Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tokunoshima Island - Shima No Uta

Beautiful slideshow from Tokunoshima Island with music by Rimi Natsukawa: Shima No Uta (Island Song). This is a small island in the south part of Kagoshima prefecture, as near to Okinawa as you can get. Calling this a "relocation" from Okinawa is a joke. A rude, cruel joke. Contrast that with the amazing scenery, the lovely sea, the beaches and the wildlife and biodiversity - and the people. This is another island in Asia that does not need US military helicopters or Marines.

Asahi: Tokunoshima eyed for U.S. helicopters

More than 4,000 people attended a rally on Tokunoshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture on Sunday to protest its possible use as a relocation site for some of the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.

Sources said Tokunoshima was mentioned by Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa in their respective discussions Friday with U.S. and Okinawa prefectural government officials in which the central government's proposal was explained.

Tokunoshima has been mentioned as a possible site for helicopter training exercises as a way of lessening the U.S. military burden on Okinawa Prefecture.

Come on, someone please tell Pentagon it just is not going to happen.

Lovely version by Chinese star A-Mei, and I like this anti-war version by Miyazawa Kazufumi live in Brazil too - from 3:30, before that he reads the lyrics in Spanish. A huge hit. English lyrics in this video with The Boom. Alfredo Casero has the follwing lyrics:

The deigo flower has blossomed, and it has called the wind, and the storm has arrived.
The deigo flowers are in full bloom, and they have called the wind, and the storm has come.
The repetition of sadness, like the waves that cross the islands.
I met you in the Uji forest.
In the Uji forest I bid farewell to Chiyo.

Island Song, ride the wind, with the birds, cross the sea.
Island song, ride the wind, carry my tears with you.

The deigo blossoms have fallen, soft ocean waves tremble.
Fleeting joy, like flowers carried by the waves.
To my friend who sang in the Uji forest.
Beneath the the Uji, bid farewell to Yachiyo.

Island song, ride the wind, with the birds, cross the sea.
Island song, ride the wind, carry my love with you.

To the sea, to the universe, to God, to life, carry on this eternal dusk wind.

Island Song, ride the wind, with the birds, cross the sea.
Island song, ride the wind, carry my love with you.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Love Harukaze 2010: The hottest urban peace/music-themed event of the season!!

It’s back!! Spring Love (Harukaze) is making its second
run in Yoyogi Park on April 3rd and 4th, promising a
weekend extravaganza of top-rated musical and dance
performances, film screenings, organic food and goods
stalls, and talk sessions featuring peace-related social
action. Come out and enjoy the cherry blossoms while
feeding your mind and soul with some Spring Love!!

Date/Time: Saturday, April 3rd (1-8 PM) and Sunday,
April 4th (12-7:30 PM)
Venue: Yoyogi Park Outdoor Stage
Admission: Free!!

Event will feature:
■ Performances from numerous musicians and dancers
representing a variety of artistic genres
■ Peace-related talk sessions, films, and exhibitions
■ Events on two separate stages (Spring Stage and Love Stage)
■ Booths with literature from peace-related NPOs/NGOs
■ Spring Love Market with sales of various eco-friendly goods
■ Spring Love Kitchen featuring stalls with organic/ethnic foods
■ Live painting
■ Kids’ activities

Peace program:

Saturday, April 3rd

2:30-3:25 PM: Military bases and the role of the media

Panelists: Kobayashi Atsushi (director/producer of several military-
base related documentary films), Shiva Rei (freelance journalist who
has reported from places including Iraq and Gaza), Navigator: Inada Hideaki (Solar Inc.)

4:35-4:50 PM: Hints for carving out natural, sustainable
lifestyles in today's unnatural, unsustainable modern

Speaker: Ikue Masudo, formerly known as Takagi Saya
(TV/film actor, free diver, owner of Furyu organic cafe/gallery)
Navigator: Fukui Hiroshi (Peace Not War Japan music director,

4:50-5:50 PM: Why should Japan's Constitutional Article 9 (the
peace clause) be protected?

Panelists: Matsumari Masumi (Peace Boat), Shiva Rei (freelance
journalist), Kamebuchi Yuka (gospel singer, peace advocate)

8:30 PM〜: Documentary film screenings

“We don’t need bases anywhere!”, "ANPO" and "The
Insular Empire: America in the Marianas" promotional
clips, "Message from Yanbaru: A Documentary of Takae,
Higashi Village in Okinawa", "Alternative Lifestyles: Learning
from the European Squatting Movement", "Kukuru" (featuring
a live performance from singer UA in Takae village, Okinawa)

Sunday, April 4th

2:00-2:45 PM: Listen to citizens' voices: No more wasteful,
destructive construction!! Hear from activists working to stop
the following projects in environmentally rich areas: a tunnel
through Mt. Takao; a nuclear power plant in Kaminoseki; and a
U.S. military base in Takae Village, Okinawa.

Panelists: Sakata Masako (Kenju no kai), Higa "Marty" Masato
(documentary filmmaker), Yamato Taka (organic loquat farmer),
Yamada Sei (peace/environmental activist and author)

3:30-4:25 PM: Building sustainable, non-militarized economies:
examples of organic, small-scale, community-based alternatives
to a military-dependent economy

Panelists: Kikuchi Yumi (Harmonics Life Center director, Tokyo
Peace Film Festival producer, Japan United for a Ministry of
Peace committee member), Tanaka Yu (Mirai Bank Director,
Japan International Volunteer Center board member, ap bank
member), Kosaka Masaru (organic restaurant/bar owner, writer,
rice/soybean farmer)

5:10-5:25 PM: Kikuchi Yumi, a well-known peace/environmental
activist, writer, translator, and international speaker, shares the
latest information on 9/11-related issues, the Tokyo Peace Film
Festival, and more! Navigator: Kimberly Hughes, Peace Not War
Japan co-coordinator.

Musical performers:

Ikue Asazaki (traditional Amami Shimauta folk songs)

Sayoko meets YA MAN RIDDIM (funky reggae + djembe)

Blues the Butcher-590213 + Leyona (rock/soul/reggae/blues)

Rakita (acoustic groove)

Yuppi & Tane (elementary school aged singer/songwriter!)

Rabirabi (percussion/voice duo)

Ailie (roots reggae)


11-piece wadaiko (Japanese drum) ensemble

Kamebuchi Yuka and Voices of Japan (VOJA) (gospel)

Mika Arisaka (jazz)

SandiiBunbun with Earth Conscious and Hula All Stars (Hawaiian)

The Tchiky's (Acoustic/Afrobeat/Dub)

Takeru (reggae)

Fukugawa Baron Club (Indonesian gamelan)

YOSHIE (belly dancing)

Uranagel (folk)

Jintaramuta (fusion unit blending Japanese traveling street
protest music together with elements of modern jazz)


Mon Kumagai (shamisen)

And more!

Additional Information:

※ Please note that there may be changes in the list of
performers and guests.

※ Please refrain from smoking within the venue area,
as well as from taking photographs of the performers.

※ A portion of the sales of food and goods, as well as
all donations placed in our donation boxes, will be given
to several grassroots organizations in order to support
their ongoing work for nonviolent peace action.

※ Spring Love has a “gomi-zero” ("no garbage") policy.
Please leave the venue as clean as you found it by separating
your trash at one of the provided garbage stations. Garbage
cleanup is an extremely expensive undertaking, and if this
policy is not respected, we may not be able to offer this free
festival in the future. Show some spring love by following the
"gomi-zero" rule!!

※ Volunteers needed before and during the event!! (setup,
translation/interpretation, cleanup, various administrative tasks,
etc.) If you are able to help, please contact us at kim@pnwj.org!

Event support: A SEED JAPAN, Solar, Peace Not War Japan,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cocco - Live Earth 2007 Concert, For The Dugong In Okinawa

Do watch this video. It starts with the news report from Okinawa, that a pair of dugong have been filmed in June 2007, a rare event. "They came back," Cocco says, with joy.

A rare event.

Then, do listen to her - Cocco, a singer born in Okinawa.

Cocco English website

Her speech at the Makuhari Messe, event (part of the global Live Earth concert) is so moving. She cannot hold back her tears. Can you?

For Jean and Ten Thousand Things

Please take the time out of your busy schedule - listen to Cocco's song.

389 965 views on Youtube.
I'm a woman from Okinawa, Japan, so let me tell you a bit about story of Okinawa.
The sea of Okinawa, it still looks beautiful.
The sea overlooked from the hill called "the hill of Dugong" named by people
who never saw the dugongs,
still looks very beautiful...
The hill of Dugongs 「ジュゴンの見える丘」 Dugong no mieru oka

Okinawa Protest Against US Military: "Don't Ridicule Okinawa"

Uruma residents raise their fists during a rally Thursday night (March 25, 2010) against the relocation of US Air Station Futenma to an offshore area of the city. (Photo: Mainichi)

The Mainichi reported that residents of Uruma rallied Thursday against the proposal to build an American military base on an artificial island on their beach:

Mainichi: Okinawa residents hold rally against Futenma relocation

Residents of this Okinawa Prefecture city have held a rally to express their opposition to a government plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to an offshore area of the city.

More than 500 people attended the rally held at a hall in Uruma on Thursday night. The gathering was organized by a liaison council of citizens opposing the relocation that was formed by former prefectural assembly members and others...

Mitsue Tomiyama, co-leader of the council, expressed anger at the relocation plan. "How far will the government ridicule local residents?"

The rally attendees adopted a resolution stating that "we are protesting to the government for ridiculing Okinawa. The loss of the sea would lead to the death of Okinawa." They then demanded that the government withdraw the plan to relocate Futenma to an offshore area of the White Beach district of Uruma, and close down Futenma base.

On March 19, the Uruma Municipal Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the plan while Mayor Toshio Shimabukuro has also voiced opposition to the plan.

On March 26, there was a rare hearing in the US Senate, in Washington DC. 2 peace activists attended. Ann Wright, a Global Article 9 and Network for Okinawa member, & Medea Benjamin of Code Pink holding signs in solidarity with Okinawa and Guam at U.S. Senate March 26, 2010 hearing on the Pacific Command. (Photo: DMZ Hawai'i).

Ten Thousand Things has more photos. Do take a moment and consider the images. Hundreds of people in a small town in Okinawa, Japan, protesting against decisions taken in Washington DC, where the Pentagon and others are making demands that only a handful of people in the US are aware of. And it is not just Uruma, it involves citizens all over Okinawa, in Nago, in Henoko, in Yambara.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sustainable Farming: Tofu, Natto, Miso - Is It GMO Or Not?

A lot of Japanese foods include soy as a main ingredient, including tofu, natto, and miso. Noone here wants genetically modified foods in Japan. There is no commercial farming of GMOs and a lot of resistance, with GMO-free zones appearing. The labelling laws are not perfect, so, how do you know if the beans are genetically modified?

北海道産 (Hokkaido san)
大豆 (Daisu)
Soybeans made in Hokkaido

If the soy is from Hokkaido, you can be sure that it is not GMO. In fact, a lot of Japanese food companies are carefully sourcing soy beans from Hokkaido (where no GMO soy is grown) and also from certified farms in North America, where some truly wonderful farmers are resisting the Monsanto driven GMO style farm policy. Certified organic farms - of course - do not use GMO soy. Actually, the number of farmers buying seeds from Monsanto are decreasing.

Companies like Honda have special silos in the US where they only accept non-GMO soy, for export to Japan:

"There is a Honda way to make cars, and a Honda way to make beans."—Kiyoaki Yamada, president of HAPI-Ohio (Honda's soybean division)
Honda is also a major exporter of premium U.S. soybeans to Japan. High-quality soybeans known as White Pearls are grown by local farmers in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Some of these soybeans are even harvested from Honda land that encompasses three of Honda's five auto plants in Ohio, an R&D vehicle engineering center and 7.5-mile test track and vehicle testing facility.
Non-GMO soybean acreage increased by 1 million in 2009

In Ohio, non-GMO soybean acreage increased 6%, the largest increase in any state. “We saw more growers switching to non-GMO production for 2009 planting,” says Joe Hanusik, manager at Harmony Agricultural Products In Ohio (HAPI Ohio), which produces non-GMO soybeans for food use.

HAPI Ohio is owned by the Honda Motor Company, based in Japan. Honda ships containers to the US filled with automobile parts, and HAPI Ohio ships them back to Japan filled with non-GMO soybeans. The infield of a Honda test track in Marysville, Ohio, is even planted with non-GMO soybeans.

Hanusik said he contracted with a record number of farmers to plant non-GMO soybeans. “This year we are producing roughly 45,000 acres of non GMO soybeans. Last year we were right around 25,000.”

Steve Waddell, a farmer near Columbus, Ohio, switched to non-GMO production because of the higher premiums. Waddell says he will earn a $2.00 premium for non-GMO soybeans this year.

John Suber, owner of Ebberts Field Seeds in western Ohio, sold out of non-GMO soybean seed early and has doubled non-GMO seed production acreage for next year. “We anticipate that demand will continue to grow,” Suber says.

Jim Beuerlein, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, echoes that assessment. “There are a number of markets, both stateside and internationally, that want non-GMO varieties and they are willing to pay the premiums for it.”

Consumers Union of Japan has more details.

The Organic & Non-GMO Report is a monthly newsletter that provides information you need to respond to the challenges of genetically modified (GM) foods.

  • Produce non-GMO products from 'seed to shelf'
  • Prevent GMO contamination
  • Connect with potential buyers of non-GMO and organic products
  • Find non-GMO and organic ingredient sources
  • See how companies succeed producing non-GMO products
  • Stay up-to-date on global GM food issues
  • Learn what experts say about GM food issues

(Image from internet shop Setagaya)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project

Having small kids in a big city like Tokyo must be difficult, with so little "real" nature where they can play and enjoy wild things. I can't imagine how parents manage...

Yesterday I had the great fortune to visit KEEP in Kiyosato, Yamanashi prefecture. It is just a couple of hours on the train from Shinjuku and there are places to stay. What's so great about KEEP, and why should you bring your kids?

I hope these photos from the center give some ideas. There are also wide grounds with forests, fields and a fantastic view of the Yatsugatake mountains, part of the southern Alps in Nagano.

The KEEP lodges can be rented by families or groups. Most of the exhibits have brief English texts and explanations, and the rangers are really helpful. KEEP also has a popular Forest Kindergarten where the kids spend a lot of time outdoors.

KEEP is located at the Yatsugatake Nature Center with interactive exhibits about the flora and fauna of the Yatsugatake Highlands, the local culture and history of the Kiyosato area, and information about the hiking trails in the area.

The Nature Center holds special events throughout the year, such as film screenings and lectures.

Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project was founded by Paul Rusch, an American who first came to Japan in the 1920s. He chose Kiyosato as a site for the training campground for Christian missionaries:
When he visited Kiyosato for the first time to observe the site and looked the grand scenery of the southern Yatsugatake ridge from the observatory on the top of Mt. Utsukushi-mori, he was overwhelmed by the scenary and could not a speak a word for a while.
American Committee for KEEP, Inc. has more details (English):

Current youth programs at KEEP encompass all forms of agricultural and environmental education. Year round programming is designed for all age levels. Students at the primary, secondary, and university levels take part in programs on the environment, farming, and the care of livestock in both day programs and overnight camps. One indicator of the programming's impact is the high number of program participants who end up working in the field of environmental education or nature preservation.

KEEP Japanese website

Stroll Through Yamanashi is a blog with travel guides, photos, and maps


〒407-0301 山梨県北杜市高根町清里3545 
TEL:0551-48-2114 FAX:0551-48-3575

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shunbun - Spring Equinox Holiday

Spring Equinox is a holiday in Japan. It fell on Saturday this year, so Monday is a substitute day off. Congratulations, you all deserve it.

Known as 春分 (shunbun, vernal equinox) this is an ancient time to take note of the change of the seasons. When we talk about climate change or global warming, perhaps we ought to pay more attention to how the seasons and the climate had deep and profound implications for farmers and everyone. They paid much more attention to the stars and the planets than we do today. It made a difference, as they had to plant seeds and plan trips and sail according to the warm winds.

Living closely attuned to the seasons was the key to survival for people since ancient times. In Asia, the calendars used to be lunisolar, meaning the cycles of the moon and the sun where both taken into consideration. For farmers in Japan, this calendar was also helpful as a guide to remember what to expect next.

The principal method of telling time is actually rather easy. The day is divided into twelve rôkoku or koku (“hours” for want of a better term, although one koku is equal to two modern hours) and is given the name of one of the animals from the zodiac. For example, the Hour of the Horse, or Uma no koku, corresponds to 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on a modern clock.)

Time, for the ancients, and for farmers in particular, was clearly cyclical, not linear as it tends to be today. The Gregorian calender was introduced here in the 1870s, but time still tends to bend slightly differently. For example, 2010 is the 22st year of Heisei, as we count the years since the current emperor ascended the throne.

Some of the ancient names, such as Shunbun, Geshi, Risshū and Tōji, are used in everyday life in Japan, to note the spring equinox, summer solstice, autumnal equinox and winter solstice.

After all, time/space is only a construct of the mind. When we try to develop a more sustainable lifestyle, trying to understand the universe, we need to disregard the seconds, minutes, and hours... and learn to appreciate a more slow lifestyle.

(Image from Tama Lohas Village)

Frozen Sun (on MySpace)

"The Biggest Global Movement in History" -- Citizen Action for Biodiversity, Indigenous & Traditional cultures, Sustainability, Peace & Justice

It is my belief that we are part of a movement that is greater and deeper and broader than we ourselves know or can know. It flies under the radar of the media by and large. It is nonviolent. It is grassroots. It has no clusterbombs, no armies, and no helicopters. It has no central ideology. A male vertebrate is not in charge.

This unnamed movement is the most diverse movement the world has ever seen. The very word "movement" is too small to describe it. No one started this worldview. No one is in charge of it. There is no orthodoxy. It is global, classless, unquenchable, and tireless. Its shared understanding is arising spontaneously from different economic sectors, cultures, regions, and cohorts. It is growing and spreading worldwide, with no exception.

It has many roots. But primarily the origins are indigenous cultures, the environment and social justice movements. Those three sectors and their subsectors are intertwining, morphing, and enlarging... This is a democracy movement...It's marked by kinship, communities, symbiosis. It's Pachamama ("Mother Universe"). It's Mama. It's the earth talking back, waking up...
The background music is not the best and the talk is now three years old––but this clip of Paul Hawken speaking at a 2006 Bioneers conference describing the collective energy of hundreds of thousands of civil society organizations made up of tens of million of people––if not more--from all over our planet–– is breathtaking.

The social entrepreneur drew his talk from his 2007 book, Blessed Unrest: How The Largest Movement in the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming.

The movement Hawken describes is not something new. Citing poet/environmentalist Gary Snyder and actor/activist/writer Peter Coyote––Blessed Unrest refers to "the great underground, a current of humanity that dates back to the Paleolithic and its lineage can be traced back to healers, priestesses, philosophers, monks, rabbis, poets, and artists 'who speak for the planet, for other species, for interdependence, a life that courses under and through and around empires.'"

Hawken's imagination was captured by not only the explosion of movements––but also by the shift towards the "intertwingling" of causes––environmentalism; sustainability; biodiversity; indigenous issues; civil society, children's issues; community development; cultural heritage; democratic activism; fair trade; good governance; human rights; social, and economic justice; disarmament and peacemaking; water and other resource rights; and gender issues.

Those of us worldwide who are working to save endangered biodiverse species, coral reef habitats, pristine forests of the Asia-Pacific (and throughout the world); the peaceful traditional ways of life for farmers in Jeju Island, Korea; the sacred dugong and traditional village life for Okinawans; and the sacred Pagat Caves and Chamoru indigenous culture in Guam • to heal historical wounds from Japanese military colonial expansion and the Pacific War; and heal contemporary wounds from repeated nuclear test explosions and forced military occupation (with comcomittant crime, rapes, environmental degradation, noise pollution, emotional tension) throughout our islands (and throughout the world) • to spread the nonviolent and democratic ideals of Japan's Peace Constitution which forbids the use of force as a way to resolve international disputes; abolish nuclear weapons • and to build peaceful networks with others working for life-sustaining civilization throughout the world---who are meeting each other across national, geographical, religious, political, and socio-economic boundaries--know about this exhilirating, empowering "intertwingling" from personal experience.

We realize--that for those who choose to live on the level of common humanity and respectful, loving connection with our fellow creatures on our miraculous and beautiful living planet--there are no boundaries.

Orion excerpts Blessed Unrest here.

-- Jean Downey

Cocco - Thread In The Dense Forest

樹海の糸 Jyukai no Ito (Thread in the dense forest) by Cocco, an artist born in Naha, Okinawa. She performed as part of the global Live Earth concert in Japan, 2007.

Japanese lyrics available on the YouTube page of this very special song, here.

Jyukai - dense, old growth forest with huge trees and wildlife. I'm thinking ancient druids in Europe, the Amazon, Yakushima, and shinto shrines in the mountains... and hope to hear your views on this and other songs by Cocco. Polomerria is such a gem too.

Artists and singers like Cocco are so important for the message of environmental protection and biological diversity - in this case the dense forests - and how the issues are connected to people. Okinawa in particular and all the islands have such amazing, untouched forests and beaches and tropical coral reefs, with fish that most of us have just seen in small aquariums. Singing about how it connects to your feelings, your love, your passion, is truly for the gifted artist, like Cocco.

Old Military Joke...

On some air bases [such as in Okinawa] the Air Force is on one side of the field and civilian aircraft use the other side of the field, with the control tower in the middle.

One day the tower received a call from an aircraft asking, "What time is it?"

The tower responded, "Who is calling?"

The aircraft replied, "What difference does it make?"

The tower replied "It makes a lot of difference:

If it is an American Airlines flight, it is 3 o'clock.

If it is an Air Force plane, it is 1500 hours.

If it is a Navy aircraft, it is 6 bells.

If it is an Army aircraft, the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3.

If it is a Marine Corps aircraft, it's Thursday afternoon and 120 minutes to "Happy Hour."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Expo Osaka And Expo Shanghai: 40 Years Later, Have We Learnt Anything?

The theme of Expo 2010 in Shanghai is Better City, Better Life, representing "the common wish of the whole humankind for a better living in future urban environments." Really? I'm sure most of mankind, especially everyone living in rural towns and farm villages, in remote places in mountains or near rivers, lakes and on islands in the ocean, have a very different opinion, but OK. We all hope the city folks will do allright.

It is 40 years since the Osaka Expo in 1970. My aunt's husband is an architect and city planner. As a young lad he and bunch of others flew over to Japan, rented a car, drove on the left side of the road and went to the Osaka Expo. It was a huge inspiration and he has some amazing slides and a lot of stories, that I enjoyed as a child.

Several bloggers have noted the anniversary, including Pink Tentacle:

The 1970 World’s Fair — a.k.a. Expo ‘70 — opened in Osaka 40 years ago this week. A total of 77 countries attended the event and the number of visitors surpassed 64 million people, making it one of the largest and best attended expositions in history. This was the first World’s Fair to be held in Japan, a nation that had experienced an extremely rapid period of development in the 1960s. The theme of the Expo was “Progress and Harmony for Mankind,” and the aim was to showcase the possibilities of modern technology to create a foundation for a high quality of life and peace throughout the world.

Stellavista notes that Osaka marked the "end of the future" as "the planners of Expo 70 had realised that the moon was just a boring, far away rock, which ceased to capture our imagination one year after it was conquered."

What Sweden and the Scandinavian countries chose to do in Osaka was markedly different. While everyone else tried to outdo each other to brag about their national progress, the Scandinavian Pavilion was adorned with a plus and a minus sign.

The focus was on the environmental disasters, the pollution, and the side effects from rapid economical and scientific change. The displays consisted of some 7200 slides, photographs, panels, and images. Images of destroyed landscapes, drought, desertification, dead fish, dreadful suffering from chemical poisoning...

The theme of the Scandinavian Pavilion was "Protection of the environment in the industrialized society."

In 1970, that was supposed to be a wake up call, an attempt at that rare thing - a voice of reason.

Everyone else seemed to hold on to the belief that earth was infinite, and human skills and engineering wizardy would make our planet a mechanical paradise, if only technology could be utilized on every square inch, for every process, from seed production and concrete pouring to jet travel and the moon landing. The Swedes and the Danes and the others up there in the northern part of Europe were responding to another trend, which has grown much stronger.

The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference) was an international conference convened under United Nations auspices held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5-16, 1972. It was the UN's first major conference on international environmental issues, and marked a turning point in the development of international environmental politics.

There is a direct link from Osaka, 1970 and Stockholm, 1972, to the Earth Summit in Rio 1992 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 2002 (Rio+10).

Back in 1970, earth's resources - oil, gas, uranium - would solve all our energy worries.

40 years later, we know we have a lot to learn, as we are running short of all of the above - with a lot more people to feed. But I think we knew that in 1970 too.

Reading about the 2010 Expo in China makes me wonder how we will teach each new generation this important lesson, without making it seem so gloomy and the future so dismal that noone will want to even try to do anything about it...

I like how the Osaka Expo site has been turned into a green, lush park. Here are two aerial photos of the site, one from 1970 and the last from 1995. That is some progress.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

World Peace Now Demonstration In Tokyo March 20, 2010

Peace groups are gathering at noon in Tokyo on Saturday for a big anti-war event on the 7th anniversary of the Iraq War. The booths with information as well as rally speeches start at 13:00.

Do join the parade, as they call the demonstration, starting at 15:00 from Shiba Koen #4.

There are events in the evening as well, with music and presentations. Artists include Kotobuki and Muse Band

Photos from the January 30, 2010 event with a focus on the US bases in Okinawa

The World Peace Now website has more details (in Japanese)

As a special treat, "Pink Jeanne d'Arc" performance artists Kunihiko Ukai and Rena Masuyama, aka Momo Iro Jeanne, promise to liven up the event with their special Pink Guerilla celebration event against war...

Here are the organizations who arrange this World Peace Now event:

憲法改悪・市民連絡会 03(3221)4668
Kenpo Kaiaku Shimin Renrakukai

アジア太平洋平和フォーラム(APPF) 03(3252)7651
Asia Pacific Peace Forum (APPF)

日本消費者連盟 03(5155)4765
Consumers Union of Japan

ピースボート 03(3363)8047
Peace Boat

平和をつくり出す宗教者ネット 03(3461)9363
Heiwa wo Tsukuridasu Shukyosha Net
(Religious People's Peace Network)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Nuclear Posture Review" And Japan's Role

Nuclear Posture Review. This is our chance to urge President Obama to set a new, safer direction for nuclear weapons policy. Do your google, it is all there.

April 12-13, 2010 there will be an official Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC. I'm happy to see that Union of Concerned Scientists and the Ploughshares Fund will attend. There are many others, but it is difficult to assess their real agenda.

I think this event should also have the Hiroshima and Nagasaki perspective. It seems to be lacking. Peace groups may be strong in Japan but they have difficulties to make their voice heard abroad. I do hope participants in Washington DC will not forget to mention the 1945 bombings of civilians in Japan, with the US atomic bombs, of both the uranium (Hiroshima) and plutonium (Nagasaki) types.

Do invite people who survived the atomic bombing in 1945 to speak at the April 12-13 event in the US.

Those who survived, and are still alive, are very vocal and clear about the urgent task - get rid of nuclear weapons.

Fact Sheet: 2010 Nuclear Posture Review

Here is a quote from Union of Concerned Scientists, a US think thank that has for a long time battled issues like nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, and "global security."

On September 22, 2009, thirteen U.S. security experts released an open letter to President Obama and newly elected Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama asking them to support changes in U.S. nuclear weapons policy while reaffirming the U.S.-Japanese alliance. The two leaders will be in New York to attend a session on nuclear proliferation issues at the United Nations and are planning to meet for the first time on September 23.

The signatories on the letter include Ambassador George Bunn, former U.S. ambassador to the International Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Morton Halperin, former director of policy planning staff at the State Department; and Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Last Revised: 09/22/09

Open letter (English) pdf

Open letter (Japanese) pdf

Some 12 years ago, I was fortunate enough to exchange views and share opinions with the UCS experts on food & agriculture and the threat of genetic engineering. That inspiration and their personal engagement meant a lot to me, at the time. When intelligent people take a stand against evil, it makes a difference.

The Obama nuclear summit is just a couple of weeks from today.

Are we going to wait until the last minute before mainstream media starts reporting about it?

The Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47, of Dmitri Shostakovich is a symphony for orchestra composed between April and July 1937. Bernstein conducts, as if his life is on the line in New York, 1979. Worried what Stalin might think, Shostakovich withdrew his 4th Symphony. Then, he composed this masterpiece. What are you worried about? What are we afraid of?

Shinkansen In Florida?

Bloomberg has the scoop on fast trains coming to America:
Walt Disney World in Florida may be the next stop for bullet-train makers in Japan and China. Central Japan Railway Co. and China South Locomotive & Rolling Stock Corp. are competing for the $8 billion President Barack Obama granted for 13 high-speed corridors across the U.S., including a Tampa-Orlando line that may include a station at the Walt Disney Co. resort in Orlando.
Japan's Shinkansen trains travel at speeds faster than 180 mph (290 kph). Japan is home to the world’s first Shinkansen and the biggest high-speed network, with 308 million travellers year-on-year to March 2009.

新幹線 (Shinkansen, New Trunk Line) is a Japanese term from the mid 1930s. The concept was to replace the main trunk line, the Tokaido, with novel and dedicated tracks to allow fast passengers-only trains to run between Osaka and Tokyo.

Today, cargo still runs on the old Tokaido tracks, but the Shinkansen are for human beings only. Those of us who like trains, well, the Shinkansen is a treat. I don't mind the slow trains either, having many fond memories of train journeys since I was 8 or 9 years old, all on my own, to visit my grandparents.

Bloomberg: Disney High-Speed Support May Boost Japan, China Trainmakers

Even more exciting for train fans is the idea that China wants to make the trip to Europe a much faster and easier one. I'm not sure how realistic it is at this point. Daily Telegraph thinks you may be able to travel from King's Cross to Beijing in two days:

Passengers could board a train in London and step off in Beijing, 5,070 miles away as the crow flies, in just two days. They could go on to Singapore, 6,750 miles away, within three days.

"We are aiming for the trains to run almost as fast as aeroplanes," said Mr Wang. "The best case scenario is that the three networks will be completed in a decade," he added.

Mr Wang said that China was already in negotiations with 17 countries over the rail lines, which will draw together and open up the whole of Central, East and South East Asia. Mr Wang said the network would also allow China to transport valuable cargoes of raw materials more efficiently.

China's Harmony Express has a top speed of nearly 250mph. I mentioned it here. It was unveiled at the end of 2009 between the cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou. Chinese-built, but using technology from Germany's Siemens and Japan's Kawasaki (and others), the Harmony Express can cover 660 miles, the equivalent of a journey from London to Edinburgh and back, in just three hours, according to Daily Telegraph.

I don't know about the benefits of shuttling people by fast trains to Disneyland. For the Chinese, the investment in trains is also a matter of resources. For example, they have offered to bankroll a new train track in Burma in exchange for the country's rich reserves of lithium, a metal widely used in batteries. If you use the iPod, your batteries are most likely lithium-ion (possibly from Burma). You could ask Apple where it comes from.

Our world, our precious planet, is so very highly strung, so connected, we are all in it together. We buy products with components from countries we have almost no knowledge of. Burma? Myanmar? China? Japan?

I hope the Chinese are not forgetting to plan and allocate for local transportation. They will need to have in place similar local networks that we built up over a century in Europe and in Japan, with slow trains and trams and bus services, connecting rural areas, towns and cities, for that once-a-day journey.

More Shinkansen:

NHK World: Shinkansen History

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Farming And Blogging

Farmers' blogs give such insights into the real troubles and joys of raising vegetables, rice or other foods - and also trying to sell the stuff by participating in events or even appearing on TV or being interviewed in magazines. Connecting city folks with the farmers who make a living in the inaka 田舎 (countryside) has suddenly gotten a little more easy.

I think farmers today are sometimes unfairly portrayed as an elderly crowd but the statistics show that of course many young people also farm. And most of them have computers and access to the internet. Not a big surprise, really. Their writing can be a laugh too especially if you are a little removed from the whole dirt-under-the-fingernails business.

Fujimori is a blogging fruit farmer, do take a look at the photos of the harsh winter conditions they are having up in Hokkaido. And from the far south, there is Papaya House, about - well, you guessed it: growing papaya in Okinawa.

Tanbo Owner is part of a project to connect and support people who for some reason or other happen to own a field, and want to share experiences with others around the country. Fun video at Inaka Nikki.

Toziba has a great blog too with a focus on soybeans. I have mentioned their project before - here is their story:

In the old days, a tojiba was something like a retreat center located near hot springs. At these places, people could escape their everyday lives, meet others, exchange wisdom, skills, individuality, and grow together. Taking our inspiration from this, we named our nonprofit Toziba. Toziba’s goal is to form an “everyday tojiba” that maintains a close relationship with local communities. We believe in the Japanese concept of junkan-gata, which literally means “circulation model.” For example, we grow vegetables in the soil, eat them, then making compost to feed the next season’s vegetables. This is junkan-gata. In order to achieve this, we seek to rediscover the uniqueness and attractiveness of each area, and use our business to help solve social problems. As a social venture NPO, Toziba seeks to connect people and places.

Since we started Toziba, we have been organizing various events such as “food heart parties” to connect consumer and producer. In 2008, collaborating with NGO The Sloth Club and Cafe Slow, we organized and hosted serious of events on “Jidaizu” (heirloom soybeans) . We joined in Earth Day Market, Tokyo from April 2006. Currently our main program is “Daizu Revolution” which we started in 2003 on a very small farm in Chiba.

If you live in a small apartment, why not try some balcony farming? Start with hanging parsley, easy to put up by a sunny window. Herbs are very easy to raise indoors. Nyukku-nyukku Nikki is a blog by Anti Farmer (Anti Farmer??) showing you how to get it right.

Any kind of pot can be filled with soil and kept on a balcony or a veranda. Farming isn't difficult if you start small. Tomatoes in particular are easy. If you never tried growing your own, buy plants that are already 5-10 cm high and bypass the tanemaki 種蒔き (seed planting) - you can do that next year. Don't water too much, that's a mistake many make. There should be a plate under your pot, and if there is water on the plate, you have to get rid of it and make sure the roots are not flooded. Easy trick!

Zakk Zakk is a "creative farm magazine" run by young farmers in Shiga prefecture who write a lot (when do they have time to farm?) with interviews inviting others with plenty of ideas to talk about rural living and farm management. They are exploring the han-no, han-X kata 半農半X型 (part-time farmer, part-time X style) concept that has emerged as a key word for people who like farming, but also have other talents and can add to the income by doing "X" meaning something else... They are also on Twitter.

Gan-chan is a blogging rice farmer who has specialized in selling food boxes directly to customers. He has been featured by NTV and participates in Eco events and Earth Day Market.

And of course we also have several foreigners blogging about their life in rural Japan, and efforts to increase the food self sufficiency for their families, such as Inaka Life in Hyogo prefecture.

Here is a recent photo of a project to make raised beds, for potatoes. I'm looking forward to seeing and reading more about that, it's a great idea to blog about the process so we all can share and get hints - and perhaps even send a comment of encouragement or advice.

Landed in Japan is "the hair-raising adventures of an inept Englishman, his family and their dream of making a farm in Japan."

And then of course there is Pure Land Mountain, the inspiration for us all, the blog-equivalent of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman's diary/proto-blog from 1891.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Climate Change: New "Environmental Tax" In 2011

Japan's new government last year set up a ministerial committee to draw up legislation to deal with global warming. Today, the report was released, with an emphasize on total emissions volume control, and a new environmental tax for consumers to be introduced in 2011. Petrol will be included, just like in many European countries, as a way to reduce driving. I think that would be a very wise decision from the parliament, to start reducing people's high level dependency on cars. Peak oil and the very real prospect of not being able to properly feed everyone in this country if current trends continue are issues that need to be addressed too.

The government is seeking to enact the bill during the current session of the parliament.

Mainichi: Draft government emissions bill sidesteps caps on companies

The draft bill stipulates that greenhouse gas emissions be slashed by 25 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, on condition that all the major industrialized nations establish a fair and effective international framework and agree on an ambitious goal. A long-term target of cutting emissions by 80 percent by 2050 was also incorporated into the bill.
Is the proposed legislation good enough? That should also be debated. Introducing a cap-and-trade system was discussed, but Japan's industries opposed the system. They think it would "restrict their business activities and hamper economic growth." That's not what has happened in countries where it has been introduced, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Japan has just introduced a new eco-point system aimed at increasing sales of homes, energy-saving features and renovations while reducing Japan's greenhouse gas emissions, starting on March 8, 2010. We will be able to receive up to 300,000 yen ($3,320) worth of eco-points, which can be used for home renovation or retrofit efforts or exchanged for gift certificates or local specialties, such as rice, fruit and marine products. I wish they would include certified organic produce as well.

Asahi: Eco-point system starts for housing
...Makers of window panes and other materials that improve insulation are eagerly promoting their energy-saving wares, while housing companies are widening the options for renovation and construction work for which the points can be used.

Amid the hoopla, experts say the public should try to gain proper information on the type of insulation features that will work best with their homes. They warn that some features could wind up being disadvantageous, depending on the type of housing.

"(Consumers should) not get carried away by sweet sales talk," said an official at the Center for Housing Renovation and Dispute Settlement Support.

If an existing house is fitted with double-pane or special-glass windows that more effectively keep in heat, the owner can receive between 2,000 and 18,000 eco-points.

Points can also be earned by having walls, roofs and floors redone with building materials with insulation that meet government standards. Outer walls redone using designated materials will fetch 100,000 points, improved roofs and ceilings gain 30,000 points, and redone floors can provide 50,000 points.

Most new wooden houses built by major housing companies are already equipped with double-pane windows and insulated walls. Such buildings that clear the government standard can receive the maximum 300,000 points.

For ferroconcrete homes and condominiums built with materials that already have high insulation capabilities, the addition of such energy-conserving systems as solar power generators are a prerequisite for winning eco-points.

NHK Korekara Friday About Okinawa

If you live in Japan, tonight's program at NHK starting Friday evening at 22:00 pm promises to be a very interesting show. The NHK Nihon no Korekara is a debate program with a long history. They do their resarch and invite only the best to talk about the Korekara issues.

これから of course in the sense of "from now on" or "what's next" so it is very timely that NHK will devote this hour to Okinawa issues.

Living here, I just wish this NHK show would be broadcast elsewhere as well, as an inspiration to all the peace and anti-nuclear activists around the world.

Do write and ask your local TV station to contact NHK and find a way to talk about this issue not only in Japan but everywhere else where American military bases are a part of the daily life. How many places? How many military bases does the United States of America have on foreign soil?

The NHK Korekara program is a standard feature with a long history. The producers and everyone will take great care to make a balanced, fair program that makes sense to Japanese viewers. I'm glad that people like long-time Japan resident Kimberly Hughes from US for Okinawa will participate, together with Michael J Green from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. I'm also very interested in how NHK Korekara will portray and present the concerns of people in Okinawa, Japan. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Foreign Media's Sudden Interest In Okinawa, Japan

Okinawa, Japan is the hottest story as the Hatoyama government won the election last year promising to change the way the US military bases in the southern prefecture are handled. No more business-as-usual, heavy-handed rule from distant Pentagon, on the south shore of the Potomac river, Washington DC. Far away Tokyo would have some say, but most of all, the new government promised during the election campaign in the summer of 2009 to listen to the people of - Okinawa.

It seems like it took a while for all of this to sink in. It matters a lot to East Asia in general and to the people living next door to Marine helicopter raids and jungle warfare excercises in particular.

It matters a lot to the Okinawan activists who don't want the Americans to turn Henoko into an airfield - not just because of the dugong and the pristine beaches and the blue sea. But because, after 65 years since the end of World War II, these people, living so far from Washington DC or Tokyo have had a glimpse of hope. That's why, today, the prefectural assembly of Okinawa has asked the defense minister to relocate the US Marine Futenma Air Station outside the prefecture or abroad:

The prefectural assembly of Okinawa has asked the defense minister to relocate the US Marine Futenma Air Station outside the prefecture or abroad. Nine assembly members met with Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa on Thursday and handed a statement that says the airbase should be transferred out of the prefecture or overseas. The assembly unanimously adopted the statement last month.

Kitazawa said unanimous approval is overwhelming but the issue is still under review and he cannot announce a candidate location at the moment. He also said the Hatoyama administration will examine the issue step by step and hold talks with the people of Okinawa.

Assembly member Yonekichi Shinzato told reporters that the government's review seems to be based on relocation within the prefecture. He said the government does not understand that Okinawa has been suffering from the base burden since the end of World War Two.

NHK World: Okinawa requires relocation outside the prefecture

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how democracy works. Things change, people vote for a new government with new ideas.

I have lived in Japan for quite some time, and this is a great moment to observe not only how Japanese people are rising up to the challenge of how their country is run and how decisions are made. Those of us who have been here for a while also take a great interest in how foreign media report from these islands. How do Americans deal with "change" or why do they not want to change?

Today, The Times had a report from Okinawa, Japan by the Chief Foreign Commentator for that very influencial newspaper, recently bought by Rupert Murdoch. Interesting choice of dispatch, I would say, as she is on the record for her views in her book with the title, In Defence of America.

Does she defend the United States of America, or perhaps another agenda? Stay tuned. Things will get interesting as foreign media suddenly seems very interested in Japan.

Times Online: 65 years after the war, Japan needs convincing of the need for US bases

I only have one small problem with that: Bronwen Maddox shows such a lack of knowledge about - or interest in - this country, when she makes remarks like this:
Apart from the emotions roused by the US presence on Okinawa, the 2006 plan to move Futenma to Henoko and to build two airstrips out into the bay, has also provoked a rare thing — a Japanese environmental campaign in defence of stunning coral reefs and the dugong, a sea mammal akin to the manatee.
Rare thing? Read that again. If she doesn't know very much about Japan, why not go ahead and tell the readers that? Don't make up opinions like "a rare thing" without talking to the many environmental organizations with a long history in this country - she could start with WWF Japan or Greenpeace Japan, or even Friends of the Earth Japan. Those would be rather easy for her UK readers to relate to. Not to mention hundreds or even thousands of national and local groups fighting to preserve and protect the environment, many now campaigning for biodiversity as the UN meeting will be held in Nagoya this year.

Yes, do talk to the locals before making that kind of impolite, rude, and insulting remark.

Bronwen Maddox does talk to some locals in Okinawa in her first dispatch from the islands. I hope the people in Okinawa will talk honestly and fairly to any foreign journalist just having arrived to their shores. There will be a lot of misunderstandings, and "lost in translation" moments.

In fact, Bronwen Maddox does that rare thing as a journalist, and I think she knows it; Okinawa is such a story. She didn't intend to insult Okinawans or Japanese people by that remark, she just had no idea.

And, she also allows the personal point of view to come across quite strongly, within the context of her story, to put tears in the eyes of the readers:

Masako Nakazato, 82, one of a famous group of schoolgirl nurses during the battle, echoed the widespread anti-war sentiment on Okinawa. She said: “I don’t think badly of Americans but all military attracts war to itself, and war is disaster.”

(Photos from Sillysoft, a computer game company, and A World To Win, Zengakuren students and workers protesting on May 14, 2006, in Okinawa)

Updates About The Secret Nuclear Pacts

The Daily Yomiuri adds to the debate about nuclear weapons and the possibility that the US brought them into Japan:

The Yomiuri: 3 secret pacts confirmed / 1960 accord allowed U.S. to bring nuclear arms into Japan

I am more impressed by this AP article, Japan confirms Cold War-era 'secret' pacts with US. It brings us the perspective of the non-governmental peace organizations, talking to Sunao Tsuboi from the Japan Confederation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers Organizations, or Nihon Hidankyo:
Sunao Tsuboi, who survived the Hiroshima bombing on Aug. 6, 1945, was outraged by the findings, saying they reflected the government's past hypocrisy.

"While stressing that Japan is the only country attacked by atomic attacks, the government was secretly allowing nuclear weapons inside the country," said Tsuboi, a co-chair of a nationwide organization for atomic bomb survivors.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue called the government's past behavior deceitful.

Even after American officials acknowledged the pacts in the 1990s, leaders of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party persistently denied them, up to and including Taro Aso, the last LDP prime minister before Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan took over.

The six-member panel of academics examined more than 4,000 files and documents surrounding four pacts, and confirmed three existed.

Most controversial was the finding that past governments had given tacit permission to U.S. nuclear-armed warships to make calls at Japanese ports - a violation of Japan's so-called three non-nuclear principles not to make, own or allow the entry of atomic weapons.

The panel, led by University of Tokyo professor Shinichi Kitaoka, said that while documents showed that Washington and Tokyo appeared to have differing interpretations about allowing nuclear-armed ships into Japanese waters, it was likely that Tokyo and Washington shared an unspoken understanding permitting them to make port calls in Japan without consent.

The panel also acknowledged that Tokyo and Washington had secret agreements allowing the U.S. to use military bases in Japan without prior consent in case of emergency on the Korean peninsula during the Korean War.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told a news conference the findings shouldn't have any impact on Tokyo's ties with Washington, which are currently strained over a dispute about the relocation of a Marine base on the southern island of Okinawa.

Under a security alliance with the U.S., some 47,000 American troops are stationed in Japan, and the U.S. protects the country under its nuclear umbrella.

The investigation, Okada said, was meant to restore public trust in Japan's diplomacy and government policies.

"It's regrettable that such facts were not disclosed to the public for such a long time, even after the end of the Cold War era," he said.

Political experts said the move could spur further steps to increase openness in Japan's government and bureaucracy.

"It's a good thing for Japanese democracy, given that the previous governments have been telling blunt lies to the public," said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University in Tokyo. "This is a push toward more openness."

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

No Nukes In Japan

Japan has no nuclear weapons, but with the many American military bases, there has for a long time been a question about US nuclear weapons brought into such bases, especially in Okinawa. Today, Foreign Minister Okada revealed the result of an investigation into this issue. He said, in effect - yes, when US president Nixon met Japan's prime minister Sato in 1969, they signed a secret agreement that if there was a war or a crisis, Japan would not object to the US bringing its nuclear weapons into Japan, for use elsewhere.

That's the long and the short - I do wonder how the US side will respond to the new evidence.

Prime Minister Sato was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974 for Japan's three non-nuclear principles. In his Nobel Lecture, he said:

I established three non-nuclear principles as a policy of the Japanese Government after deep reflection on the course Japan should take as a country which will not possess nuclear arms. This policy states that we shall not manufacture nuclear weapons, that we shall not possess them and that we shall not bring them into our country. This was later reaffirmed by a resolution of our Diet. I have no doubt that this policy will be pursued by all future governments.

He also mentions quite a lot about nuclear energy in his speech, and "its massive, and potentially destructive, power," while also expressing views on the peaceful uses of this energy.

The questions about the "secret agreement" between Nixon and Sato were first revealed by a Mainichi Shimbun journalist in 1972. Nishiyama Takichi was arrested and convicted over his coverage of the bilateral secret pact on Okinawa reversion and over the years, more information and new evidence were revealed. Nishiyama's scoop and his struggle was compared to the Pentagon Papers scandal in the US around the same time, and Mainichi ran defenses of "the people's right to know" and for the freedom of Japan's press. Sato's government was criticized for an "obsession" with secrecy.

There is no English page about Nishiyama on Wikipedia, perhaps someone will do the honours? Here is the Japanese page. I'm also wondering what happened to the secretary at the Foreign Ministry who leaked the papers to him, and who was also convicted. In 2007, Nishiyama broke his silence on the matter and spoke at the Foreign Correspondent's Club in Tokyo.

Takichi Nishiyama, "Okinawa Secret Pact Scandal"

The official report is now available at Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese):


Clearly, Prime Minister Hatoyama and his government did the right thing to push this issue to completion. Yes, things change. The people have a right to know. But one thing has not changed - Japan's strong resolve to not possess, manufacture or bring these awful weapons into the country.

Okada's comment was reported widely as top news today in Japan:

Okada said that nuclear weapons will never enter Japan again, because the United States has made clear that its warships and warplanes have not carried nuclear arms since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

He reiterated the government's commitment to the country's non-nuclear policies, and said it would consider a stopover by a nuclear-armed US warship to be in violation of the policies.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Photos From The Anti-War Demonstration In Tokyo On January 30, 2010

Photos from Heiwa Forum

The next opportunity to participate in a big peace event is on March 20 at Shiba Park in Tokyo, with World Peace Now. The theme is "War and bases are not needed" and the focus is domestic, on getting rid of the Okinawa military bases, and against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in support of Palestine.

(Click on the photos for a larger view)

YouTube video here (in Japanese)

Please Sign The Petition To Save The Dugong In Okinawa

The first petition is online here, it is easy to sign and just takes a minute. Do take a look! Save the Dugong Campaign Center notes:
Japan will host and the Japanese government will chair the 10th meeting of the conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10) in 2010. We believe the Japanese government has the responsibilities to lead the international conservation efforts. We thus request the Japanese government:

1. To implement the IUCN Resolution (Res. 4.022).

2. To designate immediately the Okinawa Dugong as a National Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a Swiss-based international environmental protection NGO declared 2010 as the "International Year of the Dugong" in its support to protect the dugong during the 2010 UN Year of Biodiversity. IUCN rates the Dugong as Vulnerable on its Red List, which is a better status than Endangered but worse than Near Threatened. They have campaigned for this friendly sea creature since 2002:
The dugong, the only herbivorous mammal that is strictly marine, is long-lived and reproduces slowly. It relies on seagrasses of coastal habitats which are often under pressure from human activities. Dugongs are also impacted by pollution, disease, hunting, and incidental drowning in fishing nets. The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Source: IUCN Species News (2002)

The IUCN resolution requests the Japanese government to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (including "non-construction option") for the construction of the US Marine Corps facility at Henoko, Okinawa, Japan, and to establish and declare an action plan to avoid or minimize the adverse effects on the Okinawa dugong.

Ten Thousand Things writes:
Some DC pundits are calling US miltary escalation plans for Okinawa and Guam today's real life Avatar. 100 bases in Japan & Okinawa (20% already militarized). 1/3 of Guam already militarized. And what remains of these small islands' coral reefs, irreplaceable biodiversity, indigenous cultures facing more threats from US military expansion.
From the Center for Biological Diversity -- Military Plans Threaten People, Beauty of Guam & Okinawa -- Take Action:
Last month, the Center for Biological Diversity submitted comments to the Navy on plans to more than double the military presence on the island of Guam -- threatening imperiled species and islanders' well-being at the same time.

The military buildup would send 24,000 military personnel to the island by 2020, increasing Guam's population by 14% in the long term and by 45% during the peak of the buildup. Plans include a proposal for dredging Guam's most popular diving destination that would devastate coral reefs, the largest mangrove forest under U.S. jurisdiction, and imperiled species like the scalloped hammerhead shark.

Making matters worse, this buildup is in addition to the U.S. military's plan to construct a massive military air base off Okinawa , Japan -- ruining some of the last habitat for the highly endangered Okinawa dugong, cousin to the manatee. The Center has been fighting to protect the dugong since 2003.

Said Center Conservation Director Peter Galvin:

"The military's so-called "transformation in the Pacific" will result in massive environmental destruction in Guam and increase environmental destruction in Okinawa. Destroying the environmental and social well-being of an area, even in the name of 'national or global security,' is itself like actively waging warfare against nature and human communities...

The U.S. Military Transformation in the Pacific Program will not solve our community-relations problem in Okinawa and will just exacerbate existing ones in Guam--all the while destroying critical environmental areas in both places."

Take action now to "Save Guam Wildlife" and "Defend The Dugong"

Friday, March 05, 2010

2010 Tokyo Global Environmental Film Festival

The Tokyo Global Environmental Film Festival is Asia's first international environmental film festival. It was launched in 1992, the year of the Earth Summit. Its objective is to create a forum for the public to think about the global environment through moving images. EARTH VISION is working to strengthen cooperation with international film festivals inside Japan.

They have strong international ties: European environmental film festivals participating in ECOMOVE International which EARTH VISION is also a founding member; the Green Film Festival in Seoul and the Green Film Festival in Taiwan, which we have supported since their launch. EARTH VISION would like to present excellent environmental films to the world by exchanging information and enhancing collaboration with our partners.

English website

Japanese website with details about the 18th Film Festival March 5-7, 2010. They clearly need volunteers who can help them make this a truly international festival, with more details in English and other languages, especially for the Asian countries.

3月5日 (Fri) 14:00~20:10
3月6日 (Sat) 10:00~19:00
3月7日 (Sun) 10:00~19:00

Yotsuya Kumin Hall 9Fl (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
Metro station: Shinjuku Gyoenmae
四谷区民ホール(東京都新宿区内藤町87番地 四谷区民センター9階)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Satoyama In Nagoya? Not So Fast, Construction Companies

Nagoya is in the global spotlight as the city hosts the United Nations conference on biological diversity, starting on October 18, 2010 - in my opinion a much more important topic than how Toyota, with major factories in the city, will deal with its current crisis. We cannot afford to ignore biological diversity and genetic resources, and the ecosystems involving nature, plants, animals and humans are too complex to rebuild and once they are lost, what will we do about it?

Local mayor Kawamura Takashi is fighting an uphill battle for this precious piece of forest, and has staked his reputation on the battle.

Emergency Statement by activists who are trying to save Hirabara (English).

Excellent reporting by Eric Johnston at The Japan Times about the Hirabari Satoyama east of the city of Nagoya:
Despite a campaign that netted over 30,000 signatures, and the support of Academy Award-winning "anime" animation director Hayao Miyazaki to save the Hirabari tract from the bulldozers, the city and the owners failed to agree on a price that would have turned the land over to Nagoya for preservation.

Mayor Takashi Kawamura, who had campaigned to preserve the land as a symbol of the U.N. COP10 biodiversity conference this October and withheld permission while negotiations continued, reversed his stance in late December for reasons that are still unclear, and for which activists say they may pursue in court later this year.

But even after he granted approval, Kawamura warned that developing the site would embarrass Nagoya and Japan in the eyes of the world at COP10, which is expected draw 7,000 U.N. delegates, nongovernmental organizations and international media.

The embarrassment will be particularly acute because Tokyo is pushing the traditional woodland-rural landscape management — the Satoyama Initiative — as a model for global preservation of biological diversity.

"Can we allow Nagoya to be shamed by Hirabari's development? The Environment Ministry has stated that, at COP10, Japan will present the Satoyama Initiative. Yet we in Nagoya are going to exploit Hirabari," Kawamura told reporters in mid-February.

"There is nothing more shameful than this, not only for Nagoya but also for Japan," he said.
Battle lines drawn across Nagoya land: Loss of 'satoyama' risks loss of face ahead of biodiversity summit

Amazing gallery of photos from Hirabari:

Wetlands, rice fields, farms
Birds in Hirabari