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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Okinawa Prefecture art exhibition memorializing victims of the June 30, 1959 U.S. military jet crash into Miyamori Elementary School

This week, Okinawa Prefecture Office in Naha City is exhibiting memorial art created by surviving teachers and parents who lost children in the June 30 1959 U.S. military jet crash into the Miyamori Elementary School. A US Air Force F-100 Super Sabre on a training flight from Kadena Air Base crashed into Miyamori Elementary School and the surrounding neighborhood. Eleven children and six adults in the neighborhood were killed. 210 other people, including 156 school children, were injured. The pilot ejected, unhurt.

Japanese Interfaith Group Seeks “Removal of Futenma Base And Cancellation of the Construction of New Base in Henoko”

U.S. faith-based groups are part of the Network for Okinawa. These include the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Methodist Church, Pax Christi (Catholic peace organization), Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker outreach organization dedicated to peace and justice. U.S. faith-based groups have collaborated with their counterparts in Japan since the early 1900's, especially during the 1930's when they attempted to avert the Pacific War. In recent years, U.S. and Japanese faith-based organizations have worked together with the same sense of urgency to save Article 9, the Peace Clause of the Japanese Constitution and to stem aggressive militarism in Asia. On June 21, 2011, a new Japanese interfaith group comprised of Protestant and Catholic Christians and Buddhists announced their support of the Okinawan prefectural and local governments in their goal for the unconditional closure of U.S. Marine Air Station Futenma and the abolition of plans to destroy Oura Bay to make way for a new U.S. military base. This follows a 2010 appeal from the National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ) urging U.S. churches to gain awareness, pray and appeal to their government about the impact of U.S. plans for military expansion in Henoko and Oura Bay. Rev. Isamu Koshiishi, the moderator of the NCCJ, explained, "The beautiful coral reef, which had provided a livelihood for the villages and which was the seabed home of the endangered dugong, would now be destroyed with landfill for the purpose of constructing a military base for waging war."

Iejima: an island of resistance: Jon Mitchell traces the roots of Okinawa’s civil rights movement (伊江島:アイランド・オブ・レジスタンス)

As the governor and citizens of Okinawa address the latest U.S. Marine threat to their quality of lives and safety (planned deployment of dangerous V-22 Osprey aircraft in Futenma), Jon Mitchell's look back at the origins of Okinawan resistance to ruthless U.S. military seizure of their property brings home how long Okinawans have struggled for freedom from the violence, injustice, noise, and environmental degradation the U.S. military forces upon their islands. In 1955, 300 U.S. Marines with rifles and bulldozers dragged women and children from their beds, destroyed their homes and slaughtered their goats after they refused to voluntarily leave their farms in Iejima, one of Okinawa prefecture's small islands, to make way for a U.S. bombing range. When the forcibly removed farmers were allowed to return, the Marines forced them to live in tents on barren land. With no crops, they foraged on the margins of the bombing range for shrapnel to sell for scrap, where the Marines shot them. Despite these atrocities, Iejima's farmers refused to succumb to demoralization and defeat. Leader Shoko Ahagon drew up policies inspired by Gandhi to guide their political action: nonviolent resistance and mass demonstrations. This resulted in some concessions and the prevention of U.S. deployment of nuclear missiles on the island in 1966. Ahagon is now known as the founder of the Okinawan civil rights movement.

Citizens’ Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa: United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Collective Statement

The Citizens' Network for Biological Diversity has posted a Collective Statement delivered in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in United Nations Headquarters, New York, 16-27 May, 2011: It was delivered by Asia Indigenous People’s Pact (AIPP) . They joined our efforts and endorsed the statement and also uploaded it on their website. We worked with Shimin Gaikou Centre to create the statement in bringing up Okinawa Issues (US base construction plan in Henoko/Oura bay and six US helipads in Takae) along with Ainu people's issue. We are very happy to have No Helipad Takae Resident Society in our statement.

Henoko unharmed by typhoon: Photos of No Base/Peace Gallery; AU student solidarity banner still enjoying sea breeze

Hideki Yoshikawa of Save the Dugong Campaign Center shares a report from Henoko, including not-to-be-missed photos of people's art transforming the foreign military base fence into a local outdoor art space.

Okinawa Goya Project 2011: A Photo Record of Goyas in Okinawa 2011

Okinawa Goya Project 2011: A Photo Record of Goyas in Okinawa 2011 — a new blog celebrating all things Goya (Okinawan bitter gourd): Okinawa Goya Project 2011 is aimed at showing the world an evidentiary record of how many goyas Okinawans grow. Anyone can participate in this collaborative civic art project in progress by sending a photo associated with Okinawa goya. Please send your pictures of goya to show the world the power of goya and Okinawa!