Japan Peace Conference 2006
Researcher of International Issues
Director of Japan Peace Committee, Japan
1. First of all, I would like to extend my hearty greetings of solidarity to all the overseas delegates joining this International Symposium.
From the reports on the activities in the U.S., Guam and Korea, we have learned with facts that there are many people struggling in the world against the war policy of the U.S. government and have deepened our conviction in our movement.
For the Japanese movement to join the historic tide of history of the world, it is essential for us to learn a lot from these overseas delegates.
2. During the past year, we have witnessed good developments of the people's movements across Japan in a variety of ways, in defiance of the Japanese and U.S. governments trying to impose the reorganization and reinforcement of the U.S. bases and the bilateral military alliance. Peace and democratic forces have been fighting in the forefront of these struggles.
On July 9, 30,000 people joined the rally and demonstration at Yokosuka, the largest U.S. naval base outside the mainland U.S.A. They opposed the consolidation of U.S. military forces and the deployment of U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at Yokosuka, demonstrating the power of the people's movement. It marked the first large-scale rally against U.S. bases held in Yokosuka since the early 1980s. This was made possible by intensified campaigns carried out by peace and democratic forces in many communities throughout Japan to the U.S. military force reorganization
Such efforts of peace and democratic forces are forming strong basis of local communities opposition, involving municipal governments, to the U.S. bases reinforcement.
A typical example was the citizens' referendum held here in Iwakuni on March 12 on whether the city should accept the plan to expand the U.S. Marine airfield. Despite the obstruction by the pro-base forces connected with Prime Minister Abe, which called for a boycott, the referendum achieved far beyond the required number of votes, thanks to the united effort of various movement organizations and citizens. Majority of the Iwakuni citizens went to the polls and 89% of the votes were cast to say "NO" to the U.S. base. The success of this citizens' referendum was the result of the joint effort and struggle of the broad range of citizens in support of the initiative of their Mayor, who criticized the plan to station over 100 jet fighters and possible noise pollution to be brought by them.
In Kanagawa Prefecture having the largest concentration of U.S. bases in the metropolitan area, resistance to the U.S. base consolidation has continued with the involvement of both local people and their governments. For over 3 years, Zama City and Sagamihara City have been waging nonpartisan campaign to oppose the plan to transfer the forward command of the U.S. Army from Fort Louis, Washington, to Camp Zama. There, too, peace and democratic forces are playing the key role in promoting the opposition movement. Military burden on the people in these communities started at the eve of the Second World War, when the imperial army of Japan confiscated their farming land. After the war, the land was taken over by the U.S. military, which has continued to this day after 60 years. The citizens' ardent desire to end this suffering is clearly expressed by the slogan issued by Sagamihara City authority, which said, "If we keep silent, our city remains a 'military base community' even 100 years from now."
Meanwhile, in Yokosuka City, Kanagawa, a signature collection drive is being held by citizens, requesting the City to make an ordinance to hold a citizens referendum concerning the planned homeporting of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in 2008. Recently, abnormal level of radiation was detected at Yokosuka port, which most likely was leaked from a nuclear attack submarine. This accident undermined the propaganda by the U.S. and Japanese governments on the "safety" of U.S. nuclear-powered warships. If a disaster occurs on the reactor of the aircraft carrier, it would affect not only Yokosuka City but the entire population of the metropolitan Tokyo area. Responding to Yokosuka citizens' movement for holding a referendum, other communities surrounding Tokyo Bay are also starting their campaigns to refuse the deployment of the nuclear aircraft carrier.
In Okinawa, which has the largest concentration of U.S. military bases in Japan, pressed by the people's opinion, the two governments promised 10 years ago to remove the Futenma Marine Airfield, located right in the middle of the densely populated city of Ginowan. However, they are trying to impose an unjust plan of constructing a new base in Nago City in the northern part of Okinawa, in place of Futenma Airfield. This plan has been staunchly opposed by an overwhelming majority of the Okinawan people, and peace and democratic forces are fighting in the forefront of the struggle to stop the plan.
In the Okinawa governor's election of November 19, the joint candidate of 5 opposition parties upholding their refusal to the new base achieved 47% of the votes. Though she could not win, as the exit poll showed, even among the people who voted for the candidate supported by the Liberal Democratic Party and Komei Party, more people expressed their opposition to the new base plan. According to the poll held by Kyodo News Agency shortly before the voting day, almost 60% of the eligible voters of Okinawa opposed the construction, while only 20% of them supporting it. The LDP/Komei candidate, while consistently avoiding to make the base construction an issue in the election campaign, said, "I cannot go along with the consultation and agreement between the two governments (on the construction of a new base) bypassing Okinawa", trying to butter up the public. Therefore, as the editorial of "Ryukyu Shimpo" (November 20) said, "If the government regards the result of the election as getting the 'go-ahead' for U.S. bases realignment, it will misjudge the real intention of the people of Okinawa". Just about to begin is a new and important phase of the struggle to remove all U.S. bases, without allowing a new base construction or transferring bases from one place to another.
It is a big challenge for us to build stronger and larger joint efforts with the people of Okinawa for freedom from the burden of U.S. bases.
All around Japan, we are witnessing growing voices of concern and opposition to the transfer of training sites and stationing of U.S. fighter-bombers to Self-Defense Force bases. And in many places, opposition and resistance campaigns are carried out against U.S. bases realignment and reinforcement of the Japan-U.S. military alliance.
It is important to note that all these struggles are developing closely linked with a broad range of movements of the people to defend Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces, as subsidiary military forces of the U.S., are on the verge of being mobilized to fight in wars of the U.S. design, which is the purpose of the ongoing integration of the two military forces. Military bases in Japan are being transformed into Japan-U.S. joint bases through permanent stationing of SDF troops at U.S. bases and vice versa.
The realignment of U.S. military forces is not only for the strengthening of U.S. bases function, but is intended for building up war-fighting preparation by mobilizing the SDF in wars outside Japan fought under the U.S. strategy and by openly infringing Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.
Japan's peace and democratic forces will continue to take action together with a broad range of people to oppose the dangerous plan of involving the SDFs in the U.S. preemptive attack strategy and to block an adverse revision of the Constitution and reinforcement of the Japan-U.S. military alliance attempted and led by Abe, the first Prime Minister who publicly declared that he would change the present Constitution. We are convinced that our struggle is one to defend Article 9 of the Constitution, to transform Japan into a peaceful and independent country in a true sense, and to brighten our prospects for working together with other countries in Asia and the world to achieve world peace without resorting to military strength.
3. Here I would like to touch upon some fundamental problems underlying the ongoing global reorganization of U.S. forces launched by the Bush Administration.
The war on Iraq, started by the Bush team with the fabricated pretext of the Hussein government "possessing weapons of mass destruction", has brought an utter disaster not only to Iraq but to the entire Middle East region. This preemptive war on Iraq revealed before the world public the grave danger of Bushﾕs global strategy that infringes the peace principle of the U.N. Charter. The defeat of the Republican Party in the recent election in the U.S. has clearly shown that there was a very strong criticism on the war on Iraq among U.S. citizens,
We should not overlook the fact that for the Bush Administration, the forcible launching of the war on Iraq and the global U.S. forces realignment were, from the beginning, upheld as the two major tasks of the government. These two were the "twin" agenda in Bushﾕs preemptive attack strategy. In the wake of the Republican Party's defeat in the election, U.S. Ambassador Schieffer to Japan said that it would not give any effect on the U.S. forces realignment in Japan. His arrogant remarks indicate that this forces reorganization has the central place in the U.S. strategy of hegemony.
In 1998, when Bush was the governor of Texas, he met Condoleezza Rice for the first time during his preparation for the Presidential election and discussed strategic issues with her. There, they already took up the global U.S. forces realignment as the most important issue. Shortly after the meeting, Rice became the leader of "Vulcanus Group", which would formulate and provide Bush with military and diplomatic strategy. Their activities after Bush took office indicate that the war on Iraq and U.S. forces global realignment have been treated as the two most important strategic ventures to dominate the world by military strength.
The U.S. Forces global realignment and reinforcement of the Japan-US and other military alliances are both taking the central place in the U.S. world war strategy in Bush's manner. Therefore, the last thing they want is the criticism and resistance from the peoples of the world to their plan.
In November 2003, 8 months after the war started, President Bush made the first statement on the worldwide realignment of U.S. forces. Ten days before this, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, who had already sunk in the quagmire of the occupation of Iraq then, visited Japan to discuss this subject and went to Okinawa and saw Futenma Airfield. He could not help turning his eyes to the problem of Futenma, which was the focal point of conflict between the U.S. government and the people of Japan, who had been distressed by the abnormally long presence of U.S. bases and Japanﾕs deep subservience to the U.S.
While strengthening its military strongholds for preemptive attack wars in Japan and accelerating the integration of the Japanese and U.S. forces, the Bush Administration cannot but feel uncomfortable about the growing public voices and movement of the Japanese people opposing military bases and demanding their removal.
There are 3 characteristics in the current U.S. military strategy.
First is the continued preemptive attack strategy. Though the isolation of the U.S. in the world due to the bankrupt war on Iraq is making its preemptive attack strategy somewhat difficult, we should not overlook its dangerous nature. It is evidently clear by the forcible reorganization of forces in Japan and making Guam a fortress of the U.S., infringing the rights of the indigenous people. At the same time, the "Global Strike" plan to strengthen U.S. unilateral global attack posture with its nuclear and conventional forces, and the large-scale project to develop new and small type of nuclear weapons that can be used throughout the 21st century stand out as the most recent moves to indicate the continuation of the preemptive attack strategy.
Second is the greater use of the allied forces. With the war on Iraq in the quagmire, the U.S. is in the shortage of ground battle troops. By filling this shortage with the maximum use of the Japanese SDFs and other allied forces, the Bush Administration continues to stand on its militarist philosophy to promote its hegemonistic strategy to rule the world with is overwhelming military power.
Los Angeles Times of March 11, 2005 said, "Due to the war on Iraq, operational planners in the Pentagon were forced to review the important requirement for the use of military power", "As a result, the Pentagon is bent on the idea of getting assistance from its allies. As the demand for more Army and Marine troops grows in Iraq and Afghanistan, the participation of the allied forces would become more imminent." In the background of the accelerated moves to virtually mobilize other countries forces in the U.S. military operations is this blatant imperialistic intention.
Thirdly, a dangerous move is going on to greatly strengthen and expand the U.S. forces deployment in the heart of the Eurasian Continent. Guam is being made a grand fortress as never seen in history, with the false pretext of "transferring the Marines from Okinawa". For maintaining the U.S. dominance in the Persian Gulf area, a secret plan is being undertaken to make the U.S. bases stay in Iraq permanently. Further, there is a plan to expand the bases over to Caspian Sea's east and west coast areas and to Africa. Thus, from East Asia to the heart of Eurasian Continent, and further to Asia and its surrounding area, military deployment of the U.S. forces is aggressively promoted. Among them is the U.S. forces reinforcement in Japan and the forces in Korea are increasing their function toward outside the Korean Peninsula.
Vivid example in Japan is the deployment of nuclear aircraft carrier at Yokosuka. In the West Pacific area, U.S. naval aircraft carrier is deployed and submarine forces, including strategic nuclear submarines with aggressive attack capability are intensively deployed. Building up of nuclear and conventional attack posture in Asia is a serious threat to peace in Asia.
The U.S. depends more on diplomacy on the problems of East Asia, taking a different approach from that on Iraq. But we should not let our guard down and overlook the danger of focused deployment of military forces in Asia.
As the Financial Times of the U.K. pointed out recently, given the political setback suffered from its failure of the war on Iraq, the U.S. is forced to give more importance to "negotiations" in its diplomatic strategy, due also to the strong oppositional voices among Korean people and the presence of China and Russia. However, we should not overlook the fact that the U.S. holds a complex and multi-layer strategy of combining the aggressive military strategy of "containment" and "suppression".
This is the very content of the permanent war posture in the name of the "long war" explained by the senior officials of the Bush Administration, which should continue over the next several decades.
4. As seen in the foregoing, for us in the peace movement, in order to achieve genuine world peace and stop the aggressive war policy, we need to strengthen international solidarity among the struggles against U.S. military bases.
In Asia, after the 1970s, the major trend has been to remove U.S. military bases and seek non-military means to achieve security.
Looking back on the history of removal of U.S. bases in East Asia, in mid-1970s, due to the U.S. defeat in Vietnam and Indochina, all U.S. bases were withdrawn from South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. In Thailand, where 50,000 U.S. troops had stationed in many U.S. air bases to bomb Vietnam, a coalition government born after the demise of the military regime demanded the removal of U.S. bases. As a result, by 1976, all U.S. bases were withdrawn from Thailand. In 1979, in the wake of the U.S.-China Joint Communique, which confirmed the "One China" principle, all U.S. bases were removed from Taiwan. And in 1992, by the resolution of the Senate, the Philippines became U.S.-bases free.
Therefore in East Area, only Japan and South Korea are currently hosting the U.S. bases. After such enormous changes during the last 30 years, now the ASEAN is seeking the way for securing peace and safety of its member countries through equal and peaceful partnership among neighboring nations. This trend is spreading throughout the entire Asian region.
We have to draw the lesson from the fact that this great and unstoppable current of peace was created in parallel with respective countries' efforts to drop out of U.S. military alliances and remove U.S. bases from their lands. This is the historic phenomenon and we see the commonality in the current of the Non-Aligned movement, to which two-thirds of the countries of the world now join.
The dangerous move of Japan to become a country "to wage war again" is a serious reverse current for the course of history now going on in the midst of the land with the largest concentration of U.S. bases.
We need to put an end to such a deadly situation as soon as possible, and change the course of this country by eliminating U.S. bases and military alliance, so that we can live together peacefully with other nations in Asia and the world. For this, I want to emphasize that it is more important than ever to redouble peoples' movement for this direction and at the same time, to strengthen our international solidarity.