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Tag Archives: biodiversity

Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States by Gavan McCormack & Satoko Oka Norimatsu

Resistant Islands: Okinawa Confronts Japan and the United States by Gavan McCormack and Satoko Oka Norimatsu will be released by Rowman & Littlefield in July 2012. Resistant Islands offers a comprehensive overview of Okinawan history over half a millennium from the Ryukyu Kingdom to the present, focusing especially on the colonization by Japan, the islands' disastrous fate during World War II, and their subsequent and continuing subordination to US military purpose.

Petition: No to Military Base YES to Dugong Protection Area

If you haven't signed this petition from Save the Dugong Campaign Center, please consider doing so and sharing with your friends. They need less than a hundred signatures to meet their goal of 1,000!

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.

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.

“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.

Network for Okinawa Statement/Press Release on Forced Military Construction in Yanbaru Forest & Henoko, Okinawa

The Network for Okinawa, following calls of protest from international peace, democracy, and environmental organizations, has issued a statement/press release on forced U.S. military construction in biologically rich and fragile Yanbaru Forest, Oura Bay, and Henoko, Okinawa.

US for Okinawa’s Statement of Support for Takae, Okinawa

US for Okinawa, a Network for Okinawa coalition member, sent the following statement of support for Takae to the U.S. Ambassador of Japan, asking that the U.S. military halt construction of more Osprey heliports in its war training ground in Okinawa's Yanbaru Forest, home of unique, endangered species. Their letter included the following points: ...Such destruction further destroys the important biodiversity of the region, endangers the lives of local residents, and shamefully continues to undermine democracy in Okinawa. As U.S. citizens, we call upon our country to use its great power to foster global environmental sustainability—not to blatantly destroy the forests, waters and wildlife of other countries under the guise of “security"...

Postcard from Takae

A U.S. war training ground occupies a quarter of biodiverse Yanbaru forest on the northern tip of Okinawa. The U.S. military trained there during Vietnam War, and now wants to build six helipads for dangerous V-22 Osprey aircraft within two of the best-preserved areas in the forest, near Takae village. Takae residents have engaged in a sit-in since 2007 to protest the construction of military heliports in Yanbaru Forest, home of numerous endangered species. This month Okinawan peace and democracy groups are demonstrating against the restart of construction and the U.S. helicopter destruction of a sit-in tent. Jon Mitchell's article describes the ongoing plight and democratic action of the residents of the small village known for "Slow Life" culture, who have been besieged by U.S. war training for decades.