Sunday, April 25, 2010


More than 1,000 people gather for the Candle Action for a Base Free Okinawa, held at Meiji park in Tokyo

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

On April 25, 2010, tens of thousands of Okinawans gathered to call for the closure of Futenma, a U.S. Marine air base that has regularly exposed local people to intolerable noise pollution, deprived them of the opportunity to develop land in the city for more effective, profitable and peaceful purposes, and subjected them to base related accidents and crime for more than 60 years. They also rallied to oppose U.S. pressure to construct greatly expanded and modernized U.S. military facilities at the expense of taxpayers in Japan in Henoko, an area in Okinawa that is environmentally sensitive and diverse.

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.

Solidarity Statement for Okinawa
Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) Steering Committee

April 25, 2010
Seoul, Republic of Korea

The Steering Committee for the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI), currently meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea, expresses its solidarity to the Okinawan people on this day of action and our support for their call for peace, demilitarization and respect for the will of the people. NARPI provides peacebuilding training, in both theory and practice, for Northeast Asian people, using education to transform a culture of militarism and violence to a culture of peace.

We, the representatives from China, India, Japan, Mongolia, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea and Russia, acknowledge that the existence of armaments and military bases promote rather than deter conflict; and that particularly considering the remnant Cold War structures in Northeast Asia, the global realignment and build-up of US military forces poses a serious threat to the region. The presence of these bases, as experienced throughout Northeast Asia, only serves to exacerbate violence, conflict, pollution, environmentaldegradation, and the escalation of existing conflicts and an arms race within the region. We are deeply concerned that the external military presence in the region hampers progress towards regional solidarity, cooperation and peaceful cooexistence.

Furthermore, if the vast resources expended on the military in Northeast Asia – including on the hosting of US bases - were diverted to human needs, many of the urgent issues of potential conflict, disparity and development within the region could be addressed.

We believe that sustainable peace can be created through respect for local democratic processes, disarmament and demilitarisation, developing humanrelationships and education for peace. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution and the Mongolian Single State Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone are viable alternatives to shift from military security to human security.

We, of the civil society in Northeast Asia, therefore support the overwhelming call for the closure of the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, and call on the Japanese and United States Governments to honour the democratic decision of the Okinawan people. Furthermore, we express our opposition to any new military base construction in Okinawa or anywhere else, including Gangjeong Village in Jeju Island, Republic of Korea. We stand in solidarity with the people of Okinawa, and their hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout Japan, Northeast Asia and the world, to pledge to work together for a base-free Okinawa, and for the creation of a demilitarised, sustainable peace for Northeast Asia.

No comments:

Post a Comment