Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Message from Okinawa peace leader - please sign the petition


Hirosi leading the singing outside US Marine base Camp Schwab in Okinawa where a 13-year daily protest continues against base expansion that will destroy pristine Oura Bay

Dear Members of the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases,

I am Hiroji Yamashiro, the Chairman of the Okinawa Peace Action Center.  As a result of my involvement in the protest movement opposing new U.S. military base construction in Henoko and Takae in Okinawa, I was arrested and detained by the Japanese police and am in the middle of a legal battle right now. 

On February 6, the two major local newspapers in Okinawa published substantial articles reporting that the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases launched an international e-petition campaign demanding that all charges against me and my 2 co-defendants be dropped and that all U.S. military bases be removed from Okinawa. I heard that even in the Tokyo metropolitan area, a few national newspapers including Tokyo Shimbun provided similar coverage. I feel deeply delighted and encouraged to read that people from more than 20 countries around the world have already signed the petition (within the only first 1 or 2 days) and that the Coalition continues to be energetically involved in this campaign. I am sorry for not being able to write this sooner but I would like to express my heart-felt appreciation. At the same time, I would like to let you know that your powerful support reaffirmed my determination to keep fighting through the trial with dignity. I thank you so very much. 

I do believe that this petition will put huge pressure on the Japanese government authorities, including prosecutors and the Department of Defense, who are eager to set me up as a wicked criminal. Although the Japanese government would not listen to domestic public opinion at all, we know that they are standing in a vulnerable position where they cannot ignore and refuse to react against international public opinion. It is a well known fact that supporting actions by international human rights organizations, including IMADR (International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism) and Amnesty International, served as the inciting cause of a reconsideration by the prosecutors and Japanese government authorities, who had refused the defense counsel’s demand for our release over and over again. I have no doubt that your international move initiating this e-petition will have a powerful effect on the Japanese prosecutors and authorities, and they will learn they cannot do whatever they like. I thank you very much again for this. 

I also express my deepest appreciation to the Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases for the invitation to participate in your first-ever conference which was held in Baltimore on January 12th.  Although I was extremely delighted by your invitation, unfortunately I could not visit Baltimore, as I was already booked for a talk event in Tokyo on that day, in addition to some other complexities. However, through the newspaper reports, I learned that my video message for people in America, which was shot in front of the Kadena Air Force Base gate, was screened at the conference, and that the audience’s warm reaction to the video led to the e-petition campaign. I must say, I was very impressed with the way that the video came out.  I only can imagine that the video shooting and editing, including adding English subtitles, was not a simple job, and I am very grateful to everyone who was involved in the video filming and producing. I will also never forget the moment when I met face-to-face with the members of Veterans for Peace and exchanged our passions. I am certain that the creative production skill of the VFP members in addition to the organizational involvement of VFP made the video come out as a lively and impressive work.

Finally, I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to everyone in the U.S. who has encouraged me with his or her support. I hope that we will win a victory on the trial and that our protest movements will work closely together going forward.

Hiroji Yamashiro February 8, 2018

~ You can sign the petition here

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