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Monday, November 26, 2007

Report on Dr. Mitsuru Kurosawa's talk of Japanese Nuclear Policy by Arc Han

On November 26th, Dr. Mitsuru Kurosawa, a professor from Osaka University, visited UBC and gave a talk under the topic “Japan’s Nuclear Policy”. The speech focuses on the recent debate on Japan going nuclear and the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) process in Japan, Dr. Kurosawa also touched on the issues of regional security of East Asia.

Generally, opinion from both Japanese public and the government are the same: known as the nuclear allergy, this opinion of strongly against nuclear weapon is widely shared by both the public and the government. The idea is presented as a long-term policy “the three non-nuclear principles” (no produce, no deployment, and no possession of nuclear weapons). There was a debate about whether Japan should obtain nuclear weapon recently, but this proposal faced strong oppositions such as: 1.) U.S. will not approve; 2.) not necessary because of the U.S. nuclear umbrella; 3.) endanger East Asia security; 4.) considering as absolutely immoral, etc. therefore, Dr. Kurosawa comes to the conclusion: in a foreseeable future, “the probability for Japan going nuclear is extremely low”.

Interestingly, Japanese NPT policy seems to be contradictive with the needs of an American nuclear umbrella. Dr. Kurosawa also uses the case of India nuclear test to demonstrate this contradiction: American started to negotiate with India after several years of sanction, but Japanese publics, both the left and the right (Dr. Kurosawa uses newspaper articles from the Asahi news, the left, and Nikki news, the right, as examples), still have strong criticizes to India nuclear test in 1998 and refuse to recognize India’s status of a nuclear country. A student asked if U.S. changed the course toward India, would Japan give up its NPT policy and follow U.S; Dr. Kurosawa answered that, it’s unlike to see Japanese government to follow that course change, unless they can change the strong anti-nuclear public opinions in Japan.

I asked Dr. Kurosawa this question: as Dr. Kurosawa mentioned that the idea of having a “regional collective security organizations” is discussed in Japan now, what that “organization” would like? Would it like the NATO or the EU? Mu understanding is if it’s like the NATO, that means people are talking about the possibility of another Cold War in East Asia; If it’s like the EU, personally, I prefer to that idea.
Dr. Kurosawa answers: now, be realistic, we have to separate economy and security issues. In economy, such a regional cooperative organization is already on its way. But in security issue, it’s unrealistic to ignore the existence of American military force in that region (and diversities in the security interests of East Asian countries). Personally, I (Dr. Kurosawa refers to himself) also like to see the EU-like cooperation happen in East Asia (in security issues), and the six-party talk could be a starting point of such a future development.
I think Dr. Kurosawa’s answer is realistic and applicable--rather than utopian thoughts. Clearly, we--people from East Asia countries--don’t want to see devastating wars happened again among our home countries, but the question I always think about is, how can we bring a lasting peace to that region. I think to follow the European experience might be helpful. But this idea--having a EU-like organization in East Asia--could not comes true without some concrete efforts. I values Dr. Kurosawa’s answer because it gives a hope of such a cooperative international relation while it also indicates a realistic way to make it happen.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Report on Vancouver's DU Event by Yumiko Kikuno

Peace Philosophy Centre in Vancouver held an event on the issue of uranium weapons, “Clean up the world: We do not need uranium weapons” on Nov. 10th. The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) called for people around the world to hold an event to raise awareness on the issue on November 6th, the day ICBUW calls “the International Day of Action,” and also the Unated Nations International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. Our event was a Canadian contribution to this international movement. At the Roundhouse Community Centre in Downtown Vancouver, I gave a presentation based on what I had learnt at the ICBUW Conference held on Oct. 2nd and 3rd in New York. (See a related article of mine here.)

As an introduction, Satoko Norimatsu, the founder of Peace Philosophy Centre, talked about how she felt a real urge to do something about the issue when she saw the photographs of sick children in Iraq at the workshop on the DU(Depleted Uranium) issue during the 2006 World Peace Forum in Vancouver.

Before my presentation, the participants watched the DVD "Unknown Terror of DU - Iraqi Children Now - " (NO DU Hiroshima, 2005), in which Naomi Toyoda, a Japanese photo journalist, reported what happened in Iraq, where DU weapons had been used. His video report showed many children with cancers crying in the hospitals, one of the Gulf War veterans claiming his health problems and his daughter’s deformed hand being caused by his exposure to DU dust, and a Geiger counter reacting to the high level radiation from destroyed and abandoned tanks and buildings in Iraq. After the video, I showed some pictures of the conference in New York and some drawings made by Iraqi children displayed by JIM-NET, a Japan-based organization that provides medical support to children in Iraq.

I started my presentation with some scientific aspects of DU and how people were contaminated by the toxic materials. First, depleted uranium is radioactive and uranium itself is a toxic heavy metal that can damage DNA. Second, the high temperature of DU fire can turn not only DU penetrators but also other metals used for tanks or buildings into something more like gas, which would be easily inhaled by the people in the battlefields. Third, researchers found that workers and nearby residents of facilities manufacturing uranium weapons or nuclear products, such as the National Lead Industry in Colony, New York and Nuclear Metals Inc. in Massachusetts, were also contaminated by DU that were incinerated or dumped at the sites under the poor control of their facilities.
Next, I reported the current situation of the international campaign for banning uranium weapons. For example, activists in Belgium held events on DU weapons in many places and launched a letter-writing campaign to raise awareness of the issue among politicians and the public. Thanks to the campaign, Belgium became the first country to ban uranium weapons. In the US, some veterans devoted their energy to get the veteran-testing-bills passed, being supported by police or fire department unions. Now, eight states have passed the laws. In addition, some activists actually bought shares of Alliant Techsystems in Minneapolis, Minnesota that produced uranium weapons, and tried to attend its annual general meeting in order to stop them from making those weapons. From Costa Rica, Damacio Lopez, the director and founder of the International DU Study Team, spoke at the conference and brought the fact that DU weapons were used during the US invasion of Panama in 1989. Now the movement to ban uranium weapons has spread across Latin America.

Finally, I explained the reason why Canada had to care about the uranium issues and what we can do. According to Jim Harding, the author of a book “Canada’s Deadly Secret,” Saskatchewan is a leading region to produce and export uranium in the world. The environments around the mining sites have been contaminated, violating the rights of the First Nations and exploiting their lands. Donna Dillman, a member of the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU), began her hunger strike on October 8 outside of the uranium mining site near Sharbot Lake in the Eastern Ontario, and the strike still continues. At the end I suggested four examples of what we could do to stop making and using uranium weapons, and mining uranium : join the Global Disinvestment Campaign, sign and collect petitions, send an e-mail and a letter to governments, and tell people about the issue.

After the presentation, some participants said that uranium weapons and uranium mining issues should become widely known in Canada. I hope that their voices would reach the Canadian government to vote in favor of the DU resolution in the next UN plenary assembly.

I would like to say big thanks to Satoko because my original interest in the DU weapon issue was inspired by a workshop that she held a year ago and I could not have given this presentation without a big support from her. I really appreciate of her. Moreover, for those who participated in the event, thank you so much for coming. For those who answered my questions to make details in my presentation accurate, I deeply appreciate them. I hope this event would be another big step for the movement to ban uranium weapons and to stop uranium mining in Canada. Leave uranium under the ground!

Yumiko Kikuno
Peace Journalist

(Satoko's note: Jim Harding, the author of "Canada's Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System" will give a talk in Vancouver on November 23rd, 2007, sponsored by the United Nations Association, Vancouver Branch. Contact for details.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Comments by Participants of the Nov. 3 Event

Here are comments from the participants of the film screening event "Against Coercion" or "Kimigayo Fukiritsu" on November 3rd. In the brackets are the translation. 11月3日「君が代不起立」上映会およびディスカッション参加者からの感想です。カッコ内が翻訳です。

  • Very interesting film as I was born in 1928 in the States and went through a similar brain washing. Have also spent 3 years in prison for refusing to move in front of logging trucks. (自分は1928年アメリカ生まれで、似たような洗脳を受けた経験がある。また、森林伐採に反対して3年間刑務所で過ごした。) - B.C.

  • 日本から遠く離れて、日々、多忙に暮らしていると、人が生きるという基本的な権利を剥奪するという強権発動によって、戦前または自由民主主義と全くかけ離れた暴挙に出るという発想と、近辺住民、全国民の意識に共犯性を見る。(What the Tokyo Government is to the teachers is depriving their basic right to live. This is an abuse of power and a reckless act far from liberal democracy. I can see conspiracy by the neighbours and by all the citizens.) - M. N.

  • あの戦争の悲惨さを忘れて、又、元来た道を戻ろうとしている多くの日本人とその無力感には心から悲しみを覚え、戦っている先生方には心から尊敬を覚えます。無知から来る反動、つまり長いものには巻かれろ、固いこと、難しいことは言うな、と流されていく庶民のおろかさ、又立身出世主義、物質主義の人が多い事は心が痛みます。とにかく戦っておられる先生方を支援します!(I feel sorrow for the many Japanese who have forgotten the horrors of the past war and are on the verge of making the same mistake. At the same time I feel great respect for the teachers who are fighting against such a trend. I also feel a pain in my heart when I think of the stupidity of common people whose reactionary acts stem from their ignorance,typified by their tendency to conform and avoidance of dealing with hard and difficult issues, and also when I see careerism and materialism in so many people. Anyway, I support the teachers who are fighting! ) - T. N.

  • 権力と政治に反して自由と個人の尊重を貫いた根津先生に感心すると共に改めて国歌や国旗に対して、改めて国民、(親も子どもも教師も含め)全体が、その意味、役割、価値(過去の歴史も含め)を明らかにし、現在から将来に向けて、どうしたら建設的に解決していく方向にいくのか、その時に来ているのを強く感じました。(I am impressed with the way Kimiko Nezu sticks to her principle of freedom and respect for individual rights, despite the oppression from the government. At the same time, I strongly felt that it was time that the Japanese citizens, including parents, children, and teachers,started clarifying the meaning, role and values (including the history)of the national anthem and the national flag, and also started thinking about how to resolve this issue in a constructive way.) - K. T.

  • It was a resourceful film but as a film art, it was a bit repetitive. Iwashita sensei's participation made it realistic - a good decision! Thanks. (大変勉強になる映画でしたが映像芸術としては、少々繰り返しが多いと思いました。岩下先生の参加でこの映画がよりリアルになったと思います。岩下先生を招いて正解でしたね!ありがとう) - T.C.

  • 今日で二回目ですが日本政府の典型的な態度(肝心な事を国民に説明しない)の事を考えながら映画を見ました。国歌、国旗に対して普段、全く深く考えない私たちにこういう機会を与えて下さった事に感謝します。クレイトン先生のブレヒトの話が現状をよく説明していると思いました。鹿毛さんのコメント、’新しい国歌を考える時期である、’賛成です。(As I was watching the film for the second time, I was thinking of the typical attitude of the Japanese government in which they neglect to explain important things to their citizens. I appreciate this opportunity for those of us who don't usually think much about our national anthem and flag. I thought the story by Brecht that Dr.Creighton quoted represented the current reality. I agree with Mr.Kage's comment that it is time we started thinking about a new national anthem.) Y.B.

  • 大変感動しました。自由の国、日本だと思っていましたが、いまだに昔を思い出されることがらがある事実に、暗い気持ちにさせられました。このような会を、もっと多くの人に参加してほしかった。I was very moved. I thought Japan was a free country, but I felt depressed that there were still things happening that would remind us of the past. I wish more people would have participated in such an event. M.K.

  • Excellent! Thanks for this. (素晴らしかった。ありがとう) - T. N.

  • この会に参加して余り日数がたっていませんが、日本がどの方向に向いつつあるか少しずつ勉強出来て感謝です。(It has not been long since I joined this group, but I appreciate the opportunities that allow me to learn where Japan is going. ) - M. M.

  • The talks by the panelists were informative. Chinese national anthem, other Asian national anthem or reflection by other Asian people should be taught in Japan. Appreciated Ms.Iwashita's input. I would love to have more opportunities to talk about the issues around Japanese political aggression, with people with different backgrounds. (パネリストの話が大変参考になりました。中国の国歌、他のアジア諸国の国歌、アジアの人々の心情が反映されているものについてはもっと日本で教えられるべきです。岩下さんの話に感銘を受けました。今後、いろいろな背景を持つ人たちと、日本の政治的暴力について語り合う機会を持ちたいと思っています。)S. R.

  • There were different interpretations of kimigayo, but punishing teachers for not standing up for the song is a violation of human rights and freedom. The movie was touching! (君が代の解釈はいろいろあるでしょうが、起立しないことで処分するのは人権侵害です。この映画は感動しました。)

  • 私は海外に暮らすようになってから日本の社会問題を学ぶようになりました。日本の学校教育ではそのような問題を掘り下げて学ぶとともに、話し合うこともしなかったように思いますし、保守的な社会や学校のシステムの中で、このような問題を話し合っている方々がいるのだということに目を向ける機会もあまりなかったように思います。日本の外でこのようなことを語り合う機会に恵まれたことをとても嬉しく思います。ありがとうございました!(I began to learn about the Japanese social issues after I started living overseas. Back in Japan, I did not have opportunities to be part of such in-depth discussions on these issues. Nor did I know there were people out there who were talking about these issues, in midst of the conservative social environment and school system. I am very happy that I have had an opportunity to talk about such issues outside of Japan. Thank you very much! ) H. T.

Speech by Misako Iwashita, Former History Teacher in Japan

Good afternoon, I am Misako Iwashita and have taught history for 35 years at middle school and I am retired now.

After the 2nd World War, Japan has been a peaceful country that has never killed any foreigners and has never been at war for about 60 years because we Japanese vowed that we will never have a war again under article 9, in the Japanese constitution. However, the Japanese government is trying to change it.

The song "Kimigayo" represents worship for the Emperor and dedication of people's life for the Emperor. Many young people died singing this song and 20 million people from other countries were killed during the war. Japanese teachers pledged, " We will not send our students to war again." How could I as a teacher of history sing this song in front of my students?

The school board has given an instruction to each school to sing "Kimigayo" at school ceremonies. Since then, all teachers were exhausted by the never - ending discussion and coercive instruction from the school board.

It made our work environment uncomfortable. My co-workers started saying to me, "There is no point in discussing it. Anyway, we'll be forced to do so." "Don't extend our meeting time anymore" "Please don't say anything. Your opinion messes up our team."It was a very hard time to give my opinion to my co-workers. I was stressed out and suffered from gastric ulcers; yet, I had to work every day for my students. This had been continuing till the day I left school.

I would like to share my story about what happened on a graduation ceremony of my students who I had taught for 3 years.

As I did every year, I visited my co-workers one by one and encouraged them "Let's refuse this unfair order together. The music teacher refused to play piano for "Kimigayo", and the calligraphy teacher refused to write the word "Kimigayo" on the brochures.

On the day of the graduation ceremony, a head teacher announced,"let's rise and sing "Kimigayo:. All the guests and many teachers stood up but I didn't. Surprisingly, all of the students and their parents refused to stand up, too. The head teacher told them to stand up again and again with an angry voice. I was scared. Finally, he gave up and turned the music on.

I had taught these 250 students, While the music was on, I felt like somebody was testing us. I believe the students felt the same as me. I knew they had made a hard decision with their pure 15 year old hearts and that just made me cry.

On a first ceremony day at another school, a teacher suggested to me,"Everyone will rise and sing the song, so you'd better do so too or no one can guarantee your position here at our school." I refused and said to her, "I have freedom under the constitution. Nobody can control my thoughts." It was a very challenging situation for me not to stand up and sing with all the people. Moreover, I got a lot of attention from my co-workers, students, and their parents as a new comer to the school. In spite of the pressure, I remained in my seat looking up confidently.

But, in fact, I was almost crushed under the pressure. My heart was beating so fast. My legs were shaking so badly. During the ceremony, I was encouraging myself. It was the first day to see my students. If I looked daunted, how would my students feel about me? I am doing the right thing. I should show them we have the right of expression. One day, they will be reminded of me and think why didn't I stand up? This is my first lesson for them.

Then all of a sudden, one teacher sat down. She was the one who suggested to me to stand up. I guessed she had been struggling between the big peer pressure and her conscience for a long time.

The coercion to sing "Kimigayo" makes such a difficult time for not only teachers who are reprimanded for not standing but also for teachers who are pressured to stand up for "Kimigayo."

At last,The Tokyo governor, Ishihara is appealing to a higher court now. If the 401 teachers cases goes against them, I am concerned that unreasonable coercive pressure will spread to all schools in Japan.

Yet, although this is about an internal problem in Japan, wouldn't it affect your country if Japan would change its peace policy?

Even though I left school, I always want to work with my co-workers who are struggling. I would like to devote my second life to support them and protect the Japanese constitution that guarantees our freedom and peace.

Thank you.

Misako Iwashita

(This speech was made after the screening of the film "Against Coercion" at the Vancouver Japanese Language School on November 3, 2007. See here for the Japanese text.)

(Japanese) 元中学校歴史教員 岩下美佐子さんのスピーチ原稿

はじめまして 私は岩下美佐子といいます。私は35年間中学校で社会科を教えてきました。今は退職しています。    




3年間教えてきた子らの卒業式のことです。 この年も、私は一日に一人と決めて仕事が終わってから先生がたを訪問し「強制されることの不当さ、ともに拒否しましょう」と語り合っていました。その中で、音楽の先生は「君が代」の伴奏を拒否し、書道の先生はプログラムに「君が代」の文字を書くことを拒否しました。  

卒業式の当日 「君が代」の演奏があるので「ご起立願います」と教頭先生が指示をしました。来賓の方々、多くの先生も起立しました。私は立ちません。驚いたことに、だれ一人生徒たち、親たちが立たないのです。教頭先生は再び起立するよう言い、それでもたたない生徒、親たちに向かって怒った声でまたもや起立をうながしたのです。私は怖かったです。しかし、教頭先生はそのまま「君が代」のテープを流さざるをえませんでした。この日の卒業生250名に私は歴史を教えてきました、曲が流れている間、子どもたちと私がまるでためされているかのようでした。子どもたちもきっと同じ思いであったでしょう。15歳のこの子たちが せいいっぱいの判断をして今ここで、こわごわ座っている。そう思うと涙が止まりませんでした。    


と、曲の途中で一人の先生が座ったのです、それは私に「起立したほうがいい」と言ったあの先生でした。私とともに座ったのです。彼女は一人でたたかうこともままならず、不本意ながらこれまで立ち続けてきたのでしょう、今座ることは私以上に勇気のいることだったかもしれません。この短い瞬間にも彼女の心には、起立してきたことの良心の呵責と、自分の良心を取り戻そうとする苦しい葛藤があったのです。  「君が代」の強制が強められてから、抵抗して座る先生だけでなく起立している多くの先生たちも苦しんでいるのです。    


最後に  401名の先生方の裁判は、今、東京都知事石原氏によって控訴されています。もしこの裁判が負けたら、このような異常な強制はただちに全国に広がるでしょう。  

このことは、日本国内の問題です。 しかし、もし、日本が変化していくとしたら皆さんの国とは関係のないことでしょうか。私は退職しましたけれども、いつも彼らとともにありたいと思います。私の退職によって生まれた多くの時間を、このたたかいの勝利と、日本国憲法が保障する自由と平和のために働きたいと思っています。                              



(2007年11月3日 バンクーバー日本語学校における映画「君が代不起立」上映会およびパネルディスカッションで発表した原稿を岩下さんの許可を得て公開しています。 英語版はこちら

(Japanese) 11月3日「君が代不起立」上映会及びディスカッション報告 by 賀上マサ

This is a report in Japanese on the film screening event on November 3rd, by Masa Kagami.

土曜日にVSA9とピースフィロソフィーセンター共催で「君が代 不起立」を上映しましたので、簡単な報告をします。


上映の後、UBC人類学部準教授のミリー クレイトンさんと、UBC学生のハン ツェン アークさんがそれぞれ短い話をしました。クレイトンさんは、ドイツの劇作家ブレヒトの小説を引き合いに出し、少しずつの社会状況の変化でもそれを敏感に感じ取って人々が抵抗をしないと気がついた時にはもう取り返しがつかなくなるという事を指摘しました。ハンさんは、国家主義的な軍備増強は敵対国どうしの猜疑心による軍拡を招くだけ、軍備で平和は作れないという点を強調しました。


質疑応答の全部はここでは紹介できませんが、1970年代にバンクーバーで小学生時代をすごしたカナダ人のトム アンドリュースさんの体験談として、当時は学校で英国国歌のGod Save The Queen が歌われていて、彼がそれに抵抗したら処罰を受けたとの事でした。君が代については、(否定するだけではなく)代わりの歌を作ることを考えるべきではないかという指摘が、世話人の一人、鹿毛達雄さんからなされました。最後にVSA9会長の落合栄一郎さんが締めくくりの挨拶をし、来場者にVSA9への参加を呼びかけました。

最後にイベントの案内です。今度の土曜日10日午後にバンクーバーのRoundHouse コミュニティーセンターに於いて、これはピースフィロソフィーセンター主催で、VSA9会員でもある菊野由美子さんがDU(劣化ウラン弾)についてのニューヨークでの会義に参加してきた報告会が有ります。時間のある方は是非ご参加下さい。


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Film and Discussion "Against Coercion" Report

The first public screening of "Against Coercion" or Kimigayo Fukiritsu on November 3rd at the Vancouver Japanese Language School was a very successful event, with over 40 people in attendance.

Before the film, Tama Copithorne, one of the founding members of Vancouver Save Article 9, shared her experience with the hinomaru and kimigayo, or the Japanese national flag and the national anthem respectively, as a school child in Japan during the war. She also spoke of her time in China as the wife of a Canadian diplomat in China when Japan and China re-established the diplomatic relation in 1972. Tama said, from her experience it would be impossible to divorce hinomaru and kimigayo from the war-time Japanese militarism and imperialism.

We had a panel discussion after the film. First, Millie Creighton, Associate Professor of Anthropology at UBC talked about her experience on the hinomaru/kimigayo issue as a graduate student from U.S. in Japan. She mentioned a case in which a teacher in Massachusetts was disciplined for refusing the Pledge of Allegiance but was later vindicated as the treatment was considered a violation of his civil rights of freedom of thought and conscience. She also recited a Bertolt Brecht story and stressed on the importance of taking action towards problematic changes in society even if each change seemed minor.

The following speaker was Arc Zhen Han, an International Relations student at UBC, presented some perspectives as a young Chinese. He was impressed with how Kimiko Nezu, one of the teachers resisting kimigayo in the film, would provide sufficient information to her students so that they would make their own decisions, instead of imposing specific views or attitudes. Arc himself would like to be a teacher some day, so Nezu's teaching philosophy gave him hope, he said.

The last speaker was Misako Iwashita, a retired junior high school teacher of history who taught in Osaka for 35 years. We were very fortunate to have somebody like her who had been committed to peace education throughout her career, and had gone through very similar
experiences to those that the teachers in the film were undergoing. Here is the link to the full text of her speech.

The panel presentation was followed by a lively discussion by the whole audience. Tom Andrews, who grew up in North Vancouver shared his experience of being physically punished for not singing God Save the Queen at his school. Tatsuo Kage, another founding member of VSA9 suggested more discussion among the Japanese people for creation of a new national anthem and a new flag. Thekla Lit stressed how we should feel the pain of those who were victimized by the Japanese aggression in China, and how Chinese and Japanese should learn from each other for a peaceful future.

Here are the participants' comments to the event.

Many thanks to VSA9, all the guest speakers, and all the participants who made this event a special place for dialogue and mutual learning.

Love and peace,


Peace Philosophy Centre