Message From Canada
We demand the U.S. and Japanese Governments an immediate return of Futenma Air Station and we oppose construction of an unnecessary new base within Okinawa, calling it a "replacement facility."
We have cooperated with the U.S. "Network for Okinawa" in our efforts to raise awareness in North America about the issue of U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific Region.
We have provided information about Okinawa - reports by the two newspapers of Okinawa, and perspectives and voices from Okinawa, in English so supporters outside of Japan are better informed of the current situations of Okinawa.
Canada shares a long border with the U.S., and is constantly faced with challenges of how to keep distance from the U.S., socially, culturally, economically, and militarily.
Canada is a lot smaller than the U.S. and Japan in terms of the size of the economy, but Canada has always kept boundaries with the U.S. in terms of foreign policies. Canada refused to cooperate with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which we all know now was unjustifiable.
This did not necessarily damage Canada's relationship with the U.S. Japan is totally dependent on and subservient to the U.S. in terms of foreign policy. Japan has lost respect from the international community because of that.
The moment the Japanese Government tries to be assertive with the U.S. in terms of the military base issue or Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the media, the bureaucracies, and the conservative powers overreact by saying, "The Japan-U.S. alliance will be hurt!" and "The U.S, is angry!" and tries to maintain the status-quo, which is the overburden of military bases by Okinawa.
Canadians are generally critical of the U.S. Vancouver has an active Article 9 group. Canadians often say, "The U.S. needs a constitutional clause like Article 9." Japan can depart from the "nuclear umbrella" by the U.S., and offer to extend the peaceful umbrella of the Peace Constitution to the U.S.
In order to do that, the right direction of our move should be to reduce military bases in Okinawa, which signified the contradiction between ANPO (Japan-U.S. Security Treaty) and Article 9, and the contradiction between the U.S. military bases and the three non-nuclear principles.
The other day, we held a study group about Okinawa. This Okinawan lady who attended said, "Okinawa was treated like garbage," and cried. We did not know what to say, and we thought about the aboriginal people of Canada, who were treated in similar ways. Japanese immigrants like us only learn what it feels like to be a member of a minority group, once we left Japan to live in Canada. We want to understand the feeling of Okinawans, though we are aware that we have a long way to go.
We have no doubt that the Prefectural Rally will demonstrate the long-held anger of Okinawans and their determination for peaceful islands without military bases. There will be concurrent rallies in Washington, D.C., Hawaii, and California. The big waves of Okinawan voices have reached out to many places around the world. From Canada too, we return big waves of solidarity across the Pacific Ocean to Okinawa.
Director, Peace Philosophy Centre
Director, Vancouver Save Article 9
* Peace Philosophy Centre, Vancouver
* Vancouver Save Article 9
* Network for Okinawa