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Peace in Asia and the Pacific: Alternatives to Asia-Pacific Militarization Conference – Oct. 21 & 22, 2011, American Univ., Washington D.C.

Organizer Joseph Gerson, of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC):

Please join us and consider having your organization co-sponsor this uniquely important conference.

Even as the Pentagon has been pursuing its Long War across the Middle East and Central Asia, the campaign to contain China has been driving U.S. strategic war planning and military spending.

Our movements to prevent war and to address the impacts of the militarization of the federal budget are not prepared to the long term designs of the Pentagon, right-wing and the Military-Industrial-Complex to reinforce and deepen U.S. militarism across the Asia-Pacific.

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16 Years after the Abduction-Beating-Rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan Girl by 2 U.S. Marines & a Sailor “just for fun”

On September 4, 1995, 2 U.S. marines and a sailor kidnapped, duct-taped, beat, and <a href='raped a 12-year-old Okinawan girl “just for fun.” On September 29, 1995, the three U.S. servicemen were indicted and handed over to Japanese custody.

The rape precipitated a temporary crisis in the US-Japan Security Alliance and catalyzed participatory democracy in Okinawa, spurring previously politically inactive people, especially housewives and elders, to challenge U.S. military presence on their small island. Local activism led by the Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence resulted in the historic Oct. 22, 1995 mass demonstration against U.S. bases in Okinawa.

In November of the same year, Adm. Richard C. Macke, a four-star admiral and 35-year Navy veteran who was commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, resigned after making this comment at a press conference: “I think it was absolutely stupid, I’ve said several times. For the price they paid to rent the car, they could have had a girl.”

However both sexual assaults and prostitution are methods of subjugation, according to Suzuyo Takazato, director of Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, who stated in 1995: “Prostitution and rape are the military system’s outlets for pent up aggression and methods of maintaining control and discipline – the target being local community women.”

Despite the admiral’s resignation and expressions of remorse by the White House, rapes of Okinawan women by U.S. troops have continued: In 2001, an Air Force sergeant was arrested for publicly raping a 20-year-old Okinawan woman on the hood of a car. In 2003, military police handed over to Okinawan police a marine who broke a 19-year-old woman’s nose and raped her. In 2005, an Air Force sergeant molested a 10-year-old Okinawan girl on her way to Sunday school. He claimed to be innocent, but police found a photo of the girl’s naked body on his cell phone. These are just a few of the hundreds of reported sexual assaults by U.S. soldiers in Okinawa. Most military sexual assaults (and other crimes) go unreported.

This 1995 report from L.A. Times staff writer Teresa Watanabe graphically reminds us of the sexual violence and emotional trauma that U.S. bases have brought to Okinawa for almost seven decades.

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Message from the  International Women’s Network Against Militarism to Peoples Movement for No Naval Base on Jeju! 

Suzuyo Takazato, director of Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, made this statement about U.S. military bases following the 1995 gang-rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by two marines and a sailor: “Fifty-three years is long enough. We have really suffered. Prostitution and rape are the military system’s outlets for pent up aggression and methods of maintaining control and discipline – the target being local community women.”

It’s now been 69 years that Okinawans have suffered from the injustice of seized farms, multiple forms of violence, community degradation, and environmental destruction wrought by U.S. bases. In hope of staving a similar fate for Jeju Islanders, Ms. Takazato joins her colleagues at the International Women’s Network Against Militarism (IWNAM) in this statement supporting Jeju Island residents who are challenging the state seizure and planned destruction of their farmland and a biodiverse coast to make way for a massive naval base to house warships.

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Okinawa Outreach: Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa demands the suspension of construction of U.S. military helipads in biodiverse Yanbaru Forest

Okinawa Outreach, a new blog edited by Okinawan scholars and activists, offers news, photos, & analysis directly from Okinawa.

Its July reports describe efforts by the Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa (Okinawa BD) to obtain answers from the Okinawan Defense Bureau (the Japan Defense Bureau’s branch in Okinawa) regarding U.S. military plans for training accident-prone military Osprey aircraft in biodiverse Yanbaru Forest. The Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa demanded a halt to the construction of helipads which the U.S. wants to locate in one of the most well-preserved areas of the forest, a habitat for numerous endangered species unique to northern Okinawa.

Okinawa Outreach also provided updates to the Okinawan Defense Bureau’s November 2008 legal action against 15 residents of the Takae community (including a child), who, since July 2007, had been conducting a peaceful sit-in protest against the helipad construction on the prefectural road near the construction sites. Many consider this frivolous litigation, a SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) action, intended to intimidate and silence critics). The next hearing is scheduled for the end of August.

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The Aug. 13, 2004 U.S. Marine Helicopter Crash at Okinawa International University

Today is the 7th anniversary of a U.S. Marine heavy assault transport helicopter crash into the Okinawa International University administration building. Despite the swift response by Okinawan police and local medical rescue to the injured troops on civilian territory, the Marines who arrived later cordoned off the university crash site and refused admittance to Okinawan authorities, raising serious sovereignty issues. Former Prime Minister Koizumi refused to meet with Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha Yoichi and Okinawan Governor Keiichi Inamine when they traveled to Tokyo to discuss the crash.

After the crash, Ginowan City produced a video report of the event for worldwide dissemination; The Asia-Pacific Journal published a translation of a report by Yoshio Sanechika, first published at Shukan Kinyobi, a leading Japanese weekly news magazine; and faculty at Okinawa International University organized a comprehensive website, No Fly Zone to provide Okinawan perspectives on the crash.

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Dialogue Under Occupation conference in Okinawa, Aug 4-8, 2011

Even if you can’t attend, please check out the program, website, and blog for the Dialogue Under Occupation conference in Okinawa, Aug 4-8, 2011.

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“Henoko Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Lawsuit” plaintiffs show dugong video at July 16, 2011 court hearing

After six decades of U.S. military operations in the region, fewer than 50 critically endangered dugongs struggle to survive in Okinawa — once known as the “Galápagos of the East” for its rich biodiversity.

Following a 1996 U.S. proposal to destroy Oura Bay, a principal dugong habitat, to make way for massive military construction, environmentalists worldwide turned to legal channels to address the threat to the beloved sea mammal’s habitat. In 2003, Okinawan, Japanese and U.S. environmentalists successfully collaborated in a lawsuit seeking to halt the proposal.. In 2008, a U.S. federal judge ruled against the U.S. Department of Defense, requiring it to consider impacts of proposed military construction in Oura Bay on the dugong to avoid or mitigate harm. In response, the U.S. military devised an alternative, yet equally destructive plan, to elude compliance with the court ruling.

In turn, 622 plaintiffs — seeking to stop additional U.S. military destruction in Okinawa — initiated another legal action. They brought a class action suit in a Japanese court against the Japanese Defense Bureau’s arm in Okinawa, the Okinawan Defense Bureau. Their complaint challenges the legality and scientific validity of the Bureau’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Hideki Yoshikawa, international director of Save the Dugong Campaign Center, reports on the 12th court hearing of the case at Okinawa Outreach, a new blog from Okinawa.

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David Vine at Mainichi Hall in Tokyo on July 29, 2011

American University anthropologist David Vine, a member of the Network for Okinawa, will be on a speaking tour in Japan before joining other participants at the Dialogue Under Occupation conference in Okinawa from August 4-8, 2011.

If you live near or in Tokyo, don’t miss his talk on July 29th at 6:30 p.m. at Mainichi Hall.

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“Moving from War to Peace in East Asia” workshop & candlelight vigil in Washington D.C. on July 27, 2011

On the anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice on July 27, Washington, D.C. will be the site of a workshop and candlelight vigil supporting peace for Korea and East Asia:

“Moving from War to Peace in East Asia Workshop” 5:30 to 7 p.m., Wednesday on July 27, 2011 at the Institute for Policy Studies and a Candlelight Vigil: “Convert Korean War Armistice to Peace Treaty” on the same date, from 7:30 pm to 9 pm in front of the White House (Lafayette Square).

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John Feffer: Jim Webb’s Parting Shots (on Okinawa & more)

In this June 16, 2011 tribute to Senator Jim Webb, John Feffer reflects on the Webb-Levin-McCain alternative to the Obama administration’s plan to build another U.S. military base in Okinawa:

In mid-May, he teamed up with Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) to issue a statement offering an alternative to the current U.S. plan to build another military base in Okinawa and expand the existing facilities on Guam. The Obama administration has been so hell-bent on creating another U.S. base on Okinawa, over the objections of the vast majority of the citizens of the Japanese island, that it went so far as to precipitate the resignation of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama when he had the temerity to balk at the economic and political costs.

At a time when the administration has asked the Pentagon to contribute to overall budget cutting, the price tag for the reorganization of U.S. force structure in the Pacific is both enormous (over $27 billion) and, according to a recent GAO report, consistently underestimated. Webb’s alternative – moving capabilities from the aging Futenma Marine air base to the nearby Kadena Air Force base – is not ideal, but it’s at least a starting point for discussion. But the Obama administration, which has prided itself on its ability to listen, has closed its ears both to Okinawans and the Webb-Levin-McCain initiative.

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