World Scholars, Artists, Activists Call for Demilitarization of Okinawa

080821-N-0529C-004 OKINAWA, Japan (Aug. 21, 2008) – Two CH46 helicopters transport Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 (NMCB 133) to a bombing range off the coast of Okinawa. On August 21, 2008, a survey team performed a site visit to this remote location. NMCB 133 will take the results of this survey and generate a plan to make the site more useable for Navy, Air Force, and Marine personnel who use the range for aerial weapons training. U.S. Navy photo by Equipment Operator 2nd Class (SCW) Jason Cummings.

from Consortium News, September 9, 2018

More than one hundred scholars, peace activists and artists from around the world have issued a statement condemning the Japanese and U.S. governments’ plans to build a new base for the US Marine Corps in Northern Okinawa.

To: Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo
To: President of the United States, Donald Trump
To: Acting Governor of Okinawa, Jahana Kiichiro
To: Acting Governor of Okinawa, Tomikawa Moritake
To: The people of the world

September 7, 2018

In January 2014, more than one hundred scholars, peace activists and artists from around the world issued a statement condemning the Japanese and U.S. governments’ plans to close MCAS Futenma, which is located in the middle of a congested urban neighbourhood, and build a new base for the US Marine Corps offshore from the coastal village of Henoko in Northern Okinawa. While we applauded shutting the Futenma base, we strongly objected to the idea of relocating it inside Okinawa.

Marine Corps (USMC), L Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, practice Military Operations and Urban Terrain warfare at the Camp Hansen, Okinawa ( LCPL Antonio J. Vega, USMC)

Okinawa has suffered at Japanese and American hands for more than a century. It was incorporated by force into both the pre-modern Japanese state in 1609 and into modern Japan in 1879. In 1945, it was the scene of the final major battle of World War Two, resulting in the deaths of between one-third and one-quarter of its population. It was then severed from the rest of Japan under direct US military rule for another 27 years during which the Pentagon constructed military bases, unfettered by Japanese residual sovereignty or Okinawan sentiment. Reversion to Japan took place in 1972, bases intact. In the continuing post-Cold War era, Okinawa has faced the pressure of state policies designed to reinforce that base system, not only by construction of the Henoko facility but also by the building of “helicopter pads” for the Marine Corps in the Yambaru forest of northern Okinawa and by the accelerating fortification of the chain of “Southwest” (Nansei) islands that stretch from Kagoshima to Taiwan (including Amami, Miyako, Ishigaki, and Yonaguni).

Signatories of our 2014 statement included linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky, filmmakers Oliver Stone, Michael Moore and John Junkerman, Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire, historians Norma Field, John Dower, Alexis Dudden and Herbert Bix, former US Army Colonel Ann Wright, authors Naomi Klein and Joy Kogawa, former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard Falk, and former Defense and State Department official Daniel Ellsberg. The present statement follows on from that of four years ago and from subsequent statements such as those in January and August 2015. It includes many of the original signatories.

We raise our voices again because our concerns were never remedied and are heightened today. In military and strategic terms, Japanese and American experts agree that there is no reason why functions of the projected new base (if indeed there is need for them, which many doubt) had to be in Okinawa. The government insists on Okinawa largely because it thinks it is “politically impossible” to build such a new base elsewhere in Japan.

In 2017-18, the government of Japan built seawalls around Cape Henoko (mobilizing a large force of riot police and the Japan Coast Guard to crush the non-violent opposition). In June 2018, it served notice of intent to commence dropping sand and soil into Oura Bay as part of the plan to fill in and reclaim a 160 hectare site for construction of a major new facility for the US Marine Corps. It would construct a concrete platform rising ten meters above sea level with two 1,800-meter runways and a 272-meter long wharf.

In environmental terms, Oura Bay is one of Japan’s most bio-diverse and fertile marine zones, in the highest category for protection (in the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s conservation guideline), home to over 5,300 marine species, 262 of them endangered, including coral, sea cucumber, seaweed and seagrass, shrimp, shellfish, fish, turtles, snakes and mammals, and to the specially protected marine mammal, the dugong. The bay is also connected to the ecosystem of the Yambaru forest in northern Okinawa Island, which the Japanese Ministry of the Environment nominated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site in 2017, along with three other islands of Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures. That nomination was withdrawn in June 2018 as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the advisory organization on natural heritage issues to UNESCO, recommended that the nomination be “deferred,” seeking clarification on how to match the Yambaru forest as a World Heritage site with the presence of the US military’s Northern Training Area within it.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted by the Japanese government was also full of flaws. In February 2012, the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee identified 150 “concerns about environmental protection” in the government’s Environmental Impact Statement submitted to the prefecture two months earlier. Given that report, then Governor Nakaima Hirokazu told Tokyo that it would be “impossible, by the environmental protection measures spelled out in the EIA, to maintain the preservation of people’s livelihood and the natural environment.” However, Nakaima, who had been elected in 2010 on a pledge to demand relocation of Futenma outside of Okinawa, reversed himself under heavy state pressure while in a Tokyo hospital in December 2013 and granted the highly unpopular reclamation permit. His unexplained shift infuriated many Okinawans who repaid his betrayal by voting him out of office the following November by a massive 100,000 vote margin and placing the government in the hands of Onaga Takeshi, whose core pledge was to do “everything in my power” to stop the Henoko project.

Onaga appointed a “Third Party” Commission of experts to advise him on this matter and its report in July 2015 was equally clear that the necessary environmental conditions for construction had not been met. Documents later released by the US Department of Defense (DOD) in a US federal court case showed the DOD’s expert opinion concurred that the EIA was “extremely poorly done” and “does not withstand scientific scrutiny.” In August 2015, we urged him to act decisively, and in October, he did “cancel” the reclamation license.

US Bases on Okinawa

However, after prolonged litigation, the Supreme Court, late in 2016, upheld the national government’s claim that the cancellation was illegal. Onaga submitted to that ruling, thus reviving the reclamation permit, and the state resumed site work in April 2017. As those works at Henoko gradually gathered momentum, Onaga even appeared at times to be cooperating with the state’s construction design. In late 2017, he gave permission for use of Northern Okinawan ports for transport of construction materials to the Henoko-Oura Bay site and in July 2018 he approved the application by the Okinawa Defense Bureau for permission to remove and transplant endangered coral from the construction site despite strong evidence that transplanting, especially in summer, offered little prospect of success.

He retained, however, the option of issuing a “rescission” or “revocation” (tekkai) order, something he repeatedly promised to do when the time was ripe. Eventually, on 27 July 2018, Onaga gave formal notice of his intent to revoke and ordered preliminary steps accordingly. Two weeks later, however, on August 8, he suddenly died. Pending the election of a successor, to take place on 30 September, two Deputy Governors, Jahana Kiichiro and Tomikawa Moritake, took over the functions of Governor. The planned revocation took place on 31 August.

Base construction flies in the face of constitutional principles such as popular sovereignty and the right to regional self-government. Okinawan opposition to the construction of a new base has been constant, reaching at times over 80 per cent in public opinion surveys, and has been repeatedly affirmed in elections (not least that of Onaga himself in 2014). No Okinawan candidate for office has ever been elected on an explicitly pro-base construction platform. The Okinawan parliament has twice, in May 2016 and November 2017, called for withdrawal of the Marine Corps altogether from Okinawa.

080821-N-0529C-004 OKINAWA, Japan (Aug. 21, 2008) – Two CH46 helicopters transport Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 (NMCB 133) to a bombing range off the coast of Okinawa. On August 21, 2008, a survey team performed a site visit to this remote location. NMCB 133 will take the results of this survey and generate a plan to make the site more useable for Navy, Air Force, and Marine personnel who use the range for aerial weapons training. U.S. Navy photo by Equipment Operator 2nd Class (SCW) Jason Cummings.

It is time to rethink the “fortress” role assigned to Okinawa by successive Japanese governments and U.S. military and strategic planners and to begin to articulate a role for Okinawa, including its “frontier” islands, as the centre of a de-militarized community to be built around the East China Sea. Cancellation of the Henoko project and an end to the militarization of the Nansei Islands would, more than anything, signal a commitment to the construction of such a new order.

We declare our support for Okinawa prefecture’s revocation of the reclamation license for Henoko/Oura Bay of which former Governor Onaga served formal notice on 27 July and which Acting Governor Jahana carried out on 31 August.

We call on President Trump and Prime Minister Abe to cancel forthwith the planned base construction for the US Marine Corps at Henoko and to open negotiations towards drastically reducing, and eventually eliminating, the US military base presence on Okinawa.

We call on Prime Minister Abe to order a halt to the construction or expansion of Japanese military facilities on Amami, Miyako, Ishigaki and Yonaguni Islands and to initiate debate on ways to transform Okinawa Island and the Nansei Islands into a regional centre for peace and cooperation.

We encourage the candidates for election to the Governorship of Okinawa to make clear their intent to carry out the manifest will of the Okinawan people to close Futenma, stop Henoko and rethink the fortification of Nansei Islands, shifting overall Okinawa policy priority from militarization to peace, the environment, and regional cooperation.

We, the undersigned, support the people of Okinawa in their struggle for peace, dignity, human rights and protection of their environment, and we call on the people of Japan to recognize and support the justice of that struggle.

We call upon the people and governments of the world to support the struggle of the people of Okinawa to demilitarize the Okinawan islands and to live in peace.

  1. Christine Ahn, Women Cross DMZ
  2. Gar Alperovitz, Historian and Political-Economist; Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative; Former Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy, University of Maryland
  3. Jim Anderson, President, Peace Action New York State
  4. Kozy Amemiya, Independent scholar, specialist on Okinawan emigration
  5. Colin Archer, Secretary-General, International Peace Bureau (retired)
  6. Herbert Bix, Emeritus Professor of History and Sociology, Binghamton University, SUNY
  7. Reiner Braun, Co-president International Peace Bureau
  8. John Burroughs, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
  9. Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation; National Co- convener, United for Peace and Justice
  10. Choi Sung-hee, Coordinator of Gangjeong Village International Team (in opposition to the Jeju Navy Base), Jeju, Korea
  11. Avi Chomsky, Professor of History, Salem State University
  12. Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  13. Rachel Clark, Independent interpreter/global coordinator
  14. Marjorie Cohn, Professor Emerita, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
  15. Paul Cravedi, President, Newton Executive Office Center
  16. Nick Deane, Marrickville Peace Group, Sydney, Australia
  17. Kate Dewes, Ph.D. O.N.Z.M (Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit)
  18. Anne M. Dietrich, International Peace Advisor, PUR / CRASPD, Huye, Rwanda
  19. Ronald Dore, Japan scholar, UK/Italy
  20. John Dower, Professor Emeritus of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  21. Jean Downey, Attorney and writer
  22. Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut
  23. Mark Ealey, Translator
  24. Lorraine J Elletson, Independent researcher, Spain
  25. Daniel Ellsberg, Former State and Defense Department official
  26. Cynthia Enloe, Research Professor, Clark University
  27. Joseph Essertier, Associate Professor, Nagoya Institute of Technology
  28. John Feffer, Co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus ( at the Institute for Policy Studies
  29. Bill Fletcher, Jr., Former president of TransAfrica Forum
  30. Carolyn Forche?, University Professor, Georgetown University
  31. Max Paul Friedman, Professor of History, American University
  32. Ian R. Fry, RDA, PhD., Honorary Postdoctoral Associate, University of Divinity, Chair, Victorian Council of Churches Commission on Faiths, Community and Dialogue, Member, the Board of the World Intellectual Forum
  33. Corazon Valdez Fabros, Vice President, International Peace Bureau
  34. Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University
  35. George Feifer, Author of The Battle of Okinawa, The Blood and the Bomb
  36. Gordon Fellman, Professor of Sociology, Brandeis University
  37. Norma Field, Professor Emerita, University of Chicago
  1. Takashi Fujitani, Dr. David Chu Chair in Asia-Pacific Studies and Professor of History, University of Toronto
  2. Peter Galvin, Co-Founder, Director of Programs, Center for Biological Diversity
  3. Joseph Gerson (PhD), President, Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security
  4. Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
  5. Irene Gendzier, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Boston University
  6. Van Gosse, Professor of History, Franklin & Marshall College, Co-Chair, Historians for Peace and Democracy
  7. Rob Green. Commander, Royal Navy (retired)
  8. Rick Grehan, Creative Director, The Image Mill
  9. Stig Gustafsson, President, Swedish Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
  10. Hugh Gusterson, Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, George Washington University
  11. Melvin Hardy, Curator, Hiroshima Children’s Drawings, All Souls Church, Unitarian, Washington, DC
  12. Laura Hein, Professor of Japanese History, Northwestern University, Chicago
  13. Kwon, Heok?Tae, Professor, SungKongHoe University
  14. Ellen Hines, Associate Director and Professor of Geography & Environment, Estuary and Ocean Science Center, San Francisco State University
  15. Katsuya Hirano, Associate Professor of History, UCLA
  16. Hong Yunshin, Lecturer, Hitotsubashi University
  17. Glenn D. Hook, Emeritus Professor, University of Sheffield
  18. Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  19. Mickey Huff, Professor of History, Diablo Valley College; Director, Project Censured
  20. Jean E. Jackson, Professor of Anthropology Emeritus, MIT
  21. Paul Jobin, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Paris Diderot
  22. Sheila Johnson, Japan Policy Research Institute, Cardiff California; widow of Chalmers Johnson
  23. Erin Jones, Independent researcher, Gilbert AZ
  24. Paul Joseph, Professor of Sociology, Tufts University
  25. John Junkerman, Documentary film director
  26. Kyle Kajihiro, Hawai?i Peace and Justice, and University of Hawaii at Manoa
  27. Louis Kampf, Professor of Humanities Emeritus, MIT
  28. Bruce Kent, Movement for the Abolition of War
  29. Assaf Kfoury, Professor of Computer Science, Boston University
  30. Nan Kim, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee
  31. Joy Kogawa, Author of Obasan
  32. Jeremy Kuzmarov, Professor of History, Tulsa Community College
  33. Peter Kuznick, Professor of History and Director, Nuclear Studies Institute, American University
  34. John Lamperti, Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, Dartmouth College
  35. Steve Leeper, Founder, Peace Culture Village
  36. Jon Letman, Journalist, Hawaii
  37. Edward Lozansky, Founder and President, American University in Moscow
  38. Catherine Lutz, Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at Brown University
  1. Kyo Maclear, Author and Independent Scholar, Toronto, Canada
  2. Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace laureate
  3. Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action
  4. Gavan McCormack, Emeritus Professor, Australian National University
  5. Ray McGovern, Former CIA analyst
  6. Zia Mian, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
  7. Katherine Muzik, Ph.D., Marine Biologist, Okinawa and Hawaii, Research Associate, Bishop Museum
  8. Vasuki Nesiah, Associate Professor of Practice, New York University
  9. Agneta Norberg, Chair, Swedish Peace Council
  10. Caroline Norma, Senior Research Fellow, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
  11. Eiichiro Ochiai, Emeritus Professor, Juniata College, PA, USA
  12. Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Editor, Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
  13. Koohan Paik, International forum on globalization, San Francisco
  14. Parker Park, President of Parker Enterprise, and writer/journalist
  15. Lindis Percy, Co-founder of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB)
  16. John Pilger, Journalist, author, film-maker
  17. Margaret Power, Professor of History, Illinois Institute of Technology
  18. John Price, History Professor Emeritus, University of Victoria, Canada
  19. Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus of East Asian Studies, Brown University, and Veteran, US Army, Okinawa
  20. Hye-Jung Park, Philadelphia Committee for Peace and Justice in Asia
  21. Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Distinguished Professor Global studies and Sociology, UC Santa Barbara
  22. Terry Provance, Coordinator, Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee
  23. J. Narayana Rao, Director, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (India)
  24. Betty A. Reardon, Ed.D., Founding Director Emeritus International Institute of Peace Education
  25. Ernie Regehr, Co-founder of Project Ploughshares
  26. Lawrence Repeta, Member, Washington State Bar Association (USA)
  27. Dennis Riches, Professor, Seijo University
  28. Terry Kay Rockefeller, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
  29. Francisco Rodriguez-Jimenez, Professor of Global Studies, University of Extremadura  and University of Salamanca
  30. Paul Rogers, Independent scholar, Bradford, UK
  31. Antonio C.S. Rosa, Editor, TRANSCEND Media Service-TMS
  32. Kazuyuki Sasaki, Senior lecturer, Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS), Rwanda
  33. Mark Selden, Professor Emeritus of Sociology and History, State University of New  York at                    Binghamton
  34. Martin Sherwin, University Professor of History, George Mason University
  35. Tim Shorrock, Journalist, Washington DC
  36. Marie Cruz Soto, Clinical Assistant Professor at New York University and Member of  New York Solidarity with Vieques
  37. John Steinbach, Co-Chair of the Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace committee of the National Capital Area
  38. Oliver Stone, Writer-Director
  39. Doug Strable, Educational researcher
  40. Frida Stranne, PhD, Peace and Development Studies, Swedish Institute for North American Studies, Uppsala University, Sweden
  41. David Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War
  42. Yuki Tanaka, Freelance historian and political critic, Melbourne, Australia
  43. Grace Eiko Thomson, Former president, National Association of Japanese Canadians, founding director/curator, Japanese Canadian National Museum
  44. Wesley Ueunten, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University
  45. Kenji Urata, Professor Emeritus, Waseda University, Japan, Vice President, IALANA
  46. Jo Vallentine, Former Greens Senator, co-convenor of People for Nuclear Disarmament,  Western Australia
  47. David Vine, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, American University
  48. Naoko Wake, Associate Professor of History, Michigan State University
  49. Dave Webb, Chair Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK), Vice President of the  International Peace Bureau and Convenor of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
  50. Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington
  51. The Very Rev. the Hon. Lois Wilson, Former President, World Council of Churches
  52. Lucas Wirl, Executive Director, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA)
  53. Lawrence Wittner, Professor of History Emeritus, State University of New York/Albany
  54. Karel van Wolferen, Author and emeritus professor, University of Amsterdam
  55. Ann Wright, US Army Reserve Colonel (Ret) and former US Diplomat
  56. Tomomi Yamaguchi, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Montana State University
  57. Lisa Yoneyama, Professor, University of Toronto
  58. Kil Sang Yoo, Retired ordained clergy of The United Methodist Church in the USA

Organizers’ contact information
Gavan McCormack Gavan.
Peter Kuznick
Joseph Gerson
Satoko Oka Norimatsu

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