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Can we close the Futenma Marine Base Without Constructing Additional Marine Bases in Okinawa?
Hosted by Nago City & Network for Okinawa
When: Wednesday, February 8th 2012 11am-Noon
Where: 2456 Rayburn House Office, (Congressional Office Building) 45 Independence Ave SW
Who: Susumu Inamine, Mayor of Nago City, Okinawa, Japan
John Feffer, Network for Okinawa, Institute for Policy Studies
What: A briefing with the Mayor of Nago-City, Okinawa, Japan to talk about U.S. military spending and closing the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station
To RSVP, please send an e-mail to email@example.com
Obama Re-Occupying "Our Little Brown Brothers" in the Philippines, But Don't Mention It Or You Support the Racists
From Democracy Now:
The United States could be expanding its military presence in the Philippines as part of the Obama administration’s avowed intent to focus on the Asia-Pacific. According to the Washington Post, the White House and the Philippine government are resuming talks in Washington today after beginning preliminary negotiations last spring. The talks come two decades after the United States was forced to leave its military base at the Philippines’ Subic Bay.
Bruce Gagnon reports:
Today, in the Gangjeong sea protest, 5 people including Catholic brother Park Do-hyon, Ms. Oh Doo-hee, Abigail Yu, Lee Jong-hwa and Kim Dong-won, were arrested by Jeju maritime police agency. The purpose of barge ship was to move the tetra pods near the Gangjeong port so the Navy (and lead contractor Samsung) can prepare the site for blasting the rocky coastline which the villagers fondly call Gureombee.
Also from Gagnon:
Youngsil Kang from Gangjeong village on Jeju Island joined me at Bath Iron Works yesterday as workers streamed out of the shipyard at 3:30 pm. Youngsil is traveling around the U.S. for two months and did a talk in New York City last week. We were lucky to have her visit Bath yesterday. Two local newspapers covered her visit - one of the stories will appear in the paper today and the other next Thursday.
It was a surprise for the workers to see the Korean banner Youngsil held (No Navy Base) but of course they did not know what it said. I called out to them as they passed by telling them she was from South Korea and that she came from a place where the Aegis destroyers they build will be ported.
Usually on such a day I've had at least a dozen workers take my flyers but yesterday, with three cameramen snapping photos, only two took Youngsil's letter. (One of those taking photos was BIW worker Peter Woodruff who shares a weekly radio show with me on WBOR at Bowdoin College. Youngsil was impressed that Peter had the courage to come out when so many workers at the shipyard scurried away from us.) We submitted her letter to the local newspaper as a Letter to the Editor so hopefully the content will still be available to the public.
"U.S. Navy shipbuilding programs will not be slashed to meet an expected Pentagon-wide reduction in spending. We've placed a priority on shipbuilding," Sean Stackley, the Navy's top acquisition official, told reporters on January 12. "You can see a lot of alignment between the [new Obama] defense strategy and what the Navy does."
With the new Naval fleet, "We span the globe.....We have enormous payload capacity in our big boys," bragged Navy Undersecretary Bob Work at the Surface Navy Association symposium in Washington DC.
In a related story the Washington Post reported yesterday that "Two decades after evicting U.S. forces from their biggest base in the Pacific, the Philippines is in talks with the Obama administration about expanding the American military presence in the island nation, the latest in a series of strategic moves aimed at China. If an arrangement is reached, it would follow other recent agreements to base thousands of U.S. Marines in northern Australia and to station Navy warships in Singapore."
Obama is moving quickly to implement his "pivot toward the Asia-Pacific" as outlined in the Pentagon's recent Defense Guidance. This coming massive U.S. military buildup bodes ill for the likes of Jeju Island, Guam, Okinawa, the Philippines, Hawaii and more.
These military moves on the grand chess board make the coming Global Network meetings in Hawaii (Feb 18-21) and on Jeju Island (Feb 24-26) all the more important for our work. It is through these meetings that we will learn much more about the real impacts this "pivot" will cause to the people across the Asia-Pacific. From these meetings we will also be able to develop organizing strategies to increase our ability to support the beleaguered people who are always the ones to suffer from U.S. imperial designs.
As Obama and the Pentagon make their "pivot" toward the Asia-Pacific it is incumbent on the peace movement to also make an intellectual and organizing pivot toward that region as well.
A 24-member delegation from Japan is in Washington, D.C., this week opposing the presence and new construction of U.S. military bases in Okinawa. Participating are members of the Japanese House of Councilors, of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, and of city governments in Okinawa, as well as leading protest organizers and the heads of several important organizations opposed to the ongoing U.S. military occupation of Okinawa.
The famously stingy U.S. tax payer, frequently seen bitterly protesting outrageously wasteful spending of a few million dollars, is paying billions of dollars to maintain and expand some 90 military bases in Japan (and to make those who profit from such business filthy rich). Thirty-four of those bases, containing 74% of their total land area, are in Okinawa, which itself contains only 0.6% of Japanese land. Okinawa is dominated by U.S. military bases and has been for 67 years since the U.S. forcibly appropriated much of the best land.
The people of Okinawa tell pollsters year after year that they oppose the bases. Year after year they elect government officials who oppose the bases. Year after year they march, sit-in, protest, and demand to be heard. Year after year, the national Japanese government confronts the issue and fails to take any decisive steps to resolve it. Year after year, the people of the United States remain blissfully unaware that, as in so many other places around the world, our military occupation of Okinawa is ruining people's lives.
Members of the delegation spoke at Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C., Monday night. Toshio Ikemiyagi thanked people who came to hear them and pointed out that we all looked healthy and alert. That, he said, is because you have all had sleep. You've been able to sleep at night without deafening jet noise, he said. Ikemiyagi is the lead attorney on a lawsuit challenging the Kadena Air Base's noise pollution. He played us a video on Monday of what it is like. For the people who live there, he said, the war that ended 67 years ago has never ended.
Keiko Itokazu, a Member of the Japanese National Diet, depicted in this painting, said the Okinawan people had been heartbroken since having been unable to protect a 12-year-old girl from gang rape by U.S. troops in 1995. The Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Japan gives U.S. troops immunity from Japanese prosecution. Between 1979 and 2008, U.S. forces in Okinawa caused 1,439 accidents (487 of them airplane related), and 5,584 criminal cases (559 of them involving violent crimes). The list includes fatal driving incidents, residential break-ins, taxi robberies, sexual violence, and other serious crimes against local citizens.
I spoke recently with Maria Allwine who describes herself as "a former Marine Corps spouse." She said, "It is common practice for military personnel to use Japanese women as 'mama-sans,' exchanging house cleaning and sexual favors for money. Nothing new, but it's given a wink and a nod by military brass. Those who don't cheat are considered abnormal by their peers."
The sex police are as absent as the skinflints from their usual place of prominence in U.S. political debate when it comes to occupying other people's countries. Imagine, however, just for a moment, that even one Japanese military base existed in the United States, and imagine that even one Japanese soldier committed a single crime. Can you imagine some things that U.S. television talking heads might say?
Our military is trying to build yet more bases in Okinawa. Why, you ask? Word around town is that even the Pentagon thinks it serves no purpose, but the Marine Corps likes to hold onto anything it's got. The Marines have even named one of their bases in Okinawa for Smedley Butler, the author of "War Is A Racket," and a man whom the Marines once imprisoned at Quantico for having spoken badly of Benito Mussolini. Don't look for logic. Look for petty rivalry and power, combined with unaccountability and we the people missing in action.
The least popular base in Okinawa is probably Futenma Air Base, which sits in the middle of a city, near schools, a hospital, and houses -- houses which military helicopters have been known to crash into. The Marine Corps plans to bring the accident-prone MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to Futenma in 2012. Overwhelmingly, the people of Okinawa want the base closed, and do not want it relocated to a less populated area, and do not want it combined with another existing base. For the past 16 years, residents of Henoko, a location under consideration for relocation of the base, have held a continuous sit-in protest without pause. They have also risked their lives hanging onto a floating platform in the ocean, surrounded by supportive fishing boats, successfully preventing the military from surveying the site for construction.
Hiroshi Ashitomi has been a leader of the nonviolent resistance in Henoko for 16 years. "We use our own bodies," he said on Monday, "to resist aggressive actions by the Japanese government." Pointing to the picture of Gandhi in the collage on the wall at Busboys, Ashitomi said, "We follow the example of Gandhi. It is not easy. We receive threats from the police. But we are determined to use nonviolent resistance, and we get a lot of support from all over Japan. We are trying to protect the environment, so many young people from all over Japan come to our tent and participate in our resistance."
In fact, the environment and the rights of certain endangered species have come to dominate the anti-base movement in Okinawa. Apparently the rights of humans are far less interesting than the rights of the black naped tern, the blue coral, or above all the dugong. The dugong is the manatee-like creature in this photo. Osamu Makishi of the Citizens' Network for Okinawan Biodiversity spoke movingly about these species and their ecosystem on Monday, which he said are protected by treaty.
The Japanese delegation is meeting with Congress Members, including Senator Jim Webb on Wednesday, urging them to close and consolidate bases. I once accompanied a group of Italians on almost identical visits to Congress. The people of Vicenza, Italy, oppose the bases the U.S. military and the national Italian government impose on them, just as the people of Okinawa do. The congress members and staffers we met with at that time gave not the slightest damn for human rights or the environment or popular opinion. I don't think any of the Japanese delegates expect to encounter such humanity this week either. Their hope is to highlight the financial costs to the United States of the occupation of Japan. My hope is that we can help them by telling our misrepresentatives that we agree with the members of the delegation. If you're inclined to help, please call your rep and two senators with that message.
Specifically, the delegation is asking for the closure of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station; cancellation of plans to construct a new Marine Corps air base at Cape Henoko; reduction of unbearable noise caused by air operations at Kadena Air Base; withdrawal of any proposal to integrate Futenma's helicopter squadrons into Kadena's operations; an end to the construction of six new helipads in the Yanbaru forest in northern Okinawa; and revision of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement to allow fair prosecutions of crimes.
Ultimately, however, the members of the delegation want the bases all to be closed. And they do not want them relocated to Guam or Australia or anywhere else, except perhaps to the United States. Itokazu suggested that the U.S. government could save money and produce jobs by bringing bases home. But, of course, we don't want a military occupation any more than Japan does, and the same money would produce more jobs if spent on a non-military industry.
Base opponents in Okinawa work with others in Korea, Guam, and Hawaii, and with former residents of Diego Garcia, as well as others around the world. An international conference called "Dialogue Under Occupation" was held in Okinawa last summer. In fact, people are working extremely hard in cities around the world to shut down or prevent the construction of giant military bases that we in the United States pay for and are endangered by but have very little awareness of.
John Feffer of the Institute for Policy Studies (see http://closethebase.org ) believes Futenma can be closed and can serve as a model for closing more. It is very difficult, however, Feffer says, to accomplish base closings cleanly without some sort of asterisk attached. When a base was closed in Seoul, Korea, a new one was opened outside it. When bases were closed in the Philippines, a Visiting Forces Agreement was drawn up. Yet, the Navy left Vieques, and the President of Ecuador seems to have found the magic formula in his proposal that any U.S. base in Ecuador be matched by an Ecuadorean base in Florida.
Here is another proposal: bring in the IAEA for inspections. No independent organization has verified U.S. claims to no longer be storing nuclear weapons in Japan. On the model of Iran, if full inspections are not permitted by, say, Thursday, or even if they are, we should seriously consider launching preemptive strikes against ourselves. The Constitution that the United States imposed on Japan 65 years ago forbids war preparation, yet the United States trains its forces in Japan to fight wars elsewhere in the world. Are we spreading democracy or hypocrisy? Are we building trust or animosity?
Ikemiyagi says democracy requires U.S. withdrawal from Okinawa. As with the location of nuclear power plants in Japan, he says, the Japanese government wants the military bases out of sight. If Tokyo wants bases, he says, then put them in Tokyo. The people of Okinawa have had enough.
Haven't we all?
Contact: John Feffer, Institute for Policy Studies
Washington, DC - A delegation of politicians, lawyers, activists and students from Okinawa, Japan, will travel to Washington, DC, from January 21 to January 27 to advocate for the closure of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma. The delegation of 24 Japanese leaders will hold a series of Congressionalmeetings and community events to raise awareness of the Futenma crisis.
Okinawa is home to approximately 65% of U.S. Forces in Japan (USFJ), including the controversial Futenma base in Ginowan City. The relocation of Futenma base has been in negotiation since 1996 and continues to cause significant political strain on U.S. Japan relations. Given the current political climate in Washington, the group hopes that foreign base closures may comprise a portion of proposed cuts to military spending.
Martin Luther King Jr. Spoke Out Against Vietnam War in Spring of 1965, Two Years Earlier Than People Think
Listen to the speech here.
If you’re not allowed to enslave people any more, or even loot their resources, then what is the point of being a traditional great power?
The United States kept an army of over 100,000 soldiers in Iraq for eight years, at a cost that will probably end up around a trillion dollars. Yet it didn’t enslave a single Iraqi (though it killed quite a lot), and throughout the occupation it paid full market price for Iraqi oil. So what American purpose did the entire enterprise serve?
Oh, silly me. I forgot. It was about “security”. And here it comes again, on an even bigger scale.
This time of year is ideal for reflecting on the miracle of Christmas 1914, that famous temporary truce and friendship between opposing sides in the midst of a war. Here was a new type of slaughter confronted with a new type of humanism, the leading edges of two opposing trends.
An op-ed in the New York Times last week by Steven Pinker and Joshua Goldstein argues that peace, rather than war, was the dominant development, and that over the millennia, centuries, decades, and right up to this moment, "War Really Is Going Out of Style."
By Dave Lindorff
By David Lindorff Sr.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's fervent hope for years was that Japan would attack the United States. This would permit the United States (not legally, but politically) to fully enter World War II in Europe, as its president wanted to do, as opposed to merely providing weaponry and assisting in targeting of submarines as it had been doing. Of course, Germany's declaration of war, which followed Pearl Harbor and the immediate U.S. declaration of war on Japan, helped as well, but it was Pearl Harbor that radically converted the American people from opposition to support for war.
One might think that a bitter Central Asian war in Afghanistan, spilling into Pakistan, with no sign of ending, and an as yet ambiguous military commitment to a defeated and incompletely reconstituted Iraq, now overshadowed by Iran and the Arab Awakening across the Middle East, would be enough for President Barack Obama to cope with.
He was, after all, elected to reduce American military commitments. He was going to end things in Iraq, fight the “right war” in Afghanistan, which Gen. David Petraeus told him could be wound up in a year. Unaccustomed to generals as he might have been, he surely did not expect “Af-Pak” to turn into a permanent activity and a source of income for the Pentagon and the American arms industry.
Why then does he now want a war with China? No one seems to have made much of this in American press reports and comment, but others have noticed, most of all in China. His journey to Asia this month proclaimed a Pax Americana for Asia—which as such is absurd. The effort is likely to become just the opposite: a steadily deepening and costly engagement in suppressing China’s attempt to reclaim the Asian preeminence it held for more than a thousand years.
This is the sort of thing that starts world wars.
Dear friends of Jeju Island,
Thank you so much for your efforts of solidarity with the villagers of Gangjeong! We did it! We stopped the blast of Gureombi—at least for the time being.
We’ve been informed that the Jeju police have turned down the companies’ request for blasting Gureombi for three reasons: insufficient documents, safety concerns, and the go-ahead from Jeju Governor Woo.
A convoy of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Manila, the Philippines, was pelted with eggs and red paint Wednesday. The incident happened after Clinton's meeting with President Benigno Aquino III.
Several dozen demonstrators, who are members of the League of Filipino Students (LFS), were protesting an agreement which exempted U.S. troops from criminal prosecution in the Philippines.
By Ann Wright
On November 18, 2011, the South Korean Navy will blast Gureombi, the smooth volcanic rock along the coastline of Gangjeong village of Jeju Island where the local people have been fighting day and night almost for 5 years to stop the naval base that will homeport naval vessels equipped with the American Aegis missile and will be a key link in the United States’ Missile Defense System.
Jeju Island was recently selected among the New Seven Wonders of Nature, which with its UNESCO triple-crowned status makes the island among the world’s most precious cultural and national treasures. In addition, the marine ecosystem that lines Gureombi is an absolute preservation area designated by the South Korean government because of the many endangered species that inhabit Gureombi, including the red-clawed crab and soft coral.
By MARK LANDLER
IT may seem strange in an era of cyberwarfare and drone attacks, but the newest front in the rivalry between the United States and China is a tropical sea, where the drive to tap rich offshore oil and gas reserves has set off a conflict akin to the gunboat diplomacy of the 19th century.
The Obama administration first waded into the treacherous waters of the South China Sea last year when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared, at a tense meeting of Asian countries in Hanoi, that the United States would join Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries in resisting Beijing’s efforts to dominate the sea. China, predictably, was enraged by what it viewed as American meddling.
For all its echoes of the 1800s, not to mention the cold war, the showdown in the South China Sea augurs a new type of maritime conflict — one that is playing out from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arctic Ocean, where fuel-hungry economic powers, newly accessible undersea energy riches and even changes in the earth’s climate are conspiring to create a 21st-century contest for the seas.
Exclusive: In just-released Watergate grand jury testimony from 1975, ex-President Richard Nixon complained that his 1968 campaign was bugged by the Johnson administration. But there was little curiosity then – or now – as to why that surveillance was justified, reports Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
Thirty-six years ago, as former President Richard M. Nixon dodged grand jury questions about his illegal wiretapping of political enemies, he briefly referenced a dark secret about his 1968 campaign’s sabotaging of Vietnam War peace talks, actions which President Lyndon Johnson at the time privately labeled “treason.”
Without providing that historical context, Nixon complained that he and his 1968 campaign had been victims of surveillance and wiretapping, too, as he tried to persuade Watergate prosecutors and the grand jury that bugging opponents was just part of hardball politics.
“In 1968, for example, we learned that not only was … Vice President [-ial nominee Spiro] Agnew’s plane under surveillance, and he himself was under surveillance by the FBI, but that the FBI was at one point directed to bug my plane,” Nixon said, according to secret grand jury transcripts released by the National Archives on Thursday.
During that testimony on June 23, 1975, the prosecutors failed to follow up on his reference to the 1968 bugging, such as why it would be ordered. And after the transcripts were released this week, the major U.S. news media also missed the comment’s significance.
The evidence of Nixon’s sabotage of the 1968 Vietnam peace talks is now overwhelming – including diplomatic cable traffic and contemporaneous audiotapes of Johnson discussing the Republican promises to South Vietnamese President Nguyen van Thieu of a better deal if he boycotted negotiations in Paris.
There were four arrests in Gangjeong village within the past day. The arrested are:
Youngsil Kang (International Team Leader)
Brother Song (Resistance Leader)
Sung-hee Choi (International Team Leader)
Three were arrested at the UN-ROK Disarmament Conference during peaceful protest and one was arrested at the naval base gate. This conference is happening just minutes away from Gangjeong village and little connection is being made to the construction of the Navy base that will only escalate tensions in the region.
There are undercover police and military everywhere in the village.
These are four of the most effective activists. Some are facing very significant jail time and already on probation.
Please help spread the word to media and other organizations, particularly human rights groups.
Ms. Setsuko Thurlow at the United Nations General Assembly First Committee, October 26, 2011:
Dear Members of the First Committee and guests,
I am privileged to have this opportunity to share with you a small part of my experience of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
BEIJING (AP) -- China's fast growing demand for aircraft has become a strong influence on how Boeing Co. designs and markets its newest planes, one of the company's executives said Wednesday.
Ihssane Mounir also said Boeing welcomes future competition from China's state-owned COMAC, which is developing a pair of passenger jets, but warned the commercial aircraft business could be punishing.
"It needs a lot of money, it needs a lot of patience, and the learning curve is tough," Mounir, senior vice president of sales and marketing for greater China and Korea, told The Associated Press.
U.S. Launch of ICBM Missile across the Pacific on World Peace Day exposes escalation of U.S. offensive missile strategy
By Ann Wright
You certainly would not know it was World Peace Day on September 21 by actions of the United States.
In addition to the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on World Peace Day, in violation of its commitment to disarmament under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the United States will fire an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California over Hawaii and the Pacific Missile Range tracking facility (PMRF) to crash into the Pacific Ocean near Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.
Route of the ICBM to be fired on World Peace Day
The Marshall Islands are the same islands that the United States blew up in the 1950s and 1960s in the nuclear and hydrogen bomb tests from which Marshall Islanders are still suffering from radiation sickness and unable to return to the radioactive islands.
The expansion of the US missile “defense” system is causing dangerous repercussions around the world, making hotspots even hotter-from China and North Korea to Turkey, Israel and Iran.
Pacific Missile Range in Hawaii Expanded for the Aegis Missile Test Complex—Testing to Kill or to Defend?
On Kauai, Hawaii, the Hawaii congressional delegation continues to bring home the bacon, the pork barrel projects that include expansion of the Pacific Missile Range Facility. The latest project is the construction of theAegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex that will provide testing and evaluation of the systems.
South Koreans Oppose US Military Bases, Tea Party Expected to Object to Billions Wasted on Generating Hostility Any Day Now Maybe
By Bruce Gagnon
The latest news is that this morning at 4:00 am the South Korean police and military staged a massive raid of the Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. Sirens blared and villagers ran to the two construction gates to set up non-violent blockades. Many college students have come to join the villagers. By 9:00 am some number of Catholic Priests and 33 villagers and supporters have been arrested in Gangjeong village. More are likely to be taken to jail before this is all over.
By Iara Lee
I was in Seoul, South Korea this month at the invitation of the wonderful EBS TV Documentary Festival, and was truly, happily surprised to see a resurgence of activism among ordinary Koreans. Don't get me wrong. Since its founding, Korea has had a tradition of fierce, die-hard activism (which Koreans themselves may attribute to a diet high in garlic and red pepper, as well as their commitment to social justice), but this ferocity seemed to have gone dormant in the mid-nineties. I was overjoyed to find that this was no longer the case.
By Ann Wright
Yesterday, August 24, 2011, sirens wailed for citizens to come to the main gate of the Naval Base in Kang Jeong Village on Jeju Island, South Korea where the Korean Navy wants to continue construction of a naval base for 18 ships and a 2 submarines in an area that will destroy a pristine shoreline and endanger marine life. Local villagers and activists from the mainland of South Korea have struggled for five years to prevent the construction of the base.
Sirens signal an emergency-the mayor and four activists are arrested
By Marjorie Cohn Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the chemical warfare program in Vietnam without sufficient remedial action by the U.S. government. One of the most shameful legacies of the Vietnam War, Agent Orange continues to poison Vietnam and the people exposed to the chemicals, as well as their offspring. H.R. 2634, the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011, which California Congressman Bob Filner just introduced in the House, would provide crucial assistance for social and health services to Vietnamese, Vietnamese-American, and U.S. victims of Agent Orange. From 1961 to 1971, approximately 19 million gallons of herbicides, primarily Agent Orange, were sprayed over the southern region of Vietnam. Much of it was contaminated with dioxin, a deadly chemical.
By CHRISTINE AHN, New York Times
SEOUL — Gangjeong, a small fishing and farming village on Jeju Island 50 miles south of the Korean peninsula, is a pristine Unesco-designated ecological reserve where elderly Korean women sea divers, haenyo, still forage for seafood. It is also the site of a fierce resistance movement by villagers who oppose the construction of a South Korean naval base on the island that will become part of the U.S. missile defense system to contain China.
South Korea’s president, Lee Myungbak, says the base is needed to protect Seoul from an attack from Pyongyang. The problem with that assertion is that the Aegis destroyers that Lee pledged to deploy at the base aren’t designed to protect South Korea from North Korean Taepodong ballistic missiles (TBM).