Japan Peace Conference 2003 International Symposium
Japan Peace Committee
Abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Military Alliance and the Dismantling of the Bases
This conference is taking place at a time when movements against the U.S.-led military occupation of Iraq following its unlawful war of aggression, are developing internationally. The public support for these movements is also growing. In Japan, the Koizumi Government is pressing for the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq, showing its subservience to the USA. Against the growing public criticism against this policy, we are now waging an important struggle, in which the future of Japan is at stake. This struggle constitutes the endeavor for the establishing of an international order of peace. It is an integral part of our work to abrogate the Japan-U.S. military alliance and defend the Japanese Constitution. I hope that this conference will serve as a place for rich exchange of our campaigns against the dispatch of the SDF to Iraq and other actions for peace, and that you will learn about future direction and prospect of the movements. Let us make this conference a springboard for our struggle.
I. Opposition to the Dispatch of the SDF to Iraq, Prevention of Building a State Regime for Sending Military Force Overseas
1) Unlawful War of Aggression and the Impasse of the Military Occupation
The dispatch of the Japanese Self Defense Forces arose from the unlawful war of aggression by the U.S. against Iraq. The U.S. pressed for a U.N. resolution that would legitimize an attack on Iraq, but other U.N. Security Council members refused it. Then it launched an unlawful attack, infringing the U.N. Charter, after being totally isolated diplomatically. In this war of aggression, over 10,000 innocent Iraqi citizens were killed, which we should not forget. The weapons of mass destruction, used as the ﾒcauseﾓ for the war, have not been discovered. On the contrary, the very responsible person who led the U.S. official Investigation Team admitted that they had never existed from the beginning. Yet, the barbarous military occupation of the country is continuing. The Iraqi people are placed under foreign domination, andﾓguerilla huntingﾓ goes on as in the case of war in Vietnam. With anger and indignation, the Iraqi people are demanding the restoration of peace and sovereignty even one day earlier. The number of death tolls of the U.S. military personnel has exceeded 500. This quagmire of the Iraq situation itself proves the unjustifiable nature of the occupation of Iraq. As Secretary General Kofi Annan of the U.N.O. stated, ﾒthe occupation and the reconstruction are incompatible with each otherﾓ. To meet the desire of the Iraqi people, the switch from the occupation to the U.N.-centered framework, which will ensure the restoration of the national sovereignty of Iraq, must be carried out urgently.
Not only is the U.S. facing the impasse in Iraq, but also it is isolated in the arena of international politics. The U.N. has refused to legitimatize the war on Iraq as an accomplished fact, and Secretary General Kofi Annan more than once called for an end to the occupation. Of over 190 countries in the world, as many as four fifths of them have decided to forego sending their forces to Iraq. Of the thirteen members of the U.N. Security Council, except for the USA and the U.K., only three have their forces sent to Iraq, and none of the other Permanent members have their forces there. Japan is volunteering to send its forces at this juncture, walking along the path towards the isolation from the rest of the world.
2) The Self-Defense Forces in Iraq Is to Join and Support U.S. War of Aggression and Occupation of Iraq
The Koizumi Government for the first time in the post WWII history decided that it would send armed forces of the SDF to a combat area. On January 19, advanced troops of the ground force were deployed in Iraq, taking part in the unlawful war of aggression and occupation carried out by the U.S. in violation of the U.N. Charter. Neither internationally accepted practices nor the Japanese Constitution renouncing the use of force can justify this decision. Now the danger for the SDF to point their guns at Iraqi citizens, as well as to become themselves victims, is very real. Japan stands at a critical crossroads. We want to call for a nationwide struggle demanding an immediate end to the dispatch of the SDF and the cancellation of the whole plan.
Now, broader sections of people are raising their voices opposing the dispatch of the SDF to Iraq. With an unprecedented swiftness, 443 local assemblies in their December sessions alone adopted resolutions either opposing or calling for careful consideration on the SDF dispatch (according to the research by the National Organizing Committee for the Abrogation of Japan-U.S. Security Treaty). Since December, counting only major actions, rallies and demonstrations have been organized in more than 200 communities in all the 47 prefectures. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations, Japanese Consumersﾕ Cooperative Union, Japan P.E.N. Club, and a wide range of prominent figures such as writer Oe Kenzaburo also voiced opposition. Special mention should be given to the opposition expressed by families and other people who are related with the SDF. In the trade union movement, let alone Zenroren, 20 unions of land, sea, and air transport and harbor workers, and even Rengo are organizing actions against the SDF dispatch throughout the country. Citizensﾕ groups are also active, working on various actions. I want to draw your attention to the fact that a wide variety of united actions are taking place in many parts of the country with broader sections of people participating in them. The rally to oppose the dispatch of SDF to Iraq held in Tokyo on December 10 received solidarity messages from various sectors of society. Underlying the current development is an immense movement organized by untold number of people at grassroots level.
On the other hand, using some media, the government is carrying out a major campaign to justify the dispatch of SDF, trying to convince the public that it is already an accomplished fact. A fierce battle is going on between the two sides to get public support. Such governmentﾕs excuses as ﾒthe SDF is not going to warﾓ or ﾒthey will engage in humanitarian assistanceﾓ have a certain influence on the public. But the very fact that the government is being obliged to give such excuses reveals that they face contradiction with the Constitution, which prohibits the threat or use of armed forces. The more the government pushes ahead with the sending of SDF, the more conscious people will become of the contradiction. For example, the dispatch implementation guidance stipulates activities for securing safety, and according to the reply of the government in the Diet, the SDF will transport armed U.S. soldiers. The sending of the SDF to Iraq will not contribute to humanitarian assistance, but will only help the U.S. to continue its occupation, impeding the restoration of sovereignty of Iraq, and imposing more suffering on the Iraqi people. We must organize campaigns to bring these facts home to everyone. Along with the activities to denounce the illegality of the dispatch of the SDF, we want to call for actions to promote direct humanitarian aid to Iraqi people by our own efforts.
3) Changing of SDF into Armed Forces Having Overseas Deployment as Their Main Role
Sending of the SDF to Iraq is not the ultimate goal of the LDP-Komei government. It is of grave consequence that at the end of 2003, the Koizumi Cabinet decided to make a drastic review of Japanﾕs defense posture, and to elaborate a new ﾒNational Defense Program Outline,ﾓ with a view to making the deployment abroad as a major area of activities of the SDF. The government is also preparing a bill for a permanent dispatch of the forces to be presented to the Diet next year. In the name of the Japan-U.S. alliance, they are aiming to change Japan into a country that can send its SDF to any part of the world at any time to cooperate with the U.S. military forces. In fact, the SDF are being reorganized and reequipped to become armed forces that would regularly perform their roles outside Japan. For example, in support of the U.S. war on Afghanistan, 31 SDF ships were sent to the Indian Ocean have since engaged in 322 supply activities for the U.S. military. And the Air SDF has performed 219 transport missions for the U.S. forces. However, such a drastic change in the roles of the SDF has provoked doubts and concerns among the growing number of Japanese people, who have been told that the SDFﾕs main duty is limited to ﾒexclusively defensive defense.ﾓ
It is also grave that along with its attempt to dispatch the SDF abroad, the government is now abandoning the basic principles of Japanﾕs national defense posture by deciding to introduce a missile defense system, which will lead to a massive military buildup of Japan, and to review its Three Principles on Arms Exports limiting Japanﾕs trade in arms.
4) Moves for Putting the Contingency Wartime Legislation into Effect
In defiance of peopleﾕs criticism and concern, the government last year forcibly enacted a set of three bills of contingency legislation, one of which was the bill to respond to armed attacks. Arguing that the contingency legislation would scarcely function without a law for protecting the public in the contingencies (the Defense Agency Director General Ishiba Shigeru), it now intends to have the current ordinary Diet session enact a bill for controlling the people in disguise of a ﾒpeopleﾕs protection lawﾓ. Further, taking advantage of the situation in which the Democratic Party now publicly supports and promotes the contingency laws, the government is even watching for a chance to get seven war-related bills including a bill for assisting smooth operations of U.S. forces to be passed at once. The bill for controlling the public in the name of ﾒprotectionﾓ is designed for establishing a system of mobilizing and controlling the people, so that Japan can fully participate in a war started by the U.S. It will (1) be invoked in response to ﾒpredicted armed attack,ﾓ and once the U.S. starts military intervention, will forcibly integrate local governments, private sector, and people into a war system for ﾒevacuation and relief activitiesﾓ; 2) lift the suspension of Articles 14, 15, and 16 of the Law to Respond to Armed Attacks, which authorize the national government to ﾒgive instructions toﾓ local governments, private companies and people, or ﾒforcibly executeﾓ its orders against them; and 3) integrate local governments and people into a war system even in peacetime, by mobilizing them in evacuation drills and promoting civil defense organization.
As the contingency legislation aims to make the SDF participate and to mobilize the Japanese people in a U.S. war, the opposition to this legislation is a united struggle with the struggle against the SDF dispatch to Iraq. Let us develop the movement to foil the bill for control of the public, combining it with the struggle against the SDF dispatch to Iraq.
Since the enactment of the three war-related bills, the SDF are promoting or making plans for evacuation drills jointly with various local governments. We need to stand against each one of these moves for the implementation of the war laws.
5) Attempts for Adversely Revise the Constitution and Course of Japan
One of the focal points in the struggle against the moves to make Japan a war-fighting nation is found in the education-related area. In its attempt to control the thought of the Japanese people, the government is imposing on them the Hinomaru flag and Kimigayo as the national flag and anthem, and promoting the nationalism-oriented education. It further intends to revise the Fundamental Law of Education, which stipulates the ideal and principles of democratic education. The struggle to defend the Fundamental Law of Education is an urgent task from a standpoint of defending peace as well.
As the move for sending the SDF abroad gets into full swing, the attempt to adversely revise the Constitution of Japan enters a critical stage. Prime Minister Koizumi has openly instructed the Liberal Democratic Party to draft a plan for a ﾒrevisedﾓ Constitution by 2006, and to the current Diet session he intends to submit a bill to hold a national referendum on constitutional ﾒrevision.ﾓ These moves prove that the government has reached it limit in manipulating the public over the overseas dispatch of the SDF only by sophistic interpretation of the Constitution. Its attempt for adverse revision of the Constitution focuses on Article 9, with a view to enabling Japan to openly exercise the right to collective self-defense in response to U.S. demands. In fact, a report on Japan made mainly by Richard Armitage, the present U.S. deputy secretary of state, which called on Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, has given a direct motive to the Japanese government for accelerating its attempt to adversely revise the Constitution. The constitutional ﾒrevision,ﾓ as well as the dispatch of the SDF to Iraq, would further escalate Japanﾕs extraordinary subordination to the U.S. It is important to make this clear to the public, for defeating the propaganda that the constitutional revision is required to achieve ﾒJapanﾕs autonomy and independenceﾓ.
The adverse revision of the Constitution would lead Japan not only to war but also to its isolation in the international community. The world has seen a history of making war illegal. And in Asia, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, stipulating the respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each otherﾕs internal affairs, and conflict resolution through peaceful means, has expanded. Such a current in Asia and the world clearly shows that progress of history calls for Article 9 as a realistic goal.
The struggle to block the adverse revision of the Constitution will not only affect Japanﾕs future, but will also constitute an important part of the global struggle to defend and develop the international order for peace based on the U.N. Charter. The defense of the Constitution is also a responsibility of the Japanese people in achieving peace in Asia and the world, and has an enormous weight as a struggle to end Japanﾕs subordination to the U.S. and achieve a sovereign, independent Japan. Let us pursue a nationwide joint struggle by broader sections of people on one point of opposing the adverse revision of the Constitution. With Article 9 being the focus of the attack against the Constitution, we must bear in mind that the peace movement has an especially significant role in the struggle against the constitutional revision.
II. Struggle for withdrawal of bases and abrogation of U.S.-Japan military alliance
1) U.S. military bases in Japan are undergoing a sea change
Naked reality of U.S. military bases in Japan as a U.S. stronghold for aggression: Aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, whose homeport is Yokosuka, played a crucial role in the war against Iraq, together with accompanying vessels. From Kitty Hawk, aircraft attacked Iraq with atrocious weapons, including cluster bombs, and with Tomahawk cruise missiles. The F-16 unit based at Misawa led the attack on Baghdad. The F-15 unit at Kadena as well as the Marine Corps in Okinawa joined the war. Altogether some 10,000 soldiers based in U.S. bases in Japan have taken part in the attacks. It is expected that another 3,000 Marines in Okinawa will be projected to the war. The U.S. bases and facilities in Sasebo is another major hub for the war, supplying the armed forces with a vast amount of ammunition and goods. Throughout this war against Iraq, it has become clearer that the entire land of Japan has become a crucial supply base for U.S. in carrying out the preemptive strike strategy. Secretary of Department of Defense Donald Rumsfeld emphasized an exceptional significance of the bases in Japan when he said to the effect that the U.S. forces in Japan were different from those in Europe or in South Korea that were not so active, and that the forces in Japan were not only for Japan but also for the stability of the region. Given that the situation has made it easier for the public to see the true reason of their presence in Japan -- not to "protect Japan" but to invade other countries -- we have a greater chance of disproving the historical rationale of their presence. Our struggle against bases has the following characteristics: (1) to protect the safety and lives of the people in the communities close to the bases; (2) to achieve peace, independence and sovereignty of Japan; and (3) to achieve peace in the world and protect the lives of general public.
Currently, the U.S. is reorganizing and consolidating its global network of foreign military bases. This is an attempt to make its troops more quick to assume combat missions and capable of expedition. The U.S. bases in Japan are being reorganized and reinforced to function as a hub base. Here are some of the concrete examples to back up the build-up: the Yokosuka naval base is being expanded to accommodate a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier; another 800 houses are planned to be added to the U.S. military housing complex at Ikego forest, Kanagawa; a new type of fighter jet Super Hornets are deployed at Atsugi base; the pier of Iwakuni base for ammunition transport is being refurbished; in Sasebo, responding to the need of an expeditionary attack group led by assault landing ships being formed, a large scale construction plan is drawn to build a new pier for such force, an ammunition depot and a base for LCACs (Landing Craft, Air-Cushion) ; and the command of the Pacific Fleet's reconnaissance unit is being transferred to the U.S. Misawa Air Base. The top three bases with the highest asset value among the U.S. military forces abroad are all located in Japan, and they are to be reinforced even more with so-called "considerate budget", paid by Japan's taxpayers.
Among the U.S. bases in Japan, those in Okinawa are made to play "crucial role in the West Pacific area" as Coordinator Blackman of the four armed forces based in Okinawa has said, because of its unparalleled strategically important location. This is why the U.S. is proceeding with reinforcing Okinawa's military function through building a base off the coast of Henoko of Nago City, and urban warfare training facilities in Kin Town. Under the Bush Administration's preemptive strike policy, these cutting-edge bases are to play very dangerous roles. But the plans are not going well as they would have wished. For instance, at government hearings, most of the consulted environmental experts have expressed their reservation to the drilling geological survey at the proposed new base site in Nago, which has brought an assessment of the base to a halt. Likewise, at each step the pro-base forces take, they have to stumble on a rock. The environmental issue has given a new prospect to the anti-base struggle to expand the scope of joint struggle by a broad range of people. Peace forces of Okinawa are striving hard to organize voices against the bases, which are actually the opinion of the majority of Okinawans, and to turn it into an organized movement. In this context, it is very important the Ginowan City now has Mayor Iha, who won the election campaign by advocating for complete return of the Futemma base area to the city, as well as arguing squarely against "the necessary evil of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty". This victory has given a great encouragement to us all across Japan. Okinawa's struggle, including the opposition to newly planned bases, must become a national struggle. Let us reach out to other forces to work in solidarity with them.
2) Transformation of U.S.-Japan joint military training
What strikes out in recent joint training between U.S. and Japanese armed forces is the mobilization of civilian entities in their training for situations in surrounding areas, "against terrorism" and for dispatching forces abroad. And such types of training is done as many as 400 working days per year, making such training a matter of daily business, which in turn strikes out the increasing consolidation of the Japanese SDF into the U.S. military as their supplementary forces. They do not try to hide they are training for so-called "situations in surrounding areas", when the Marines use civilian ports (Yokkaichi port was used during the joint exercise in Aibano), and SDF engages in trainings for rescuing Japanese citizens abroad as well as for guarding U.S. bases. The SDF is also engaged in ambush and information training with U.S. special operation units. Even the Marinesﾕ live-shelling exercise cannot function without the help of civilian industries, such as in transporting the soldiers. Also, low flight exercises that threaten the life of people live under the flight paths continue to take place.
3) Danger and dilemma of global expansion of U.S.-Japan Military Alliance
Especially under the Bush Administration's war strategy represented by its war with Iraq, the U.S.-Japan alliance is increasingly revealing its contradiction with people's desire to live in peace, and is putting itself into a national question for its very existence. President Bush wants the alliance to become a "global alliance" and thus the U.S. is taking concrete steps to make it into one that would open the way for Japan to take a full part in the preemptive strike strategy of the U.S. all around the world. The U.S. is trying to expand its "Coalition of Willings" that supports and joins in its preemptive attacks, and inviting Japan to become its strong member, like the U.K. is to the U.S. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union the alliance's traditional rationale of "Soviet threat" is long gone. And the arrogance and blatant behavior of U.S. forces in enjoying the privilege of extra-territorial rights especially in Okinawa have caused greater criticism among the people against the U.S. bases and the military alliance. Now, the sending of the SDF to Iraq is posing the fundamental question before the people: Wasn't the security treaty here to protect Japan? An opinion poll conducted by the NHK (Dec. 20 last year) tells us that 54% of the people supported the role of U.N. in international conflict prevention and solution, as opposed to 10% favoring the Japan-U.S. alliance. Another poll by Mainichi Shimbun (Jan. 5 this year) shows that 52% favors the abrogation of the alliance as opposed to 37% in favor of maintaining it as it is. As we can see in these numbers the public opinion is changing. Japanese ruling elites have time and again expressed their anxiety for possible national opposition to the treaty if problems relating to the U.S. forces in Japan are allowed to continue unattended. Bush's world strategy is the greatest challenge to the rule of peace based on the U.N. Charter and it could plunge this century into an era festered with oppression and war. Not only
To do away with the military alliance that is a great obstacle for peace in Asia and the world will be a crucially significant contribution for a peaceful world in the 21st century. This would also give a fundamental solution to the problems caused by the presence of military forces in Japan. By abrogating the treaty, we could conclude a treaty of friendship with the U.S. Japan will neither be subjugated nor hostile to the U.S, but become its equal partner. Let us actively propose and present our vision of peace diplomacy in an independent and peaceful Japan, based on its peace principle of the Constitution and its great economic capabilities.
III. Toward Great Development of the Japanese Peace Movement
Sending of the SDF to Iraq, resurgence of militarism in Japan and steps taken for adverse revision of the Constitution are a grim reality facing us, that calls for much stronger peace movement in Japan. This is all the more so, since next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of WW II and the atomic bombings.
The Japanese people have a great potential to work for peace. Because of their historical struggle for peace based on national antipathy against war, Japan did not directly participate in the War against Vietnam. And until very recently, in spite of being U.S. client state, Japanﾕs armed forces had been prevented from being sent abroad -- in this sense Japan is quite unique. And Article 9 of the Constitution has been the greatest support for the struggle for peace. While being the only nation to suffer the actual attack of the atomic bombs, Japan has functioned since the end of the war as the largest U.S. stronghold in Asia for its world strategies. It is here that the World Conference against A & H Bombs has been organized every year through the efforts of grass root activities. Today the World Conference is also participated by representatives of governments working for the abolition of nuclear weapons. By the consistent struggles of the people, the reversion of Okinawa to Japan was achieved, and we have put up fierce struggles against the U.S. tyranny in opposition to military bases spreading all over Japan. We have been tenacious grass root organizers. We have educated the public about the dangerous U.S. strategies, and shown the people future prospect of our struggles. We have worked in solidarity with peoples of other countries. In all these aspects, our movement has been strong. Let us have confidence in our history and past achievements, and build a stronger movement.
The world has been engulfed by the waves of peopleﾕs opposition to the war against Iraq. Here in Japan too, various actions took place, based on grass-root organizing works. People who work in the field of culture organized a series of anti-war rallies and meetings, including the one held on Feb. 14. Citizen groups such as World Peace Now and writers and actors who belong to P.E.N. (Play writers, Essayists and Novelists) also took actions. These actions were taken in solidarity and coordination with internationally organized actions, making use of new communication tools through the Internet. Another new feature is found in the mobilization of the people in opposition to the U.S. hegemony and war, who had been working to protect people's lives from being destroyed by harmful effects of multi-national corporations in the course of economic globalization. The World Social Forum, which brings those forces together, has proposed March 20 as a day of global action against war and for peace. Let us have faith that the power for peace lies in the people, in the peace forces. Let us be rich in ideas and actions and build a broad movement by promoting joint actions nation-wide. For this, the groups and organizations having gathered at this peace conference must seek ways to strengthen their capacity with open mind and through cooperation.