The Candle action was organized by a coalition of well-known Japanese individuals, including university professors, authors, artists, lawyers, educators, commentators, musicians and representatives of NGOs including Peace Boat, WWF Japan, PangeaSeed, Greenpeace Japan and US for OKINAWA.
Peace Boat staff and US for OKINAWA member, Emilie McGlone from the United States, encourages a more peaceful means to improving diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan.
Support for Okinawa's Citizens' Rally Echoes from Across the Seas
To express support for this Citizens Rally, Peace Boat and US for OKINAWA Peace Action Network organized a gathering onboard Peace Boat during its current 69th Global Voyage for Peace. Citizens from all around mainland Japan, as well as from the U.S., England, Canada, Australia, and Spain joined Okinawans in calling for peace to built on Okinawa rather than military bases.
During the gathering, a school teacher from Okinawa described how bases such as Kadena were built by force of bulldozers and rifles, and were imposed upon local people against their will at a time when their homes and livelihoods had been destroyed by war, and opposition was impossible. Now, however, she emphasized, the people of Okinawa will never allow another base to be built in the region. This is not only because of the heavy burden they place on Okinawan people, she added, but because military bases are places where attacks are planned on other countries—attacks that deprive people of their lives and right to live in peace. She noted that Kadena Air Base was used to launch attacks on Da Nang, Viet Nam, a port Peace Boat had left just two days earlier, and a place where many Peace Boat participants had the opportunity to directly meet Agent Orange victims and others who are still suffering the effects of the Vietnam War today.
Another speaker who was born and raised in Tokyo said he didn't think U.S. military bases were necessary in Okinawa or any other region of Japan, and instead called for Japan's Article 9, which renounces war as a means of settling international disputes and the maintenance of bellicose potential, to be exported to the rest of the world as a more effective means of establishing peace and security. Lastly, an American citizen addressed the crowd and spoke of the need to reallocate our world's resources away from military bases and weapons toward mechanisms and endeavors that will make our world truly sustainable and secure in the face of looming problems such as climate change, natural disasters, poverty, and dwindling natural resources.
In addition to the gathering onboard, gatherings and rallies were held the same day in Tokyo, Washington, San Francisco and Hawai'i to support the Okinawan Citizen's rally.
This is an indication that more and more people in mainland Japan, the United States and other nations around the world are starting to realize how much harm military bases are inflicting upon communities and the natural environment in Okinawa, and supporting Okinawans' call for a change.