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Katrina Vanden Heuvel: Around the Globe, US Military Bases Generate Resentment, Not Security

Katrina Vanden Heuvel, publisher and editor of The Nation, a progressive news magazine, spotlights The Network for Okinawa in her June 13, 2011 article discussing the U.S. system of 865 military bases worldwide that costs American taxpayers $102 billion annually (not including the 135 newly constructed bases in Iraq and Afghanistan): The plain truth is that the staggering resources we spend to support an empire of bases isn’t making us more secure. Instead, they fuel resentment and consume resources desperately needed to invest here at home, as well as targeted development aid that could be used more wisely and efficiently by non-military experts.

Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) event: Living Along the Fenceline screening today in San Francisco

The Women for Genuine Security, an organizational member of the Network for Okinawa, is sponsoring a screening of filmmaker Lina Hoshino's Living Along the Fenceline tonight in San Francisco. The groundbreaking 80-minute documentary tells the stories of seven women whose lives have been affected by the US military presence in their backyards. Their individual journeys of strength and courage represent the unheard stories of communities across the globe that live alongside US bases and bear tragic hidden costs to their land, culture, and spirit. They are teachers, organizers, and healers, moved by love and respect for the land, and hope for the next generation. One of the storytellers is Yumi Tomita (pseudonym), an Okinawan woman in her late 30s. She was raped by US soldiers when she was in high school. It has taken her many years to cope with the shame and trauma of this assault. She finally began to speak of her ordeal in 1995, when a 12-year-old Okinawan girl was kidnapped and raped by U.S. Marines.

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.