Thursday, May 27, 2010

Peaceful Protests In Okinawa

I am deeply impressed by the high level of consciousness and acute awareness of people in Okinawa right now, who are committed to peaceful protests against American military bases in their prefecture. Remember that over 90,000 people showed up on April 25, 2010 - they have hit the page 1 news around the world with this solemn and dignified tactic, and they are winning the hearts and minds of millions anyway.

Do watch this video from the Live Earth concert in 2007. 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.

These good people deserve better!

Shisaku, a blogger I like, has the latest on how Prime Minister Hatoyama is now struggling to get his cabinet to agree on a statement on Friday - and how he has failed. Mainichi/Kyodo reports today Thursday May 27, that the Social Democratic Party...

...will not sign a Cabinet resolution as long as Hatoyama presupposes that the relocation site will be in the coastal area near the Marines' Camp Schwab, party members said.

In other words, there is no united Japanese government support for the so called U.S.-Japan "road map" and the relocation of Futenma to Henoko just will not happen without a lot of struggle. What kind of awful battle will this lead to?

My hope is that it stays peaceful.

DMZ Hawai'i reminds us of the way America has approached the Pacific Ocean since the late 1890s, as the "American Lake":

From Japan to Guam to Hawai’i, Activists Resist Expansion of US Military Presence in the Pacific

But there are a number of cases where Japanese people have rallied very hard and violently against American military bases. These local struggles are often disregarded - media here does not like to remind people of such events. Don't expect U.S. media to have such a long memory, either. You can read more about the Okinawa rape cases in 1995 here (pdf). 107 of 169 U.S. defendants in rape cases were found guilty of sex-related crime between 1988 and 1995?

The U.S. Navy Base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture south of Tokyo was attacked by two rocket bombs in September, 2008. I can't find any reports on who may have been behind this, so we have to assume that the violent protesters are still at large. In July 2008, over 13,000 Japanese had protested in Yokusuka against the basing of George Washington in Japan, saying that the onboard fire showed that the nuclear-powered carrier was unsafe.

Hikarigaoka Park (pdf) in Nerima, Tokyo was called Grant Heights, a U.S. base returned to Japan in 1973. It had been the Narimasu Airfield during WW2.

Time Magazine had this to say in 1952:
Reluctantly, but with a brave show of willingness, U.S. occupiers gave back, chunk by chunk, pieces of the privilege, pomp and plenty which, through history, have been always the rewards and often the corrupters of conquerors. They are not relinquishing it all, by any means. Under the separate Japanese-American agreement allowing U.S. forces to remain in Japan, they will enjoy—but pay for—many extraterritorial privileges.

Ten-Cent Cigarettes. In well-built suburbs with names like Washington Heights, and Grant Heights, U.S. occupiers and their families will live only slightly less luxuriously than they do now. Top brass will no longer have two to six free Japanese servants, but good house help will be available cheap ($20 to $30 a month). They will still get duty-free whisky, 10^ American cigarettes, 25¢U.S. movies, cheap food from Army commissaries and free or subsidized medical service.

Contrast such prose with the reality of the 1950s:

Naka Sakai was brutally shot and killed by an American soldier, William S. Girard on January 30, 1957 at the US Army Shooting Range, Soumagahara, Gunma prefecture. Massive local protests led to the base becoming a Japan Ground Self Defence Forces base after complete U.S. withdrawal in 1958.

There were huge protest at the Tachikawa U.S. Air Force Base west of Tokyo when the runway was lengthened in order to accommodate C5As. The local farming community got involved, and Tachikawa was returned in the 70's and the former base is now a public park. The worst air crash of its kind at the time occured near Tachikawa on June 18, 1953 with a C-124 Globemaster... More memories here.

Sasebo is another U.S. military base that has seen many protests over the years. Most recently, activists gathered as the nuclear carrier Ronald Reagan, the USS John C. Stennis, the USS La Jolla and other U.S. warships have visited the harbour. In 1969, about 100,000 protested the visit of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. That was during the Vietnam War, but while that may seem like a long time ago, troubles continue. Simply put, we, who live in Japan and Asia, do NOT want more U.S. helicopters, like the awful Osprey that are going to be based at Henoko. Just forget about it. Remember the Sasebo rape trial in 2004?

On a more positive note, here is a list of a large number of U.S. military facilities returned to Japan. (Update: Not all are actually "returned" - many are still used or shared by U.S. military)

More from wikipedia:

While some Japanese citizens appreciate the mutual security treaty with the U.S. and the presence of the USFJ, a large portion of the population demand a reduction in the amount of U.S. military bases in the region. Many of the bases, such as Yokota Air Base, Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Kadena Air Base, are located in the vicinity of residential districts, and local citizens have complained about excessive aircraft noise as well as various crimes perpetrated against local civilians.

From 1952 to 2004, there have been approximately 200,000 accidents and crimes involving U.S. soldiers, in which 1,076 Japanese civilians have died. Over 90% of the incidents were vehicle or traffic related.

According to the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement U.S. personnel have partial extraterritorial right, so in most cases suspects were not arrested by Japanese authorities. In 1995, the abduction and rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan schoolgirl by two U.S. Marines and one U.S. sailor led to demands for the removal of all U.S. military bases in Japan. Other controversial incidents include helicopter crashes, the Girard incident, the Michael Brown Okinawa assault incident, the death of Kinjo family and the death of Yuki Uema.

In February 2008, a 38-year-old U.S. Marine based on Okinawa was arrested in connection with the reported rape of a 14-year-old Japanese girl. This triggered waves of protest against American military presence in Okinawa and led to tight restrictions on off-base activities.

U.S. Forces Japan designated 22 February [2008] as a Day of Reflection for all U.S. military facilities in Japan, setting up a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Task Force in an effort to prevent similar incidents.

(The source for the data on U.S. military crime is Ryuji Tsuchiya, high officer in the Defense Facilities Administration Agency, testifying before the Foreign Affairs Committee of Japan's Parliament on 2 July 2005)

If you haven't read the book or seen the film from 2004, how about checking out Ryu Murakami's 69, about the Sasebo protests back in 1969, and what it may have been like to be a high school student back then in northern Kyushu!



監督・李相日Director: Sang-il Lee
妻夫木聡 Satoshi Tsumabuki
安藤政信 Masanobu Ando
金井勇太 Yuta Kanai
太田莉菜 Rina Ohta

In the words of his youthful narrator: "Victory went to whoever had the most fun."

Photo of Buddhist monks from globaltimes- please also remember the protest by rev. Taira Natsume in 2004:

For six decades, the inhabitants of Okinawa have lived alongside thousands of US troops. Now new plans for base expansion have provoked fierce resistance.

Taira Natsume is a mild-mannered, bespectacled parson and pacifist in the Martin Luther King mode, but he warns he will not be pushed too far. "If the authorities come back with more people we'll be waiting for them," he says. "I'm not a violent man but they're not going to get through." It is a baking hot day in Henoko, a tiny fishing village in Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture. For 110 days, the reverend and 8,000 supporters have been coming to this sun-bleached beach to fight off government engineers trying to begin drilling surveys for a proposed offshore helicopter base for the US military.

The Heart Sutra (English Subtitles)

From Kai Keane:



(Thanks Jean at Ten Thousand Things)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Heart Sutra


If you live in Japan, and have family here, or other deep connections, you must have heard the Heart Sutra. It is chanted at all Buddhist temples from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south. The chanting is done in a flat voice, very rythmical, often with a drum or a bell marking the beat.

There are a lot of good versions on Youtube. Some also add karaoke-style videos!

Pop-versions from Singapore, by Imee Ooi 黃慧音, who is a Malaysian singer and music producer, according to Wikipedia:

Prajna-paramita Hrdaya Sutram (The Heart Sutra) 般若心経


Here is a good Alphabet version too. Try to read it along with the video.

I don't mind, but the real chanting is not about adding things, it is about keeping it real simple. Here is a version that stays very true to the way you will hear it at some local temple, anywhere in Japan.

般若心経
(はんにゃしんぎょう) Hannya Shingyou is a profound prayer not well known in the Western world, why is that?

般若心経 The Heart Sutra




In fact, this is a spiritual practice that strongly connects ancient India, China, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet... and of course today's modern Japan.

Let us remember that these peoples have a history of amazing unity. For those of us from other parts of the world (such as Sweden) we can only bow deeply to the traditions.

The Heart Sutra in particular is a reminder of how ordinary people today are exposed to a spiritual philosophy that is ageless, or at least thousands of years old. Who knows where this started? Is there even such a thing as a "beginning" for the Heart Sutra?

Writing the sutra with ink and brush is called 写経 shakyou. It is considered a spiritual practice at many temples. I was in Kyoto earlier this month, at Saiho-ji, the famous Kokedera (moss temple). You can only visit it if you apply in advance and participate in the sutra-writing ceremony.

Usually, there is a short lecture before you start, if the priest or monks are inspired. You get a paper that is showing the outline of the kanji, and you "copy" the heart sutra as well as you can. After an hour or so, you "offer" your paper, with your writing, to the altar.

More about shakyo here at the art of calligraphy:
Sutra copying is a Buddhist practice and a
special way of doing Japanese calligraphy.
It is the art of copying a Buddhist sutra
with awareness and it brings together the
ideals of genuine shodo. Shakyo harmonizes
body and mind and through their integration
creativity flows freely.

Sutra copying is a very inspiring brush
meditation, which you can make yourself
easily familiar with. In silence and with
awareness you write down the characters
with the brush, one after the other. Slowly
the words of the Blessed One flow through
you and artistic formed kanji appear on the
blank sheet. Shakyo gives you a feeling of
bliss, your mind and body are calm and you
become one with the Buddha. The whole
event inspires respect for the Dharma and
you feel a growing gratitude for the
precious teachings.

The Way We Were


Ban the bomb, references to Nagasaki, Japan - I just love this movie. Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand, so in love. Taking a stand against war, against Franco, and then, the push against nuclear weapons.

Why don't they make films like this anymore?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mouth And Foot Disease In Miyazaki, Japan

How will this slaughter of 49 stud bulls in Miyazaki Prefecture due to the spread of foot-and-mouth disease affect the local beef industry? Local authorities want to keep the animals alive.

The decision was confirmed during a meeting between Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano and senior vice farm minister Masahiko Yamada at the prime minister's office. The slaughter of the 49 will leave only five seed bulls in the prefecture, which have been separated from other cattle.

In the International Year of Biodiversity, no less.

"It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity
."

For the sake of biological diversity, please save the 49 bulls.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Okinawa: Joint Statement by Mayors to Oppose the Construction of Futenma Replacement Facility within Okinawa

I just have to add this to Kurashi, I think their strong concerns need to be better understood. By the way, there are demonstrations all over Japan: peaceful groups of people who will not accept the usotsuki うそつき (lying) of the elected politicians. Time for honesty and frank dialogue. How refreshing. Non-violent protests, from sincere people with no wish whatsoever to continue host American military bases. Other Japanese bloggers are of course truly angry.

Joint Statement by Ginowan and Nago City Mayors to Oppose the Construction of
Futenma Replacement Facility within Okinawa

(Issued on the day of the Futenma Human Chain Campaign, May 16, 2010)
More over at Peace Philosophy Centre



















Over fourteen years have passed since the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) agreement was concluded by the United States and Japanese Governments. In this agreement, both governments promised to return the entire land of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, located in the middle of heavily populated Ginowan City, within five to seven years. However, both governments have failed to implement the agreement, and as a result, Futenma Air Station still remains within the city as it was fourteen years ago.

The initial goal of the SACO agreement was to ensure safety of the people of Ginowan by removing the dangerous Futenma Air Station, which produces enormous aircraft noises and poses constant risk of an aircraft crash. This also includes reducing the burden on the people of Okinawa caused by disproportionately concentrated US military bases on this small island.

In the SACO final report in December 1996, however, both US and Japanese Governments set terms that the land of the air station should be returned after a removable Futenma replacement facility, with a 1500-meter runway, was constructed within Henoko, Nago City on the east coast of the main island, Okinawa. This decision greatly disappointed the people of Okinawa.

Although Nago citizens expressed their opposition against the relocation of the air base in a referendum in December 1997, the former Liberal Democratic Party(LDP)-led administration divided citizens by using a carrot-and-stick policy, which consisted of offering government subsidies in return for cooperation with the wills of US and Japanese Governments. As a result of the LDP policy, an unhealthy and tense situation developed in the local community.

“Ojii and Obaa” (grandfathers and grandmothers) in Henoko, backed by various supporters, have continued a sit-in campaign, against the construction of the Futenma replacement facility, for their children and grandchildren for fourteen years. This prolonged sit-in has effectively blocked progress on the project.

In the Nago mayoral election this past January, a candidate, who pledged not to allow the construction of a new US military base either on land or sea, was voted into office. Nago citizens, in this election, showed their strong will to fight against the relocation of Futenma Air Station within Okinawa. A majority of Okinawan people were encouraged and proud of the election result, which paved the way for a unanimous decision by the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly to hold the “4. 25 Kenmin-Taikai” (April 25th prefecture-wide rally) in order for the people of Okinawa to express their unwavering clear opposition against the Futenma base relocation within Okinawa.

We have no other recourse than to retrieve the peaceful island life without military bases for our citizens, as well as for the future of Okinawa. To this end, we have decisively concluded that there shouldn’t be any new US military bases constructed within the prefecture. Okinawa is a small island consisting of only 0.6 percent of the total land mass of Japan. Further new construction of military bases shows complete disregard for the human rights of this small community, who have unwillingly hosted the US military for over 60 years. There is also total disregard for the environmental impact which would fatally disrupt the habitat of the endangered Okinawa Dugong in the beautiful ocean surrounding Okinawa.

The danger-plagued FAS should be removed without any delay from Ginowan City. Both governments must prioritize safety and security of the people of Okinawa by abandoning the project and not continuing to promote Okinawa as being essential to regional security and a deterrence to regional threats. We will step up for calling for the removal of dangerous military air operations from Futenma Air Station and immediate closure and return of the base.

Now, we announce our strong resolution to oppose any plan on the base relocation within Okinawa, including the Hatoyama administration plan currently nearing completion. The Japanese Government should review and see the real picture of the plan on the relocation of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, and strongly negotiate with the US Government regarding the immediate and unconditional closure of Futenma Air Station.

The Ginowan and Nago City Governments used today’s event to continue working hand-in-hand and cooperate in voicing opposition to the base relocation within Okinawa.

Yoichi IHA
Mayor, Ginowan City
Okinawa, Japan

Susumu INAMINE
Mayor, Nago City
Okinawa, Japan

(Photos from bloggers based in Okinawa, including 沖縄ちゃんぷる, 革命的共産主義者同盟全国委員会, as well as Press TV, and NHK.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Okinawa Protests: Who Are These People?


Thousands of people, protesting peacefully in Okinawa. Who are they?

These are not violent men and women, yet they are extremely powerful in Japan. Yukio Hatoyama seems to be trying to reach out to them. Welcome to the prefecture of Okinawa.

The good people here are so fed up with the military bases. Be they American or whatever, 65 years after the end of WW2, this amazing popular movement today reminds me of what happened in Poland and Hungary and then in Berlin, that amazing fall, November 1989. More than 20 years later, the Cold War may be about to end in the Pacific.

Global Post: On Location Battleground Okinawa

Seems to me that the women are taking the lead this time. Do watch the video on Global Post by Sonia Narang. 7 minutes, well, what can I say. Turn off your TV and meet some amazing people, thanks to the Internet.

Ten Thousand Things has more.

Update: PBS broadcast "Battleground Okinawa" on "News Hour," its daily news program, and posted the video with a transcript at its website.

Environmental Assessment 101: Why It Matters For Okinawa

Major construction projects have a huge environmental impact - for the people protesting at the beach of Henoko near Camp Schwab in Okinawa this is the crucial point. The building of a new v-shaped airport in a sensitive marine environment, as proposed by the former governments of the U.S. and Japan, was never accepted locally. Thus the current troubles and controversies.

AP notes:

During working-level talks on May 12 [2010] in Washington, Japanese officials showed the U.S. side a draft government plan to build a replacement facility on pilings in the waters southwest of Cape Henoko. That plan would require a new environmental assessment under the ordinance of Okinawa Prefecture, but the current assessment can still be used if some conditions are met, including a limited modification of less than 10 hectares to the area covered by the original plan.

The key term here is environmental assessment - something that was never properly done under the old agreement.

Imagine if a new airport was proposed in a crowded city or near other sensitive areas, such as rivers, lakes or mountains. Just because Henoko, Okinawa is far away from the public eye, does it mean a massive construction should take place without any kind of timely, participatory and scientifically credible environmental assessment that is legitimate and relevant to decision-making processes, based on the best available scientific expertise, knowledge, data and indicators? Public involvement is also a major part of the environmental assessment process.

With some 90,000 people protesting against military bases in Okinawa recently, as well as demonstrations and events in Tokyo and Kyoto to support the removal of military bases, can there be any doubt that ordinary people in Japan are increasingly concerned about these issues?




Read more about environmental impact assessments and the decision at the UN COP6 meeting of the Convention of Biological Diversity regarding guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact assessment legislation or processes:

Environmental impact assessments and biodiversity

...for the purpose of these guidelines, the following definitions are used for environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment:

1. Environmental impact assessment is a process of evaluating the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development, taking into account inter-related socio-economic, cultural and human-health impacts, both beneficial and adverse. Although legislation and practice vary around the world, the fundamental components of an environmental impact assessment would necessarily involve the following stages:

1. Screening to determine which projects or developments require a full or partial impact assessment study;
2. Scoping to identify which potential impacts are relevant to assess, and to derive terms of reference for the impact assessment;
3. Impact assessment to predict and identify the likely environmental impacts of a proposed project or development taking into account inter-related consequences of the project proposal, and the socio-economic impacts;
4. Identifying mitigation measures (including not proceeding with the development, finding alternative designs or sites which avoid the impacts, incorporating safeguards in the design of the project, or providing compensation for adverse impacts);
5. Deciding whether to approve the project or not; and
6. Monitoring and evaluating the development activities, predicted impacts and proposed mitigation measures to ensure that unpredicted impacts or failed mitigation measures are identified and addressed in a timely fashion;

2. Strategic environmental assessment is the formalized, systematic and comprehensive process of identifying and evaluating the environmental consequences of proposed policies, plans or programmes to ensure that they are fully included and appropriately addressed at the earliest possible stage of decision-making on a par with economic and social considerations. Strategic environmental assessment, by its nature, covers a wider range of activities or a wider area and often over a longer time span than the environmental impact assessment of projects. Strategic environmental assessment might be applied to an entire sector (such as a national policy on energy for example) or to a geographical area, (for example, in the context of a regional development scheme).

The basic steps of strategic environmental assessment are similar to the steps in environmental impact assessment procedures, but the scope differs. Strategic environmental assessment does not replace or reduce the need for project-level environmental impact assessment, but it can help to streamline the incorporation of environmental concerns (including biodiversity) into the decision-making process, often making project-level environmental impact assessment a more effective process.

(...)

Without a proper environmental assessment, there is no way to properly determine how severe the impact will be from building a massive new v-shaped airport at Henoko, Okinawa. This is clearly not acceptable. Thus, environmental groups in both the U.S. and Japan have been making every effort this spring to urge president Obama and prime minister Hatoyama to cancel this project immediately:

April 23, 2010

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama
Public Relations Division, Cabinet Office
1-6-1 Nagata-cho Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo, Japan 100-8968

Dear President Obama and Prime Minister Hatoyama:

If the proposal to relocate the military operations of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to Camp Schwab and Henoko Bay moves forward as planned, it will destroy one of the last healthy coral-reef ecosystems in Okinawa and push several nationally and internationally protected species to the brink of extinction.

Under a 2006 bilateral agreement, the U.S. and Japanese governments agreed to relocate the contentious Futenma Air Station to Camp Schwab and Henoko Bay. However, this shortsighted plan did not take into consideration that the relocation would destroy a valued ecosystem, including nearly 400 types of coral and habitat for more than 1,000 species of fish. It would also hurt imperiled sea turtles and the iconic Okinawa dugong.

The critically endangered and culturally treasured dugong, a manatee-like creature, relies on the pristine conditions of Henoko Bay. Japan’s Mammalogical Society placed the dugong on its Red List of Mammals, estimating the population in Okinawa to be critically endangered. The Okinawa dugong has considerable cultural significance for the Okinawan people, and only about 50 dugongs are thought to remain in these waters. The base construction would imperil the last remaining critical habitat for the Okinawa dugong, destroying feeding trails and seagrass beds essential for dugong survival.

Not only is the Okinawa dugong locally revered, it has been internationally recognized as a species of special concern and status. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has designated the 2010 Year for Biodiversity as the year of the dugong. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has urged the Japanese government to establish a dugong protected area, as well as an action plan that would avoid or minimize adverse effects caused by the U.S. Marine Corps facility. The World Conservation Union’s dugong specialists have expressed similar concerns and have placed the dugong on their Red List of threatened species. The Okinawa dugong is also a federally listed endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and the U.S. government’s Marine Mammal Commission fears the project would pose a serious threat to this mammal’s survival.

The base plan would devastate dugong habitat in Henoko Bay and nearby Oura Bay. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and the Democratic Party of Japan have expressed the desire to renegotiate the 2006 agreement and cancel plans to relocate the base. Local residents have voted against the airbase project in a referendum, and now Okinawa’s Prefectural Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution asking Prime Minister Hatoyama to move the Marine Corps air operations off the island. The prime minister has announced he will wait until the end of May 2010 to decide whether to proceed with the relocation as planned in the 2006 U.S.-Japan realignment agreement, or whether he will attempt to negotiate with the United States for an alternate site.

We urge you to renegotiate the terms of the 2006 realignment agreement and abandon this destructive project in order to ensure that the Okinawa dugong has a fighting chance at celebrating its importance in 2010 and years to come. By canceling the plan to construct an airbase near Henoko Bay, you will protect a globally important ocean ecosystem and some of the best remaining habitat for the Okinawa dugong. You have the ability and duty to alter the course of this devastating plan, but time is of the essence. We urge you to cancel this project immediately.

(List of signatures here)

As noted by Gavan McCormack, this is hotly debated in Japan:

Sakurai Kunitoshi, president of Okinawa University and a specialist on environmental assessment law, argues that since 2005 Japanese governments have been in breach of the Environmental Assessment Law in the way they have pursued the Futenma Replacement Facility. Therefore, the process must be reopened. He concludes that any serious and internationally credible EIA would conclude that the FRF cannot be built at Henoko. If Sakurai is right, the Japanese government’s EIA is fatally flawed and an internationally credible, independent scientific survey has to be launched.


Do read Sakurai Kunitoshi's remarkable article, translated at Japan Focus:

The Guam Treaty as a Modern “Disposal” of the Ryukyus

The coastal areas of Henoko are classified as rank 1 (areas to be strictly protected) under the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s Guidelines for Environmental Protection. They require special care. That is to say, this area has extraordinary importance for the environment. For example, the massive colony of blue coral found a few years ago in the northern Oura Bay (near Henoko) turned out to be equivalent in size and rarity to its famed counterpart in Shiraho, Ishigaki-Island. No matter how careful they may be about the protection of the environment, as long as they continue to build bases, these environments will continue to perish. Despite references in the Henoko EIA to “concern for the environment”, since there is no option to stop the project it amounts in fact to a “death sentence”.


Map of U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa from ANU Asia Pacific Research, Background Briefing by Yui Akiko, Dec. 2004

Okinawa in 2004: Peace and Environment Movements Coming Together on the Henoko U.S. Base Issue

In the early morning of April 19 [2004] a team from the Naha Defense Facilities Administration Bureau (NDFAB), the Okinawa branch of the National Defense Facilities Administration Agency, set out with the intention of driving 63 stakes into the sea bottom off Henoko, as the first step in their plan to bore for soil samples under where the new base is to be built. The survey was originally scheduled for 2003 but was carried over into this year. On the Henoko shore the NDFAB officials were stopped by a group of residents and their supporters, who had learned the officials were coming and had been waiting for them since 5 a.m. The sit-in that began that morning has continued without letup to the time of this writing. Initiated by Henoko's “Society for the Protection of Life,” Nago's “Association to Oppose the Heliport Base,” and the “Okinawa Citizens Network for Peace” which comprises 32 peace, human rights, environment, and women's groups, this action spread rapidly, involving more and more citizens. These groups called upon broader public to come together to join the daily on-the-spot monitoring and surveillance on the Henoko shore. For this purpose, a newer action group called the “Okinawa Dugong Environmental Assessment Monitors Group” (A hard-to-translate name that seeks to answer the question, “Who will assess the assessors?” Monitors Group for short) was organized as the core of NDFAB watch in Henoko. This activity has been joined by quite a few prefectural and municipal assembly representatives and members of political parties who staged sit-ins in the Henoko beach.

The NDFAB has been adamant on the base building project. On April 28 it served notice to the public about the upcoming environmental assessment and announced that the assessment manual was open to anyone who wanted to come into the office to read it. The assessment referred to here is separate from the boring survey. It is the initial required procedure for the construction of the offshore base itself.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Local government officials, democracy & peace activists form human chain around US Futenma Air Station in demonstration for its removal from Okinawa

(Photo: NHK)
Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972, but the Okinawan people's hopes for peace were not fulfilled, and Okinawa was used to strengthen US military power. So, this monument is not an expression of joy nor victory.

-- Inscription on a monument at Kunigami Village, Cape Hedo, in northern Okinawa
It's been sixty-five years since the U.S. military first started building their 30 military bases and facilities that now cover 20 percent of the island. It's been thirty-eight years since the U.S. "reverted" Okinawa to Japan, raising the expectation American bases would be closed.

How long will Okinawans wait for freedom, democracy, and peaceful self-determination?

From NHK, "Protesters calling for the closure of the US Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture formed a human chain around the base on Sunday."
The movement, led by local municipalities and peace organizations, coincided with the 38th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan from US occupation.

Despite the rainy weather, the protesters lined the 13-kilometer road surrounding the base, and raised their hands as they called for its closure and voiced their opposition to its relocation within the prefecture.

The organizer says about 17,000 local residents joined the protest along with labor union members from Okinawa and other parts of the country.

It was the first time in 5 years that a human chain had surrounded the base.

A 90-year-old woman who took part said she has lived in the area for 60 years and hopes the base will be gone soon...

The participants in Sunday's protest stressed their opposition to any move that would involve relocation within Okinawa.

(Photo: PressTV)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Six More Months—Japanese government postpones base decision until November

Reuters reports that the Japanese government has postponed its decision on new U.S. base construction until November.
Japan will postpone a deadline for resolving a row over relocating a US base by up to half a year to November, abandoning Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's original end-May target, the daily Sankei Shimbun said on Saturday.

The decision will be conveyed to the US side as early as next week, the paper said, while Kyodo news agency reported diplomatic sources saying US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would visit Japan on May 21 to discuss the base issue...

Hatoyama's Democratic Party needs a decisive win in the upper house vote expected in July to enact laws smoothly as Japan struggles to keep a recovery on track while reining in massive public debt.

The Sankei Shimbun said, citing unnamed government officials, that the postponement decision was made at a meeting on Friday of cabinet ministers including Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano as well as Hatoyama.

Analysts have said the next reasonable deadline after the end of May would be November, when US President Barack Obama will visit Japan for an Asia-Pacific leaders summit.
Perhaps Japanese lawmakers will take this additional time to also discuss whether Japanese taxpayers can afford to continue subsidizing U.S. military expansion projects in Japan and Guam; U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan; and undertaking its own overseas military expansion (in violation of Article 9 of Japan's Peace Constitution) in Djibouti, Africa.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Center for Biological Diversity Letter protesting new base construction in Okinawa delivered to Prime Minister Hatoyama

On Wednesday, the serendipitous sighting of a dugong off the Nago coast near Henoko in central Okinawa created a cosmic prelude to the orchestra of Okinawan activities accompanying the Peace March this weekend.

Today marks the 38th anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. Okinawans expected that the reversion would result in the closure of U.S. military bases on their island. After this did not happen, Okinawans protested and have demonstrated for peace on the anniversary ever since.

Yesterday members of the Japan Environmental Lawyers Federation hand-delivered a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama demanding the closure of the Futenma military base and protesting its relocation.

This same letter was delivered to President Obama last week and is signed by more than 500 environmental, peace, justice, and religious organizations — demanding the immediate closure of the base and the cancellation of plans to relocate it to Henoko Bay, Okinawa. On May 16, 30,000 Okinawans will create a human chain around the Futenma base’s 11.5-kilometer circumference in a remarkable demonstration against the base relocation.

On April 25, in a stunning display of solidarity and perseverance, more than 90,000 citizens of Okinawa, Japan protested the relocation of a U.S. military base on their tiny island.

Concurrently, in Washington, D.C., members of the Network for Okinawa — of which the Center for Biological Diversity is a member — rallied in front of the Japanese Embassy in support of the Okinawa protest. Meanwhile, the network and the Tokyo-based Japan-U.S. Citizens for Okinawa Network sponsored a full-page ad in The Washington Postaimed at reaching a larger U.S. audience.

Despite these highly visible demonstrations—on behalf of democracy and environmental protection—against the relocation, and a campaign promise to remove the base from Okinawa, Prime Minister Hatoyama, under heavy U.S. pressure, reiterated that the base will be relocated to Henoko Bay, Okinawa. This beautiful coastal area is a habitat for more than 1,000 species of fish; almost 400 types of coral; three species of turtle; and the beloved Okinawa dugong, a rare relative of the manatee.

As Center Conservation Director Peter Galvin explains: “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. We implore the U.S. and Japanese governments to cancel any plans to construct or expand military airbases in the last remaining Okinawa dugong habitat.”

Learn more about the Center’s campaign to close Futenma.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Quote of the Day: "After actually seeing the sea at Henoko, he feels more strongly than ever that no base should be built there"

NHK reports on the latest from Okinawa's annual peace march started on Friday, one day before the 38th anniversary of the island's reversion from US rule on May 15:

This year, 3,500 people are expected to march in 3 groups on Friday and Saturday, in a bid to draw attention to the campaign by local residents for the return of land currently occupied by US forces.

A kickoff ceremony was held on a beach in Nago City's Henoko district, a candidate site for relocating the US Futenma Air Station.

Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine told the gathering that even 38 years after the reversion to Japan, people's lives are still endangered by the US bases. He voiced disappointment about a government plan to build a base in an area along the beach.

The mayor called on people to act together to force the government to acknowledge that Okinawa doesn't need any more US bases. The participants then began their trek, carrying placards and banners bearing such messages as "no more bases." The group is headed for Ginowan City, which currently hosts the Futenma Air Station.

On Sunday, the marchers plan to form a human chain around the facility. A man from Nara Prefecture said that after actually seeing the sea at Henoko, he feels more strongly than ever that no base should be built there.




(More photos from peace walks in Okinawa previous years at Peace-Okinawa.net)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NHK: Conservationists oppose latest base proposal

A May 13 report, "Conservationists oppose base relocation plan," from NHK:
A conservation group says it opposes the Japanese government's plan to build an offshore elevated platform for relocating a US air base in Okinawa Prefecture. It says it would have a serious impact on the environment.

The World Wide Fund for Nature Japan released a statement saying that constructing a runway on pilings in shallow waters in Okinawa will seriously affect seaweed beds and coral reefs.

The WWF also says it will endanger dugong, a rare marine mammal, which feed on seaweed.

Referring to another plan to partially transfer some US base functions to Tokunoshima Island in neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture, the group says the effect on coral reefs and migratory birds will be inevitable.

It says it is concerned that constructing a new facility will put species inherent to the Okinawa area at risk of extinction.

Dugong Sighting off Nago Coast, Okinawa

QAB (Ryukyu Asahi Broadcasting) filmed a dugong swimming off the coast of Nago (four kilometers north of Camp Schwab) the morning of May 12.

Don't miss this amazing video that gives us another tangible demonstration of what is at stake in the Okinawan struggle to protect the dugong and other species on this beautiful coast from the proposed military destruction that Peter Galvin compares to an act of war:
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.”
Satoko Norimatsu of Peace Philosophy Centre Blog reports that even with the new method of construction using pilings, which the Japanese government claims has less environmental impact than reclamation, dugong experts are concerned that the feeding area for dugongs will be adversely affected by blocked sunlight and changed sea currents.

The dugong is not only a federally protected national monument of Okinawans, but is also sacred to them. They are said to appear when humans need to be warned.


From Save the Dugong Campaign Center

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Massive Okinawa "13 Kilometer Human Chain" Protest Announced For May 16


This just in: A massive 13 kilometer long human chain will protest against the Futenma relocation of the American military base in Okinawa on May 16, 2010, according to Sankei.

Mayor Youichi Iha told a news conference on Tuesday that people in Okinawa Prefecture want the central government to negotiate with the US to remove the bases from Okinawa...

The people of Ginowan and other municipalities accommodating US bases, together with peace activists, plan to surround Futenma Air Station with a human chain on Sunday to demand its removal. The event's organizers are calling for more than 30,000 participants, as the air field has a circumference of 11.5 kilometers.

NHK World: Human chain to surround Futenma in protest

So, who will profit from the proposed relocation to other parts of Okinawa, as part of the failed and flawed deal made between the now ousted Bush government and Japan's extinct Liberal Democratic Party back in 2006?

One proposal is a "piling" option, to drill thousands of metal pipes into the environmentally sensitive coastal area near US Camp Schwab, at Henoko beach.

This is from an article that appeared in Shukan Kinyobi, October 25, 2002.

The Feud Behind the Scenes: Relocation of the US base on Okinawa, by Abe Takeshi, Okinawa Times:

Construction companies in the land reclamation camp were also bolstering their local offensive, forming a front led by Bechtel, the giant American construction company with close ties to the U.S. government.

Local firms in the pontoon camp who had joined the race for construction contracts as the representatives of "local interests," were now the first to fall by the wayside. With the choice last December of a shoal reef as the construction site, all possibilities ended for building a runway on floating pontoons. At this point, Ishikawa-jima Harima Heavy Industries and several steel companies in the pontoon camp switched sides to the landing wharf camp.


Other large companies mentioned include Shimizu Construction and Shin-Nihon Steel. Mitsubishi is one of the big construction companies, that activists such as Mr. Toyama Sakae, the “mayor” of Henoko Tent Village, say are the main force behind the push for the proposed "helipad" at Henoko, according to History News Network.

Inside the Sit-Ins Against U.S. Military Expansion on Okinawa
By Kikuno Yumiko

But the most likely contender may be Bechtel, and John W. Dower notes that it is a small wonder that cries of "Go Home Quickly" have begun to fill the air:

Access to oil, lucrative reconstruction contracts and ideological agendas of sweeping "privatization" have become entangled -- and inevitably so -- with talk about the spoils of war. The perception of war profiteering is in the air, compounded by the taint of a crony capitalism that reaches into the highest circles of American lobbyists and policy-makers. (The U.S. government, for instance, recently awarded a huge reconstruction contract to Bechtel, which has close ties with the Republican Party.)


Shigeru Handa, chief editor of Tokyo Shinbun and analyst of military matters, thinks Bechtel is one of the main pushers behind the current Okinawa troubles. On December 15, 2009, he spoke about the Futenma relocation issue to Peace Forum.

Reclamation at Camp Schwab, in particular, is the preferred route for companies like Bechtel, while some 17 or 19 other iron makers and shipbuilding companies are bidding for the piling option, according to Shigeru Handa.

(Thanks Makiko Sato for that link!)

What worries me more is what they will put on these helipads. These are not ordinary helicopters. Bell/Boeing are making these monsters, the V-22 Ospreys.

CDI: V-22 Osprey: Wonder Weapon or Widow Maker?
By Lee Gaillard

Kyodo News briefly mentioned the V-22 Osprey that the American Marines want to deploy at Futenma, Henoko (or Yanba Forest for "jungle" warfare practice or Tokunoshima in Kagoshima Prefecture) but never talks in detail about them, and I have not seen any reports on Japanese television either. The role of private profit making corporations are unclear in the 2010 battle for Okinawa.

So, do you have any idea what kind of expensive aircraft/helicopter this is?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-22_Osprey

Video (sorry for the terrible heavy metal music, do turn it down)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbne0ooG-qk

Video from Discovery
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXUk-SxIWLA

The Osprey takes off and lands like a helicopter but flies like an airplane. It is made by Bell/Boeing for assault support with tilt twin rotors. It has had several serious accidents. The Marines who know how bad it is call it the "widowmaker."

6abc.com
Defending and condemning the Osprey
April 30, 2010
http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/special_reports&id=7416946

It has been grounded several times and to this day, there are some in congress who vilify it as a boondoggle, a death trap and widowmaker and that its time to end the Osprey program once and for all.


"An aircraft with a controversial past, a troubled presence and an uncertain future," Rep. Edolphus Towns (D) of New York said.

A new book by author Richard Whittle alleges everyone from congress to defense contractors and Marine generals found amazing ways to keep the program alive.

PROLOGUE

“A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory.”

—Death of a Salesman,by Arthur Miller, 1949

Where he was and what he was doing when he first heard the news is seared into Dick Spivey’s memory. The disaster took place in the desert near Marana, Arizona, at two minutes before eight o’clock in the evening, local time, on April 8, 2000. Spivey’s brain stores that data alongside November 22, 1963, and September 11, 2001, in the lobe reserved for devastating events. “For me, that’s the same kind of thing,” Spivey explains in a native Georgia drawl seasoned with an acquired Texas twang.

When it happened, Spivey was 5,300 miles and seven time zones away from Marana, lying in bed in his room at the Thistle Hotel Victoria in central London as the sun rose. Barely awake, he was listening to, but not watching, a morning television news broadcast. The Thistle Victoria, a somewhat timeworn but convenient pile of stone and faux marble attached to the city’s throbbing Victoria Station rail terminal, is mostly an affordable place to flop for tourists. Spivey, a fifty-nine-year-old aeronautical engineer-turned-marketer for Bell Helicopter of Fort Worth, Texas, was there because the hotel was the site of an aviation conference that Monday. He and a U.S. Marine Corps general were to speak there about a peculiar aircraft Spivey had helped sell the Marines on two decades earlier. It had been the service’s top priority ever since.

The aircraft was the V-22 Osprey “tiltrotor,” called that because it tilts two giant rotors on its wingtips upward to take off and land and swivels them forward to fly fast. The tiltrotor was Bell’s solution to an engineering challenge that had tantalized inventors and engineers and industrialists and the military since the 1920s: how to build a vehicle able to take off, land, and hover with the agility of a helicopter yet fly as fast and far as an airplane. Spivey had had a hand in designing the tiltrotor in his engineering days. Since becoming a marketer in the 1970s, he had promoted it to anyone who would listen. But Dick Spivey was not just a salesman with a product, he was a salesman with a dream. Spivey expected the tiltrotor to change the way people fly as much as the jet engine had—and the jet engine had changed the world. That’s what Dick Spivey told people all the time, and that was what Dick Spivey believed.


Truthout
A Simple Way to End This Recession...Forever
May 9, 2010
http://www.truthout.org/a-simple-way-end-this-recession-forever59282

I hate the Osprey, and have ever since they were introduced by Bell-Boeing and started killing Marines, who, by the way, call the thing "the widowmaker." Local reporters who were allowed to take a flight in the things had to sign all manner of releases before they took off, just in case one of them crashed again. An Osprey crash in Afghanistan killed four people just last month, in fact. The things don't work, and watching them skim the roofs in my neighborhood made me want to run and hide. I half expected one of them to go sideways and crash into the Hancock building. It really wouldn't have surprised me.


V-22 Osprey: Wonder Weapon or Widow Maker: Full Report.
Center for Defense Information (pdf report)
http://www.aviationbanter.com/showthread.php?p=452231

"Report blasts Osprey testing, readiness," Marine Corps Times, Dec. 11, 2006

The V-22 Osprey is unfit for combat and needs to be scrapped altogether, according to a new report from a defense think tank.


The Center for Defense Information report, titled "V-22 Osprey: Wonder Weapon or Widow Maker? They warned us. But no one is listening," includes nearly 50 pages of text sharply criticizing the tilt rotor's combat capability and lack of testing.

So, ladies and gentlemen, dear long-suffering Kurashi-readers, member of the blog-reading jury: From 1991 to 2000 there were four significant crashes, and a total of 30 fatalities during testing. In 2000, there were two further fatal crashes, killing a total of 19 Marines, and the production was again halted while the cause of these crashes was investigated and various parts were redesigned. There has also been a scandal of falsification of safety records. With the first combat deployment of the MV-22 in October 2007, Time Magazine ran an article condemning the aircraft as unsafe, overpriced, and completely inadequate... CNN covered the recent crash in April 2010 in Afghanistan that murdered 4 more people. At least 34 lives lost in total, perhaps more.

"Defence is the name, attack is the game..." (Truly funny 2003 UK comedy, a Bremner, Bird, and Fortune special 'Between Iraq and a Hard Place')

Monday, May 10, 2010

Where Children Can See Totoro: Hirabari Satoyama And COP10

Website designer and book binder Takuya Kamibayashi and Hayao Miyazaki (previous post on Kurashi) find similar inspiration in the Hirabari Satoyama. The film director named the forest "Nagoya no Totori no Mori", or 'Totoro's Forest of Nagoya," after he joined the movement to save this wonderland of biodiversity from developers.

Hirabari Satoyma sits in the middle of a residential area, a five minutes walk from a driving school. It measures only 12 hectares, yet holds three rice fields, bamboo forests, zoukibayashi (wooded areas), and three ponds that provide water to three rice fields.

To appeal to COP10 participants (who will come from all over the world to Nagoya in October, 2010 for the UN conference on biological diversity) Takuya is creating a guide to this picturesque site of sustainable farming maintained in harmony with surrounding ecosystems.

This guide will appear as an insert in the next edition of Kyoto Journal: The special issue--one of the few pieces of English print media available to the international and Japanese audience--will be distributed to all COP10 attendees. The goal is to pressure developers to halt their plans that would destroy Hirabari.

During several trips to the area, Takuya has interviewed local citizens about the importance of Hirabari Satoyama in their lives.

When the city mayor was replaced, the development was put on hold, but last year December, it resumed. What is obvious is there are all the dirty hook-ups in back, and there actually are. With this in my mind, Takuya interviewed Ms. Fujioka, a Nagoya resident, and one of the primary members of Hirabari Satoyama Conservancy.


I asked her, "What do you want to emphasize the most about Hirabari Satoyama to the people who do not know about this place yet?"

She replied, "How fun and how much this Satoyama can offer to the local residents and especially to the kids. This Satoyama ecosystem provides not only a place to run around, but to learn how the nature relates to us. And at Hirabari Satoyama, children don't have to go far from home. They can learn right outside of their rooms."

I answered, "But there seems to be so many wrong things going on behind the scenes. Don't you want to let people know about that also?"

She replied to me that the most important thing about Hirabari Satoyama is what it means to children.
-- Posted by Jen Teeter at Ten Thousand Things

Video: My Neighbour Totoro Trailer Ending theme (English subs by Nediachan)



I would also like to mention Masaki Haramura's documentary School of Nature: The Children of Satoyama:

"Children will not grow unless they are put in a risky environment. They will not grow healthily unless they get injured, covered in mud and play rough and physical games," Eijyu Miyazaki says in the film. Haramura examines Miyazaki's iconoclastic pedagogy and its impact at the Kisarazu Community Nursery School in Satoyama, Chiba.

First found on Chicago Reader

If you are a teacher, do check this: Favourite nature activities for kids in Japan from Education in Japan Community Blog

Japan is still a terrific place for nature observation, despite the concrete jungles having rapidly overtaken most of Japan’s marshes, satoyama landscapes and forests. Thanks to the country’s abundant rainfall, weeds spring up quickly everywhere constituting wayside ecosystems for butterfly stops and other insect habitats. Kids can often be found catching cicadas, beetles, grasshoppers, butterflies and go crayfishing in city parks.


Some 自然教育観察 (shizen kyoiku kansatsu) nature education observation.

School of Nature, Little Challengers trailer (2:19): The Children of Satoyama

里山っ子たち Satoyamakko
Satoyama Little Challengers blog (Japanese)

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?

From Satoyama in Nagoya: Not So Fast, Construction Companies

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Fair Trade Day




Saturday, May 8 (12:30 to 6:30 pm) is Fair Trade Day at the Marunouchi Building near Tokyo Station.

The Tokyo event is part of two weeks of activities to promote and celebrate Fair Trade being held around the world this month.

Fair Trade fashion pioneer, People Tree, is organising a salon-exhibition on fair trade in India, including a market of free trade goods, a fashion show, Japanese Taiko drum performance, presentations (in Japanese) on Free Trade, and a workshop on creation of fashion accessories.

Entrance charge is ¥1,000. They highly recommend the organic buffet brunch in *Nonobudou*, a delicious Japanese restaurant in the Tokia Building, all you can eat for ¥1,600. (From Delphine Cheng, www.piubio.com)

As part of the events, painter and illustrator Keeda Oikawa did a performance. She is one of the most prominent on the Tokyo art scene with a strong environmental awareness, having done the cover art for the special issue of Elle Loves The Earth in 2008 and many other projects, including record album covers.

I'm so happy to be able to introduce her blog!


Here is a fun video of her painting the Fair Trade Tree:

Kagoshima: Big Anti-Base Demonstration (Again)

There was another big anti-base demonstration today (Saturday May 8, 2010) in Kagoshima Prefecture with some 5,000 people protesting. I love the Kyodo News quote at the end:

Norihisa Hamada, 23, a Kagoshima city resident who grew up on Tokunoshima until graduating from high school, said, "I am worried about the future of the island, which is rich in nature, and I want residents in the prefecture to stand by (the island)."


Clearly people in Kagoshima Prefecture do not want and will not accept a huge U.S. military airfield at Tokunoshima with the Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey helicopters and U.S. Marines training for - what?

These are some truly noisy machines, not your usual helicopter at all. Do you have any idea what kind of aircraft/helicopter/ this is? No wonder they want to move the airfield from the town of Ginowan: Would You Want 30 Military Bases in Your Backyard?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-22_Osprey

Promo video (the music is terrible, do turn the volume down):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbne0ooG-qk

Video from Discovery:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXUk-SxIWLA

The V-22 has had several accidents already. From 1991 to 2000 there were four significant crashes, and a total of 30 fatalities, during testing. In 2000, there were two further fatal crashes, killing a total of 19 Marines, and the production was again halted while the cause of these crashes was investigated and various parts were redesigned. There has also been a scandal of falsification of safety records. With the first combat deployment of the MV-22 in October 2007, Time Magazine ran an article condemning the aircraft as unsafe, overpriced, and completely inadequate...

A bit of background from Federation of American Scientists with many images (note the cost of one aircraft - more than $80 million apiece):

The aircraft's prime contractors include Boeing Company's helicopter division in Ridley Park, PA, and Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth TX. In 1986 the cost of a single V-22 was estimated at $24 million, with 923 aircraft to be built. In 1989 the Bush administration cancelled the project, at which time the unit cost was estimated at $35 million, with 602 aircraft. The V-22 question caused friction between Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney and Congress throughout his tenure. DoD spent some of the money Congress appropriated to develop the aircraft, but congressional sources accused Cheney, who continued to oppose the Osprey, of violating the law by not moving ahead as Congress had directed. Cheney argued that building and testing the prototype Osprey would cost more than the amount appropriated. In the spring of 1992 several congressional supporters of the V-22 threatened to take Cheney to court over the issue. A little later, in the face of suggestions from congressional Republicans that Cheney's opposition to the Osprey was hurting President Bush's reelection campaign, especially in Texas and Pennsylvania where the aircraft would be built, Cheney relented and suggested spending $1.5 billion in fiscal years 1992 and 1993 to develop it. He made clear that he personally still opposed the Osprey and favored a less costly alternative.

The program was revived by the incoming Clinton administration, and current plans call for building 458 Ospreys for $37.3 billion, or more than $80 million apiece, with the Marines receiving 360 Ospreys, the Navy 48 and the Air Force 50. The first prototype flew in 1989. As of early 2000 three test aircraft had crashed: no one was killed in the 1991 crash, an accident in 1992 killed seven men, and the third in April 2000 killed 19 Marines.


On 16 November 2006, the Air Force officially accepted the CV-22 in a ceremony conducted at Hurlburt Field, Florida (such irony - this was the airfield used for practice for the so-called Doolittle air raids on Tokyo and other cities during WW2).

It has been used in Iraq, Afghanistan and - Honduras.

I think it is safe to say that we absolutely do NOT want it in Japan.

From Peace Philosophy Centre (April 18, 2010):

On April 18, a rally was held in Tokunoshima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture to oppose the relocation of Futenma Air Station in Okinawa to the Island. The participation of 15,000 people, 60% of the population of about 26,000, is a record-breaking size of gathering on the island.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Honey Bees In Nagoya To Promote Biodiversity Awareness




Nagoya City is in the news with a project to introduce honeybees in the city, as a way to get more people interested in environmental issues and biological diversity. The Japan Times writes:

Their beehive has been set up on the roof of a nine-story office building by the nonprofit environmental group Hisaya Eco Machi Net. The group says the urban area is a perfect environment to keep honeybees because it is free of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. "Honeybees are tame and never attack people unless people harm them," says Hisayoshi Uematsu, a Hisaya Eco Machi Net representative. The group's main activity is to increase green areas in Nagoya, so it plans to give any honey produced by the bees to local confectionary shops.


Hisaya Eco Machi Net is a new group with a great-looking website. Photos from their blog. One part of the project is to work with local pastry companies and create cakes using honey from the Hisaya Eco Machi Net. The educational side of the activities are not lost on the kids, who probably see bees for the first time.

(Hat tip to Pandabonium!)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Sign For Withdrawal of the US Marines

Sign For Withdrawal of the US Marines
Statement on the Futenma Replacement Problem

Friends,
You may have signed this, but if not, please support the struggle of Okinawan people against the US bases by endorsing the petition campaign below
Thank you.
Makiko
........................................
Petition campaign for Okinawa: till May 20th

The US Marine Air Base at Futenma, set in the middle of a residential district, is the most dangerous base in the world and it should be immediately closed and dismantled. The former LDP government “agreed” with the US on construction of a Futenma replacement base at Henoko in Northern Okinawa (on-shore at camp Schwab), but this amounted to the construction of a large, new base in Okinawa, and so the Okinawan people have taken every opportunity to express their opposition to it.

The Autumn 2009 change of government, and the electoral pledge of the DPJ for [Futenma transfer] “out of Japan or at least out of Okinawa” transformed the situation and gave hope to the Okinawan people. In the January 2010 Nago mayoral election, Inamine Susumu, the candidate opposed to any Futenma relocation, was victorious. In February, the Okinawan Prefectural assembly passed unanimously a resolution calling for “Futenma base to be moved out of Okinawa.” It was supported even by the LDP and Komeito, both of which had hitherto accepted transfer within the prefecture. Also, all 41 Okinawan town and village mayors have called for the base to be shifted out of Okinawa and the conservative-backed Governor, Nakaima Hirokazu, has begun to speak of the outlook for [relocation] within Okinawa as “harsh.” Okinawa has adopted an “all-Okinawa” stance of outright opposition to relocation within the prefecture.

However, the Hatoyama government, having postponed any “decision” till May 2010, has begun to move in the direction of a resolution of the matter on a “within Okinawa” basis, with plans for a Camp Schwab land-based structure and for reclamation off the Katsuren peninsula.

Deeply concerned over the moves by the Government, we issue the following Statement.

(The first group of 18 signatories listed below are those over whose names the January 2010 statement by scholars and intellectuals was issued. The second group comprises 20 scholars and intellectuals from Okinawa. Since they have also issued previous statements in Okinawa demanding withdrawal of the Marines, this Joint Statement may be considered a “Second Statement” for both.)

1. We oppose not just the Henoko land-based Camp Schwab plan and the Katsuren peninsula offshore plan, but all plans for Futenma base transfer within Okinawa. Okinawa’s burden must not be made heavier. Okinawa’s feelings must not be ignored. Okinawa’s environment must not be destroyed.

2. At the House of Representatives election in 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan’s position was for Futenma transfer “outside Japan, or at least outside Okinawa.” In the Nago City mayoral election, it supported the candidate, Inamine Susumu, who opposed any move to Henoko, and he was victorious. If the DPJ was to decide now on a transfer within Okinawa it would be a clear breach of promise and a betrayal of the people of Japan and the people of Okinawa. Even taking for granted the current US-Japan security treaty system, the Hatoyama government must make the utmost effort to explore the possibilities of relocation beyond Okinawa.

3. One proposal is that, in the event of there being no place, either elsewhere in Japan or in Okinawa, that will accept a Futenma transfer, Futenma air base should continue being used as it is now. This must not be allowed. This dangerous base that threatens the lives and livelihoods of the people living in its vicinity must be promptly closed.

4. Should it be the case that, after searching for a relocation site elsewhere in Japan, there is no place ready to accept the base, that would mean that the people of Japan have no desire to have any Marine base and in that case there would be no alternative but for the US Marines to quit Japan completely. It would mean that the people of Japan had the will to play a positive role in building peace and security in East Asia without the US marines. The US would have to respect the will of the Japanese people.

5. What the Hatoyama government has been intent on, and what the media attention has concentrated on, is the search for a (new) “base site.” Is it really this that we should be concentrating on at this time? Is it not rather necessary for us to cast doubt on the notions of “deterrence,” “enemy,” “alliance” as they exist in Cold War logic, and to cast off their spell? Notions of “common security” and “human security” now emerge in international society and become a major force pushing for dissolution of Cold War hostilities. What we should be questioning is not how to shuffle US bases around by finding new sites but the very structure under which US bases are kept in Okinawa and on the mainland and the US military is allowed to use them as it wishes. The US-Japan Security Treaty is a relic of the Cold War era. There has never been a better time than now to undertake a fundamental reconsideration of the Japan-US Security Treaty system, including the Status of Forces Agreement and the Guidelines (Japan-US Defence Cooperation Guidelines). We call on the government and people of Japan to begin this task.

Issued by:

Chiba Shin , Professor of Political Thought, International Christian University
Endo Seiji , Professor of Politics, Seikei University
Harashina Sachihiko , Professor of Environmental Planning ,Tokyo Institute of Technology
Kamo Toshio , Professor of Politics ,Ritsumeikan University
Kawase Mitsuyoshi , Professor of Ecomomics, Kyoto Prefectural University
Koseki Shoichi , Professor of Law ,Dokkyo University
Kobayashi Masaya , Professor of Politics, Chiba University
Komori Yoichi , Professor of Japanese Literature, Tokyo University
Miyamoto Kenichi , Professor Emeritus of Osaka City University,
Former President of Shiga University
Mizusima Asaho , Professor of Law, Waseda University
Maeda Tetsuo , Critic
Nishikawa Jun , Professor Emeritus of Waseda University
Nishitani Osamu , Professor of Philosophy, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Okamoto Atsushi , Editor in chief of Magazine SEKAI
Teranishi Shunichi , Professor of Economics, Hitotsubashi University
Uzawa Hirofumi , Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University
Yamaguchi Jiro , Professor of Politics, Hokkaido University
Wada Haruki , Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University

Arasaki Moriteru , Professor Emeritus of Okinawa University
Gabe Masaaki , Professor of International Relations, University of the Ryukyus
Hiyane Teruo , Professor Emeritus of University of Ryukyus
Miki Ken , Journalist
Miyazato Seigen , Representative, Okinawa External Study Group
Miyazato Akiya , Journalist
Nakachi Hiroshi , Professor of Administrative law ,Okinawa University
Nakazato Isao , Journalist
Ohshiro Tatsuhiro , Writer
Ohta Masahide , Former Governor of Okinawa Prefecture
Sakurai Kunitoshi , Professor of Environmental Planning ,Okinawa University
Shimabukuro Jun , Professor of Political Science, University of Ryukyus
Shinjo Ikuo , Professor of Japanese Literature , University of Ryukyus
Takasato Suzuyo , Former Vice Chairperson, Naha City Assembly
Takara Ben , Poet, Critic
Takara Tetsumi , Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Ryukyus
Teruya Hiroyuki , Professor of Public Administration ,Okinawa International University
Tomikawa Moritake , Professor of Economics, Okinawa International University
Yamashiro Noriko , Journalist
Yui Akiko , Journalist