2007: Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - Panel I
Prof. em. Dr. MUSHAKOJI Kinhide
Panel Discussion 1So please, please allow me to speak in English; I think this would facilitate the 50% of the participants.
I would like first to put into the general program, this session, which is on non-violence and the practice of peace. It is important when we consider the importance of the Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, to take into consideration the fact that the Article 9, and especially its close too, are not in defendants from the full body of the constitution, especially it is, in a sense, closely related to the preamble of the constitution. And this is where we come to the problem of non-violence and peace practice, which is the starting point form where the Article 9 is standing.
There is in the preamble of the Japanese constitution, a clause about the right to live in peace. And this right is not the right of the Japanese people, it is the right which has been violated by the Japanese people. And it is in our peace constitution, in the preamble, because we, the people of Japan, are conscious of how terrible things we committed, terrible crimes we committed, these are the neighboring countries which we colonized, invaded, and committed many crimes of war and against humanity. The idea is, in the preamble of the Japanese constitution, it is saying that the Japanese people will now join the international community, the peace-loving international community, and in doing so, we are aware of the fact that all peoples, all nations of the world have the right to live in peace. And this is because we violated this right that we insist on the fact that we want to proclaim the universal nature of the right to live in peace. And there, the occupation forces were contributing to this text, and believed, in a positive way, and the text adds there, free from fear and free from want, the right to live in peace; free from fear and free from want; it's not only from fear, it is not only in terms of military conflict, but it's also in terms of poverty, and the Japanese people made it their repentance clear in the sense that we want to promote the right to live in peace of everybody around the world. And in order to do so, it is logical that we adopt a non-violent approach, especially the state, should not be a violent state. And this is where the Article 9, especially close to the renunciation of the Japanese state, to any military power, military force, is direct consequence of the right to live in peace.
If we look at what happened in Afghanistan, and what happened in Iraq, and what may happen in Iran, in the near future, it is silly to think that we can, as it was pointed out, now it is silly to think that we can now solve, through military means, our differences. Especially, this is a reason why Article 9 comes as a following up of the idea of the right to live in peace. Now the right to live in peace, free from fear 30 and free from want, is a peace right. Yes. But it is small importantly a right proclaimed by those who believe in the right to live in peace of the subjugated people, the colonized peoples, the peoples who are discriminated against, all the peoples who are forced to live in fear and under fear and with wants, poverty and conflict; all those people are the ones who carry the torch of the right to live in peace. And this is where peace practice is important, not in promoting peace, but in working with those who are really in need of peace, who demand peace, who fight for peace, and who cannot accept the militarization and the re-colonization which we are experiencing around the world. We can come to what Dr. OH Jae-Shik mentioned, it was about a 'bandon' a second 'bandon'.
I think that 'bandon' is an expression of states, of newly independent states, to fight against colonialism. And to fight against colonialism, they decided to have two principles which are very close to the Japanese concept of rights to live in peace. There was one concept which is related to the freedom from fear; is peaceful coexistence, it is not unnatural attack on the rogue states or anything; it is peaceful coexistence. And the other message from 'bandon' is equal, mutual benefit , It is just the opposite to the idea that you can have an economy, global economy, which is based on the survival of the fittest, and create a discrepancy between the rich and poor; so that it's not equal, mutual benefit, it is the benefit of those who are successful in the liberal market; and we have to be opposed to that, in that sense, the right to live in peace and the 'bandon' conference, 2 principles; there are oth¬ers, which are also important, but the peaceful coexistence and not the war on terror preemptive attack; and the other is equal mutual benefit, which is just the opposite to the kind of new liberal global arrangements of the world trade organization, and others, and we have to fight against those trends together and this is the practice of peace, practice of peace is, in that sense, combining these two aspects. I would like to make a third point very briefly, about one thing which is probably very delicate to propose. I would like us, non-believers in non-violence, to have some kind of dialogue, with those who believe in violence. Not with Mr. Bush, probably better with Mr. Osama Bin Laden, I am joking, but there are people in Iran, there are people in Palestine, and there are people also in Korea, and in North Korea, people who have decided to use military force, including nuclear force in the case of North Korea, to fight against colonization. And they have a way to fight against colonization; and we are all fighting against re-colonization, and in that sense, we should be organizing a common front with the terrorists, and that's a dangerous thing to say, but I still would like to say that we are not with the terrorists because they are violent, and their violence is creating more violence from the side of the state's terrorists. So state terrorism and anti-state terrorism are both developing a situation of terror, a situation which is against the rights to live in peace of so many peoples, so we have to convince those who are using violent means, to believe that they can fight colonialism and re-colonization by violent means, we should convince them that it is wrong to do so, that we should all unite in being non-violent, and I will not go on, but just mention that for example, Gandhi's approach to non-violence is very important because it combines anti-colonial fight with non-violence, and non-violence is actually Satira Graha, it is a search of the truth, it is in search of truth that we become non-violent, but there, Gandhi's concept, for example, of the Swa Desh and Swa Rahj, and also of anti-?, and Satriboya?, are actually a manifestation of, a search for peace against the overcoming fear and overcoming wants, and this is the kind of non-violence which I think we will be able to develop, whether we are belonging to any of the religious currents here present, I think we all share the concept of compassion, and of non-violence, the non-violent search for truth, and so this is where this search for non-violence, search for truth, is actually directly related to Article 9.
If you search for truth through non-violent means, you cannot have a military power to solve your problems; you should renounce to that state violence ap¬proach, and this is the point I wanted just to make, in opening our discussion, and if we can go on in this order, and could I ask you take the floor, yes please.
Dr. Mushakoji was born in Brussels in 1929.
A scholar of International Political Sci¬ence and he currently is the Director of Center for Asia Pacific Partnership, Osaka Uni¬versity of Science and Peace Studies. He is Catholic. He graduated from Gakushuin Uni¬versity in politics and economics. Has taught International Relations at Sophia Univer¬sity, Meiji Gakuin University, Ferris Women's University, and Chubu University and served as Vice-Rector of the United Nations University, Chairman of the Board of the Japanese Committee of the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), Director of the International Research Center For Independent Thought, Representative to the Human Rights Forum 21, Director of the New Media and Human Rights organization, Human Rights Information Network "Furatto", first Director of "Peace Osaka", and a member of the "Committee of Seven for Appeals on World Peace."
Ved Pratap Vaidik
Dr. Ved Pratap Vaidik
Panel Discussion 1
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you Mr. Reverend Yamamoto. And all the friends present here. I came directly from the airport to this hall, and yesterday, I was in Afghanistan. I spent a week in Afghanistan, and from there, directly, I came here. I am extremely beholden that I have been invited to express my views and intellect with this gathering from so many countries, and especially with my Japanese friends. My profession is a journalist and a scholar, but since my very early days, I have been a peace activist. At the age of 12, only 12, I was arrested for the first time due to some demonstrations which I led in my home town. So, I find this opportunity to speak to you to be extremely unique for myself. It's not only an academic exercise in intellectualism. Maybe today, our meeting might be a cause of newer movement. Who knows. Something big could start from today.
When I was studying Article 9, as a student of international affairs, what I found that almost all the governments of Japan after the World War 2nd, had already given a decent burial to the Article 9. Whom are you trying to protect? Where is the Article 9, please show me! It's only in the papers. I don't see any concrete proof of Article 9 being acted upon or being operated or being observed in action in Japan. Where is Article 9? I just don't see it. You are trying to defend something that doesn't exist.
Had there been an Article 9, tell me, was it possible for the governments of Japan to spend 50 billion dollars on the militarization of this country? Was it pos¬sible? Those countries, which have been fighting wars and wars, every few years, like India and Pakistan, and India is 10 times bigger than Japan, and it has no Article 9, but it cannot spend 50 billion dollars on your so called self-defense, but you do it. So where is Article 9? You are completely abrogated.
You are a country of just 100 million people. 1/10th of India. And you know better than me, how many persons you have in your so called self-defense forces. You may call them as policeman, you may call them as security guards, you may call them as self-defense forces; but they are meant for state violence. They're armed. They perpetrate violence against the people. And against the nations, un¬der somebody else's violence. And you call it Article 9? Where is the Article 9? If there's no Article 9, how is a quarter of a million people can be doctored into an army? It's not like guerilla warfare. It's not like terrorist activities; it's an open activity. The government treasury fails sanity, regular sanity, and the upkeep of the quarter of a million people. Is it possible to do it? If you really have an Article 9, is it possible? It's a clear-cut violation of the Article 9. These are the two solid evidences.
The third evidence of the non-existence of Article 9 is that Japan is a threshold power. Japan's nuclear technology, it's nuclear prowess, in my view, is more dan¬gerous than Iran, than Israel, than Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Then, ? of Pakistan. It's almost a nuclear power. Much before if Iran wants to turn into a nuclear power, if Tokyo wants, it can turn itself into the 2nd most dangerous nuclear power of the world. Can you do it? If you have an Article 9. If you are really a pacifist country. Why should you lay so much of a stress on the nuclear power? Why don't you develop solar energy? Why don't you eschew the nuclear power as America itself has done. America has not generated its electricity and other sources of power for nuclear power. They have stopped doing it. 7 has proved it. That nuclear power is very dangerous for humanity. But Japan has very freely developed it. Do you think that we are showing respect to the Article 9? In fact, it is a secret subversion of the Article 9. The ? evidence is, that Japan is with the USA. As far as the military program, military designs, of the USA's concern. Japan has accepted almost every device invented by the US. ?? A country like India, despite having the best relations with the USA, all the governments, I will say almost the last 4 governments, have completely rejected the ? defense program, and many other military programs offered by the USA. But Japan, a great country like Japan, a great people, genius ?, the cream of the arts, they have accepted a position of the second ?. You are playing a second ? against Japanese people.
You are a great culture. You are a great tradition to the Americans. The most ? nation. What are you doing? Is it showing respect to Article 9? I just don't under¬stand. And you have not only accepted American ? in Asia, you have been an active; when I say you, not you, you are all wonderful people; you are govern¬ments, you are leaders. And not all leaders, government leaders, who run the gov¬ernment in this country, they come an accomplice. In every crisis, created, perpe¬trated, protected, and ? by the US and Asia. For example, Vietnam. Who helped them? In Vietnam? Japan provided all kinds of undesirable, illegal, rather immoral facilities to the American soldiers. You are a great Asian culture. Best of our Indian values, we try to find in Japan. You have cultivated our values much better than we have done. And you provided them all in moral facilities. The churches, the reli¬gious people. The good people, moral people, should oppose it. And they have opposed it. Had they not opposed it, President Eisenhower would not have been kicked out of this country. Never before, an American president tried to go to some country and the people demonstrated in such a ferocious way, that he had to go back. Because you are brave people. You are committed to peace. But now, what the governments have done, we can see by yourself.
In Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq, what have they been doing? They are not trying to bring peace to these countries. Please forgive me for saying this. I am not attributing motives, it's a clear contract. It's like an elephant sitting in your drawing room. You can see it. What kind of beast Mr. Bush has brought to Afghanistan? I'm a witness. I go there almost every year. I've gone to that country for the last 40 years. I did my ? on the Afghan foreign policy. Almost all the prime minis¬ters during the last 40 years have been my personal friend. And a thing too, they're our family too. I weep for them. 6 years have passed, 6 years have passed. And the Americans have done nothing. They have achieved nothing. In fact, the innocent young Americans have been killed there. How pitiful. I have a lot of sympathy for them.
Japan is provided fuel to them, Japan is providing money to them, for what? Your money, is going down the drains. Your resources, are being miss-utilized. Why? Because this great country, Japan, has become an accomplice in the misdeeds of the USA and Asia.
Another protest these days to force Japan into an immoral act, is the ? of terrorism. But America has to fight terrorism. Please tell me. I am not emotional. I am not afraid of Osama Bin Laden. I don't support the Taliban. And we are the greatest supporter of terrorism, not the USA. Only 3, 4 thousand people died in 9/11. In my country, 80,000 people have died. And millions have suffered. Every week, sometimes every day, we have a blast and ?. We are the greatest sufferers of terrorism.
But please tell me, who is the greatest terrorist of this world? In my view, Bush and Osama Bin Laden both are twins. They are twins. And Bush, in my view, is a senior terrorist. I am sorry for saying. He is the senior one among the twins. He came out first. Then came Osama Bin Laden. Who funded, who financed, Osama Bin Laden? In early 90s, ? the advancement? Who offered him the contract of building the airport of ?? Who gave him millions of dollars in ??
Please tell me, who supported Saddam Hussein, against ?? It was all America. America promoted terrorism in the entire South-Asia, and the rest of the Asian regions. They promoted the Jihads. The religious warlords, in the Afghanistan area. I had been going there. I had been seeing it, by my eyes. I am a witness to those activities. For Americans are very short-sighted people. Their body is like an elephant. And their vision, their mind, is like a piece of grain, a piece of wheat, a small grain. And their body is like an elephant. They are war-machines. They have plenty of money. But they have no vision.
In a wise country like Japan, which is such a visionary country, every ?, every Japanese is a power?, is a powerful person, an intelligent person. Very intelligent person, very hard-working person, why should you become an accomplice to these kinds of people? I just don't understand. And have you really been a sovereign nation? You have never seen the kind of every-man that you have in the USA. It's not the Article 9. It's the element of the USA. Which is dangerous. People believe Article 9, no? Article 9 is the sign of the nobility of the Japanese people. Your prime minister himself suggested this Article 9. I forgot the name of the prime minister in early 40s, mid 40s, yeah? This nobility is the greatness of the Japanese people. That they accept the guilt. The Germans don't accept, even now, after they have killed the Jews. Here, ? from Philippines comes here, and with such a sensitive example, she ? and you take it so nicely. This shows the nobility of the people of Japan. When you try to become a 2nd ? to the US, I feel it terrible. And this is the 6th evidence, in my view, against the subversion of Article 9. Article 9 has been completely subverted in this country. And why is America doing that? Why is America getting into Iran? In Afghanistan, in Iraq? Why is it trying to occupy even India? The Americans know that the Indians are very intelligent, very clever people, and very powerful people; India is going like ?. And we were the leaders of the non- align movement; we can fight out their machinations. They know it. Despite that, they are throwing bets to India. We are not going to buy it, their bets. Well fight them out. But why are they doing all this? They are doing it for iron, for copper, for oil, for gas, for precious stones. They want to build their industries, war machines, from the resources of all these countries.
You just cannot imagine what kind of resources are there. In central Asia, they have a larger space, much larger space than Japan, they are three times bigger than India; one country, ?istan alone is three times bigger than India. And the population, there's 20 million people. See? The enormity of resources. America has an eye on all these resources. Afghanistan has so much iron, that it can feed iron ore to Japan for the next 200 years. I have been there. Copper ?. The Chinese have signed an ? only three days ago with the Afghan government expending more than 2 billion dollars. Enormous resources. America wants a monopoly on all these re¬sources to feed its war machines.
I ask you, my Japanese friends, if you are pacifists; if you have an Article 9, should you even look at the USA? Should you touch a country like the USA? We're just trying to bolster this war machine with the blood of the Asian people. It is so shameful. Why Japan should be a collaborator. Now what Japan should do. What Japan should do. The first thing Japan should do, if you say you are going to defend Article 9; what are you defending? It is already dead. It's not enough. It's not enough to defend Article 9. Please go ahead of it. You are to do much more. Revive Article 9. You have to revive it. And what will you do to revive it ?
I will try to put forth, in my humble way, a program, for your kind consider¬ation. If it is practical, if it is logical, if it is worth doing, please work on it. And from India, I will support it to the end.
In fact, we can begin, a world mass movement for peace. And Article 9 could be a base. What has become a position in your country, can be a solution for the entire world. Your governments have supported it, but your people can make it an article of faith for all 6 billion people of the world.
You can do it. But how to go about? First thing the Japanese should do, is to restore their sovereignty. How do you restore your sovereignty? Not by demolishing Article 9. But by abrogating the fact with the USA. Abrogating the fact with the USA, and your Article 9 will be revived. You will be the best non- align country in the world. Nobody can nudge Japan. Nobody can shake Japan, Japan is so powerful. Its economy is so advanced. You are self-dependent people. You don't go to anybody with a begging bowl. So if you reject the USA's defense regiment, you'll become the leader of the non-aligned world. You'll become the leader of Asia.
The second thing Japanese people can do, and if the governments do it, I will be more delighted; is to set up the movement for general and universal disarmament. What ? called for in 1959, in the longest speech at the general assembly in the United Nations, that Japan should invite all the countries of the world to work for general and universal disarmament. Japan should have brought; and if the government doesn't do it, you do it, I will do it! I've been writing about it, I've been working on it. Ask all these nuclear powers, includ¬ing India and Pakistan, and ?, to come out with a time table. What time table? A plan to abolish their nuclear weapons.
What a shame. India is a land of Gandhi, India is a land of non-violence. We exploded the bomb on the 11th of May. On the 12th of May in the morning, I had a long discussion with our prime minister. I suggested to him, lets make India's bomb as bromast. What is bromast? It is, ?? our ? of the god. Make it a bromast ? of peace, world peace. The prime minister asked me, "how do you do it?" I said it's very simple. Now you have a bomb. Qualitatively, and technically, you are equal to the USA, Russia, France and Britain, and China. You are equal, you are at par with them. Now tell them that we have only 7 bombs. We are ready to abolish them. You have more than 2 thousand, Russia. America, you have more than 10,000. Come out with your program. How will you abol¬ish your bombs? But unfortunately, these leaders, Presidents and prime min¬isters, they occupy their chairs. And they have the same problem which I described for the Americans a few minutes ago. They have no time to think. They are busy in their daily chores. They are busy in war gaming, in our country, and making money. They have no time to be a missionary. To think about the world and the future of their country. I say, to the presidents and prime ministers around the world, you and I should do it! We should ask all these nuclear powers to come out with a program abolishing the nuclear weapons.
In fact, Article 9 should have been inserted in the American constitution rather than in the Japanese constitution. Japan was already punished in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What more do you want? Do you want apologies from Japan every now and then? Why do you want to humiliate the poor Japanese? They did something wrong. Just try to forget it. You have already punished them. But what about you? You have used these atomic bombs, what is the punishment for you? You have killed Saddam Hussein, you are occupying Afghanistan, and not talking to the Taliban, you are not solving the Taliban problem. You see, yesterday I spoke to several Taliban leaders. And when I go to Afghanistan, I am open to everybody. There are the Taliban, ?, everybody talks to me and I go and talk to them. Why the Americans cannot talk to them I just don't understand. They have pleaded the ? of them, so I ask, I request you people, to come out with a call to all these nuclear powers to abolish their weapons. About Japan, I have to say two things. Instead of asking for not abolishing the Article 9, you must put some meat into Article 9.
It's only 2 paragraphs, put some meat in it. Make it more concrete. Ask the gov¬ernment to cut down this military budget. To begin with, ask them to make it 20 million dollars in the beginning, then 10 million dollars. Why not? Ask them to abandon the defense regiment of the US, which I have already mentioned. Let them work in concrete fashion on Article 9.
And in the end I would like to say, that we must start a mass movement, not only in Japan, all over the world, for a non-violent world. Mahatma Gandhi used to say, "??" India can survive without any army. You see for the last 500 years. So many agressives, so many looters, so many 7. So many emperors, kings, fighters. Against ?. ??. And the biggest empire of the world, the British empire, was thrown out of India, mostly, mostly I will say, by a non-violent means. So, why can't we get rid of these big armies? In Japan, the people of Japan, should take lead. And if you take lead, we will follow you. 2000 years ago, 1500 years ago, we were to lead, and you followed us. Our monks, ?, and they gave you the gift of Buddhism. Now I ask you, to give India a return gift. Give us a return gift, to India and to the world. Send peace armies, send negotiating people, all over the world. And the Japanese are the best negotiators. If you can negotiate such huge deals worth billions of dollars, can't you negotiate peace in Afghanistan? Can't you negotiate peace in Sri Lanka? Can't you negotiate peace in Nepal? All these south-Asian countries are in a dangerous ?. Now is the time to resolve all these violent conflicts through non-violent means. And some body of people and institutions should gather and take of this cause.
Thank you very much.
Dr. Vaidik is an Indian scholar, political analyst, activist and journalist.
He is also the chairman of the Council for Indian Foreign Policy and Bhartiya Bhasha Sammelan. He received a Ph. D. in International Affairs from Jawaharlal Nehru Univer¬sity in 1971. He is well known political activist, currently playing an active role in the Afghan Affairs for peace negotiations. He worked with Press Trust of India as the Founder-Editor of its Hindi News Agency "BHASHA". He is good command of foreign languages, including Russian, Persian, Sanskrit, English, and several Indian languages.
Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes
Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes
General Secretary, NCC Philippines
"Section 1 of the Declaration of Principles of the Philippine Constitution unequivocably states that the Philippines “renounces war as an instrument of national policy.” That resonates with Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. ..."
Panel Discussion 1
I am a post-World War II baby so its gruesome events are not part of my conscious past. My parents' experiences were nothing but bedtime stories which they narrated to me. And since they were not very good story tellers, their narratives did not conjure dramatic images. Neither did the stories make deep impressions on my young mind then.
However, when I was around 5 years old, my family moved into a new house. Naturally, we had to painstakingly transfer our stuff from the old house and neatly put them away in the new one. In the process of moving, I chanced upon a box of old pictures, one of which was of my mother's family. I studied the picture and tried to recognize my aunts and uncles. I could not place one woman in the pic¬ture. I asked my mother who the woman was. She responded: "That is your Aunt Nena." "I didn't know I had an Aunt Nena. Where is my Aunt Nena?" I asked. "She died during the war." I sensed a quiver in my mother's voice. And when I asked how she died, it took my mother some time to answer. When she finally regained her composure, she said, "She was beheaded by Japanese soldiers."
That statement of fact, I vividly remember, created in me an anger against wars and a distrust of Japanese people. That was compounded when my other aunt showed me her scars. A Japanese bayonet had pierced through her neck. How she survived that episode is a miracle.
The present day impression of Filipinos about Japan may have changed drasti¬cally but the dark years of World War II are still etched on the collective memory of Filipinos who belong to my parents' generation. Not one of them wants to return to the past and a "rearmed Japan can send shivers not only down the Chinese spine" but of the Filipinos' spine as well.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines is a long standing partner of the National Christian Council of Japan. We have expressed this mutually benefi¬cial partnership in many forms. The NCCP appealed to Prime Minister Koizumi to refrain from visiting the Yasukuni Shrine because of the political statement those visits make. We have released statements about the textbook issue. We have sup¬ported the campaigns of comfort women and challenged the Japanese government to apologize for the havoc it wreaked upon Asian countries during the war. The NCCJ has, in turn, raised our issues: Japanese ODA, overseas contract workers, extrajudicial killings. My presence at this conference is yet another sign of our continuing support to an important issue that NCCJ and the Japanese people are concerned about.
Peace building is at the very core of the ecumenical agenda in the Philippines. I dare say that everything the NCCP does is related to the process of peace building. And our efforts are buoyed by our analysis of the regional situation. We are most concerned about the move to change Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution because the very same US hegemonic pattern is very obvious. The successful amend¬ment in the Japanese constitution is a victory for US Imperialism.
THE WAY WE LOOK AT IT
As early as 1898, American President William McKinley ordered his Chief Engi¬neer of the War Department to put the Philippines on the map of the United States. History shows that the US was interested in the Philippines not only because of its raw materials and its potential market for US surplus products but also as a staging point for US expansion and interventionism in Asia, particularly China. The United States would become, as Theodore Roosevelt advanced, the hub of US military power projection not only in Southeast Asia but in the world. The Philippines also served as America's staging base in pursuit of its policy of aggression against many countries, first, on the pretext of containing communism and today, of fighting "terrorism".
In the last fifty years or so, US imperialism, according to Philippine representative Liza Largoza-Maza, has sought domination of the world by using its military might and invoking its self-serving doctrines of intervening in sovereign states when its interests are in danger.
There are no two ways about it. Interventionist policies in Asia are not about protecting the world from the enemies of freedom and democracy. In 1998, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense of Asia and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, said: "We are in the Asia-Pacific region, not as a favor to Asia, but because it is in OUR interest. We believe that our forces in Asia allow the US to maintain and secure partnership with Japan. They deter aggression in the Korean Peninsula. They serve as a useful mechanism to engage China. And our military presence is a reminder to all those in the region that the United States is not an ephemeral or transitional actor in the Asia-Pacific, but we are a fundamental player and will continue to have interests there." That statement provides the justification for the creation of a network of remote military powers against its perceived enemies, hostile states and potential rivals. (LL Maza)
But why this warring madness? It is because the United States has no other objective but hegemonic control in Asia. US trade with the Asia Pacific surpasses that with Europe. About 400,000 US non-military citizens live and conduct busi¬ness in the region. Southeast Asia, with a combined GNP of US$700 billion is the 5th largest trading partner of the US. US$ 35 billion is directly invested in the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. There are vast oil and gas reserves in Indonesia and Brunei, as well as Vietnam, and the Philippines. It is in Asia where some of the world's most critical sea lanes lie which are a strategic part of the network of oil extraction, production and distribution. Asia is a place of great economic consequence for the United States. It will stop at nothing to secure these economic interests and activities.
It is very unfortunate that many states, Japan and the Philippines included, have been seduced by the sirens of globalization. The former have sunk their teeth deeper into the monopoly capitalist system peddled by the United States. It is a sad commentary on reality that constitutional provisions which try to safeguard national sovereignty are either deleted through charter change or over ridden by treaties and agreements. Section 1 of the Declaration of Principles of the Philippine Constitution unequivocally states that the Philippines "renounces war as an instrument of national policy." That resonates with Article 9 of the Japanese constitution. However, Philippines jurisprudence includes the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, and the Visiting Forces Agreement forged between the United States and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. We dismantled the US military bases in 1992. Today, under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the whole country is a potential military base. And US troops have freely returned to the Philippines in the guise of the RP-US Joint Military Exercises.
THE PANGS OF A NEO-COLONY
Some critics say that with the Amendment of Article 9, Japan will commence the journey toward being a military power in the region. Maybe. One thing sure, though, Japan will be trapped in the stranglehold of this sole global power. Know¬ing the position of the United States vis-à-vis this movement toward constitutional change, I am inclined to believe that Japan will be sucked into the US military strategy, making her (Japan) almost like what the Philippines is to this global power today. Perhaps, not on the same level; but, just the same, dependent on the United States. And then, nothing will stop the US from making Japan fight proxy wars and demand subservience to the Empire. Worse, as an ally of the US, Japan opens itself to attack by powers which are in conflict with the US. (Let me remind all and sundry that one reason why Japan pounded the Philippines during World War II was because we were America's friend.) As Japan continues to maintain this US- driven war footing, more and more resources will be siphoned into war materiel. The proverbial "swords into ploughshares and spears into pruning hooks" will see a complete reversal. Budget priorities will drastically change and there will be less money for basic social services. And then such words as "hungry", "homeless", "unemployed" will become part of Japan's vocabulary. And then, if the situation gets too hot for comfort, the hungry, the homeless, the unemployed, joined by peace activists will let out their primal screams of anger. And "to keep the peace", the Japanese soldiers will try to silence violently what, to them, is noise.
The political and military configuration in the region is still another issue to contend with. As a consequence of being a "neo-colony" of the United States, as I earlier said, Japan's vulnerability to external attack is heightened. What guarantee is there that, in this event, the United States will come to the rescue of Japan? (I am merely raising a question.)
HOW ABOUT ECONOMIC AGGRESSION?
I cannot end this reflection without lifting up a clear and present danger that the Philippines is saddled with relative to our relationship with Japan, in which peace, for our people, precariously hangs on the balance. While the discourse on Article 9 is predicated on the military stance and muscle-flexing of Japan, I believe we need to also highlight the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi last September 9, 2006. Japan, being the Philippines' second largest trading partner and the largest source of foreign capital invest¬ments, entered into this "mega treaty" with the Philippines without pomp or cir¬cumstance. In exchange for tariff reductions and eliminations on certain goods, including toxic and hazardous waste, Japan promised to facilitate the entry and employment of Filipino nurses and caregivers into Japan. Furthermore, because Japanese oceans and seas can no longer adequately supply your restaurants with blue fin for your sushi and sashimi, the Agreement has opened our fishing grounds for tuna to Japanese fishing companies which is killing the livelihood of Filipino small fisher folks. Here is an unequal treaty with Japan that is as deadly as a mili¬tarized Japan. But that is the subject matter for another conference.
I have come to this conference to share our experience with a government that has insisted on being a US satellite... a US ally... a US neo-colony. It is a blood stained experience that has caused hundreds of Filipinos to be offered on the altar of sacrifice. I believe our experience of resistance to charter change under a num¬ber of presidents is our contribution to the pursuit of just and lasting peace in our region. I wish to close with some inspiring words of a Filipino nationalist states¬man:
"The best amendment to the Constitution would be the amendment of our own lives, the amendment of our attitudes, outlook and actions, the realization that we are free persons, and the resolution to live and act as free persons."
"Let us so live and act that our lives and deeds will be the safest stronghold against the abuse of tyrants, the schemes of ambitions and the cupidity of the corrupt."
Ms. Ruiz-Duremdes was born in Iloilo City, Philippines, in 1947.
She is cur¬rently General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (the first laywoman to hold the position; since 2000.) She received her Masters in Religious Education from American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, California, USA, 1973. She was a Professor at the Department of English, College of Theology, Graduate School, Central Philippine University, Iloilo City, Philippines, 1973-1985. Sharon has been involved with numerous ecumenical move¬ments in the area of peace, justice, women and human rights.
Rev. TAIRA Natsume
Panel Discussion 1
I came from Okinawa, where Article 9, the theme of this confer¬ence, has not been in effect even one day in our history, despite the islands are duly part of Japan.
A little while ago, Sharon talked about a joint drill of the Philippine and US forces, and how the Filipinos are suffering. It is from our islands that the US troops took off to participate in that drill. At the time of dropping A-bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US bases in our islands were used. Later on, to conduct murders on the peninsula of Korea, again our islands were used. All the planes that dropped bombs over Vietnam took off from our islands. The same goes still true with many other US operations in East Asian re¬gion, and certainly the same is true with their present operation deployed in, Iraq. From our islands of Okinawa, the US military goes out. To all those victims and people concerned, let me apologize, representing Okinawa.
We in Okinawa are trying our best to put an end to all these, and for that reason we continue to speak out day in and day out. Yet, it's not ended. In that reality, we are all aware that our islands are the murder islands, the assailant islands. We are continuing our efforts of trying to make our islands a truly peace-transmitting base by wiping out the assailant nature as soon as possible. I'm very, very sorry for not being able to have done that by this moment.
Having been on the morning flight today, that is, not flying out yesterday, I arrived here late for the keynote speech. Later I was briefed upon it, though. Now, after the moment of my joining the session until this very moment, Article 9 has been praised and almost glorified. To tell the truth, I've been somewhat uncom¬fortable about it. In the document, titled "Concept and Rationale: Asia Inter-reli¬gious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution - Article 9 and Peace in Asia", which was sent to me beforehand, I find a sentence that reads: "Article 9 is a firm pledge to the people in Okinawa and Asia not to wage war and military inva¬sion ever again. It is a commitment based on the repentance of the aggression committed during the Asia Pacific war. Article 9 is a law that binds the government of Japan not to wage war under any circumstance."
This must be a lie, it seems to me. Or, it is a mistake.
As to the background stories of the adoption of the new Constitution with Article 9 included, certainly different people had different views and feelings about it. There is no one set interpretation of the minds of people then. The biggest political intention then and there, however, must have been to preserve the Tenno [Emperor] system intact. There must have been a bargaining, I suspect, whereby even the military power was to be traded off, to be given in in exchange of preserving the Tenno system, that is, an outright trade off between the Tenno system and the military power. There must have been one more agenda on that bargaining table. What could that be? It must have been something like this: "Will you please trans¬fer US bases in Japan to Okinawa? Not necessarily all of them but most of it ..." Or, "as long as Okinawan islands are concerned, they can be at your service for 25 years, for 50 years, or longer if you need them. Feel free to use the islands. You can build bases there as you please as long as you let us become an independent coun¬try." Such kind of bargaining must have taken place as a Tenno-message. In other words, what was there in the background of instituting Article 9 was not an aspiration of the people for peace necessarily, but rather a strategic move of preserving Tenno system and fortification of Okinawa. That's why I detest the phrase, "to keep, to defend Article 9." To do so, therefore, means to keep Tenno system and to support making Okinawa into a military fortress.
I believe that the preamble and Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan do deal with truly precious matters. I further believe that we have to do all we can to stop any effort of amending this Constitution. But I don't go along with the stance of "defending it." We need to look back at how the Constitution was formulated, and to reflect upon the history. Unless we resolve to realize the language in Article 9 afresh, it makes little sense; it seems to me, to just declare or to promise to defend the Constitution which now poses itself as a lame-duck, a constitution with no substance. Other speakers before me did give us a message of the fact that Article 9, despite such negative pictures that may come to appear, defended and pre¬served a lot of things and that's why it's so important. I have no intention here of trying to contravene all of such views and opinions. What I believe is that whoever holds Japanese nationality should try to come face to face, more sincerely, with the fact that the substance of it has gone, and also try to face more sincerely with the history of how it came to being.
Let me talk a little about my own experience and also about present situation we are in. Okinawa, where I was born and grew up, constitutes only 0.6% of the total area of the whole of Japan. Now, in this prefecture of 0.6% of Japanese land, you find there a heavy concentration of 75% of all US military facilities that are sta¬tioned in this country. Okinawa Prefecture is made up of many islands, and a 10% of the total area of all those islands added up is occupied as the US base. The island I was born in is called Okinawa Island, and it is the biggest of all islands in the prefecture. Twenty per sent of this island is grabbed and used as a base of the US forces. The 20% here has to do only with the land area. When it comes to air space and waters around Okinawa, 100% of both are under complete control of the US forces.
In the north of this island is located a US Marine base, named Camp Schwab. Back in 1966 a projection was announced to construct a new airport and a sea port, of course to serve the military needs of the US. A variety of events since that time delayed the construction schedule, and the actual work was never started. But then in 1996, the old plan was revived, and now a new base is to be constructed at Henoko near Nago City. For more than 10 years by now the people of the affected area have waged sit-ins in opposition to the plan. Three years ago, however, the government of Japan at last forced its way to begin the work in concrete steps. There, at the site, day after day, hundreds of people from different corners of the world come together and continue to block the construction work. For instance all the work crews have been stopped so far who were to set up scaffolds or to dig holes at the site. We stopped them all, under quite dangerous, I mean physically dangerous circumstances for three years. This obstruction action was carried out under an environment where they say it's only a miracle that no body lost a life.
The action is based on our resolution of non-violence. We never go for any sort of violence whatsoever. When hit by somebody, we never strike back. Even if some¬one of us is at the verge of being killed, still we will never retaliate in the same manner. That's our vow. Why? If we ever resort to using violence, even so as to stick to our cause, right at the moment when violence is ignited from our side, we become equal to the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the US Military Forces. Peace makers should never ever use violent means however lofty ideas they are after. Violence can never produce peace, absolutely not. Literally everyday we confirm this truth before joining the obstruction action front that has remained non-violent to this date.
Well, I must confess that our days in the past were not absolutely free of vio¬lence. I'm convinced, however, that absolutely no reasons tolerate violence. It can never be affirmed in any way. When unfortunate cases happen, we always reflect ourselves and try to convey our regrets and apologies to the parties concerned. In such a way our effort of a journey of non-violence is being continued.
Let me give you concrete examples. We try to avoid physically touching the construction men so as not to be carried away to acts of violence in any way. Instead, we try to stop their work by clinging to the machine. As we cling ourselves tight to the machine, the men hired by the state try to clear their way by unfolding our grasp, one finger after another. Our clutch being unfolded by one finger after another, we yet cling to the machine immediately again. Then what do they do? They twist our fingers each time as they un-grasp our hands off the machine. When that is done to us, then we can no longer hang onto anything because the finger bands, or ligaments get totally stretched out. Well, witnessing that, the work men would kick us by the face as hard as they could, or strike us with an iron pipe to sink in the ocean. Those acts have been repeated over and over again at the site. Many of our colleagues were sent to hospital. I know a friend who disappeared drifting in the sea, after bleeding, fainting away, and not breathing altogether. Luckily we found him adrift, wasting little time, pulled him up on the boat, and drove him to a hospital in an ambulance car while applying artificial respiration, which after all saved his life. So far, the death toll as such is kept zero going through many instances of nearly breaking the record.
There's one thing we always make sure to do after taking our assaulted friend to hospital. You see, we know who hit our man, because it happened right in front of your nose. So after visiting hospital, we then visit the one who did the assault, and greet him in such words: "About our man carried to hospital, we just got a message from there. He luckily escaped death. He's all right now, so don't worry. You have your own families, and we sympathize where you stand, that you had to take this job just to feed your family members. None of us, therefore, regard you as our enemy. We, you and I, are left in opposite positions, and as such we inevitably get into collision. Even so, let's take enough precaution tomorrow so as not to produce any casualties on either side." It's a moment your courage is being tested more than any other actions you can think of. In the past, our men dived in front of a thousand-ton class vessel in order to stop the construction work. Other friends also jumped right in front of a car running towards us. That way, the work has been stopped so far. You may forget about all these, though. To face with a worker who nearly killed your buddy, to try to smile at him this was the moment my courage was really tested more than any other circumstances.
Today, too, you can find our men on the sea, continuing such a struggle. Right at this moment, their eyes are locked on the waters. I was dispatched by those men to tell the story of what's happening in Henoko to all of you gathered together from all over the world. That's why I'm here.
Twice during this past September, I almost lost my life. When the seabed work began, I dived to the bottom myself, too, with all the equipment needed, including an oxygen cylinder. One of the construction workmen approached me, locked my arms, and then closed the cylinder valve. That makes you unable to breathe, you see. I was prepared for the last and worst. Luckily, however, I could make a sudden rise to the surface when his grips on me got loose. I did manage to save my life, but my lungs suffered bleeding. Because of that, I had to refrain from diving for a while. I'm all right now. Then several weeks later, again at the bottom of the sea, I was attacked and they bound a rope around my neck. Things like these are re¬peated daily on the scene of our struggle.
All these are being video taped. Evidences have been thus collected. I know we can build attempted murder charges out of these with a help of lawyers. We won't do so, however. Why? Because we think those workmen at the construction site are also victims. A little while ago, the speaker representing a United Church in the US said that at the time of Vietnam War they made a mistake of putting blame on returned soldiers, and that it was wrong. By blaming the construction people who were hired by the government office, we know nothing can be solved. When they see us on their way to work, they do recognize us and stop in front of our line. Seeing face to face, everyday, knowing each other's names, and even family mat¬ters, exchanging smiles once in a while, and sharing tea-time refreshments that's how close we feel each other. There's no way they attack us with no scruples whatsoever.
Contractor's boat would come approaching our block-line, and it would stop there. Then a phone would ring. It is a familiar, daily scene. One day I asked re¬lated people what that phone call was all about. One contractor who already quit told me this. The call was from one government office, and when it rings, the caller would say just one thing, "We can find others." That's all they murmur on the other end of the line. The state as such would never tell them to freely use vio¬lence, or to go ahead with force or anything. No, they won't say such things, so as not to be held responsible for. Instead, "If you don't do it, fine. We can find without trouble other people to do it," they say. They utter such very words to the contrac¬tors who know they can't feed their families unless they just go ahead and do whatever was told them to do. They would come attacking us with tears in their eyes, therefore. How can you ever imagine? Suing people like that would lead us to any viable solution? Such a system itself needs to be changed. We strongly believe that. Rather than bringing the workmen to court one by one, therefore, we need to stop the base construction plan altogether. When it is done, we'll throw a party inviting contractors and their men. This is our true dream.
Of those engaged in the struggle on the sea, a few dozens of us were, say until three years ago, completely 'stones' ; we couldn't swim at all. It's not the case that the ones on the block-line are those who love the sea and are talented. Rather, it's those who came to believe they would be able to stand no more killings any longer, and got together, practiced the canoe managing, and then like mad headed to¬wards the sea, knowing full well that they could not swim. Well, I was a stone myself. Three years of diving made me a rescue-diver today!
Why do we go out, risking our lives, to the sea where we can't swim? This is not simply to conserve our natural environment. It's true that local people in Henoko and those who come to Henoko have a wide variety of ideas - those who want to keep the sea as it is today, those who want to save sea pigs in the area, those who see an urgent need of protecting the corals. Many people with many different ideas and hopes come here. But, the craving of those who dare to lay their lives in the struggle front is to face with their own assailant-nature in themselves. Our islands of Okinawa have been continued to be used for the killing missions. A man from Viet Nam once visited us here had this to say: "'Okinawa' to us was nothing but fear and horror." To me, who brought medical goods to Iraq, an Iraqi doctor had this to tell me: "It's the troop from you island that is killing all those children here. What do your islanders think of this?" One concrete resolution on our side to respond to this question, I came to believe, is to stop the construction plan. That's why and how I joined the people gathering in Henoko everyday.
Thinking that our actions as I shared with you here might actually provide a first round to stop the re-mapping of the US military stations and also to stop the US of trying to put the whole world under its control by military forces.
We are telling ourselves that we shouldn't "hope" the base construction work to be somehow stopped. "Hopes" are fragile. Everyone hopes the world be peaceful. Everyone hopes wars be ceased. The construction of the base be stopped. But, having hopes or just hoping actually serves no end. Rather, we need to resolve. Rather than "hoping and wishing to stop", we are pushed to "resolve that we stop it." The resolution must be realized. Actually it is with such a resolution that our friends, our comrades, stay in Henoko today, and will stay there tomorrow. We do hope that this resolution may become an Okinawan dispatch of solidarity to all the peoples of the region who suffer the US military presence. We keep telling our¬selves that we shouldn't be satisfied only to "wish" the construction of the base be somehow stopped. Wishing is weak. Everyone wishes peace, wishes wars be stopped. Everyone wishes the base construction be stopped. Our wishing, or wishes result no practical use. Nothing, nothing comes out of just wishing. We need to make a resolve. Rather than "we wish to stop it", we need to "resolve" to stop it. And, stop it, in the end actually. With such a resolution, our friends are determined to con¬tinue to man the front line at Henoko. Such a message transmitted from Okinawa, we hope, would build solidarity among the people in the region who have been made to suffer from the presence of the US military in our midst.
We own a number of boats. One of them is named "Filia". It means "friendship" or "fraternity" in Greek. The naming comes from our hope that we should make friends with the people of the whole world, that is, including the workers hired by the government. Another boat is named "Peacemaker". Not just "stopping" some¬thing, we want to make peace in whatever we do, is reflected there. Well, there's another one, which is named "Saanial Salaam". In Arabic it means a peacemaker. So was this boat named that our hearts and minds be united with those of Iraqi people. Another boat is named "Inafa Maulem". It comes from the Chamorro word of Guam, and relates more closely to an English word of "a peace keeper" than to "a peace maker". The naming is based on our solidarity with the Chamorros who say, "We don't want it" to the projected move of transferring the US Marine base to Guam.
As one concrete action to make peace in collaboration with the likeminded forces of the world, we dare to continue to stand up and form the block-line everyday, face to face with the contractors and their workers.
This is all I have to say. Thank you.
Rev. Taira is a peace activist promoting non-violence based on Christian faith. He was born in 1962 and is a pastor of the United Church of Christ in Japan, "Ubusato Church" in Okinawa. He visited Iraq in January and May of 2003. Since April 2004, he participates in the protest movement against the construction of Henoko military base in Nago in Okinawa. In September 2004, he was chosen to represent the Okinawa Citizens Peace Network. In 2006, arrested and detained but not charged for protest actions directed at U.S. military bases in Okinawa.