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Japan Peace Conference calls for further grassroots efforts to achieve abrogation of military alliance

Amid mounting public attention on the pending issue of the U.S. Futenma base in Okinawa, the Japan Peace Conference took place from December 10 to December 13, calling for abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and removal of U.S. bases from Japan. This annual conference is always conducted in a U.S. base-hosting prefecture. It was held in Kanagawa this year. Following Okinawa, Kanagawa hosts the second largest number of U.S. bases, including the U.S. Yokosuka Base, which has been used as the homeport of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington since September of last year.

At the international symposium on December 10 and December 11, Japanese and overseas delegates confirmed the need to build global solidarity to work to break away from military alliances, a legacy of the Cold War.

Ecuadorian Ambassador to Japan Javier Ponce, the first government representative to take part in the conference, reported how the new Constitution of Ecuador banning the stationing of foreign bases in the nation was established.

Other overseas participants include: John Lindsay-Poland, Fellowship of Reconciliation USA; Jun-Kyu Lee , Laborer's Academy for Alternative Society in South Korea; Hannelore Toelke, German Peace Council; and Corazon Valdez Fabros, STOP the War Coalition Philippines / International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases.

At the opening plenary of the Japan Peace Conference on the night of December 11, more than 1,000 participants heard about the grassroots struggles against U.S. bases throughout Japan and made a determination to increase the demand urging the new government to negotiate with the U.S. for the unconditional return of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, Okinawa.

Many representatives from Okinawa reported on their local protests against the ongoing realignment of the U.S. forces. Chinen Kimie, one of the plaintiffs of a lawsuit against the noise pollution caused by U.S. military aircraft at the Futenma base, said that she is suffering from insomnia due to the roar of aircraft starting at 4 a.m. Stating that an increasing number of residents, while suffering from health problems and fear of aircraft crashes, are calling for the immediate closure of the Futenma base, she stressed, gThe base should never be allowed to be relocated to anywhere in Japan. We want to win the lawsuit and contribute to the anti-base movement.h

A big round of applause was given to Onishi Teruo, representing the Nago Council against the Construction of the U.S. On-Sea Heliport, when he reported that it has been 2,063 days since residents of Nago City began a sit-in to block the construction of a new base. He called for nationwide support to get an anti-base candidate elected in the Nago mayoral election scheduled for January.

Japan Peace Committee Secretary General Chisaka Jun pointed out that the new government is moving in a direction contrary to citizensf hope for peace by recognizing the military alliance with the U.S. as the cornerstone of foreign policy. He called for participantsf further efforts to increase the public demand for the abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty during the coming year, the 50th anniversary of the revision of the treaty.

- Akahata, December 11, 12, 13, and 15, 2009


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