Symposium INDEX

Japan Peace Conference 2009
Report of the International Symposium


Keisuke FUSE
(Symposium Coordinator)

Director of International Bureau
National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)


The International Symposium of 2009 Japan Peace Conference in Kanagawa was held in Yokohama on December 10 and 11 with 140 participants, around the theme “Our Movement Changes the World”. At the opening of the symposium, H.E. Javier Ponce, Ambassador of Ecuador to Japan, gave a special lecture. On the panel were Mr. John Lindsay-Poland from the US, co-director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation from the U.S., Mr. Lee Junkyu from Republic of Korea, lecturer at Laborer’s Academy for Alternative, Ms. Hannelore Tölke from Germany, National Council member of the German Peace Council and a Bonn City Council member, Ms. Corazon Valdez Fabros representing the Stop the War Coalition Philippines and the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, and Mr. Kawata Tadaaki, Japan Peace Committee Executive Board member. Fuse Keisuke, Director of International Bureau, National Confederation of Trade Unions acted as coordinator. The symposium heard special reports from Mr. Goto Masahiko, lawyer from Kanagawa, and Mr. Ohnishi Teruo from Okinawa.

This International Symposium took place at a time when the movement against foreign military bases and military alliances is growing internationally, and when the world is moving forward toward a world without nuclear weapons. In Japan, people opened a new page of history by throwing out the LDP-Komei coalition government in general election last August. With the relocation of the Futenma Base becoming the focal issue under the new coalition government, symposium participants shared the importance of developing the struggle against the base relocation in solidarity with people all over Japan and around the world. It is of great significance that we had this symposium as an opportunity to exchange the experiences of movements in Japan and other parts of the world here in Kanagawa, where citizens are tenaciously carrying on the movement against the homeporting of US nuclear aircraft carrier and crimes committed by US military personnel.

It is the first time for the Japan Peace Conference to hold an international symposium with attendance of a government representative to give a special lecture. By the decision of President Rafael Correa not to renew the lease of the Manta Air Base to the U.S., the U.S. military had to withdraw from Ecuador last September. Ambassador Ponce spoke in detail about Ecuador’s experience of successfully removing the U.S. military base and enacting a progressive constitution by people’s movement. He also explained the role Ecuador played in the regional effort for solving disputes peacefully and for establishing a nuclear weapon-free zone in Latin America. It was particularly meaningful for us to learn from the lessons of Ecuador, as we are struggling for the removal and reduction of U.S. military bases in Japan. The lecture also gave us a valuable opportunity for increasing exchanges and cooperation with governments that pursue a common goal.

Mr. Poland reported on the solidarity between anti-US base struggles in Latin America and the movement within the U.S., as well as on the challenges facing the peace movement. Mr. Lee pointed out that we were at a turning point in making the Korean peninsula and East Asia nuclear free and in breaking away from the military alliance. He called for sharing of lessons of history and overcoming of the military alliance identity. Ms. Tölke referred to the history of NATO, which marks the 60th anniversary this year, and explained the role of NATO in making the war possible. Ms. Fabros reported the actual situation of her country, where the U.S. military had returned under the framework of the Visiting Forces Agreement after the closure of their bases to conduct exercises and operations as if they owned the land. She also spoke of the movement against such moves. Mr. Kawata, referring to the Futenma Base issue, pointed out that strong public opinion and movement against U.S. bases have influenced the world and that the civil society was playing an important role in making a peaceful Asian community. He stressed the need for developing strong public opinion demanding a new relationship between Japan and the U.S. as equals and abrogation of the Japan-U.S. security treaty.

After the floor was opened for discussion, participants actively spoke of their respective experiences, showing the struggle and cooperation are developing in different countries and across Japan to remove military bases, to abrogate military alliances and to achieve a nuclear-free, peaceful world. Many participants emphasized the importance of proposing alternatives for the development of local economy after the closure of the bases. They also stressed the need for connecting the anti-base struggle with individual demands and interests, such as poverty and social gap, environment and biodiversity as a way to expose the very nature of the military alliance. There were many reports on the grassroots efforts to cast off the yoke of violence and military alliance identity and to bring the principles of peace enshrined in Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution into full play. It was noteworthy that many referred to the importance of reaching out to younger generation. In this regard, continued effort for sharing of information and good practices is called for.

Under the ongoing globalization that benefits only a handful of people while increasing poverty and social gap, the U.S. has been making use of the unchallenged network of military bases it maintains throughout the world, as steppingstones for dominating and intervening in all parts of the world. Our struggle aims at ending the Cold War Era’s world order of rule by wealth and power, to realize peaceful coexistence of equal nations, as envisaged in the U.N. Charter. The coming year of 2010 is the year of the 50th anniversary of the revised Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, and of the NPT Review Conference. It will be a year for us to gear up our movement, which has proved to be a driving force for changing the world, to accomplish our goal. Let us open a new horizon to achieve a foreign bases-free and peaceful world and Asia by developing solidarity between grass-roots movements around the world.

Those of us who are participating in the 2009 Japan Peace Conference should take every opportunity to learn about the realities of military presence and struggles in different places both in Japan and abroad, and bring all the things we have learned here back to our communities, workplace and schools. It is my sincere hope that all of you here learn the outcome of the International Symposium where struggles and experiences of different countries were exchanged, have better understanding of it through listening to others, discussions and exchanges during the Conference, and make the best use of it in your campaigns and activities. With this, I conclude my report of the International Symposium.