Okinawa Dreams #12: International Statement

Below is the joint statement from all the delegates who attending the International Forum during the 2011 Japan Peace Conference last month in Okinawa.As delegates came from around the Pacific and Asia, each area has a separate paragraph which deals with their particular issues. You can see some of the concerns that I raised in my earlier Okinawa Dreams post on Nationalism and Solidarity however. While this statement lays out a clear map of solidarity, the question always remains, how do these ties become more than strands of knowledge or awareness of things? When do they become imbued with power?


International Forum

Joint Communique
For a US-Base-Free, Nuclear-Free and Peaceful Asia-Pacific
without Military Bases
Japan Peace Conference
Nov. 24-25, 2011

The International Forum “For a Nuclear Weapon-Free Peaceful Asia-Pacific without Military Bases - Solidarity among Okinawa, Guam and Asia-Pacific” was sponsored jointly by Japan Peace Committee and Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice in Naha City, Okinawa on 24 and 25 November, 2011, bringing together 150 representatives from seven countries: Guam, Japan, South Korea, the Marshall Islands, Republic of Belau, the Philippines and the U.S. (Hawaii). Gathering in Okinawa, we mutually strengthened our resolve to develop both movements in our respective countries and international solidarity, particularly to Okinawa and Guam. We call on you to join your hands to achieve a U.S.-base-free and nuclear-weapon-free peaceful Asia-Pacific, from Okinawa where people have continuously suffered from the massive presence of U.S. bases since their lands were confiscated with “bayonets and bulldozers” after the end of WW II.

As demonstrated by the struggle of Arab people for democracy and dignity, the mounting protests staged in the Wall Street and elsewhere against the tyranny of big capital that is widening the social gap as well as the global spread of the opinion and movement calling for a “world without nuclear weapons,” the voice and actions of the citizens are changing the world. Now is the time to spread and develop this tide widely in the Asia-Pacific region.

The U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific not only poses a threat to peace and security of this region, but infringes on the sovereignty and human rights of the host countries and undermines the living and security of the people of these countries as well as their economy, community bonds and natural environment. These military bases that tramples upon the human dignity must be removed without delay.

In Japan, there are over 130 U.S. bases stationed, and 75% of them are concentrated in Okinawa. Now the opposition of Okinawan people against the relocation of Futenma base of the U.S. Marines, the “most dangerous base in the world”, within Okinawa prefecture and against the construction of a new base at Henoko, Nago City is growing as a firm will of whole residents, and it’s driving the governments of Japan and the U.S. into a corner. There is no way but to immediately close Futenma base. Nation-wide solidarity with Okinawa is developing, and it’s a key to the victory. Yokosuka base where U.S. nuclear aircraft-carrier is deployed and those bases in the metropolitan Tokyo, Iwakuni, and other parts of Japan are also increasingly becoming areas of grave concern. The damage caused by the bases such as crimes and accidents involving U.S. servicemen, stems from the violation of Japan’s sovereignty and humiliating subordination of Japan to the US under the Japan-U.S. alliance. That alliance hinders Japan’s rejection to U.S. “nuclear umbrella” and its diplomacy based on the peaceful provisions of Japanese constitution. Thus the abrogation of their security treaty has become more important to make a Japan of nuclear weapons free and peace.

In Guahan (Guam), the transfer of Marines from Okinawa to the island poses great concern to the island’s people and the native Chamorro inhabitants. The United States has denied native Chamorros their right to self-determination and political decolonization. The United States currently occupies about 29% of the island. Part of the Guam Build-Up also includes the construction of a Ballistic Missile Defense System and the berthing for a nuclear aircraft carrier. Roughly 60% of the Guam Build-Up is being funded by the government of Japan and direct cash payments have already been made to the U.S. Treasury to subsidize it. The island has been contaminated by military activities that include exposure to radiation, PCBs, dioxins, agent orange, and agent purple. This has resulted in high cases of cancer for Chamorros and other indicators of ill health. Many acts of protest has been developed against these acts. .

In South Korea, We have a deep concern on the construction of Jeju naval base. The Gangjeong villagers in the Jeju Island have been opposing the construction of the Jeju naval base in our village since 2007. Many people say the base would be used as part of the U.S.'s containment against China, triggering arms race and intensifying the possibility of war against China, at the sacrifice of the peace of the people in the Jeju Island that has been designated as the Peace Island in 2005. The destruction of beautiful nature by using undemocratic methods in disregard of the will of the people is not acceptable. We sincerely hope that the beautiful nature and peaceful community of the Jeju Island will be preserved.

In the Philippines, the United States has put in place a new basing and global deployment strategy that avoids the problems of traditional basing. The new form is less visible, more numerous and scattered, in small teams, flexible and mobile and more involved in rescue and reconstruction civilian activities meant to win the hearts and minds of the people. There is now a US facility within a Philippine military base in Mindanao. Renewed interest on the Philippines and the promise by the United States for more military aid and assistance and affirmation of the existing Mutual Defense Treaty indicates the possibility of the establishment of US presence beyond the Visiting Forces Agreement and in violation of the Philippine Constitution. The United States continues to deny any responsibility to clean up the former US bases as communities continue to suffer the impact of toxic and hazardous wastes left behind.

In Hawai’i, the U.S. military-backed overthrow of the independent Hawaiian Kingdom caused environmental ruin and negative economic, cultural and social impacts for Kanaka Maoli people. Hawaii is both a victim of U.S. empire and a weapon of that empire. Yet many people in Hawaii continue to resist U.S. militarization. In Makua, the community is at a turning point to push for a complete end to the military occupation of that valley. But the burden of military activities are now shifting to Pohakuloa, Mokapu and Waimanalo. And offensive missile programs on Kauai contribute to rising nuclear tensions in the region. So Hawaii groups are intensifying resistance in these locations.

In Palau, We will continue to fight for our nation to be a nuclear free nation. Our Constitution is still nuclear free in the world. The people of Palau stand with other Asia-Pacific people to turn the region into a nuclear free and peaceful place on the earth.

In the Marshall Islands, Although the problems occurring on Ronald Reagan Missile test base on Kwajalein differ from those facing other bases within the region, injustices including social problems exists regardless. On a small base like Kwajalein harbors the problems of discrimination against and mistreatment of local employees and families not to mention wide varieties of social problems due to high density population and breaking down of traditional culture caused by westernization of lifestyle influenced by the heavy American presence.

The forces that are aiming to maintain and strengthen the U.S. military presence and alliances try to justify their position by claiming that it is to “deter” potential foreign threats. However, the “deterrence” policy supposes threats by military force and only leads to heightening international tension, increasing the risk of military collision and seriously endangering peoples’ lives and livelihoods. The “nuclear deterrence” policy in particular totally runs counter to the internationally affirmed objective of a “world without nuclear weapons”, not only causing enormous catastrophe by the use of nuclear weapons, but also inducing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Although there are still problems that may develop into tension, the dominant trend in this region is to try to resolve these problems through diplomacy as represented by the effort of ASEAN working for the resolution of conflicts by peaceful and diplomatic means and the Six Party Talks to deal collectively with North Korean nuclear issues. Many governments of the region are also playing an active role in achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons and a convention banning these weapons. In order to promote this mounting tide for peace, it is crucial that we the civil society oppose any action threatening peace and security and strengthen international joint initiatives and cooperation.

The realization of a U.S. base-free, nuclear-free and peaceful Asia-Pacific is essential for all the people living in the region to gain respect for their dignity and enjoy the right to live in peace without any fear and want. Hence, we call on all movements and campaigns for human rights, justice, peace, protection of natural environment and better living conditions to work together in solidarity to achieve this goal.

Let us develop our actions especially around the initiatives set out below:

--March 1 Bikini Day, 2012 World Conference against A and H Bombs, 2012 Japan Peace Conference;

--Provide support for the exercise of the Chamorro right to Self-Determination to resolve Guahan (Guam’s) political status issue as an unincorporated territory of the United States;

--February 19-24, 2012, bi-annual meeting of the International Network of Women Against Militarism in San Juan, Puerto Rico;

-- An international week of actions in Asia and the Pacific against foreign military bases called by the Moana Nui Conference in Honolulu.

We extend our sincere gratitude to the members of the Organizing Committee of Japan Peace Conference who worked hard to make this Forum a success while engaging in the campaigns to support the rehabilitation of victimized people and areas by the East Japan Great Earthquake and to bring the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant under control and to reduce nuclear power plants to zero. We also thank our friends of Guahan and other overseas friends who helped us to organize this Forum. Let us pledge that we will continue to work harder together and back in our respective countries.


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