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Okinawan Delegation Visits DC for Base Closure Press Release

PRESS ADVISORY Contact: John Feffer, Institute for Policy Studies For Immediate Release 202.234.9382 (English) Ryota Moriki, delegation member, 81-90-9782-7823 (Japanese) Okinawan Delegation Visits DC for Base Closure Washington, DC – A delegation of politicians, lawyers, activists and students from Okinawa, Japan, will travel to Washington, DC, from January 21 to January 27 to advocate for […]

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Busboys and Poets Event Featuring Delegation from Okinawa

*Location*: Langston Room @ Busboys and Poets, 14th & V st  N.W. Washington D.C. *Date*: January 23, 2011 *Time*: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm http://www.busboysandpoets.com/events.php *Speaker*: The delegation from Okinawa including Ms. Keiko Itokazu (Japanese Diet member) and Mr. Hiroshi Ashitomi (Sit-in protester for nine years at the U.S. construction site in Okinawa) etc.. *Moderator*: […]

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Delegation to Arrive from Okinawa

Announcing the January 2012 Washington Delegation from Okinawa: “Making Okinawan Voices Heard in America”   Purpose of Visit: To promote awareness of enduring military base problems on Okinawa, Japan, and to propose the closure and consolidation of the 34 military installations on Okinawa as part of Congressional deficit-reduction plans to reduce defense spending by $1 […]

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Makoto Arakaki: Photographs of the Okinawa Prefecture Office Sit-in

Mark Selden, editor of The Asia-Pacific Journal, notes that Okinawans have created the most vibrant and sustained grassroots movement for democracy and peace in the Asia-Pacific, comparable only to the Korean movement in intensity, longevity, and creativity.

Makoto Arakaki’s photographs of the late December sit-in at the Okinawa Prefecture’s administration building captures the intensity of not only this latest moment in history, but also of the breadth and depth of the entire Okinawan Movement, now in its sixth decade.

Okinawans, including prominent elected political leaders and journalists, successfully engaged in a 24/7 sit-in at the Okinawa Prefecture administration building to prevent the delivery of the proposed U.S. Marine Base Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before January 4, 2012 to the Okinawan Prefectural officials. Part of the EIA did reach the office in a surreptitious 4 a.m. backdoor delivery a few days before the end of the year, but not the entire document.

According to sociologist Masami Mel Kawamura, the Japanese government wanted “to rob the Okinawa prefectural government of precious time for preparation of “Governor’s Comments” on the EIS while distracting the media’s attention. According to the EIA law and ordinance, Governor’s Comments for the airport plan should be issued within 45 days after the submission of EIS while for the reclamation plan they should be issued within 90 days.”

The EIS alleges that the destruction of Oura Bay and Henoko to make way for offshore runways for military aircraft would not result in any significant environmental impacts to Oura Bay’s biodiverse sea life, including the federally protected Okinawa dugong.

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Okinawa Outreach: “Save Takae! Voice your opposition to the resumed US helipad construction!”

The engaged scholars at Okinawa Outreach are asking for support from Americans in voicing opposition to the resumed, forced U.S. military Osprey aircraft helipad construction by the Okinawan branch of the Japanese Defense Bureau. At the beginning of this year, the Bureau accelerated the destruction of one of the best-preserved areas of Yanbaru Forest to make way for the U.S. military helipads.

John Feffer, spokesperson Network for Okinawa, stated the following in February: We urge all parties to exercise firm restraint. We call on the Japanese and American governments to respect the democratic wishes of Okinawans who have overwhelmingly voted to prevent new base construction on Okinawa. It is an incredible tragedy the Japanese and American governments insist on pushing forward with a construction plan that would cause irreparable damage to one of the world’s most diverse biosystems. During a time of economic crisis and mounting deficits, it is shocking that both countries have embraced a plan that cuts education and social welfare programs while supporting a construction plan that benefits only the military-industrial complex.”

The site the U.S. has chosen is a habitat for numerous endangered species unique to Okinawa, including the Okinawa woodpecker. Please read and respond to this latest plea for support for democracy, ecological preservation, and peace from Okinawa.

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Okinawa Outreach: Mangetsu Matsuri (Full Moon Festival) – Celebration of Earth, Life and Peace Continues in Okinawa

Via Okinawa Outreach, a website coordinated by engaged scholars in Okinawa:

“The 13th Mangetsu Matsuri (Full Moon Festival) will take place at Oura Bay in Nago, Okinawa on November 12 (Sat.) and 13 (Sun.). This year’s Mangetsu Matsuri is organized under the subtheme “Toward Communities without Military Bases and Nuclear Power Plants,” reflecting what happened in the Tohoku region of mainland Japan in March this year.”

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Yoshio Shimoji: “Futenma: Tip of the Iceberg in Okinawa’s Agony”

In “Futenma: Tip of the Iceberg in Okinawa’s Agony,” his latest article for The Asia-Pacific Journal, University of the Ryukyus Professor Emeritus Yoshio Shimoji focuses on the root of Okinawan resentment against U.S. military bases on their islands: The U.S. violated human rights and property rights under international law when the U.S. military seized Okinawan property by force to make way for U.S. bases.

Shimoji details how U.S. bases in Okinawa were established by “land requisitions…executed at bayonet-point and by bulldozer, leveling houses and destroying farms in the face of protesting farmers, mothers, children and their supporters.” He adds: “…the U.S. military seized the land in clear violation of Article 46 of The Hague Convention, which states: ‘Family honor and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected. Private property cannot be confiscated.’

“There are presently more than 3,000 so-called “military base landowners” for Futenma Air Base alone and more than 40,000 for all bases and installations in Okinawa. ”

Shimoji’s conclusion: “The U.S. violated international law when its military encroached upon private lands with impunity and built the base. On what legal and moral basis, then, can it demand its replacement?”

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Governor Nakaima: Washington & Tokyo “should stop doing deals and return the bases promptly”

In “Discordant Visitors: Japanese and Okinawan Messages to the US,” Satoko Norimatsu and Gavan McCormack quote Governor Nakaima’s September 2011 speech at George Washington University in their commentary on the bizarre incongruity between official Japanese and Okinawan prefectural stances on the U.S. military’s proposed destruction of Oura Bay and Henoko to make way for a U.S. mega-military base.

Opposed by Okinawan civil society and global environmentalists since 1996, the U.S. base proposal follows a historical pattern of violently and undemocratically established U.S. military bases in Okinawa prefecture. During and after the Battle of Okinawa, U.S. soldiers seized Okinawan property (and imprisoned the owners in camps) to make way for bases to support Operation Downfall, the planned invasion of Japan. When that plan was abandoned, Okinawans were kept imprisoned while U.S. soldiers transformed the bases into permanent bases. In the 1950′s, U.S. marines (by use of “bayonets and bulldozers”) seized private property by dragging Okinawan women and children from homes and destroying farms and livestock to make way for more U.S. bases. Despite Okinawan protests dating back to the end of the World War II, the U.S. government has refused to remove unwanted military bases from Okinawa.

In recent years, the Okinawan movement has garnered worldwide attention, with some observers comparing the Okinawan struggle for human rights and democracy to movements in Eastern and Central Europe during Soviet military rule, before Glastnost. Since the 3/11 Triple Disaster, Japanese citizen “tomodachi” appeals to Washington to forego costly military subsidization by Japanese taxpapers have grown more urgent. Although U.S. congressional leaders have responded to Okinawan and Japanese calls for “change”; thus far the Obama administration has ignored requests to rein in U.S. military demands for Japanese taxpayer subsidization of proposed new base construction in Okinawa, Guam, the Japanese mainland, and continued “sympathy” subsidies to the U.S. military.

In September, Okinawa Govenor Nakaima, in conjunction with an Okinawan ad campaign in The New York Times, stated his case directly to Americans in Washington, D.C. Norimatsu and McCormack explain:

“Nakaima declared that opposition in Okinawa to the Okinawan base project was almost total. He spoke of the unanimous declaration within the prefectural parliament (the Prefectural Assembly), and the explicit opposition of all 41 local government mayors and heads, including the mayor of the city of Nago, the designated site for the new base. Nakaima told his Washington audience that the relocation plan ‘must be revised,’ continuing that Futenma was ‘not an acceptable option’ and that if the national government was to choose to proceed ‘against the will of the local citizens,’ it might lead to ‘an irreparable rift … between the people of Okinawa and the US forces in the prefecture.’”

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Message from Okinawans to Americans in The New York Times, Sept. 21-23, 2011

The “Urgent Okinawa Protest Advertising Action” will run in The New York Times from September 21-23, 2011, coinciding with Japanese Prime Minister Noda’s visit to the United Nations General Assembly.

This notice is motivated by a sense of crisis generated by recent moves by the present Japanese administration on the U.S. Futenma airbase issue.

The Okinawan people demand the closure and return of the Futenma base and the cancellation of the new “replacement” base at ecologically sensitive Henoko and Oura Bay, habitat of numerous endangered species, included the federally protected Okinawa dugong, a living national monument.

Please view the direct message from Okinawans to Americans here.

Read more at Okinawa Protest Advertising Action.

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Joseph Gerson: Compensating for Decline: Revitalizing U.S. Asia-Pacific Hegemony

In a speech given at the Japan Peace Conference in Sasebo, Japan on Dec. 3, 2010, Joseph Gerson maps U.S. military ambitions in the Asia-Pacific, shedding light on contexts of proposed U.S. military expansion in Okinawa.

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