Saturday, August 12, 2017

Alicia Bay Laurel and Takuji - "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance" at Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church, which stands on what was ground zero

Our friends, Alicia Bay Laurel and Takuji, performing "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance" in Hiroshima 08/08/2015. Author/artist/vocalist/songwriter Alicia Bay Laurel and jazz multi-instrumentalist Takuji perform John Lennon's anti-war classics "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance" at a peace concert that was part of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 8, 2015, at Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church, which stands on what was ground zero in Hiroshima.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Keibo Oiwa addresses the psychological roots of world crisis in Nuclear Zen

In Berlin-based filmmaker Michael Saup's short documentary, Nuclear Zen, anthropologist, environmental activist (and contributor to Kyoto Journal) Keibo Oiwa, shares his holistic take on creating a life-sustaining Japan and world. His views echo those of many eco-activists, especially Sacred Stone, Okinawan and other indigenous water, rainforest, earth protectors:
Thank you is a recognition of the reality. We are living here. We are using [nuclear [and fossil]] electricity...We created the social system -- media, education, politics -- on top of the same system. We have to admit it. Yes, this is where we are. And we have to embrace it, whether it's ugly or not. This is us. And only after that, we can say what we want to do. But the problem is, many people refuse to recognize this reality.

Albert Einstein said you cannot solve the problem within the same mindset that created the problem in the first place. But that is exactly what we've been doing. As environmental activist, I've been fighting, in the movements against environmental destruction, pollution, climate change, nuclear power. And all these problems are too serious. We cannot solve any of these problems easily. Many people say it's too late. But I think it's very important that all these problems have the same root, not just environmental issues, but psychological problems.

What do we do with the very unhappy society we've created. you know, education, family situation, families are collapsing. We pit all the children against each other; they're supposed to be be competing and fighting against each other, forever. I think the roots are all entangled and maybe the same one. So what we have to do, is recognize the root. This is a great opportunity. This crisis is an understand this mindset, not just a society, but ourselves, our mindset...

The musician Ryuichi Sakamoto...said, "We are risking our lives, not only human lives, for the sake of what? Just electricity?"

But this is a mindset we have been captured in...

For what? Is it worth risking our lives, our future, our children's future?

The objective of this system is to make more, consume more, discard more. It's eternal growth: mass production, mass consumption, mass discarding. When you look around, this whole system is made up of excess. So I think excess is the nature of the present time. More. Bigger. Faster...This is a religion of efficiency.

...After March 11, we realized how hollow our democracy had become. Democracy had become a treasure box we were carrying but then after March 11, we opened it, after many years. It was empty. We have to rebuild democracy from scratch.

When you look at politics, at media, the situation seems so pessimistic. But at the same time, I witness so many good signs and I can see very clearly that what's happening in Japan all over the place has a strong resonance with what's happening outside of Japan; In Europe, in Africa, Latin America, everywhere, similar things are happening. They're coming out of the mindset that my generation is still trying to cling to. Young people are saying, 'Just forget it. They are not attracted anymore. They're not deceived. More and more, I can feel good things are happening...

The rest of the story we have to create...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Peace for 70 years and infinity: MESSAGE FROM JAPAN to ASIAN COUNTRIES AND THE WORLD, 2015.

Via  SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy) Japan:
Published on Dec 24, 2015

《Peace for 70 years and infinity: MESSAGE FROM JAPAN to ASIAN COUNTRIES AND THE WORLD, 2015.》

Happy X'mas そして、そろそろ今年も終わりですね。SEALDsで今年を締めくくる動画をつくりま­した。思えば激動の一年でした。法案は可決されましたが、今年得られたものはたくさん­あるはずです。戦後から70年。そして71年を迎え、戦後から100年たっても戦争し­ない国であることを願います。困難な時代にこそ希望があると信じて。そして一歩踏み出­す勇気を。

Seventy years have passed since the end of war. The peace and prospect of post-war Japan were led by profound sacrifice of the war. We support the pacifist constitution of this country and use it for peacebuilding in north-east Asia and the world. Liberty, democracy, and universal human rights; these values are not just imagination. They are the important seeds that we were given by the past for defending liberty of people and constructing sustainable peace. The ideal of Japanese Constitution never loses its power unless we give it up. With intelligence and reason, we continue to claim for peace and respect for liberty and democracy in Asian Countries.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

10,000 sing Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" — Japan's Beloved Anthem of Peace

This is a video of the Osaka "Number Nine Chorus"—10,000 singers who perform "Ode to Joy" (originally named "Ode to Freedom") every December. The soloists and orchestra are professionals; however the rest are singers from the community.

The Japanese love of "Ode to Joy," the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, began during the First World War, when German prisoners of war performed the Ninth Symphony for the first time in Japan in 1918.

The Japanese nickname for the uplifting movement — "Daiku" ("Number 9") — alludes to Article 9, the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause which outlaws war as a means of conflict resolution.  Beethoven's  lyrics are from a poem celebrating human unity by Frederick Schiller.  The 19th-century century German philosopher was preoccupied by the quest for freedom and human rights. Like many of his era (which spanned the American Revolution), he championed political ideals based not on coercion and tyrannical brute force, but instead by reason, goodwill, dialogue, and democratic process.

Worldwide, "Ode to Joy" has long been considered a peace anthem, a song of resistance to not just war, but also state repression. Chilean democracy demonstrators sang the song during PInochet's dictatorship. Chinese protesters sang it during the march on Tiananmen Square. This year, the music and lyrics are even more meaningful to the Japanese and Okinawan supporters of democracy and Article 9, the Japanese Constitution's Peace Clause.

...Brother love binds man to man
Ever singing march we onward
Victors in the midst of strife
Joyful music lifts us onward
In the triumph song of life...

Human rights attorney Scott Horton tells us that Beethoven was drawn to Schiller's writings because the composer longed for liberty, however omitted the "deeper, more political charge" of the final stanzas of "Ode to Joy" to veil his challenge to the repressive Hapsburg regime from which he received patronage.
...the work is radical and blatantly political in its orientation...It imagines a world whose nations live in peace with one another, embracing the dignity of their species as a fundamental principle, and democracy as the central chord of their organization. Its long appeal to Beethoven lay in just this intensely subversive, revolutionary core. To start with, as Leonard Bernstein reminded his audiences, the poem was originally an “Ode to Freedom” and the word “Joy” (Freude instead of Freiheit, added to the third pillar, Freundschaft [Friendship] came as a substitute for the more overtly political theme...

Beethoven reckoned, of course, that his audience knew the whole text, just as he knew it, by heart. He was by then a crotchety old man, Beethoven, but he knew the power of a dream, and he inspired millions with it, to the chagrin of his Hapsburg sponsors.

Schiller’s words are perfectly fused with Beethoven’s music. It may indeed be the most successful marriage in the whole shared space of poetry and music. It is a message of striking universality which transcends the boundaries of time and culture. It is well measured in fact to certain turningpoints in the human experience.
Some of the lines from Schiller's poem omitted from "Ode to Joy":

...Persist with courage, millions!
Stand firm for a better world!
...Deliver us from tyrants’ chains...

(-JD, originally posted Dec. 25, 2014, reposted because the themes are even more important for Japan, Okinawa, and the entire world given heightened popular activism for freedom, liberty, human rights, democracy, and peace, in the face of growing global state authoritarianism and militarized repression of nonviolent citizen movements.) 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Historian Jeff Kingston: "The Japanese people who are proud of their pacifist constitution see Abe trampling on their values."

Video by Richard Grehan of last week's protests in Tokyo

Brilliant analysis on the security-related legislation ("Abe war bills") by Temple University historian Jeff Kingston in this September 20 CNN interview:
People are outraged...People think it's unconstitutional, that he's trampling rule of law...Even though he has passed the legislation, it lacks legitimacy...Abe has delivered on all of the US wish list...

But the Japanese people don't buy Abe's argument that this is going to increase deterrence. Sure they think they live in a dangerous neighborhood, but they don't think this is the way to promote peace.

So the Japanese people who are proud of their pacifist constitution see Abe trampling on their values...Japanese people are concerned...they will be dragged into conflict by Washington..

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"Militarization & Human Rights Violations in Okinawa, Japan" • Sept. 21, 2015 • U.N., Geneva

Today Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga left for Geneva to address the U.N. Human Rights Council to inform the international community of Okinawa’s opposition to the plan by the US and Japanese governments to landfill, thereby destroy, Okinawa's most important natural cultural heritage site, the coral reef and dugong ecosystem at Henoko, to make way for a U.S. military port and offshore air strip.

Gov. Onaga is expected to cancel his predecessor's landfill permit when he returns to Okinawa the following Thursday.

While at the U.N. on September 21, he will also speak at a symposium organized by a civic group in Okinawa:
Upcoming events related to Governor Onaga's September 21 speech at UN on human rights violations by the US and Jp governments in Okinawa.

OBJECTIVES: The vision of the parallel event is to provide a clear picture of situation of human rights violations due to the heavy US military burden in Okinawa, Japan. It will provide information on the violations of environmental rights, freedom of expression and speech, and the right to self-determination caused by the expansion of US military base. The governor of Okinawa, Takeshi Onaga will also identify the historical discrimination against Ryukyuan/ Okinawan people by the Japanese and US governments. It will highlight the role of international community to take measures to support the right to self- determination of Ryukyuan/ Okinawan people.

STAKEHOLDERS: The parallel event will aim to reach a broad range of stakeholders, all of whom will benefit from the outputs of the parallel event. The event expects to engage with approximately 200-250 participants.

Key stakeholders include; · Indigenous leaders/ organisations ·Human rights defenders from/ engaging with Okinawa, Japan and the United States · Environmental activists ·NGOs and INGOs ·Diplomats and government officials engaging · Academics and others interested ·National and international media representatives

CONTENT AND PROGRAMME: This parallel event will address the human rights violations in Okinawa in the format of a special report by Okinawan governor, Takeshi Onaga followed by a key note speech from Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. There will also be testimonies from human rights expert, journalist and environmental activist. It will also screen the short video addressing the islands’ history and on-going human rights violations including the rights to environment, freedom of speech and self-determination.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Japanese citizens protesting as LDP/Komeito postpone Abe war bills until 8:50 a.m.; former Supreme Court justice warns the unpopular government that it is unlikely that the "unconstitutional" legislation would survive a legal challenge.

 (Photographer: Shinta Yabe)

Update: Sept. 18 - A citizens’ group is preparing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the national security laws that were enacted on Saturday to the Japanese government to send soldiers to fight in foreign wars. The suit now has 1,000 plaintiffs, according to Jiji via JT.

Update: Sept. 17 - The opposition parties submitted a no-confidence motion to the committee chair Yoshitada Konoike. Then Masahide ("Moustache") Sato took over the chairman's seat, after which opposition members made very long speeches to defend the motion. However, following the script, the committee voted against the motion.

Then as Konoike returned to his chairman's seat, dozens of opposition members rushed towards Konoike, appearing as if they were trying to stop the voting on the bills. The "scuffle" made worldwide newspaper headlines.

Some analysts are asking why the opposition parties stopped blocking the entrance, and allowed the September 17 committee meeting to take place, knowing their no-confidence motion was going to, of course, be defeated.

In the meantime, over 200 lawyers in Japan have issued a statement calling the "voting" among the wild scuffling at the special committee illegal and invalid.

Many are asking why opposition party members allowed this final assembly to happen after they said they would do everything to stop the bills.

Update: 5:10 a.m. - After opposition party members physically blocked the entrance to the special committee room on September 16, the special committee was delayed until 8:50 a.m.  The protest is still ongoing:

The not-so-young politicians inside the building must be exhausted.

Update 2:05 a.m. - The Upper House Special Committee on the Abe war bills has not started yet as of 2 AM in Japan. LDP/Komeito is planning to get the committee to vote for the war bills tonight.

If it begins, it will be livestreamed here:

The protest outside of the Parliament is being livestreamed now at Iwakami Yasumi journal: .

Along with the majority of the Japanese mainstream citizenry, cultural figures such as Nobel Laureate Kenzaburo Oe and filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, former prime ministers, the majority of Japanese lawyers, including former Supreme Court justices are protesting the bill as unconstitutional.

Former Japanese Supreme Court Justice Kunio Hamada on Abe War Bills called the bills "unconstitutional and "illegitimate."  Hamada warned that it is “extremely optimistic” for the Abe government to think that Supreme Court will not rule against the legislation if its constitutionality is challenged in court.