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2005 Japan Peace Conference gaining momentum against U.S. military realignment

The 2005 Japan Peace Conference was held on November 25-27 in Kanagawa Prefecture, under the slogan, "Let's break the Japan-U.S. military alliance setup and remove U.S. bases from Japan!" About 1,700 people attended the annual conference from across the nation.

On behalf of the organizers, National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) President Kumagai Kanemichi gave the opening address.

In the keynote speech, Hayasaka Yoshiro, Central Action Committee against the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty (Anpo-Haki) secretary general, stressed that grassroots movements are changing public opinion as well as the attitude of local municipalities toward the plan to realign U.S. forces in Japan.

"Let us now increase joint actions among the widest possible strata of the public in opposition to the strengthening and perpetuation of U.S. bases in Japan, linking them with the campaign to block constitutional revision," he said and called for more active participation in the struggle to abrogate the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Messages from Mayor Iha Yoh'ichi of Ginowan City in Okinawa and Mayor Nagashima Kazuyoshi of Zushi City in Kanagawa were read.

On the second day, about 700 peace activists on 15 buses toured U.S. bases in Kanagawa, including the U.S. Yokosuka Navy Base, the U.S. Army Camp Zama, and the U.S. Atsugi Naval Air Station.

At U.S. Army Camp Zama, local assembly members pointed out that the central government pays 13.3 billion yen a year as costs for U.S. Camp Zama, which is nearly half of Zama City's annual budget.

The closing session took place on November 27 in Yokosuka City, where the U.S. plans to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier from 2008.

A Yokosuka citizens' group that collected 350,000 signatures in protest against the homeporting of a nuclear aircraft carrier, presented a comical slide show. Konno Hiroshi of the Kanagawa Prefectural Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo) warned of possible radioactive fallout in the event of accidents from the aircraft carrier's nuclear reactor.

Nishikawa Ikuya, Zenroren vice president, used the concluding report to propose carrying out actions, including study meetings, street actions, petitioning to local governments, and collecting more than one million signatures in opposition to the U.S. military realignment plans, the final version of which will appear next March.

He emphasized the urgent need to increase actions against the Iraq dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces, imposing contingency laws, and adverse revision of the Constitution.

Immediate actions which he called for included: (1) raising funds to buy a street campaign car for peace groups of Nago City, Okinawa, (2) holding a series of actions at all localities that host U.S. bases, and (3) concerted street actions on December 8.
- Akahata, November 26, 27, & 28, 2005

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