Showing posts from May, 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 tha

The Heart Sutra (English Subtitles)

From Kai Keane: (Thanks Jean at Ten Thousand Things )

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

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?

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.

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 m

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 v

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 ai

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 Japa

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 Secre

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

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 bas

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 protec

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" optio

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 fe

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, ) 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

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? Promo video (the music is terrible, do turn the volume down):

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 o

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 an