In our view the below group should be focusing on the fact that bases in Japan support US imperial motives (in other words, they help to kill people in US wars), rather than just their danger in populated areas or threat to the enviornment. A report on Democracy Now revealed why the Social Democratic Party’s proposal to move the base to Guam is also not the best option. While technically a US territory, the people of Guam are treated much like Okinawans-colonial subjects. Anti-war activists there also do not want the base.
However, we want to encourage any effort to stop the spread of US bases. Please have a look:
Thursday, March 4, 2010
US for OKINAWA is joining local residents in Ginowan City, Okinawa in asking the U.S. government to shut down the dangerous Futenma Air Base located right in the middle of their city. The base has endangered the lives of the local residents through military accidents, and lacks a buffer zone around it to protect surrounding schools, homes, hospitals and businesses. The U.S. and Japanese governments have agreed that the base poses an unacceptable safety risk to Ginowan City, but the U.S. government insists that closing Futenma is contingent on constructing–and Japan paying for–a new military facility elsewhere on Okinawa island. Because nearly 20% of Okinawa is already occupied by U.S. military facilities, this demand does nothing to lighten the burden on the local people.
In addition, new construction plans include inundating the environmentally fragile bay around Camp Schwab, the Henoko district, with dirt and concrete to vastly expand the base at the expense of unique coral reefs and the feeding ground of a gentle ocean mammal called the dugong. The U.S. (as well as some Japanese officials) insists that the construction must go through, despite fierce opposition by the majority of residents in Henoko. We want to listen to the voices of the local people and help them be heard both in Washington and mainland Japan.
In cooperation with Peace Boat and local partners in Okinawa, US for OKINAWA is organizing a study program to Okinawa from *April 1st to April 5th*. The goal of the study tour is to witness firsthand what is really happening in Okinawa, and to help raise more awareness of the base issue both in mainland Japan and in the U.S. and other countries.
We will be visiting U.S. military installations in Ginowan, meeting public officials in Ginowan and Henoko, listening to local testimonies, and visiting the beautiful bay of Henoko that is scheduled for destruction.
If you are interested in the study tour please contact Jonathan Yamauchi of US for OKINAWA at: jonathan.yamauchi[a]gmail.com. Please note that this program is not-for-profit, and costs are being kept to a strict minimum. Organisers are now in discussions with local partners to set the price of the programme, and more information will be available soon.
The deadline for applications is *Friday, March 16th*.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, and for further detailed information about the program.
Niheideburu, thank you!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The JUCO-NET home page, with further information is now online here (Japanese only).
US for Okinawa joined JUCO-NET at the press conference today as a supporting organization, and presented the following statement on behalf of the group.
March 3, 2010
Rose Welsch, US for OKINAWA representative
My name is Rose Welsch, I’m a U.S. Citizen and also a foreign resident of Japan. As someone with experience on both sides of the Pacific, I oppose more bases in Okinawa, and I am not alone.
That’s why I and other citizens from the U.S. and from around the world formed US for OKINAWA Peace Action Network. The “US” in our name has two meanings. One is “me, you, him, her—all of us who are concerned about what is happening in Okinawa, and the other is “U.S.” as in United States citizens who support the closure of Futenma and the halt to new and unnecessary military construction in Henoko.
Even though there are some government officials in the U.S. who are strongly pushing for this construction, they don’t reflect the will of the American public. Why not? Well, to be honest, because most Americans have never even heard of Futenma or Henoko. Most Americans aren’t aware that U.S. Military bases occupy 20% of Okinawa.
When U.S. citizens do learn the facts, however, we are appalled. The more we learn the truth, the more we start to feel strongly that we don’t want our government to operate an enormous, dangerous base in the middle of a densely populated city—something that would never be allowed in our own country. We start to strongly feel that don’t want our government to destroy a vital marine ecosystem in order to create an unnecessary base in our name. And we don’t want the voices of local people who have to live with U.S. bases next to them to be ignored in our name. What we DO want is both the Japanese and U.S. Governments to respect local people, halt new military construction anywhere in Okinawa, and close Futenma.
So, that is why US for OKINAWA is supporting the placement of an opinion ad in a major U.S. newspaper in order to help raise more awareness of this issue. That’s why we are writing letters to government officials and in Japan and the U.S. That’s why we’re circulating a petition and information about Henoko and Futenma in English on the internet. That’s why we’re also campaigning for better ways to spend $14 billion dollars in taxpayer money—paid by both Japanese citizens like yourselves, and foreign residents like myself in Japan–than on new base construction. Surely there are definitely better ways to spend billions of dollars than on destroying more of Okinawa’s biodiversity.
Finally, that’s why we are organizing a study program to Okinawa in April, so that more people can see the bases with their own eyes, hear testimony from local people with their own ears, and start a very necessary dialogue on how peace—genuine peace and security–can be constructed in East Asia and the rest of the world, rather than more military bases.
Group hopes U.S. ad raises awareness of Futenma
By MASAMI ITO
Concerned about the lack of information in the U.S. regarding the relocation of a marine base in Okinawa, a network of Japanese and U.S. citizens and nongovernmental groups announced Wednesday plans to take out a full-page ad on the controversial issue in a major U.S. newspaper.
Established Wednesday by various academics, journalists and NGO members, the Japan-U.S. Citizens for Okinawa (JUCO) network is allied with organizations in the U.S. including the Cato Institute, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for Biological Diversity.
According to the organizers, the network is aiming to raise ¥6 million to place a full-page ad in a major U.S. newspaper by the end of March, before the Japanese government finalizes its decision on the relocation site for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The members are now considering several newspapers to decide which would have the biggest impact on U.S. citizens.
“One of the reasons why (the Futenma relocation issue) is not moving forward is because it is an issue unknown to most U.S. citizens and politicians,” said Jun Hoshikawa, the executive director of Greenpeace Japan. “This is a common problem among both Japanese and U.S. people and we decided to join hands and form a network to bridge Japan and the U.S.”
Rose Welsch, a Tokyo resident and representative of U.S. for Okinawa, a peace action network made up of foreign and Japanese nationals residing in Japan, said most Americans are unaware of the Futenma issue and contends it is not their will to build more military facilities in Okinawa.
“But when U.S. citizens do have the chance to learn about what’s going on, we are appalled, absolutely appalled,” Welsch said. “And the more we learn the truth, the more strongly we start to feel we don’t want our government to operate an enormous, dangerous base in the middle of a densely populated city, which is something that would never be allowed in our own country.”
Under the original agreement between Japan and the U.S., the Futenma aircraft operations were to be moved to Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of Nago, in the northern part of Okinawa Island.
But World Wide Fund for Nature Japan’s Shinichi Hanawa said international attention has now focused on preserving the biodiversity of Oura Bay near Henoko. Hanawa added that the United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity and that Nagoya is to host the 10th Conference of the Parties in October.
The Japan Times: Thursday, March 4, 2010
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010
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!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!
To mark this day, US for OKINAWA and Peace Boat made a big, beautiful heart-shaped chocolate cake for Prime Minister Hatoyama that said “We love you for listening to the people of Okinawa, and for building peace, not bases in East Asia.”
Today, a group of members of US for Okinawa and Peace Boat visited the Prime Minister’s official residence to deliver the cake in person, along with a letter and statement. Matsuno Yorihisa, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, received the cake on behalf of the Prime Minister and listened to our statement (a slightly altered version of what’s written below).
The event was covered heavily by press, and members were interviewed on why we believe Futenma should be closed, why we are opposed to new construction in Henoko, and that we appreciate the Prime Minister’s focus on building peace rather than bases in East Asia.
After the meeting with Mr Matsuno, the press again took statements from the group, and expressed great in our point of view.