International Symposium Japan Peace Conference in Okinawa
1. The International Symposium of the Japan Peace Conference was held in Naha City, Okinawa on January 29 and 30. The Symposiumﾕs main theme was: ﾒAbolition of War. Establish World Order of Peace,ﾓ and sub-themes were: ﾒOpposing U.S. Aggression and Occupation of Iraq, Establish the Rule of Peace Based on U.N. Charter;ﾓ and ﾒElimination of the Damages Caused by Foreign U.S. Military Bases, Their Reduction and Withdrawal, and toward Dissolution of Military Alliances.ﾓ At the Symposium, presentations were made by four panelists: Dr. Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee (US), Yves-Jean Gallas of Mouvement de la Paix (France), Ko Yu-gyuin of the National Campaign for the Eradication of Crimes by U.S. Troops in Korea, and Takakusaki Hiroshi of the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (Japan Gensuikyo). It was also joined by two overseas guests: Dr. Jaward Al-Ali, Director of the Oncology Center, Basrah, Iraq and Allen Nelson, former Marine, the United States. In all, some 170 people participated in the Symposium. Symposiumﾕs discussion reflected the rise of world wide anti-Iraq war movements and the world situation that ensued. The participants shared the determination to oppose the U.S. world strategies and to build a peaceful world with justice and without nuclear weapons.
2. In defiance of the world-wide public opinion and in a blatant violation of the United Nationsﾕ Charter, the United States attacked Iraq. Through the discussion it was made clear that the attack was an unlawful war of aggression and the present occupation of Iraq is nothing but the continuation of the aggression. Dr. Al-Ali presented his case with picture slides, effectively showing cases of cancers and other brutal suffering the war has inflicted upon Iraqi people, such as the damage caused by depleted uranium, the destruction of hospitals, and other actions of war. His report was clear on that the Iraqi people are undergoing unbearable suffering because of the military occupation. He called for humanitarian assistances from Japan, not by sending military troops whose objective is to assist the occupation. It is clear that restoration cannot be done under the military occupation
As Dr. Gerson of the AFSC pointed out that ﾒWashingtonﾕs current wars are not limited to the Iraqi quagmireﾓ, the Bush Administrationﾕs policy of preemptive attack is now the greatest threat the world faces today. In this context, attention was also drawn to the danger of the policy to preemptively use nuclear weapons and the plan to develop mini-nukes. As Japan Gensuikyoﾕs Takakusaki said, ﾒThis is not the era when a single imperial power can control the entire worldﾓ, as the U.S. attempts to achieve its national interests with overwhelming military power, it has lost the moral ground and trust in the international community. Its world strategies are no way going smoothly. The alternative for a peaceful world based on justice is to protect and establish international order based on the U.N. Charter.
Mr. Gallas spoke in detail about experiences and lessons of anti-war movements in France and Europe. Groups working against harmful effects of the U.S. led globalization of economies across the world and other various forces stood against the Iraq war. This was build on the foundation that had been made through tenacious efforts in Europe for joint actions and unification of movements. The symposium confirmed that there are growing conditions in countries, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, on which joint actions could be built for establishing international order of peace.
3. U.S. troops and their bases deployed in other countries are infringing the sovereignty of host nations, causing accidents, committing crimes, destructing natural environment, and are the cause of all other unbearable suffering endured by the people in the countries where they are stationed.
Ms. Ko spoke on recent crimes committed by U.S. military personnel in the Republic of Korea, a hit and run by a drunken soldier and discharge of toxic wastes, for example. She made it clear that the U.S. plan to reorganize its military bases in South Korea will only increase such crimes and thus aggravate lives of people living in communities near the bases. Japanese speakers reported on effects that U.S. military bases in Okinawa and other parts of Japan are causing to peopleﾕs lives, which are extraordinarily harmful in comparison to other countries where U.S. bases are present. Mr. Allen Nelsonﾕs speech brought the uniqueness of Japan in to a sharp relief: Japan is the only country to host U.S. Marine corps which are strike forces, thus officially acknowledging their aggressiveness. He suggested that the extraterritorial privileges given to the U.S. forces in Japan under the one-sided Status of Force Agreement is a kind of relation between the colonizers and the colonized in the 19th century.
It was also pointed out that with the preemptive strike policy in place the U.S. is realigning and reinforcing its global network of military bases, which are tied with innovation in military technologies. Such global consolidation includes the ongoing reorganization of U.S. bases in South Korea, construction of new bases in Okinawa and reinforcement of U.S. troops in South Asia and Central Asia and even in East Europe, Africa and Latin America. Also, an important information about French foreign military bases was provided.
If constructed, the planned Marine air base off the shore of Nago City, Okinawa will inflict yet another hardships to the people of Okinawa, destroy precious natural lives in the area, and heighten the tension in Asia. This must be stopped. The participants expressed their support to and solidarity with the struggle to stop the construction of the Marine base.
4. There is a new window opening for international joint actions both in the struggle for worldﾕs peace order and in the struggle against U.S. foreign bases.
At the World Social Forum held in Mumbai, India, in January 2004, a proposal was made to organize on March 20, one year from the start of the Iraq War, global actions to oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq and to demand peace in and sovereignty of Iraq. The participants of the Symposium confirmed that in response to the call they would organize various actions in their countries and promote international cooperation even further.
Attentions were drawn to the significant importance of making conscious efforts to promote collaborative works in Japan and internationally in the field of nuclear disarmament in parallel with these peace and anti-war movements. Such efforts are already being initiated toward 2005, the year to mark the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The international signature drive ﾒAbolition Now! For there will be no more Hiroshimas and no more Nagasakisﾓ is one of them.
It was reported that an anti-base conference held at the World Social Forum created a new global network ﾒNo U.S. Bases ﾐ Close All Military Bases World Wide.ﾓ The Symposium participants agreed on to utilize the network for activating communication and exchange of information. It was also expressed that there must be more cooperation and joint actions between South Korean and Japanese, as well as amongst Asian countriesﾕ activists on the issues of war, peace and U.S. military bases.
The significance of Japanese movements actively participating in regional and global actions was emphasized. The Japanese participants expressed their determination to continue their struggle to prevent the participation of Japanese armed forces from taking part in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and to mobilize peopleﾕs opinion in opposition to the adverse revision of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and in favor of the withdrawal of U.S. military bases from Japan and the abrogation of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty.