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23 January 2016

Being Rosa Parks at US Marine Camp Schwab in Okinawa

From last December to beginning of this month, I was in Okinawa to join protest activities of locals who are opposed to construction of new military base runways in US Marine Camp Schwab in Nago city, Okinawa.

Why we are opposed has been described in this blog for years. Please read the posts clicking the tag Okinawa.

Especially, this article gives you outline of what is going on there. My letter to US Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of JFK.

While I joined the protest, I used picket board that says "We are Rosa Parks."

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Rosa Parks as you may know, is the symbol of refusal to unjust matters. A Black woman who refused to give front seat to white passengers in a bus and was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955. But her action sparked bus boycott protest led by Dr. Martin Luther King. 9 years later, civil rights Act was passed. A year after that, Dr. King led peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery to call for enactment of voting rights bill. Black people in the Southern states were blocked at voting registration office.

What surprised me was marines reaction to the picket board. Young marines looked positive. I asked one security guard, who was a young white man inside the camp premise, if he knew what it meant. He said smilingly "I know what it means." One Black man driving a car looked at me, smiled and gestured his support. "Rosa Parks" is known to every American.    

I saw the movie, "SELMA" after I got back home in Tokyo. It was a great movie. I found how hard it was for him to do this. A lot of people were hurt and even killed. But he and his followers never gave in.

Interesting thing to know was Dr. King was a very smart man so that he once retreated the march to avoid bloodshed by local police. He filed lawsuit against the Alabama state that bans peaceful march. Then the court made an order to allow the march. He prevailed.

Just like Rosa Parks and Dr. King. we did peaceful protest at the gate of Camp Schwab. Sit-in-protest at the gate that construction vehicles passed through.

Police came and took us from the gate. We never foughtback but just kept sitting down on the ground. I was carried by the police from shoulders to toes.

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Protestants do every day. It has been going on for years. There were several injuries and arrests. But we still keep doing this. We cannot stop the construction but at least we are delaying that. We will never give in.

While I joined in the sit-in protest, I really felt like Rosa Parks, Dr. King and their followers in their times. We may be backed up by their souls. 

Thank you, Dr. King and Ms. Rosa Parks. I am proud of being part of this protest activity.

The US government should hear the voice of protestants and halt such stupid construction project. It is as stupid as segregation laws. It is actually what is happening in your own yard. 

 

24 August 2015

German film "John Rabe" Never been shown in Japanese theatres

I bought a DVD of it. It was released in Germany and China, 2009. Until now it was never released in Japanese theatres. Only shown at one-time meeting by peace activist meeting or symposium. DVD version was released, which individuals purchase on internet.

The drama is based on real events and people involved in Nanjing, China, capital of Republic of China, December 1937.

John Rabe, a German businessman who worked for Siemens decided to be a leader of foreign nationals' committee that managed Refugee Safety Zone in Nanjing, that was about to be occupied by Japanese imperial army.

Because he was German, it was a better choice. In those days, Japan and Germany were allies.

Together with Rabe, some American men and women were in the comittee. They were eager to save Chinese people.

After Japanese army occupied Nanjing, its soldiers did terrible things to Chinese citizens such as theft, arson, rape and even murders.

They tried to help Chinese as barricades to keep soldiers out of Safety Zone. Because they were western civilians from countries neutral from China-Japan war, Japanese soldiers could not hurt them.

Rabe took notes of the events in his diary. The film was mailny based on his diary.  

 

What Rabe and his comittee people experienced is what is known as "Rape of Nanjing." It is estimated 100000 to 300000 people were mass-murdered by Japanese army. As the film depicts, Japanese army had a policy of no alive enemy soldiers.

In Japan, the scale of the massacre has been controversial. Mainly because it is politically sensitive. Just like other nations in the world, such historical facts are considered "masohistic."

I became very interested in this massacre since US invasion of Iraq, 2003. How Japanese army proceeded to Nanjing from the coast was pretty-much like how US army proceeded to Baghdad. What happened to the citizens there was very similar.

I went to Nanjing 11 years ago and met survivors of the massacre. Some of them witnessed Japanese soldiers killed their parents in front of them.

2 years after Rape of Nanjing, Rabe's homeland, Nazi-Germany attacked Poland and occupied surrounding nations. Mass-murdered so many innocent citizens, known as "Holocaust."

By changing position, people could be hero or evil. That is human-history. That is human-nature as well.

Good lesson for all the people of the world.

17 August 2015

Summer Festivals and a ceremony in TOKYO

Firework, I saw at a military base in Tachikawa.

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Dancing on the street, in kimono. Kagurazaka

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Floating lanterns on Sumida River, Asakusa. Each lantern represents soul passed away.

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12 June 2015

A Smart Phone and turn of Civilization

More than a year ago, I switched from the small mobile phone I had been using for more than five years to a cutting-edge smartphone. Almost everyone I knew had already made this change. Among young people, practically everyone uses a smartphone these days, while the users of mobile phones all tend to be in older age brackets.

A smartphone is operated by using its touch screen, but I had heard their batteries soon run out, so I had long been hesitant about getting one. However, my cell phone was getting old and its performance was fading, so I decided that if it had to be replaced, I would get a smartphone. I was surprised at how quickly I figured out how to use it. My new smartphone had so many functions I’d never seen before and was just like using a personal computer, so I became adept at doing various things on it. That in itself is quite impressive, but it recently got me thinking.

 

I wondered, is it OK to seek such convenient items even more than we already do? Should we constantly worship the latest technology and continue our lifestyles in which we buy one new thing after another? To take the question a step further, will this way of living continue unabated? Surely at some point, we will reach a limit.

 

I began thinking seriously about these questions after the Fukushima nuclear accident four years ago. How long will this era in which we take electricity for granted, no matter where we are, go on? I wondered about this when I saw towns and cities being thrown into darkness due to a power shortage.

 

Come to think about it, people began using electricity in their everyday lives only about 100 years ago. In the course of human history, this is merely the last couple of generations. Now we depend so heavily on electricity that civilized society itself would collapse without it.

Despite all this, electricity is actually not easy to produce. Most of it is created from natural resources that exist in limited quantities underground, such as the burning of oil, coal and natural gas, or through a nuclear fission chain reaction using uranium. Truth be told, some of these resources are so scarce that their supplies will run out within a century. Furthermore, using them creates some terrible by-products: burning these resources leads to global warming that generates rapid climate change, and fission runs the risk of radiation leaks as well as producing nuclear waste that will need to be permanently stored and managed.  

Wind and solar are recognized as new ways of generating renewable energy, however comparatively the amount of energy produced is much less. Additionally, despite the production of these power generators, natural resources are still needed, therefore it’s not all that significant of a contribution.

Eventually, at some point a time will come when we must live off ofmuch less power consumption than we do now. If becomes the case, what should we do?

This has nothing to do with our current generation. There is also the notion of using up natural resources and enjoying ourselves while we still can. This will also bring about a feeling of remorseful towards future descendants.

I think the best answer is to make an effort to promote the reuse of natural resources, increase the share of renewable energy, and develop more energy saving techniques. However, shouldn't we actually address it by moving more towards changing our lifestyles to not use so much electricity. We should be trying to move closer, even if only a little, to a lifestyle that was considered normal up until a century ago, a lifestyle without using energy, and save a livable world for our descendants.

Stop using vending machines, stop having things like 24 hour convenience stores and restaurants. Even stop using neon signs along roads. It’s absurd to have cities that are always lit up.Start to curtail unnecessary things.

I think we must become able to enjoy these things, rather than think of them as painful. Last year I had a personal experience that can relate to this, a power saving tea ceremony held at a tea ceremony school. In fact, the tearoom did not use any power at all.

It was the afternoon but we did not use electric lighting, I had macha and sweets in a dark tearoom that was lit up by the mere glow of candles.

 

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While I sensed the inconvenience and darkness around my hands, at the same time I experienced the elegance of it too. I was able to enjoy flavors in the macha and sweets that were not there before. If I think about it, Sen No Likyu of the warring states period (16th century) who began the tea ceremony must have felt like this, so this was like an experience of the original tea ceremony.

Why not try to gradually move our daily lives closer to this style.

If that happens people will say, what should we do about smart phones and computers, but on the contrary I think this is what we need. It is also for proposing those reactionary, but yet still aiming towards the future kind of lifestyles and spreading them to lots of people.

For those of you who have read this article, why not think it over.

18:08 Posted in Ecology, Science, Society | Permalink | Comments (0)