Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How would YOU spend $14 billion U.S. Dollars? Idea Campaign

US for OKINAWA, a peace action network based in Tokyo and Kyoto, announces its "How Would YOU Spend $14 Billion U.S. Dollars" Idea Contest!

Our network is joining residents of Ginowan City, Okinawa in asking the U.S. government to shut down the dangerous Futenma Air Base located in the middle of their city. The U.S. and Japanese governments have agreed the base poses safety risks to Ginowan City, but the U.S. government insists it will close Futenma only if new military facilities are constructed in Henoko on Okinawa Island under an ill-conceived and undemocratic agreement made with the previous Japanese administration in 2006. The plan entails expanding a big U.S. military base in Henoko and constructing two 1,800 meter runways over what is now unique coral reefs and the feeding ground of the dugong, a gentle sea mammal that is endangered in Japan. Visit our blog here to read more about the base expansion.

Not only will this unnecessary expansion plan destroy a vital marine environment, it's extraordinarily costly--nearly $6 billion! Japan has been asked to foot this bill, AND cough up another $6 billion to help move 8,000 U.S. Marines and their families from Okinawa to Guam and build luxurious new military facilities there. This is on top of the $2 billion that Japan pays every year to the U.S. as a "sympathy budget" for the bases in Okinawa.

Have your calculator handy to add all that up? Comes to a whopping $14 billion! If you're not sure where this money comes from, it comes from us--the taxpayers of Japan! Surely our tax revenue can be spent more wisely than on destroying coral reefs, making dugongs go extinct in Japan, and offloading military-base related problems onto the people of Guam.

We would like YOUR IDEAS on how $14 billion should be spent! They can be a few short lines or a full-page long. Send us your ideas by February 27th (shortly after payday for many in Japan—no better time to think of where our tax money is going!). We will compile and send the ideas to the U.S. and Japanese governments. We will also choose five of the best ideas and send the winners surprise prizes from Okinawa!

You can view and download the brochure for the campaign online here:

To apply, simply fill in the form here or fax it to: 03-3363-7562 (in Japan). And pass this link along to friends and family to get their ideas too!

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