Monday, June 07, 2010

Three Websites for Peace and the Pacific

I complain regularly on this blog about how, despite the incredible similarities that the people of Guam (mainly Chamorro, but others who call it home as well) have with the people of Okinawa, we barely know each other. Long colonial histories, shared experiences of military destruction and dispossession after World War II, and contemporary statuses as lynchpins to America's strategic posture in Asia.

That is one of the reasons why Okinawans see Guam as a possible solution to their problems(to get rid of the US military), and many on Guam see the problems that Okinawans have with the US presence there, as a solution to Guam's own economic problems (bring them to Guam instead). People on Guam think of Okinawa as a US military base, or simply just another part of Japan, while people in Okinawa see Guam as a US military base and just another part of the US. We are ridiculous caricatures to each other, caricatures which serve the interests of those who claims our seperate but inter-woven destinies.

I posted yesterday the speech that We Are Guahan representative Melvin Won-Pat Borja gave at a conference earlier this year in New York. When I asked him about his trip, he said that one of the most refreshing things that came from his time there, was the discussions he had with activists from Okinawa. That while at first glance, they may take the position that Guam is an ideal place to send US troops to, to get them out of their island, this quickly changed once they heard more about Guam and stepped beyond the caricature. After realizing that Guam was in a similar position that their island, a colonial footnote forced to shoulder the burden of their colonizer's defense interests, they agreed that Guam was not the place to solve their problems.

I am always glad to hear of stories like this, even though I know that this is an easy audience (Okinawan peace or demilitarization activists) to convince. More always needs to be done, and regular lines of communication, not just great stories between activists are needed to have a bigger impact.

That is one reason why I am grateful for the websites Ten Thousand Things, Peace Philosophy Centre and DMZ Hawai'i/Aloha Aina, because they regularly features up to date information about things which are happening, not just in Okinawa, but all across the Pacific-Asia region.

Here is something that I came across yesterday on Peace Philosophy Centre, "Okinawa Voice Reconfirmed, and Reinforced," which is a recent poll on people's attitudes in Okinawa about the US military presence there and overall US-Japan defense relations:

Latest Mainichi Shimbun poll, conducted from May 28 to 30 with Okinawans:

84% of Okinawans oppose a new base construction in Henoko.
6% agreed.

Support for Hatoyama: 8%
(drop from 63%, in November 2009)

71% don't think Marines are needed in Okinawa
15% think they are needed.

50% think US military bases in Okinawa should be reduced, and 41% think
they should be removed.

55% think Japan-US Security Treaty should be changed into a Peace Treaty,
and 14% think it should be abolished. 7% think it should be maintained.


achakma said...

The folks from the Asia-Pacific blogs: Ten Thousand Things, DMZ Hawai'i, Peace Philosophy Centre, No Base Stories of Korea, Close the Base and Organizing Notes have been making the connections in our shared histories of US military presence and its impacts on our respective communities for some time. Since Melvin's presentations in NY at the Int'l Conference for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World, our voices are reaching past the mainstream media's limited perspectives to connections in our communities to stand up to US aggressions.

Government administrations will not be the ones to lead us to a peaceful world. It will be through the work of you and me and other committed and dedicated folks who want a world with policies of peace and prosperity for everyone.

向花 said...

the food is delicious!............................................................

TenThousandThings said...

Hi Michael,

I have wanted to comment on this powerful post since it first went up.

But I am still pondering your insight about how even those who are decolonized mentally regarding their own political situation are often colonized, thus participate in the subjugation of people outside their polities.

I think this quote from Lila Watson sums up our task of mutual liberation:

"If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time…But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."

I am going to repost this post and name your blog as one of the sites :) And I will take the long comment I've been working on and turn it into a post at our blog and post it here when I'm done.

Encountering the profundity and integrity of Chamorro scholars, activists, and artists is deepening at so many levels of engagement: personal and public.

Thank you very much for dialogue on the deepest level of respect for the human struggles that we're bound up in together. And thanks for the "shout out" on TTT :)

Jean at TTT


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