of their rainforest habitat.

U.S. diplomat accused of disparaging Okinawans

Today The Japan Times (via Kyodo News) published a disturbing report of U.S. diplomat Kevin Maher's racist disparagement of Okinawans as "lazy" "masters of manipulation and extortion." Maher is in charge of Japanese affairs at the State Department. When he was posted in Okinawa in the summer of 2008, Ginowan City residents formally requested he immediately leave their island. A former Japanese Foreign Ministry official said his experience indicated that other "U.S. officials in charge of recent U.S.-Japan negotiations shared ideas like those of Mr. Maher."

5-year anniversary of March 5, 2006 Okinawan rally against the plan for a U.S. mega-base in Henoko & Oura Bay

35,000 Okinawans gathered in Ginowan City on March 5, 2006 to protest an earlier version of the plan for a U.S. mega-base in Henoko and Oura Bay. A coalition of peace & environmentalist citizen groups fought from 1996 to 2005 against a 1996 proposal for an offshore, pontoon-supported structure over Oura Bay's coral reef. This plan was abandoned because of environmental challenges and unceasing protests. The newest plan (following a 2006 U.S.-Japan agreement) would also destroy the coral reef habitat of the Okinawa dugong.

ANPO: Art X War Spring College Tour (Cornell, Harvard, Williams, Amherst) starts today!

How did the U.S. acquire 30 military facilities encompassing 20% of Okinawa? American military bases were institutionalized in Japan in 1951 by the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security treaty (ANPO in Japanese). To regain sovereignty after Japan’s defeat and occupation, the Japanese government agreed to give the U.S. the right to maintain armed forces on Japanese soil. The rationale: Japan’s postwar Constitution renounced war, so the Japanese needed U.S. military protection. But, in fact, the treaty allowed the U.S. to use Japanese bases to fight America’s Cold War enemies and to suppress dissent in Japan. The CIA backed Nobusuke Kishi, an unindicted Class-A war criminal in his ascendance to prime minister in 1957. From 1959 to 1960, millions of protestors took to the streets to protest the violent and undemocratic methods PM Kishi used to force through a 10-year extension of the treaty. Kishi's actions undermined parliamentary democratic process in Japan and ended his tenure. However the year of demonstrations catalyzed Japanese civil society, including NGOs supporting resistance to U.S. military expansion in Okinawa today. Network for Okinawa member Linda Hoaglund, a filmmaker, explores this period of postwar Japanese history through the eyes of Japanese artists in her 2010 documentary, ANPO: Art X War, which opens its Spring College Tour at Cornell today. The tour schedule: Harvard (April 11), Williams (April 13), Amherst (April 14), Columbia (May 4). ANPO will also screen at the Hong Kong Int. Film Fest (March 24-27) and at the Association of Asian Studies annual conference in Honolulu (April 3).

New York Peace Film Festival line-up includes documentary spotlighting Okinawa

The New York Peace Film Festival starts in 10 days (March 12-13) and will feature films exploring peace efforts in 10 countries. The line-up includes Standing Army, a 2010 documentary that explores popular resistance against massive new U.S. military installations in several countries. The film's narrative connects the dots between parallel struggles for local democratic control, environmental and historic protection worldwide—including ongoing nonviolent activism in Takae Village and Henoko, Okinawa.