Japan Peace Conference 2009
Secretary General, Japan Peace Committee
For the Abrogation of the US-Japan Military Alliance and Removal of Military Bases
The Japan Peace Conference has been held since 1986 with the aim of establishing a peaceful Japan and world, especially of reducing or removing U.S. military bases from Japan and eventually breaking away from the Japan-U.S. military alliance. Our movement has now become a major driving force of real politics. It has also played a part in handing down a popular verdict that succeeded in replacing the Liberal Democratic Party-Komei government in the August general election. During the election campaign, we expressed our opposition to the plan to build a new U.S. base in Okinawa, called for cuts in the so-called “sympathy budget” for the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan, and took up the issue of Japan-U.S. secret agreements on bringing-in of U.S. nuclear weapons to Japan. All these questions we raised during the campaign have become major focal points in politics. As a result of our struggle, a possibility to materialize our demands for peace is emerging. Under such budding circumstances, I propose that we shall move forward to further strengthen our efforts for peace towards 2010, the year marking the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
During the period of the previous LDP-Komei government in subservience to the United States, we have conducted campaigns against its attempts to support the Iraq War, to dispatch Japan’s Self-Defense Forces abroad, to revise the Constitution for the worse, and to realign and reinforce U.S. forces in Japan. Our efforts are opening up a totally new phase in the situation.
In the struggle to oppose the strengthening and realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, tenacious resistance of Okinawan people against the new base has prevented for 13 years the construction works from taking place. In June 2009, the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly with the previous opposition becoming the majority bloc adopted a resolution opposing the plan to construct a new base. What is more, all the candidates promoting the new base construction backed by the LDP and Komei were defeated in the House of Representatives election last August. In the Takae district in Okinawa, residents opposing the construction of a U.S. helipad have carried on monitoring and protest actions on a daily basis for more than two years and succeeded in halting the construction work. In Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, citizens’ united efforts to oppose the deployment of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Yokosuka have also developed and the incumbent mayor lost in the election for he had broke his public promise and accepted the deployment. In Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, the residents through the referendum rejected the relocation of U.S. carrier-borne aircraft. Even after the anti-base candidate lost the mayoral election though by a narrow margin due to dirty tricks such as terminating the subsidy to construct a new city hall, people’s cooperation is expanding through the movement to oppose the construction plan of housing complex for U.S. military personnel, through the lawsuit over noise pollution caused by U.S. military aircraft, and through the movement against the strengthening of the U.S. Yokosuka Air Base. In Fukuoka, calls for opposition from residents and surrounding municipalities have prevented the extension work of a runway of the Tsuiki base located in Fukuoka. As for the movement to preserve the Constitution, Article 9 in particular, about 7,000 “Article 9 Associations” have been created so far throughout Japan, and the public opinion in favor of preserving Article 9 is now widespread thanks to the struggle carried on by the Joint Action Center against Adverse Revision of the Constitution. Before the law on national referendum enters into effect next year, allowing amendments of the Constitution through national referendum, these struggles prevent the Constitution Review Boards of the Diet from being activated. Regarding the overseas dispatch of the SDF troops, we won a Nagoya High Court ruling, saying that it is violation of Article 9 of the Constitution for the Air SDF to carry U.S. troops or multinational forces participating in the illegal Iraq War. Our struggle also helped contribute to a cessation of refueling activities of the Maritime SDF in the Indian Ocean for foreign vessels participating in the Afghan war.
The joint efforts of people calling for peace and severely criticizing the neo-liberal structural reform policy that undermines their living conditions while giving priority to the interests of large corporations, resulted in a severe verdict on the previous regime in the August general election and drove the LDP and the Komei Party out from power. This clearly shows that people’s action and choice are the greatest power to change politics. The time has come for public opinion aspiring to peace to determine
(2) Policy based on ‘Japan-U.S. alliance’ increasingly contradicts people’s demand for peace
Against the backdrop of popular “No!” to the LDP-Komei government, the new government was born. Some of its promises reflect people’s demand. In the Policy Agreement upon the Establishment of a Coalition Government, it says, “[F]rom the perspective of reducing the burden placed on the residents of Okinawa prefecture, we will propose a revision of the Japan Status of Forces Agreement, and move in the direction of re-examining the realignment of U.S. forces and the role of U.S. bases in Japan.” Whether or not to keep this promise is being tested before the public. The DPJ-led new government has also launched the investigation into the Japan-U.S. secret agreement on nuclear weapons; another example of a change that would never take place under the previous regime. At the same time, the new government maintains a policy based on the Japan-U.S. alliance. At the Japan-U.S. summit meeting, Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio said that the Japan-U.S. alliance is “the foundation of all Japan’s diplomacy,” and agreed on “deepening” of the Japan-U.S. relationship. However, this stance basically conflicts with people’s aspiration for peace. In fact, regarding the issue of the construction of another U.S. base in Okinawa, the new government is wavering between the U.S. military requirements and its initial promise to remove the U.S. Marines’ Futenma air base out of Okinawa or even out of Japan. Such a swinging attitude of the government is severely criticized by the people of Okinawa and Japan.
This situation is offering the people a political experience that public opinion, and our movement and grassroots actions can change the course of history. At the same time, it helps people to understand that the root-cause that prevents the realization of our various demands regarding peace is the Japan-U.S. military alliance. Meanwhile, a wide range of people are discussing about what kind of course or what kind of relations with the U.S. Japan should pursue. Now is the time for us to hold dialogue with as many people as possible, increase our concerted efforts, and intensify our activities to make full use of Article 9 for establishing a Japan without U.S. bases, military alliance, or nuclear weapons and bringing about peace in Asia and the rest of the world.
(3) The world current towards peace is taking our movement forward
The major change in the world and the growing trend towards peace are both encouraging our movement. The reckless war against Iraq shows that unilateralism of the previous U.S. administration led by George W. Bush collapsed and international criticism against it brought Barack Obama to power. The new U.S. administration tried, to a certain extent, to make a shift from the previous unilateral policy that ignored the United Nations. Along with the world majority calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons, U.S. President Obama also proclaimed that the pursuit of a “world without nuclear weapons” would be his country’s goal. The fact that, for the first time, the U.N. Security Council in its special summit meeting in September adopted a resolution announcing its “determination to create conditions for a world without nuclear weapons” constitutes a significant change.
The Obama administration, in its attempt to “settle” the Afghan war by intensifying its sweeping operations, announced that the U.S. would substantially increase its troops in Afghanistan. This will only cause more casualties and invite a vicious circle of war and terrorist retaliations. What is needed is to end the war and move forward towards solving the issue peacefully by political means. Anti-Afghan war opinion calling for withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan has become a majority force not only in the United States but also in member NATO countries. It is to be noted that on the occasion of NATO’s 60th anniversary in April, demonstrations took place throughout Europe against NATO and against Afghan War. The Afghan War quagmire becomes apparent in the recent U.S. move: while planning to increase U.S. troops, President Obama had to express his intention to begin the withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011.
The number of countries belonging to NATO and other military alliances was 52 half a century ago, accounting for 67 percent of the world population. As a result of dissolution of cessation of functioning of military alliances one after another, there are only four alliances that are still functioning in the world, all of which are under U.S. military leadership - Japan-U.S., South Korea-U.S., Australia-U.S., and NATO. They embrace 31 countries and account for only 16 percent of the world population. In sharp contrast with this, regional communities such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the European Union (EU), and the South American Community of Nations (CSN), calling for international order of peace based on the U.N. Charter are developing.
In addition, Ecuador adopted a Constitution that prohibits hosting of foreign military bases and thus succeeded in removing a U.S. base from its territory. The plan to construct a U.S. “missile defense” base in the Czech Republic also failed because of the opposition of 70 percent of Czech people. There is an increasing trend around the world to remove existing U.S. military bases and to refuse the deployment of foreign troops and bases.
Let us strengthen our actions now to realize the following demands:
Let us look at the facts about U.S. military bases in Japan. 1) While the U.S. bases stationed in other countries have been drastically reduced since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the area of U.S. facilities in Japan, with the area of co-use bases with the Japan’s SDFs included, has more than doubled. 2) With the presence of the U.S. Marine Expeditionary Forces and the Carrier Strike Group, U.S. bases in Japan constitute a stronghold for its aggression abroad serving as the sortie bases for attacks against Iraq and Afghanistan; their activities have nothing to do with Japan’s defense. 3) With the U.S. forces given extraterritorial rights by the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement and a bilateral secret agreement on jurisdiction, many accidents and crimes by U.S. servicemen are taking place causing tremendous damages to residents. 4) Japan ranks first in the world in terms of the amount of money it spends for bearing the stationing cost of U.S. forces in the name of “sympathy budget.” All these show that Japan’s situation regarding U.S. bases has no parallel in the world. We are required to rectify the current abnormal situation and achieve the reduction and removal of U.S. bases in Japan. Being impatient of such extraordinary burden of hosting the U.S. bases, even conservative mayors of local governments started to speak out together with local people against the U.S. military realignment plan, saying that they will not tolerate further reinforcement of U.S. bases and any more damage caused by the U.S. military presence.
The new government pledged to review the realignment of U.S. bases and the stationing of U.S. troops in Japan. Its position is greatly wavering due to the strong pressure from the U.S. Above all, concerning the construction of a new base in Okinawa, the government broke the promise of relocating the Futenma base abroad or other areas of Japan. It is highly likely that the government may conclude the issue by relocating the base within Okinawa. However, Okinawans’ voice is clear. They held a nonpartisan rally with the slogan of “Remove the Futenma base, No to relocation of the base within Okinawa and No to the construction of a new base”. 21,000 people took part in the rally. A recent opinion poll shows that more than 70 percent of local people are against the relocation of the base within Okinawa and that 83.5 percent demand the reduction and removal of U.S. bases in Okinawa. The 13-year-long struggle of Okinawa people has shown that the only way to solve this issue is the unconditional withdrawal of the U.S. base.
The new coalition government should not accept the realignment of U.S. bases in Japan under the thumbs of the U.S. government. It should not permit the relocation of the base within Okinawa. Instead it should fundamentally review the current abnormal situation involving U.S. bases and should negotiate with the U.S. government, standing on the side of the people. Let us raise our voices with Okinawa people and achieve the reduction and removal of U.S. bases.
A nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was deployed in Yokosuka. And U.S. atomic powered submarines are making port calls constantly. The maintenance of atomic reactors on board is underway. These problems are critical, endangering the lives of 30 million people living in the capital area. Let us increase our voices calling for the withdrawal of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier from Yokosuka, halt to the reinforcement of U.S. bases in Iwakuni, Zama, Sagamihara and Yokota, stopping of Japan’s payment for the construction of U.S. military facilities in Guam and the “sympathy budget” for the U.S. forces stationed in Japan, and the revision of the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement.
Toward the NPT Review Conference, a new opportunity is opened up to realize the abolition of nuclear weapons. At the United Nations, Prime Minister Hatoyama pledged to take the lead in the abolition of nuclear weapons and to observe the Three Non-nuclear Principles. Now is the time for Japan to take initiative appropriate for the only A-bombed country in the world. It should frontally propose the commencement of negotiations for an international treaty totally banning and eliminating nuclear weapons, and should take initiatives to overcome “nuclear deterrence” theory as obstruction to the abolition of nuclear weapons.
However, in its resolution to the U.N., the Hatoyama government failed to call for the conclusion of the international treaty, carrying on its predecessor’s position that the U.S. nuclear umbrella under the Japan -U.S. military alliance is necessary. Regarding its investigation and verification of the Japan-U.S. secret agreement on bringing-in of nuclear weapons, the government has not declared so far that it will reject U.S. aircraft and warships carrying nuclear weapons to enter or pass Japan’s territory. As long as it holds on to such an attitude, the government cannot fulfill appropriate role for the government of the only A-bombed nation in the world.
We need to break away from the U.S. nuclear umbrella, disclose and abrogate the secret agreement on bringing-in of nuclear weapons, and adhere to the Three Non-nuclear Principles. Japan should also reject the port-calls by U.S. nuclear-powered submarines capable of carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles at Yokosuka, Sasebo, and Okinawa’s White Beach.
Toward the NPT Review Conference, let us widely develop the signature campaign “For a nuclear weapons-free world” and enhance the public call for a nuclear weapon-free Japan.
The former government of Japan, led by the Liberal Democratic and Komei parties, had repeatedly violated the Constitution by supporting the Iraqi war and Afghan war and sending the SDF troops to help the wars. The dispatch of Maritime, Air and Ground SDF units to the sea off Somalia is continuing, and there is a possibility for them to use force. Placing overseas activity as central mission of the SDFs, the former government had promoted arms buildup. In order to meet the requirement of overseas dispatch of troops, the former government had placed overseas activity as SDFs’ central mission and had promoted arms buildup, including training of the Ground SDF Central Readiness Force and other units, holding of close-quarters combat drills and purchasing of mid-air refuel aircraft and other large transport aircraft as well as helicopter-carrier destroyers. Aiming to get everything ready for the U.S. forces and the SDF to jointly fight wars on a global scale, the government is trying to push forward the “realignment” of the U.S. forces in Japan. It is thus going ahead with the integration of Army commands in Zama and Sagamihara bases, the establishment of the Bilateral and Joint Operations Coordination Center in Yokota base and the integration of Air force commands. The attempt to adversely revise Article 9 is part of the plan and therefore we should block all these moves from the Constitutional perspective.
The U.S. Obama Administration is trying to send more troops to Afghanistan. Japan’s new government has decided to invest 5 billion dollars (about 450 billion yen) to support the Afghan war. What Japan should do is not to support the war but to take initiatives for ending the war and forging peace.
The DPJ intends to prohibit bureaucrats from answering in Diet discussions. We must be cautious about the real aim of this dangerous attempt – to change the government’s Constitutional interpretation in their favor and open the way for the SDFs’ use of force abroad. Let us develop joint effort for defending Article 9 and promote peace diplomacy.
(4) Toward the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty – Abrogate the Japan-US military alliance and build peaceful and friendly relations with the U.S.
Amid deepening contradiction between the people’s demands and Japan-U.S. alliance
Contradictions between the people’s demands for peace and the Japan-U.S. military alliance are more visible than ever, over the issue of reduction and removal of U.S. bases as well as the issue of defending Japan’s Constitution and realizing a nuclear-free Japan. Even on the people’s living conditions, it has become clear that one of the major causes of deterioration of employment, agriculture, businesses, and social welfare is the Japanese government’s subservience to the U.S. in its economic policies. Against this background, people of different thought and positions have begun to talk about what the Japan-US relations should be. Here lies a new condition for us for developing public opinion.
In Okinawa, where contradictions with the Japan-U.S. alliance are most visible because of the heavy U.S. military presence the prefecture has endured, a recent public opinion poll showed that only 16.7 percent of the respondents supported the maintenance of the security treaty; 42 percent said that the treaty should be changed to a peace and friendship treaty; 10.5 percent supported the abrogation of the treaty; and 15.5 percent said that it should be converted into a multilateral security treaty including the U.S. This result indicates what course we should pursue. Now is the time for us to have dialogues with a wide range of the people, strengthen cooperation, and enhance public opinion in favor of abrogation of the Japan-U.S. military alliance and the creation of peaceful and friendly relations with the U.S.
Connect with effort to realize a peaceful Northeast Asia
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, those who want to strengthen the bilateral military alliance intend to run a campaign advocating that the Security Treaty is essential for defending Japan, and that it underpins the foundation for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. In reality, however, the very fact that the U.S., the nuclear superpower and Japan with world-class arms capabilities are military allies has been the cause of a vicious circle of arms race and tension in East Asia. Disarmament and easing of tension are called for. What is required now is not the strengthening of military alliance, but efforts for ending hostility and easing tension to build peaceful relations, as seen in the Six-Party Talks. Japan should do its utmost to forge such relations with its neighboring countries, based on the Constitution.
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