Japan Peace Conference 2004
Secretary General, Japan Peace Committee
Break Down Japan-U.S. Military Alliance,
Do Away with Military Bases
This Conference is being held when the U.S. armed forces are assaulting the people in Iraq with barbarous massacres. It has become completely clear that the Iraq War was a lawless war of aggression initiated by the U.S. without any proper cause, on the ground of outright lies and fabricated information. The U.S. is now carrying out an all-out attack slaughtering Iraqi civilians in order to repress with force those who oppose the foreign occupation, which will only inflict further sacrifices on the innocent people and aggravate the confusion in that country. We demand that the U.S. government immediately cease the carnage and withdraw the troops, and that the Japanese government pull out the self-defense soldiers without delay.
Taking part in that savage operation are the U.S. marine soldiers dispatched from Okinawa. The vessels that carried these marines to Iraq are amphibious attack ships stationed at the U.S. base in Sasebo, the very venue of this conference. The crash of a U.S. military helicopter last August in Okinawa occurred as a result of hurried equipment repair for the imminent dispatch of troops to attack Iraq. As these facts show, the U.S. bases in Japan serve as sortie bases for the U.S. to wage war anywhere in the world.
Despite this, the Japanese and U.S. governments are trying to further strengthen these bases by restructuring and consolidating them as sortie base and command post covering the entire globe, integrated in the U.S. unlawful preemptive strike strategy. Their move is definitely coupled with the reorganizing and strengthening of Japanese Self-Defense Forces to transform them into expeditionary forces to operate outside Japan, and with the insidious plan to revise Article 9 of Japanﾕs Constitution to get rid of the legal constraints preventing our country to fight war with the U.S. worldwide.
Given this crucial global context, our conference shall expose the deep contradiction between the interests of the Japanese people and the actual aim of these dangerous moves including the "reorganization and consolidation" of the U.S. bases and the tentative to enhance the role of Japan as a "country that fights war" with the U.S. And on this basis, we shall call on the people of Japan to stand up and fight together in a broad national movement.
What is lying behind the reinforcement of Japan-U.S. military alliance is the dangerous strategy of the U.S. administration led by President Bush. The criticisms against that strategy are spreading internationally and the Bush administration finds itself more and more isolated within the international community. Even within the U.S., the American people in their growing number are also contesting that strategy as was largely seen across the U.S. during the recent presidential election campaign. Nevertheless, the re-elected Bush administration is going further with its plan of dominating the world by the use of force including preemptive attack, and is strengthening and redeploying the U.S. bases on a global scale. The world current evolving towards peace that gained momentum through the campaign against the Iraq War is growing more powerful to become a strong resistance to the U.S. ambition of world dominance. We can see in this current the prospects for building an international order of peace in the 21st century. Our meeting shall highlight these prospects and call for international solidarity to achieve a peaceful world.
1. Reorganization and Strengthening of U.S. Bases in Japan, New Revision of the Japan-U.S.
Security Treaty, and Prospects to Stop These Perilous Moves
First, I would like to discuss the problem of strengthening of Japan-U.S. military alliance, especially through the reorganization and consolidation of the U.S. bases in Japan.
1) Major aim of the consolidation of the U.S. bases
One of the most important objectives of the current consolidation of U.S. bases in Japan is to concentrate their command functions for waging war in any area of the Asia-Pacific region and to enhance the ability of these bases to deploy troops worldwide. Relocation of the headquarters of the First U.S. Army Corps to Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture and integration of Yokota Base in Tokyo under the control of the 13th Air Force Headquarters are said to be under study. These headquarters are both assigned the task of commanding and conducting operations not only in the Asia and Pacific region but also in any region of the world.
At the same time, many projects are underway or being planned with the aim of enhancing at global level the capabilities of the U.S. military as "strike force". They include the construction of a new vast air base and a gigantic military port for the U.S. Marine Corps as well as the construction of urban-type battle training facilities in Okinawa, formation of the First Marine expeditionary attack unit with amphibious attack ships stationed at Sasebo Base, deployment of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Yokosuka Naval Base planned for 2008, deployment of Aegis ships loaded with attack missiles in the Sea of Japan, organization of fighter units stationed at Misawa and Kadena into expeditionary air units and enhancement of their long-range strike capabilities etc.
All these changes are intended to consolidate the U.S. bases in Japan as a "hub base" from which troops can be dispatched at any time to any place in the vast areas stretching from the Middle East to North-East Asia that are of particular importance for the U.S. interests.
The second objective of the current consolidation of U.S. bases in Japan is to integrate the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force into the U.S. armed forces including the shared use of their bases. It is said that partial relocation of U.S. Marine Corps units in Okinawa to mainland Japan, transfer of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force headquarters to the U.S. base at Yokota, and transfer also of an Air Self-Defense Force unit from Naha to the U.S. base at Kadena are on the table. These plans are aimed at subordinating the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to the U.S. forces, with Japanese soldiers "trained and sent to war abroad with American troops and living with them".
2)Let us encircle U.S. bases with popular protests against their outrageous activities and damage they cause and let us organize a nation-wide movement for getting their removal
However, such a policy is in sharp contradiction with public opinion and with the trend toward peace steadily emerging in Asia, and therefore has no future.
Why? First, because it will further aggravate the current aberrant situation of Japan, as a nation "structured on U.S. bases."
The U.S. bases and military exercises are causing serious damage to the local people, affecting their safety and livelihood and hindering the development of the local communities. Grassroots initiatives and actions that seek to solve pressing base-related problems such as noise, crimes and accidents are being organized in many places across the country. Nevertheless, as the U.S. bases in Japan are being used as sortie bases for aggression of Iraq and for other U.S. military interventions, the damage they cause to the local people is becoming more and more extensive. What is worse is that the U.S. military now openly defies people's protests and speaks of "emergency" or "anti-terrorist" measures to justify the damage. It is evident that these U.S. bases in "war-fighting readiness" cannot any longer "coexist" with citizens' livelihood.
The reorganizing and consolidation of U.S. bases now underway will increase the damage and hazards to the local residents. Prime Minister Koizumi says that he is negotiating with the U.S. both for "reduction of the burden" and for "maintenance of the current level deterrence", but in reality, he intends to impose on the people an increased "burden" resulting from strengthening of the bases.
As a matter of fact, what is actually planned by his government is to offer new bases to the U.S. to enhance base functions at the cost of more extended damage imposed on the people. In many aspects, the transfer of night landing practices (NLP) to Iwakuni and of Marine Corps of Okinawa to mainland Japan will enhance our country's structure as a "base state", unseen anywhere else in the world. First, it means providing the U.S. with new and more performing bases. Second, it will spread and extend the damage. And third, it will not lead neither to a drastic reduction of the damage caused by the bases in Okinawa and Atsugi nor to their restitution to Japan.
A majority of the Japanese people is opposing the on-going war in Iraq and is becoming increasingly critical to the submissive attitude of the Japanese government to the diktats of the U.S. administration. The strengthening of U.S. bases that will make Japan the command and expedition base for the U.S. forces allowing them to carry out preemptive attacks or preventive wars that they will U.S. fight in different parts of the world. It will therefore inevitably increase the contradictions with the Japanese people.
Devoid of any "morality", the Japanese government is using the carrot and the stick method to reorganize and strengthen the bases: it mobilizes its powers to coerce local communities while offering large amounts of money to those municipalities that accept the hosting of the bases. But this policy has a fundamental weakness. Because it transforms Japan into a hub base for aggressive war and affects the living of the local people and the development of local communities around the bases, it creates new favorable conditions for developing anti-base struggles. In fact, many of the municipalities that will be affected by the base consolidation, such as Zama, Sagamihara, Zushi and Higashi Fuji, have voiced their opposition at an early stage, upsetting the plans of both Japanese and U.S. governments. Especially in Okinawa, public opinion about the U.S. military presence has significantly changed; the majority of Okinawans now express their opposition to the SACO policy that promotes relocation of bases from one place to another within Okinawa. Such a change is the result of the long-standing anti-base struggle, including the campaign against the construction of a new base in Nago that has prevented the construction for eight years, the struggle for the removal of Futenma Base, and the struggle against the construction of urban-type battle training facilities in Igei. Backed by this change in public opinion, new developments are taking place at political level: a leading figure in the struggle for the removal of the Futenma Base and against its relocation was elected to as the mayor of Futenma City, and a candidate calling for the removal of the bases in opposition to their relocation won in the election for the House of Councilors.
We must make use of these new conditions to develop a movement against the strengthening of bases by involving municipal authorities and local people. Let us give a special focus on the campaigns in Okinawa and elsewhere that involve municipal authorities and develop nation-wide initiatives for solidarity and cooperation with these campaigns. Let us further promote the initiatives to meet the most pressing demands of local residents such as their protection from the noise, crimes and accidents caused by the bases. At the same time, let us advocate as urgent measures restriction, suspension, and closing of base activities as well as the revision of the status of forces agreement.
Today, when the harms the U.S. bases do to peace in Japan, in Asia and in the world have become more evident than ever, we must enlist a large majority of the Japanese people to support the demand for the removal of the U.S. bases. The forces advocating the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the removal of U.S. bases from Japan must build on the past campaigns and take the lead in the struggle to prevent the reorganization and strengthening of these bases.
3) Extension of overseas dispatch of self-defense troops and perilous attempt for the revision of the Constitution
What is important to understand is the reorganization and strengthening of Japanese Self-Defense Forces and planned dispatch of their troops to different parts of the world are being promoted as part of the reorganization and strengthening of the U.S. bases in Japan. The Japanese government for the first time in our country's history sent SDF soldiers outside Japan to Iraq, an actual battle ground, to participate in the "multinational forces" whose objective is to use force. In addition, the government is planning to revise the "National Defense Program Outline" by the end of this year to officially assign the Self-Defense Forces overseas expedition as their central mission. It argues that the "improvement of the international security environment" is a task for "self-defense" to justify military intervention into a foreign country, and is preparing new laws and proceeding with extensive military buildup. It also proposes to revise the three principles regarding the weapons exports.
These moves further derogate Article 9 stipulating the "renunciation of war" and make it meaningless. The Japanese and U.S. governments together with the Japanese business circles are seriously working for changing the Article so that the Japanese Self-Defense Forces can openly take part in any U.S. war around the world.
At the same time, the emergency laws providing for the mobilization of municipalities, private corporations and the entire Japanese nation for war are being concretized through the establishment of "state structure for war-fighting" under the pretext of "system for the protection of the population." Also under way are moves to give a reactionary twist to the education by adversely revising the Fundamental Law of Education, and to increase consumption tax rate to create a new source of funding for military buildup, detrimental to the people's livelihood.
Despite all this, as they become now aware that the Iraq War was launched without any proper cause and see the occupation dragging on endlessly, with recurrent attacks on Japanese Self-Defense soldiers and civilians, the majority of the Japanese population demands the withdrawal of Japanese troops from Iraq. People are more and more anxious about the SDF being deeply involved in the U.S. strategy and Japan's departure from the principle of defensive defense. "Preserve Article 9" remains the demand of the majority of the Japanese people. In fact, in response to the appeal launched by the nine Japanese eminent intellectuals who founded the "Article 9 Association", coordinated initiatives for the defense of Article 9 against the revision of the Constitutions are rapidly developing across the country. These initiatives contribute to underlining the connection between the extension of SDF expedition and attempts to revise the Constitution on one hand, and the realignment and consolidation of the U.S. armed forces stationed in Japan on the other. They also highlight the fact that the constitutional amendment has nothing to do with the "defense of Japan". They will create more opportunities to spread public opinion against the constitutional revision.
Let us expose the realities of the Iraq War and demand the immediate withdrawal of the Japanese SDF from Iraq. At the same time, let us develop coordinated actions and initiatives against the overseas dispatch of the SDF and for the defense of Article 9.
4)Abrogation of Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and establishment of equal and equitable Japan-U.S. relations open the way to the future
Reorganization and consolidation of the U.S. forces in Japan and the Japanese SDF is in reality a "major change" in the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty because they will turn our country into a command post and a sortie base for the U.S. forces to wage war anywhere on earth, going far beyond the "Far East" covered by the Treaty. It will also set up a framework allowing the SDF to take part in joint operations with the U.S. forces on a global scale. The government, however, is trying to push this in a makeshift manner, explaining that it is merely another "redefinition" of the "Japan-U.S. alliance for adapting it to the present world context". Such an attempt must be defeated at any cost.
When looking at the recent developments related to the security treaty, we should not miss the fact that they make it easier for people to realize that the Japan-U.S. military alliance does not serve for "Japan's defense", but is on the contrary, an aggressive military alliance designed to subordinate our country to the U.S. and to drag it into U.S. wars.
There are in fact positive changes in the opinions of the Japanese people. In a opinion poll made by Mainichi Newspaper (January 15, 2004), asked about the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, 37% of the respondents are in favor of its maintenance, 31% think it should be replaced with a friendship treaty, 14% want Japan to abrogate it and become neutral, and 7% prefer to abrogate it and establish an alliance with a third country. Asked about Japan's security and foreign policy, 76% say it should be based on the United Nations, and only 13% think it should mainly rely on the alignment with the U.S. policy.
The perilous turn of the Japan-U.S. military alliance has gone as far as to require the SDF to take part in the use of force outside Japan, which is incompatible with Article 9. This explains the strong thrust towards the revision of the Constitution and the question has already been introduced to the political arena. On the other hand, there is a broad mobilization of public opinion at grassroots level to oppose the revision. Peace loving people, deeply concerned about the attack on the Constitution, will sooner or later find themselves confronted with the question of the security treaty. Here too, there is another factor that will enable us to enlist a majority of the Japanese for the abrogation of the security treaty.
At international level, countries of the non-aligned movement, the European Union, the ASEAN, the Organization of Islamic Conference, and in Central and South America are not only opposed to the Iraq War but also are calling for a peaceful international order based on the United Nations Charter. The pacifist trend is especially strong in Asia. In East Asia, Japan and South Korea are the only two countries hosting U.S. military bases. And Japan is the only country among the U.S. military allies that hosts the bases for U.S. expeditionary units for overseas intervention. It stands out in Asia and in the world for its aberrant adherence to the military alliance with the U.S. and its submission to the U.S. policy. It is now becoming more and more isolated. This will make vast segments of the Japanese people now questioning or critical of the dispatch of SDF troops to Iraq and the extensive U.S. military presence in Okinawa understand what the Japan-U.S. Security is all about.
This is why, on our part, we must develop our activities more than ever demanding the abrogation of the treaty. We must warn the people against the danger of the Japan-U.S. military alliance, and at the same time convince them of all the possibilities its abrogation could create. We must tell them on every occasion that once the treaty is abrogated, an independent and pacifist Japan will be able to implement a peaceful diplomacy by putting Article 9 into practice 9, and to establish and develop friendly relations with the U.S. on equal footing.
2. Isolation of the Unlawful U.S. War Policy and World Trend for Peace
Underlying the reorganization and consolidation of the U.S. bases in Japan and the major change in the Japan-U.S. military alliance is the unlawful U.S. war strategy. Once re-elected, the President Bush, has turned on the public to say that the war against Iraq was right, and reiterated that the preemptive strike policy would be maintained. He gave the order to assault Fallujah and massacred innocent people to wipe out by force those who oppose the foreign occupation. The realignment of the U.S. armed forces now going on around the world is aimed at delivering the preemptive strike strategy everywhere around the globe in a more efficient way. This strategy however is increasing contradictions and accelerating the U.S. isolation internationally.
The U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan has openly criticized the war against Iraq characterizing it as "illegal in the light of the U.N. Charter". He also demanded the halt to the attack on Fallujah stating that it would undermine the entire effort for the reconstruction of Iraq, and that the chain of violence should be broken and national reconciliation be promoted. There is also a mounting criticism of this savage action around the world. In Iraq, the situation has grown chaotic as the Sunnite party left the government and the Sunnite and Shiite parties declaring they would boycott the coming elections. A large majority of the countries in the world opposed the war against Iraq, and at the United Nations many countries criticized the U.S. preemptive strike policy and called for a peaceful world order respectful of the principles of the U.N. Charter. The preemptive war conducted under the name of "war on terrorism" has failed to curve terrorism because it has sharply increased international terrorist attacks, making the world more dangerous and more unstable. International opinion surveys show that an overwhelming majority of people is opposed to the strategy of the Bush administration. The Iraq War is also challenged by a growing number of Americans as seen during the presidential election campaign. In addition, the budget and trade deficits are increasing because of the cost of war and a large-scale arms buildup, driving the U.S. hegemonism into a serious deadlock.
Since the World Social Forum last January, the creation of a worldwide network against U.S. military bases has been called for as part of the movement to get rid of these bases that provide footholds for unlawful wars. Refusing to commit itself to the elimination of nuclear weapons, the U.S. government is pursuing nuclear weapons development and a strategy that includes the use of these weapons. The criticism mounting worldwide against such a policy has led to the development of joint initiatives among governments, municipalities and NGOs especially towards the NPT Review Conference to be held in May 2005. It is this kind of initiatives that will enable us to build a new peaceful order in the 21st century. Let us strengthen international solidarity for peace towards the World Social Forum next January and the NPT Review Conference next May.
3. Let Us Create a Big Peace Tide for Ensuring the Future of Japan
Japan is now at an important crossroads: whether to take part in the U.S. war and become an aggressor, or to become a truly peaceful nation worthy of Article 9. To stop the dangerous plan aiming at restructuring and consolidating our country as a U.S. preemptive strike base for the entire globe and at establishing a solid framework for sending SDF troops abroad is a noble task for the Japanese people in its contribution to achieving world peace. It is in that crucial period for Japan that we are going to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing and the end of war. Now is the time for us to, building on our achievements as a peace movement, to have confidence in the dynamism of the peace loving people and the vast tide toward peace, and to develop a huge campaign to defeat the attempt to make our country a war-fighting nation. Let us build a powerful struggle from the grassroots level to promote a nationwide coordinated effort to prevent the constitutional revision, and to demand the abolition of nuclear weapons!
Looking at the current situation, one may have the impression that the aspiration for peace is being grossly betrayed by a succession of negative events such as the establishment of emergency laws and the dispatch of SDF soldiers to Iraq. In fact, the recent developments are extremely dangerous and alarming. However, what is the most important for us is to understand that we are capable of stopping war and open a way toward a peaceful world.
As I have said earlier, there are positive changes in public opinion, and the peace movement is gaining momentum in and outside Japan. Seen in a long time frame, the struggle of the Japanese people since Hiroshima and Nagasaki has tied down the hands of those who want to use nuclear weapons. The elimination of nuclear weapons has become a common aspiration of the peoples of the world and an overwhelming majority of governments. They now demand the nuclear powers to observe their "undertaking to eliminate their nuclear weapons". The web of military alliances that the U.S. put in place throughout the world after the end of World War II has been broken in the Middle East, in South-East Asia and in the South Pacific. The mainstream in the world is the voice calling for a peace order based on the U.N. Charter, instead of military alliances. The one isolated in the world is President Bush, who is violating the international law, and the one in a deadlock is Prime Minister Koizumi. Our struggle is not a passive one consisting only of preserving "peace" from the attack. We are not on the defensive. We stand strong to build a new and peaceful world side by side with the peoples of the world.
I would like to suggest that we should strengthen our movement in the following three ways.
First, gathered in the Japan Peace Conference calling for the removal of bases and abrogation of Japan-U.S. security Treaty, we shall take the lead of the struggle. It is of decisive importance to build up our movement from the grassroots, from our local communities, workplaces and schools, because it is there that the source of strength for the peace movement is found.
Second, we shall work to realize concerted efforts with the local people living around the bases on urgent common demands such as reduction of harms the bases cause to local communities, and strive to realize nation-wide joint initiatives on the questions crucial to our country, including the problems of military bases, the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the revision of the Constitution.
Third, we shall strengthen international solidarity, especially with the peoples of Asia. International solidarity is an important and pressing task for us because the Japan-U.S. military alliance is going to be one of the focal points of preemptive and preventive wars the U.S. intends to conduct in different parts of the world .
Let us promote the campaign to stop the mass killing and end the occupation perpetrated by the U.S. forces in Iraq and to demand the withdrawal of SDF troops from Iraq. In connection with this campaign, let us work to defeat the maneuver that aims at transforming the SDF into expeditionary forces through the revision of the "National Defense Program Outline".
By the power of solidarity between the people of mainland Japan and the people of Okinawa, let us win the removal of Futenma Air Base and prevent its relocation to Henoko that are strongly demanded by the people of Okinawa.
Let us work with municipalities and a broad spectrum of local people around the U.S. bases to develop the struggle against reorganization and consolidation of bases. Let us increase learning sessions and informative activities to make known the actual aim of reorganization and consolidation of the bases, the new revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty for the worse and the revision of the Constitution as well as the U.S. strategy and the Japan-U.S. military alliance that lie behind.
Let us build a nationwide campaign for the defense of the Constitution by rallying people in local communities, workplaces and school campuses with the slogan: "Defend Article 9 and Do not change the Constitution".
Let us be vigilant to the plan to set up councils for the protection of people to be voted by local assemblies next March, and oppose the attempt to establish emergency (war) structures in local communities and workplaces.
I would like to conclude the report by calling on all of you to share your views, experiences and analysis about the current situation and struggles related to these issues, learn from each other and actively discuss about our future plans and struggles, particularly toward the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing and the end of war.