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18 Jul 2011

Peace Carnival Part II: NO BASE! MORE MUSIC! Friday 11/26 @ Chikyuya (Kunitachi, Tokyo)

Friday, November 26th
8:00 PM (Doors open at 7:30)

Please join the second installment of the Peace Carnival event series, which will feature a discussion on the U.S. military base situation in Okinawa led by Professor Satoshi Ukai from Hitotsubashi University, as well as several incredible (and activist-minded!) acts from the Tokyo music scene:

☆Jintara Brothers

Special unit featuring Wataru Oguma (powerful performer from the Tokyo underground chindon group Cixla Muta) together with solo artist Hiroshi Kawamura (previously of Soul Flower Union)

☆ Singer/guitarist Pak Poe together with Satchan (Hana & Phenomenon)

Anbassa (roots reggae unit)

Chikyuya Live House (Kunitachi, Tokyo)
1-16-13 B1 Kunitachi Higashi

(Head down Daigaku-dori (University road) from the North exit of Kunitachi station for about 5 minutes. Chikyuya is in the basement on the left side, just before a shop on the corner with a neon yellow sign.)

Entry: 2000 yen (plus one drink)
* 1500 yen entry is available by making advance reservations at Chikyuya 042-572-585 (between 7PM and 1AM).

Event organizer: Peace Carnival Committee (
Additional support: Peace Not War Japan (

For more information, see the event blog (Japanese only).

5 Apr 2011

Tokyo art and music event mourns disaster victims, raises seriousness of nuclear power and radiation issues

Spring Love Harukaze, a much-loved outdoor event in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park, turned three years old this past weekend. While again featuring some of Tokyo’s top musicians and DJ talents, as well as the blooming sakura (cherry trees), the weekend’s event was considerably more muted in tone compared to the past two years due to the recent Eastern Japan Great Earthquake.

One of the major aims of Spring Love Harukaze 2011 was to raise money for survivors of the devastating earthquake and tsunami. Collection boxes placed around the event grounds brought in a total of just under 226,000 yen (around $2650 USD), which will be distributed to NGOs involved in on-the-ground disaster relief.

Throughout the day, festival-goers decorated small posters with drawings and messages that were displayed during a candlelight ceremony held at sundown on Saturday to mourn victims who lost their lives in the tragedy. Gospel singer (and event chairperson) Yuka Kamebuchi and her ensemble VOJA (Voices of Japan) also sang a moving requiem for the victims, encouraging audience members to sing along to classics including Amazing Grace and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

In order to address worries regarding the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, several speakers were also invited to participate in panel discussions regarding issues of nuclear power and radiation exposure. Filmmaker Hitomi Kamanaka, whose trilogy of documentaries to date (Hibakusha: At the End of the World, Rokkasho-mura Rhapsody, and From Ashes to Honey) all address these issues from various perspectives, gave an impassioned talk whereby she accused TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) and Japanese government officials of deliberately covering up information regarding the accident.

“The industry has long been releasing propaganda saying that nuclear power is safe, and now, following the accident, they have continued with the same lies by declaring that the radiation being released is also nothing to worry about,” she said. “People prefer to believe the propaganda because it’s easier, but unless they face reality, they won’t be able to protect themselves.

“Here in Japan, we have been led to believe that the matter of electricity simply involves flipping on a switch, and people do not think about where it comes from,” she explained. My latest film takes up the issue of the radiation emitted from nuclear power plants on a regular basis—as well as during accidents like the one we are now experiencing—which is something that people here have not been educated about whatsoever.”

Kamanaka’s latest documentary, From Ashes to Honey, takes an in-depth look at the decades-long struggle on Iwaishima island to stop construction of the proposed Kaminoseki nuclear power plant along Japan’s gorgeous Seto Island Sea coast. “Although the Chugoku Electric Power Company promised to stop construction following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, they didn’t even wait a full day before resuming dynamite explosions at the plant site,” she lamented.

She went on to mention that nuclear radiation released into the ocean is not safe as we are led to believe by industry officials, since it makes its way back up the food chain—a particularly disturbing fact in light of today’s news regarding TEPCO’s dumping 10,000 tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. The full discussion (in Japanese) may be watched via the Spring Love Harukaze UStream channel (click here for part one and here for part two). An excellent interview with the filmmaker following the recent disaster, where she expresses the complex feelings of sadness of anger shared by many in Japan's longstanding anti-nuclear movement who have long been predicting that a disaster similar to the Fukushima one would occur, may be read here.

Adding a more spiritual element to the event, Hawaiian hula master (and former rock star) Sandii—an artist with a stunning stage presence who appeared with her band and her hula dancers as the final act at last year’s Spring Love Harukaze event—appeared onstage for a brief and yet powerful performance.

“There is a reason why each one of us was here in Japan when this tragedy occurred, and it is now up to each one of us who has survived to learn the lessons of our soul while thinking deeply about what is really important,” she said. “Our thinking truly does create the future, and so it is extremely important that we cultivate positive thoughts.” She went on to describe the existence of an energy source in the universe from which we can draw inspiration and healing, before singing a gorgeous chant which she explained connected this universal energy together with that of the earth.


The theme of positivity was one that was echoed by the 100% Love and Peace Parade,an event originally begun in France that took place on Sunday morning in conjunction with the Spring Love Harukaze event. Dressed in colorful costumes and exuding lively energy, the parade-goers finished their route through the streets of Harajuku and Shibuya to end up in Yoyogi park stage, dancing first on the main stage and then moving through the event grounds in order to collect more donations for disaster relief.
100% Love and Peace Parade-goers

The event finished with words from organizers, as well as the following powerful messages from support that were received from overseas:

My heart has been broken over and over by the recent devastation in northern Japan. But it's also been busted wide open by the *grace* and collective generosity you modeled to the world. Many of us in the US have been deeply humbled, inspired and our hearts made tender because of this. And yes, this is why Japan will rise again - cleaner (energy), stronger, wiser and brighter than ever before! Japan, we are holding the light for you from this shore to yours.

aho mitakuye oyasin (Lakota translation "to all my relations"),
marie kyoko morohoshi
RealGreen Power, San Francisco

To the People of Japan,

I am writing to you from San Francisco, California. You are far away but you are very close. You are my relations, my family of humanity. The air you breathe becomes the air I breathe; the waters of your oceans ebb and flow on the shores of our beaches. You are not alone. This time for all of humanity and our planet is a huge time of transformation. I feel sorrow for your loss and suffering, and gratitude for all you are giving as our Mother Earth speaks from her heart. We are all in this together; let us bring healing to our planet and the human race.

We are over here sending you love, blessings, and healing. Saturday April 16th we will be playing taiko in an amazing benefit concert for Japan, May 5th again a different benefit for Japan...they are happening all over. We send you that heartbeat. One heart. Let us come together! Stay strong in Spirit, my friends.

Love and Blessings, All My Relations,

Debbie Taylor

Our deepest condolences to all people in Japan affected by the disaster. Berlin Soundstrike is an initiative of international artists against racism, wars and environmental destruction that was formed in 2010 in the USA by the rock band Rage Against the Machine, and is backed by civil rights organizations and individuals. We would like to express our solidarity with the people in Japan.

As human beings we sometimes have to endure the most terrible of natural disasters--but we must never tolerate the most inhumane technology ever developed and forced upon us. We need to realize the existence of an extremely powerful international military industrial complex, which is directly responsible for the proliferation of nuclear power around the globe, as well as nuclear weapons and the ongoing wars in which even cancer-causing depleted uranium munitions are being used.

This all is posing a terrible and imminent threat to the planet and to humankind. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki the majority of the population in both Japan and Germany were strongly against any nuclear arms. But against our will and our relentless protests, many nuclear arms are now stationed in both countries and many nuclear power plants have been built.

At this important crossroads in history, we as members of the international art community need to all stand in solidarity and raise our voices to demand fundamental change and an immediate end to this nuclear madness. In solidarity we stand with Japan!

Disaster relief collection boxes at Spring Love Harukaze, decorated with sakura-adorned official event postcards

Festival-goers decorate banner with anti-nuclear power message

Watch this site for more coverage on the nuclear crisis--and the response of citizen activists--as it continues to unfold.

- Kimberly Hughes

1 Apr 2011

Spring Love Harukaze: Charity Event for the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake

After much deliberation, the organizing committee of urban party Spring Love Harukaze 2011 has decided to hold the event this year as scheduled, although with various changes compared to the 2009 and 2010 events in light of the recent disaster. The event will take place in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park (outdoor stage/event space) on April 2-3, 2011.

As everyone is aware, the earthquake and tsunami have caused extensive damage in the region of eastern Japan. Peace Not War Japan, as one of the event's supporting organizations, sends our deepest condolences to those affected by the disaster, as well as our greatest hopes for continuing recovery.

In addition to the event's traditional themes of environmental, peace and human rights issues explored via music and art, the recent events have prompted the organizing committee to restructure this year's Spring Love Harukaze to focus upon fundraising for disaster relief for those in the affected areas. Moreover, the event will also include a lineup of speakers addressing the issue of nuclear power, which continues to cause worry in light of ongoing events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Spring Love Harukaze 2011
** Rain or Shine! **

Event fee: Free (**Donation for disaster relief requested**)

Saturday, April 2nd, 1PM - sundown
"Day of Remembrance/Prayer"

☆ Remembrance for those killed in the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake
☆ Creation of an altar to pray for their souls to rest peacefully
☆ Requiem for victims sung by gospel ensemble Kamebuchi Yuka + VOJA
☆ Spring Stage: Acoustic performances and talk sessions
☆ Love Stage: Acoustic performances, talk sessions and DJs


 Yuka Kamebuchi &VOJA
 Monsieur Kamayatsu + Nagai HOTOKE Takashi + Takashi Numazawa + LEYONA

 DJ Yumii

◎Talk Session: Creating a positive future--alternative energies, food, nature

Masaru Kousaka (Organic bar owner)
Masako Sakata (director, organization to save Mt. Takao)



 Wada Fusai


Sunday, April 3rd
12PM - 8PM (possibility of stopping at sundown)
"Creating the Future Together"

☆ Spring Stage: Talk sessions and live performances
☆ Love Stage: Talk sessions, DJs, live performances
☆ Solar-powered "Unnamed Parade"
☆ Earth-Day Market along the tree-lined avenue 10AM-4PM (cancelled in case of rain)


 Kosuke Tsuji + Takashi Numazawa + Kidonatsuki
  + Kamiyann with Yoshie
 Ryuta Koshino 
 SUGEE feat.寂空

◎Talk Session: Nuclear power / alternatiave energies
 Hitomi Kamanaka (documentary filmmaker/video artist)  





【The Unnamed Parade】
 Mighty Collaboration : 100%LOVE&PEACE PARADE

Additional Event Information:

☆ We ask that you please utilize public transportation (train, bus, etc.) in order to come to the event. (Please leave extra time, however, in case of scheduled blackouts.)

☆ This is a good opportunity to see friends that you have not seen since thedisaster, and to to enjoy each other's company while you take in the cherry blossoms, music, DJs and talk events. Due to continuing aftershocks and the nuclear power plant situation, however, we ask that you please pay attention to news reports before deciding whether to attend.

☆ Event updates will be available on our website:

Finally, we send our greatest thanks in advance to all artists, speakers, and event attendes for makng this year's event possible!!

Spring Love Harukaze 2011 Organizing Committee

An article with event highlights from 2010 is here.

Message from Organizing Committee:

Due to concerns regarding the use of electricity, fuel and other materials, we will help to direct these resources toward the areas where they are needed most by making this year's Spring Love Harukaze event as simple as possible and minimizing our environmental footprint wherever we can. On Saturday April 2nd (which will be a day of remembrance for those killed in the disaster), both the Spring and the Love stages will be run entirely on solar power, with all live performances being acoustic. The day's lineup will include a performance by gospel singer (and Spring Love Harukaze committee director) Yuka Kamebuchi, whose ensemble VOJA will sing an a capella requium for those whose lives were lost.

We are also aiming to reduce the costs for this year's event in order to direct as many funds as possible toward disaster relief. While we had originally planned to increase the number of stages and enlarge the children's area, we have revised these plans in light of the recent events. There will again be two stages and a kids area as in past years, and we will also attempt to provide as much warm, delicious food and drink service as possible. We ask for your understanding, however, regarding the fact that bench seating and lights at the event will be available only minimally. We ask, therefore, that those who attend the event please be responsible for bringing your own blankets, chairs, lights and candles.

We are presently researching which disaster relief organizations to send donations collected during the event, and will make this information available shortly on our website.

- Kimberly Hughes, Peace Not War Japan

29 Jul 2010

Tokyo event contemplates Guam-Okinawa anti-base struggles and connections

This past Sunday, on a scorching hot afternoon when many Tokyoites had escaped to the nearest beaches, twenty or so people gathered in Café Otokura, a small, artsy basement space in the Shimokitazawa neighborhood to learn more about how U.S. militarism is impacting another corner of our earth.

Peaceful New Earth Celebration Part II, the follow-up to the event of the same name held last month in Yoyogi Park, was organized by Peace Not War Japan and the Neo Ryukyu Arc Network in order to bring attention to historical anti-base struggles in Guam and other Mariana Islands—also known as U.S. colonies—and to make connections between peace movements.

The event began with a screening of The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands, a documentary film directed by Vanessa Warheit. The film introduces viewers to the complex relationship between local residents and military history in the region, with a focus on the continuing harsh impact of U.S. militarism and colonization on the dwindling indigenous Chamoru population.

The film spotlights the personal stories of several individuals, including Hope Cristobal—a Chamoru woman who goes from beauty pageant winner to local politician to powerful advocate at the United Nations speaking out about her peoples’ continuing struggles in the face of relentless militarism.

Through the film, it becomes clear that the United States—while claiming to stand on behalf of liberty and democracy—is betraying these very same ideals by forcing unwanted military expansion on peoples who are given no voice regarding what happens on their islands.

The screening was followed by a presentation from Hibiki Yamaguchi, a researcher with the Peoples Plan Study Group who has conducted related historical research on Guam. “The United States military is viewed gratefully by much of the population as liberators from Japanese occupation, but in fact, locals who had been forced by Japanese occupiers into concentration camps ended up surviving the later carpet-bombing of huge sections of the island by the U.S. military,” he explained. “While I am certainly not justifying the actions of the Japanese decision makers at the time, it is still important to understand the complexity of this history on the island.”

Hibiki Yamaguchi explaining the historical situation on Guam

Yamaguchi’s talk was followed by a short discussion from Peace Not War Japan organizers, who introduced the powerful work of Chamoru human rights lawyer and activist Julian Aguon, and explained the ongoing citizen movement to protect the historically sacred Chamoru site of Pagat from being turned into a U.S. military firing range.

Several audience members spoke up next, expressing a series of thoughtful questions and comments regarding the film and presentations.

“I identified strongly with Hope Cristobal’s comment during the film that she just could not comprehend why everything on Guam was so closely connected to the military, as seen for example in the highly militarized Independence Day parades that take place on the island,” said one woman. Other audience members expressed surprised dismay at having learned through the film that peoples in the Marianas do not enjoy the full rights of U.S. citizens.

“There are not enough opportunities to think intersectionally about the legacy of Japanese imperialism and the institutionalized violence of USA imperialism, especially in places like Guam and Saipan,” commented Megumiellen Kanada, another attendee who was visiting Tokyo from Philadelphia, USA. “This event confirmed that ideas and actions resisting oppression cross all borders, and that there are good people everywhere I go. I am grateful for this new knowledge, and I am now trying to figure out ways to continue these conversations and make connections between peace movements.”

Event attendees watching Insular Empire screening

Following the Q&A session, roots reggae singer Takeru—an artist appearing regularly at Peace Not War Japan festivals-- performed a heartfelt set of songs touching upon various aspects of the general theme regardingg the struggle to overcome opression.


Tokyo Ghetto Shamisen (a one-man-band featuring Atsushi Sakata) was up next, surprising the audience by appearing barefoot in the back of the darkened room—and staying there for nearly the entire duration of his electrifying performance.

“If we reach down to the deepest root of things, we can understand that the act of war is in fact the cycle of people attempting to protect themselves from danger,” he commented between songs. “We must realize that we are all human, and begin relating with each other in positive and healthy ways.”

Atsushi Sakata ("Tokyo Ghetto Shamisen")

“I normally don’t speak much during my live shows, largely because I am acutely aware of the limit of spoken words,” he continued. “Music is comprised of vibrations, and good vibrations have the power to create positive outcomes—just as bad vibrations can easily create negative ones. I am aware of this reality as I feel my own connection with my instrument, with the earth, and finally with the universe.”

A short video featuring mesmerizing footage of Sakata’s open-air performances, as well as an interview (in Japanese), may be viewed here.

The event closed with words from Hitomi Akazaki, co-coordinator of the Neo Ryukyu Arc network. “There are many similarities between indigenous movements around the world, including the Chamoru and Okinawan peoples, as we learned during today’s event,” she explained. “Right now in Okinawa, there are activists who are studying the example of Guam as they prepare to make similar presentations to the United Nations regarding their situation. We must continue linking hands between these struggles as we keep our eye on the larger picture.”

A recent piece on Democracy Now!, titled "From Japan to Guam to Hawai’i, Activists Resist Expansion of US Military Presence in the Pacific,” also gives excellent background on the topic.

Event organizers

Text: Kimberly Hughes
Photos: Sheila Souza

21 Jul 2010

Peaceful New Earth Celebration Part II: Connecting Peace Movements in Okinawa, Guam, Japan and Beyond

Following the successful and inspiring Peaceful New Earth Celebration event held in Yoyogi Park last month, the Neo Ryukyu Arc Network is now turning its attention to building bridges with peace movements elsewhere--beginning with an event focused on understanding key issues at stake.

Don't miss this opportunity to see a screening of the documentary film “The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands," followed by an in-depth discussion session and two fantastic live music acts!

Sunday, July 25th
5-9PM (doors open at 4PM)
Café Otokura in Shimokitazawa
2-26-23 EL・NIU B1F
Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Entry Fee: 2000 yen with advance reservations (mail to
or 2500 yen at the door (drinks not included)

“The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands”
Directed by Vanessa Warheit

One possible solution to the recent Futenma air base problem has been a stated proposal to move the base out of Okinawa and onto the island of Guam. A little-known reality, however, is that some 10,000 U.S. troops and base facilities had already been planned for relocation to Guam long before the recent discussion ever surfaced. In any case, a question that must be asked is what sort of impact this plan would have on the local people and environment.

“The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands” offers an intimate glimpse into the Mariana Islands (which include Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota)—also known as the United States’ own domestic colonies.

While officially part of America, residents of these islands are unable to vote in
U.S. presidential elections, and have not been consulted in any way with regard to U.S. military expansion in the region. The result has been increasing environmental degradation, and a steady loss of rights on the part of local indigenous peoples. With people largely viewing the U.S. military as historical liberators from Japanese occupation forces during WWII, moreover, it becomes clear that the situation here is anything but simple.

From the director:

With so much at stake for the islands, The Insular Empire: America in the Mariana Islands comes at a critical time. To put pressure on the US to bring true democracy to the Marianas, it is imperative that the average American, and the rest of the global community, understand what America is doing there.

My challenge has been to tell the complicated story of the Marianas – involving fifteen islands, five centuries of colonial rule, four empires, and two indigenous cultures – while also conveying the pathos of their current, ongoing relationship with America on a personal level. I decided that, in order to make a mainland audience really feel for the islands, the film had to focus on a few characters: to get inside their heads, to understand their internal conflicts and the external circumstances that have shaped them and their islands.

Read the rest here.

Following the screening, a talk will be given by Yamaguchi Hibiki, a researcher with in-depth insight regarding the situation of the U.S. military on Guam.

Speaker Profile: Yamaguchi Hibiki

Born in Nagasaki, Yamaguchi is a researcher with the Peoples’ Plan Research Center who focuses on the social impact of militarization. He has studied U.S. military bases in Japan, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, defense spending, nuclear weapons, and many other related issues. Most recently, his research has focused on the issue of the proposed military relocation from Okinawa to Guam.

Artist Profiles:


Reggae singer who loves everything associated with travel, nature, peace and love. Performs as both a solo artist and as the lead vocalist for the roots reggae band Anbassa. Based in Tokyo, but performs around the country. Notable recent performances include the Spring Love Harukaze festival in Yoyogi Park in April 2010.

Tokyo Ghetto Shamisen

Performer Sakata Jun combines traditional shamisen (three-stringed instrument)with contemporary folk music and his own personal stylistic touches. Continually playing with the border between self and other, he is a seasoned street artist who may be found busking all around the metropolis. He also performs dub-style electronic shamisen in various venues around Tokyo, creating a fascinating organic effect that lends an altogether different feel from his normal unplugged vibe.

Event organizer: Neo Ryukyu Arc Network

Supporting organization: Peace Not War Japan

24 Jun 2010

"Peaceful New Earth Celebration" in Tokyo spotlights Okinawa, indigenous cultures, sustainability, & global networking

This past Sunday afternoon, the normally boisterous outdoor stage area in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park was silent except for the sound of a Native American flute. The slow, penetrating melody was soon joined by rhythmic drumming and chanting, which gradually rose to an energetic crescendo. The musicians—all Japanese people with intimate connections to North American indigenous cultures—were purifying the space with a Lakota Sun Dance ritual in preparation for the day’s event: Peaceful New Earth Celebration.

Supported by Peace Not War Japan and Spring Love Harukaze, the celebration was the inaugural event for the Neo Ryuku Arc Network. The organization was recently formed in response to the critical issue of the Japanese and U.S. governments declaring plans to construct military facilities in Okinawa and Tokunoshima--both part of the Ryukyu archipelago--despite the strong objections of local citizens. The day’s events included a morning peace parade through Tokyo’s busy Shibuya district, followed by a lineup in the park of talented musical performers and talk sessions on militarism and peace-related issues.

Sun Dance ceremony performers Arakawa Shizuka, who lived among the Lakota and married a medicine man, and Nonaka Katsumi, who has close connections with the Hopi in Black Mesa, Arizona

“The purpose of the Sun Dance is to give thanks to the sun and the universe, and to pray that all living beings may live together in peace,” explained performer Arai Norihito. An ecologist, Arai was invited to join the Lakota tribe as a family member following a chance encounter in South Dakota, United States where members heard him singing. “Since the Sun Dance is traditionally performed during the summer solstice, the timing could not have been more perfect to coincide with this event’s call for peaceful relations in Okinawa, Japan, the Asia-Pacific, the United States, and elsewhere.”

“My own roots are from Jewish settlers who came to Japan, which is, in fact, not at all a homogenous country, as some would claim,” Arai remarked following the ceremony. “I believe that this diversity represents the potential for us all to unite together in peace—both within Japan and beyond.” Arai's own organization, Peace Seed, promotes seed-saving and biodiversity programs, and also supports sustainable community gardening on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota through its "Lakota Peace Garden" project.

Peace Seed's Arai Norihito

"Recent events have made it clear that anyone could be targeted by the U.S. military at any time," commented Neo Ryuku Arc Network organizer Akazaki Hitomi following the ceremony. "Standing up to the United States government is no small undertaking, and so we must put our strengths together with other peace movements overseas. In doing so, we must use the positive energy of the indigenous cultures from our islands—where we have lived in harmony with nature for centuries—to help us ensure a peaceful future.”

Akazaki Hitomi

Peace Not War Japan’s Fukui Hiroshi spoke next, explaining the reasoning for the festival’s timing:

Humanity is now at an urgent crossroads: Will we continue to relate to each other within the framework of militarism, or will we make the shift to more sustainable, ecological, and peaceful ways of living?

The situation in Okinawa is at the center of this question, and it is therefore critical that we utilize our democratic rights at this time to continue speaking out for peace.

We must also reach beyond the limitations of the mass media to forge connections with peace movements in places such as Guam and Hawaii, where similar struggles against U.S. military bases are also taking place.
After a spirited performance from roots reggae singer Ailie and Native American flautist Masago Hideaki, seasoned activist Sakata Masako from the Kenju no kai (an organization to protect Mt. Takao) gave an impassioned, heartfelt speech drawing connections between the anti- military base struggle and her own lifework to save the mountain (located an hour from Tokyo) from highway tunnel construction.

Ailie, Masago Hideaki,and a belly dance performer

“When governmental ministries prioritize the perceived need for things like military bases and highways over the lives that stand to be annihilated as a result, it shows how far they have become disconnected from the existence of life itself,” she asserted. “Military bases are used for the purpose of war, which translates into the reality of wounded and maimed children in other lands—just as tunnels through mountains spell death for countless living beings. We must never forget this fundamental truth.”

“As the host nation for the COP10 conference coming up in October, it is an absolute contradiction that Japan has plans to destroy the biodiversity existing in places like Henoko and Mt. Takao,” she concluded. “This represents an enormous opportunity for our movements to take a giant step forward.”

Sakata was then joined onstage by two representatives from Yuntaku Takae, a Tokyo-based group offering support to the sit-in movement to stop the construction of U.S. military helipads near Takae Village in Okinawa’s Yanbaru “Broccoli” Forest.

“In an attempt to spread fear within our movement, the government sued members of our nonviolent sit-in protest movement—including an eight year-old child and the spouse of a protester, who was not even on the scene at the time—and forbid us from doing any further activism or blogging,” explained one of the speakers. “We have managed to continue our sit-in, but since the government is threatening to resume their watch over our actions beginning in July, we need all the assistance we can get. We gratefully welcome supporters to Takae to come join our movement.”

Sakata Masako (center) with Yuntaku Takae representatives (photo left) Information from the struggle to protect Takae Village (above)

Next onstage was Tei Kazuma, a singer/songwriter from Tokunoshima Island. Introducing his opening number, “Hito no hatake” (“Peoples’ Farms”), he explained, “I wrote this piece as a tribute to people whose farms have been in their families for generations—including my own—but are now being threatened with destruction by U.S. military facility construction plans.” A video of Tei performing the song, which includes footage from protest demonstrations on Tokunoshima and stunning scenery from the island, may be viewed here.

Tei Kazuma

Tei’s performance was followed by a talk on the military base issue from an ecological perspective given by Hoshikawa Jun, the director of Greenpeace Japan. “The reasoning behind recent lawsuits has held that military base construction—with all of its resulting destruction to the dugong and the region's biodiversity—would never be allowed in the United States, and so by the same logic, it most certainly should not be permitted in Okinawa either,” he commented. He also explained the activities of the Japan-US Citizens for Okinawa Network (JUCON), of which he is a member. JUCON's counterpart in the U.S., Network for Okinawa, recently released an official statement on the U.S. military base relocation issue that may be read here.

Hoshikawa, who was born in Tokyo but identifies as a Ryukyu islander after having spent more than thirty years living in the region, has a fascinating background as a translator and writer on topics such as peace and Native American spirituality. “View from Two Ground Zeros”, his deeply thought-provoking 2004 piece on the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and anti-American sentiment, may be read on here.

Hoshikawa Jun (right), who was joined onstage by Arakawa Shizuka and Arai Norihito

The next talk session, “Okinawa, Gaza and Militarism,” featured journalists May Shigenobu and Shiva Rei, both of whose work has focused closely on Palestinian-related issues. Both were invited to speak at the event in light of the recent deadly attack by the Israeli military on the Freedom Flotilla humanitarian aid ship traveling to Gaza.

"The recent attack represents only the surface level of much deeper lying issues represented by Gaza and the Palestinian occupation itself, which must continue to be addressed," explained Shigenobu. “We must also understand the occupation as a fundamental violation of human rights. Would we tolerate the idea of Tokyo being put under lockdown, with no food or supplies being allowed inside? If people can imagine this happening to themselves, they will understand the urgent need to act against the injustices that are now being committed against Palestinians.”

Shiva Rei commented next on the similarities between the Okinawan and the Palestinian experience. “While the day-to-day realities are obviously extremely different, comparisons may be drawn simply with regard to the shared status of living under occupation in a militarized region,” he explained. “We must go back in history and look at how both the Ryukyu people and the Palestinians have been oppressed by their occupiers in the process of establishing these systematized inequalities.”

“It is obvious that that the U.S. remains in Okinawa not because its military bases are necessary, but because it is such a cozy operation for the U.S., with Japan heavily subsidizing its presence,” continued Shigenobu. “The fear-based policy that the U.S. government has perpetuated since 9-11 has enabled it to engage in massive military spending, while also painting North Korea as a threat. The real truth, however, is that the U.S—with its endless appetite for wars and its history as the only nation on earth to have used the atomic bomb—is the country that people should be afraid of.”

Shiva Rei and May Shigenobu

The event included several more performances, including an unscheduled reading of US for Okinawa member Rob Pott’s catchy, piercingly worded hip-hop poem “Okinawa o shiranai” ("Unknown Okinawa"), before finishing with two more Ryukyu-themed musical acts. Asazaki Ikue, a traditional folk artist from Amami-Oshima island, first sang a lineup of gorgeous, ethereal, several centuries-old songs that she herself has described in past interviews as “trance-like” and “touching us in a place so deep that only our souls can remember.”

Asazaki Ikue

The event concluded with a spirited performance from Japanese chindon (street performance) band Jintaramuta, who were joined for the final lineup by the Shisas (from “shisa”, the mythological Ryukyu lion-dog), including a folk song that was written by someone whose entire family had been killed in the Battle of Okinawa.

Jintaramuta and Shisas

Peace Not War Japan’s Hiroshi Fukui reminded attendees that with constitutional elections coming up on July 11th, people have an opportunity to choose politicians who will implement the ideals of peace and sustainability that underscored the day’s event. “This is our democratic right—and we have the responsibility to exercise it.”

The event finished with video messages from Okinawan singer and popular peace icon Kina Shoukichi, as well as Ginowan City Mayor Iha Youichi and several mayors from towns on Tokunoshima Island. A powerful message of solidarity was also read onstage that had been received from Hawaii activist Kyle Kajihiro on the occasion of the recent Spring Love Harukaze event , underscoring the network's commitment to collaborating with peace networks overseas.

Peaceful New Earth Celebration was followed on hundreds of Twitter reports throughout the day, and was also recorded and broadcast live on UStream--reportedly being Sunday’s top watched program in all of Japan.. The stream is available here.

The Neo Ryuku Arc Network is planning several upcoming events, including one in Tokyo to coincide with the Peace Music Festa to be held in Henokohama, Okinawa this coming October. Watch for details!

US for Okinawa's Rob Pott performing “Okinawa o shiranai

Masayan, whose traveling shop features his own handmade crafts using all natural materials, such as bracelets using woven grass, natural dyes of persimmon and indigo, and hand-picked mountain seeds

Text and photos by Kimberly Hughes

18 Jun 2010

Neo Ryukyu Arc Network Presents “Celebration for a Peaceful New Earth” in Tokyo, Sunday, June 20th

“Celebration for a Peaceful New Earth," scheduled for this Sunday, June 20th, seeks to support the people of Henoko and Tokunoshima—part of the Ryukyu archipelago—in their struggle to halt the construction of U.S. military bases on their islands. The event will feature the incredible power of music from some of Tokyo’s finest performers, plus a series of talk sessions from a number of seasoned grassroots social activists working both locally and around the world.

Come and add your energies and enthusiasm to this event, which promises to leave you inspired on many levels—as well as help us all move closer to the reality of a world based not upon military violence, but rather upon compassion, respect and justice.

Venue: Yoyogi Park Outdoor Stage

Event timetable (performer/speaker times subject to change):

• 10:45 AM: Meet at the Hachiko statue in front of Shibuya station

• 11:00 AM: Peace parade from Shibuya to Yoyogi Park. Bring instruments, colorful clothing, and enthusiasm!

• 12:00〜12:15 Parade arrival ceremony and opening remarks

• 12:15〜13:00  The ARTH (Club/Dub/alternative)

• 13:10〜13:40  Ailie (roots reggae singer) and Masago Hideaki (Indian flute)

• 13:40〜14:25 Speakers: Sakata Masako (Kenji no kai organization to protect Mt. Takao) and a representative from Yuntaku Takae (organization to stop the construction of U.S. military helipads in Takae Village, located in Okinawa’s Yanbaru “Broccoli” Forest)

• 14:25〜14:55  Tei Kazuma (singer/songwriter from Tokunoshima Island)

• 14:55〜15:40 Speaker: Hoshikawa Jun (Director, Greenpeace Japan; Member, Japan-US Citizens for Okinawa Network (JUCON)/Network for Okinawa)

• 15:40〜16:10  Miyake Yohei from Albatrus

• 16:10〜17:00 Speaker: Shiva Rei (freelance journalist)

• 17:00〜17:25  Takeru (reggae)

• 17:25〜17:50  Rakita (pop performer from Okinawa)

• 18:00〜18:50  Jintaramuta (Japanese chindon street music fusion)

• 18:50〜19:00 MC

• 19:00〜19:45  Asazaki Ikue (traditional performer from Amami-Oshima Island)

• 19:45〜20:00 Finale/ Closing MC remarks

Video messages also scheduled to be received from:

Kina Shoukichi, member of Parliament, globally renowned Okinawan musician, and peace advocate

• Mayors from several towns on Tokunoshima Island

The event calls for the following:

• Adamant demand for the withdrawal of governmental plans for new U.S. military base construction in Henoko and/or Tokunoshima]

• Strong opposition to Hatoyama’s administration trampling over the expressed desires of local citizens with regard to this issue, and the Kan administration’s announcement that it will adhere to its predecessor’s policy in this regard

• The creation of a Neo Ryukyu Arc Network, connecting the shared peace movements of those in the Ryukyu and Amami Islands (located in Japan’s southern regions of Okinawa and Kagoshima prefecture), as well as other peace movements around the world

• Renewed commitment to the protection of the rich natural environment and biodiversity found in the Ryukyu and Amami Island regions

Peace actions are also scheduled to be organized by the network in Tokyo, the Ryukyu archipelago, and beyond in conjunction with the following (watch for upcoming details!):

July: Elections in Japan
August: Japan-U.S. accord
September: COP 10
October: Peace Music Festa event
November: President Obama’s visit to Japan

Additional event details:

・Admission is free!
・Event will take place rain or shine!
・There will be no information or food booths at this event. (Sorry folks!)
・ Please be sure to leave the venue as clean as you found it!
・This is a completely volunteer-organized event. Your donations will be greatly appreciated!

Event organizers:

Peace Not War Japan

Spring Love Harukaze Organizing Committee

Neo Ryuku Arc Network

With support from:

“Don’t trample on Okinawa!" Emergency action organizing committee

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