8/31/2015

California Scholars Rally against Japan’s Proposed Security-related Bills on Aug. 27, 2015


A wave of protest is brewing at home and abroad. According to the Association of Scholars Opposed to the Security-related Bills (ASOSB), a large number of scholars from over 100 universities both in Japan and overseas have released statements against the government-sponsored security bills now under deliberation in the Diet. One call to action was issued on August 27 by Keiko Yamanaka, a scholar at University of California, Berkley, and some others based at UCB/UCD asking for people in California was to join hands in protest against the bills. ASOSB is calling for broader support and signatures on a petition available on their website.

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As scholars deeply concerned about Japan’s constitutionalism and its future, we declare our strong opposition to the so-called security-related bills that were passed by Japan’s Lower House on July 16, 2015. Proposed by the Abe government, these so-called security-related bills consist of 1) the International Peace Security Bill, and 2) the omnibus Peace and Security Legislation Consolidation Bill that amends 10 war-related laws. If passed by the Upper House this September, these bills would allow the Japanese government to send Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to cooperate with overseas military operations conducted by other countries. Many scholars of constitutional law have pointed out that these security-related bills are clearly in violation of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. By joining the efforts of the Association of Scholars Opposed to the Security-related Bills (http://anti-security-related-bill.jp/images/link_california.pdf), we not only express our opposition to the Bills, but also urge other concerned scholars in California to voice their views. Please note that we are a group of scholars based in California who have chosen to express our opposition to the Security-Related Bills in Japan as individuals (See the next page for the list of signatories). The opinions expressed in this statement are those of the individuals, and they do not represent the views of the organizations and/or institutions of their affiliations. If you agree to sign this appeal, please contact one of the following: • Keiko Yamanaka (keikoyamanaka7@gmail.com) • Byung-Kwang Yoo (yoobk15@gmail.com) • Junko Habu (habujunko@gmail.com). In your message, please include the following information.

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1. I agree to publicize the following information about myself 
  (Please check one of the boxes below):
   [      ] Name, academic discipline, title, department and university
   [      ] Name only
   [      ] None
2. Your Name:
3. Academic Discipline:
4. Title:
5. Department and University:
6. Date:
7. Comments (Optional):


See also a feature article (Call for Support: Sign the Appeal against the Security-Related Bills) on the W-WAN website.



Posted by Naoko Uchibori

8/14/2015

“We Refuse Abe’s Politics” – Call for Action at 14:00 (German time) on August 15th, Saturday

ACTION: “We Refuse Abe’s Politics 0815” “Nein zu ABEs Politik 0815”

Date: Saturday 15th August
Time: 14:00 (German Time)

Let's wave placards!

Venue: In front of your house, in your house, in your office, etc. Take photos of your action and post them to Facebook.
FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/1614472758832999/

Placards: Japanese, German (Download from here.)


[Declaration]

On 15th July, The Japanese Lower House steamrolled security bills which a number of constitutional scholars consider as unconstitutional. The majority of the Japanese citizens are opposed to the bills.

If the Upper House approves the bills, Japan would be able to use military forces when Japanese allies such as the United States are attacked even if Japan itself is not directly attacked. It would also be able to dispatch the Self-Defense Forces abroad to provide logistics support to the military of its allies when they claim they are working for an international peace-keeping operation.

It's a significant policy change for Japan, which, for so many years, has been a pacifist nation renouncing war. Some point out that Japan will run the risk of having nuclear power plants targeted by missiles.

As a reaction against Prime Minister Abe's brutal politics, Hisae Sawachi, a novelist, led a protest against the bills.

The Asahi Shimbun reported the protest.
http://digital.asahi.com/articles/ASH7L7K7HH7LUTIL01N.html?iref=comtop_pickup_02
Sawachi and those who agreed with her launched a website.
718 response: http://718yobi.blogspot.jp/

Protest against the Japanese Government (Abe's Regime) in Germany

In Japan, on 18th July, at 1 PM, protesters waved the same placard at more than 1000 sites throughout the country.

We are going to do the same action in Germany on 15th August.
If you can join us, let's bring placards and meet in front of the art museum, K20 GRABBEPLATZ (Grabbeplatz 5, 40213 Düsseldorf).

Original article: http://net.wan.or.jp/now/?p=1802
Abridged Translation: Atsuko Ishikawa

8/03/2015

Speech by Mana Shibata, SEALDs

Speech by Mana Shibata 
SEALDs (Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy)
Tokyo, Friday, July 24, 2015

Good evening. I am Mana Shibata, a college junior.
I am here to read a letter I wrote to Mr. Shinzo Abe.

Dear Mr. Abe, I am filled with deep rage and despair toward you.
Your forced passage of the security legislation at the Special Committee in the Lower House could be called a coup d’etat. In Okinawa, you have set residents against each other and proceeded with the construction of a new base. In Kagoshima, you are preparing to restart the Sennai nuclear plant without sufficiently explaining your safety policy.

In northeast Japan, there are still many people who have been living in temporary shelters for more than four years. Can you really call this “our beautiful nation Japan”?

America builds bases all over the world “for freedom and democracy,” occupies conflict regions, threatens the lives of civilians, and ever since 9/11 has been repeatedly murdering people indiscriminately in its “war on terror.”

When Kenji Goto was killed, I remember how frightened I became, wondering whether Japan would start a war on terror like America.
But Japan did not take that path then, and it must not take it now.

As a nation who has suffered atomic bombing, as a nation which does not have a military force, as a nation which has Article 9 in its Constitution, we have the responsibility to think seriously about peace and continue peacebuilding. With the Constitution of Japan, we pledged that we would not repeat the experience of 70 years ago.

I do not need a future that depends on military force. A peace based on killing, I do not call peace. Someday I hope to give birth to my own children and raise them. But I do not have the confidence to raise children in our current society.

Mr. Abe, can you wipe away my fears? Can you call this a society where parents can feel secure raising their children? Can you promise the children of Fukushima a safe and healthy future? Can you return an island without bases to the grandfathers and grandmothers of Okinawa?

I am standing here now raising my voice because I want Japan to be a country that seeks peace and promotes it throughout the world when my children are born. I want to make this a society where we think about the future, cherish life, learn from previous generations. A society where it is common sense to value such common sense.

To me, peace is little pieces of happiness like returning after school to a home where my mother is waiting for me with dinner ready; seeing a baby in a stroller laugh, opening its mouth so wide I can see it still doesn’t have any teeth; calling my grandmother to say thank you for sending me money for my education; listening to music on the train that someone special told me about. That’s the kind of daily life I want to protect.

The current government, unable to protect the Constitution, says there is no other way, and tries to affirm the Abe administration. How can the government of such a country, which so casually violates its own Constitution, be a peacemaker in international society?

I truly cannot understand how people can behave so childishly in Diet sessions; compare war to a neighborhood fire; bury beautiful Oura Bay. I do not feel the tiniest bit of intelligence or compassion in a single one of your words or actions. I only feel that you are insulting me as a citizen of this country.

Mr. Abe, I can no longer leave the government of our country up to you. I want a democratic and peaceful tomorrow where every individual is valued. I don’t want to create such a tomorrow with you. I don’t think I can.

The view I see before me here gives me hope. I wish you would stand here and see it. The faces of the people who are taking action because they seriously care about this country’s future are full of strength and hope, surely tens of times more than the faces you see every day in Nagatacho.

Neither democracy nor the future of this nation are in your hands. They are to be won by those of us here.
July 24, 2015. I call on you to dissolve the Abe administration.


Original speech video is available in Japanese:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDbAd1CSDDk
and translated by Gerry Yokota, collaborator.

Posted by Shin Yamaaki



8/01/2015

Japanese Youths Crying out for Democracy and Peace: SEALDs

Cries of fury are reverberating in front of the National Diet Building in Tokyo, as protesters demonstrate against Prime Minister Abe's security bills that would allow the Japanese self-defense force to fight overseas for the first time since WWII. Leading the protest every Friday evening is a youth group called Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), whose presence has drawn much attention from the media:

"Students protest planned security legislation in front of Diet," Asahi Shimbun.


"Youth Rising Against the Security Bills," Pressenza.

“Campaign group SEALDs hooking Japan’s youth with jazzy placards, fliers,” Japan Times


"A political turning point for Japan's youth," Japan Times.

"SEALDs student group reinvigorates Japan’s anti-war protest movement," Japan Times.


Image from SEALDs' website
Here are a few examples of how some of the young, hip protesters are expressing themselves at demonstrations. 

Beniko, a twenty-four-year-old shop clerk and a member of SEALDs, spoke to 1,000 protesters on June 12, 2015:

“Last year, I never thought I would take part in such demonstrations; nor had I ever imagined myself making a public speech like this. Along the way, I’ve had bitter experiences; some of my friends left me. Some people said I had changed, and some thought I was annoying. But I have always been like this, speaking out when I feel something is wrong. Sounding off when it doesn’t feel right. That should be a standard way of engaging in the politics. 

“Today, before I came here, I bought a bikini and I’m still contemplating when to put on my new fake lashes for summer. It should be normal that people like me, fussing over swimsuits and makeup, stand up and be counted in the politics. That should be regarded as a standard. Till the day comes, I will continue to stand up and make myself heard.” 

On July 15, 2015 in Osaka, Tomoka made a speech at the SEALDs KANSAI demonstration that touched many across the nation:

“I cannot bring back the lives that are lost in battles. I cannot rebuild the cities that are destroyed by air raids. I cannot take responsibility for the future of the children who are injured by the arms produced by Japanese companies. I cannot heal even a slightest bit of the sorrow caused by the loss of families. I cannot gloss over what I cannot account for, like Prime Minister Abe does when he uses terms such as "absolutely" and "I promise." Mr. Abe, our Constitution prohibits the use of arms and does not allow your dictatorship. If you continue to neglect the principles of the people’s sovereignty, a fundamental human right, and pacifism, you are no longer our prime minister.

“As long as our democracy exists, we have the right to drag you down from the seat of authority. We have the power. You will resign this summer, and next year, for the seventy-first time, we will celebrate another year of peace.”  

The following week in Tokyo, Mana Shibata, a college junior, echoed her voice in front of 70,000 protesters:

“Prime Minister Abe, can you possibly erase my worries? Can you provide a future free from health concerns for children in Fukushima? Can you give back base-free lands to grandmas and grandpas in Okinawa? Can you possibly turn this country into a place where people hope to bring up their children? We can no longer trust our future in you.

“As I speak, the view from here makes me full of hope. Mr. Abe, come and join me. The faces lining up here are much more determined and hopeful than those that you are used to seeing.”

Photos and videos of demonstrations are available at: https://twitter.com/SEALDs_jpn (in Japanese) and https://twitter.com/sealds_eng (in English).


Text by Aya Kitamura

7/07/2015

Show Your Opposition to Abe’s Politics on July 18



Dozens of famous intellectuals and cultural figures in Japan, including WAN’s director Chizuno Ueko, are asking people to demonstrate opposition to the current prime minister Abe’s politics by way of holding a sign with the slogan “We Refuse Abe’s Politics.” (アベ政治を許さない)

People are encouraged to download the file from http://wan.or.jp/emergency/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/sho_f.pdf. On it, the slogan is written in powerful and impressive Japanese calligraphy by one of the movement promoters Tota Kaneko, a famous haiku poet. Print it out on a A3 size piece of paper, and hold it at 1 p.m. on July 18 Japan time.

Also see the article below.


By Naoko Hirose

7/01/2015

Call for Support: Sign the Appeal against the Security-Related Bills

Women's Action Network invites you to join hands with the Association of Scholars Opposed to the Security-Related Bills. The initial signatories include Chizuko Ueno and Yayo Okano of WAN, and many others have since participated in the appeal. Both scholars and non-scholars are welcome.

Visit here to learn more about the Association, see the growing number of signatories, and join in!





See also a feature article ("Japanese Scholars Say No to War" by C. M. Rubin) on Huffington Post.


Posted by Aya Kitamura

6/30/2015

The Legacy of Frida --- Film Review by Natsuko NAKAMURA

The legacy of Frida Kahlo was uncovered 50 years after her death.
The Japanese photographer, Miyako ISHIUCHI captures the real life of Frida Kahlo as a woman.

This film depicts “the record” and “the memories” of the two women and how their lives have crossed.


Frida Kahlo is one of the most famous female painters in Mexico. She was highly recognized as a surrealism artist in Europe as well.  She lived her life positively despite her physical disability and the turbulence of the modernization of Mexico.  Her way of life resonates with many people from all over the world.

In 2004, 50 years after her death, the legacy of Frida was uncovered.  In 2012, a project to take pictures of her belongings was launched by a Mexican curator, and Miyako Ishiuchi, a world-famous Japanese photographer, was chosen to take the photos. When Ishiuchi visited the Frida Kahlo Museum called "the Blue House" in Mexico City, she saw each of the enormous items arranged in front of her, such as Frida's Mexican traditional costumes and accessories in which her identity originated, and her medicines and corsets which evoked her ceaseless physical pain. They seemed not only to be the evidence that Frida lived with various kinds of "pain" as well as the joy and pride, but also to represent her memories. As a painter, Frida Kahlo depicted what life was all about through her life. How did Ishiuchi face the legacy of Frida and what did she capture in her photographs?


This film shows the whole process of Ishiuchi’s shooting for over three weeks. It describes, in a careful manner, how the photographer faced the legacy and discovered the real life of Frida with her photographs freeing her from her conventional image.

The film is directed by Daisuke Kotani, a Japanese director who are highly acclaimed both domestically and internationally with his documentary film, The Cat That Lived a Million Times. By filming Ishiuchi's shooting process, he also captured the Mexican culture, the tradition passed down from generations to generations, and women living in the present time.

 
This is the documentary about “the record” and “the memories”. The tokens of Frida’s life and the photographs that captured them travel beyond space and time.

In this film, you can discover the new image of Frida Kahlo that no one has ever imagined.





The official website of the film is here.

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Distributed by Nondelaico
Cinematography: Tadasuke KOTANI 
Starring: Miyako ISHIUCHI
2015/Japan/89 min/Japanese, Spanish, English, French
In cooperation with: Embassy of the United Mexican States
Production: Nondelaico
Cooperation in Advertisement: Tereza and Sunny

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The original article written by Natsuko NAKAMURA
Translated by N. Tajima