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Showing posts from March, 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…

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

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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 rol…

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

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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"

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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 …

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

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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 H…

Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project

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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…

Shunbun - Spring Equinox Holiday

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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…

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

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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 …

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."

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

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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 visit…

World Peace Now Demonstration In Tokyo March 20, 2010

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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
http://www.annie.ne.jp/~kenpou/

アジア太平洋平和フォーラム(APPF) 03(3252)7651
Asia Pacific Peace Forum (APPF)
http://www5f.biglobe.ne.jp/~red1/APPF…

"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 r…

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 …

Farming And Blogging

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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 supp…

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 a…

NHK Korekara Friday About Okinawa

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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 …

Foreign Media's Sudden Interest In Okinawa, Japan

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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 …

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 Amer…

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…

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

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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 c…

2010 Tokyo Global Environmental Film Festival

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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 E…

Satoyama In Nagoya? Not So Fast, Construction Companies

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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…