Posted by CODEPINK Staff
by Janet Weil
March 11, 2011 was a day of triple tragedy in Japan: one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, the tsunami, and the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. The CODEPINK group in Osaka responded right away. They have been doing work all over Japan. Local group coordinator Hisae Ogawa has been emailing her own and other CODEPINK reports from Japan throughout March. In an email, Sonoe Nishimura sent the following message to CODEPINKers in the United States:
We are so thankful to the CODEPINK sisters in the US for sharing the suffering of the victims and sending us messages of condolences. We’ll bring your messages to our friends struggling in the devastated areas….I thank you for your kindness on behalf of the victims of the tragedy.
CODEPINK members in Japan appreciate our support, and want to remind us of these issues they are dealing with:
We demand the immediate closer of the Futenma airbase and return of the land to Japan as well as the halt of the planned construction of a new base in Henoko.
We believe the US military stationing in Japan should cover their expenses. (add about 75% of costs covered by Japanese taxpayers)
They also want to call our attention to their opposition to U.S. State Department official Kevin Maher. Maher was removed from his position as Japan Affairs Head due to a speech in which he made highly offensive remarks about the people of Okinawa. Since then, Maher has been re-assigned to head disaster relief efforts in Japan. CODEPINKers in Japan write:
We disagree with Mr.Maher on his comments on Japan. He’s telling lies on our country, on our culture and on our people. We express herewith our protest to him on his remarks. - Akiko Yoshizawa , Co-chair of the Osaka Association for military base free peaceful Okinawa; translated by Hisae Ogawa
There is also a lot of anger and anxiety over the failure of the Japanese government and TEPCO (which operates the Fukushima nuclear power plant) to adequately inform the Japanese people about the dangers of radiation from the nuclear power plant. Sonoe Nishimura summarized the situation in Fukushima in her email to CODEPINK:
After tsunamis, we are now under the horror of nuclear radiation. The nuclear power plants in Fukushima are the oldest plants built in Japan. 40 years ago when the nuclear power plants were to be constructed, neither the residents in the nearby communities nor the Japanese citizens in general were informed about the possible danger of radiation leak in times of emergency (translated by Hisae Ogawa).
Here is another report, from Nobuyo Goto, former Visiting Scholar, University of California at Berkeley:
Hello, from Fukushima-city, Japan….For inhabitant, like me, there is no information about the accidents. Government did not inform. I can know just only by Internet. Now all inhabitant live with terror. Especially, our terror is the possibility for "criticality accident". The suspension of the water supply continues. So we can't wash radiation by water.
Japanese CODEPINKers are also asking us to direct our attention to the Japan Fellowship of Reconciliation, an organization that is involved in relief efforts. Hisae Ogawa gave the following details:
As for our actions in Osaka and in Japan right now, I can say we are joining the campaigns carried by the various groups for fundraising for the earthquake victims. IFOR, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, has a Japanese branch, JFOR, Japan Fellowship of Reconciliation. JFOR's women's section has been very active in peace making. They've known CODEPINK so well. Col. Ann Wright was invited to their gatherings in two spots while she was touring around Japan with me. Ms. Kyoko Iitaka of JFOR is now selected as an international committee member of IFOR. We are going to push her to bring the issue of the earthquake and nuclear accident in Japan to IFOR.
Finally, CODEPINK’s Lisa Savage has an excellent post on Japan in her blog.
Compiled by CODEPINK activists Janet Weil and Sharon Miller