Dear Friends and Supporters of Article 9,
We are pleased to send you some information about the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War's recent activities and related developments.
|POST-REVOLUTION TUNISIA SEEKS INSPIRATION IN JAPAN'S ARTICLE 9
On May 27, 2011 a roundtable discussion on the themes of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, as well as on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution was held in Tunis, Tunisia.
Hosted by the NGO El Taller, the event brought together some 30 participants including former Under Secretary General of the United Nations and nuclear disarmament expert Jayantha Dhanapala, representative of the Global Article 9 Campaign Kawasaki Akira, a delegation from Peace Boat made of two Hibakusha (A-Bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and staff members from Spain, Bosnia, New Zealand and Japan, as well as the head of the local office of the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
El Taller is an international NGO that develops regional programs, facilitates international training courses and Courts of Women, and organizes roundtables, seminars and conferences as a way to challenge the dominant discourse on development, human rights, gender, and the environment from regional and local perspectives. By offering a space for reflection, exchange and networking, El Taller seeks to empower civil society organizations and social movements to develop an alternative vision to conventional approaches and promote regional voices and conversations across cultures.
Nuclear weapons and energy
Following testimonies by Hibakusha Fujimori Toshiki and Matsuura Hideto of their direct experience of the nuclear bomb in Hiroshima and the impact of radiation, Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala - a strong advocate of the abolition of nuclear weapons and the creation of non-nuclear zones - spoke about the existing international regime regarding non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear power. He highlighted issues related to safety and sustainability of nuclear energy, as well as the problem of nuclear waste. Tunisian participants spoke of the close link between nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, and the importance of alternative natural energies.
At the request of Secretary General of El Taller International Corinne Kumar, Global Article 9 Campaign's representative Kawasaki Akira spoke about Article 9 of the Japanese constitution that renounces war as a means of settling international disputes and prohibits the maintenance of armed forces and other war potential.
Introducing the Global Article 9 Campaign, Kawasaki referred to different peace constitutions around the world, and demonstrated their relevance to global issues, as well as to Tunisia. He highlighted the positive impact of peace constitutions at the global level, notably their role in promoting peace, democracy, disarmament and human security. He also invited participants to consider the possibility of including such a clause in the new Tunisian constitution.
Indeed, in the wake of the recent so-called "Jasmine Revolution", Tunisia now has the opportunity to remodel its constitution. Elections, to be held in July or October this year, are expected to pave the way to the adoption of a new constitution.
Tunisian participants showed interest in the Japanese precedent and expressed hopes that Tunisia would incorporate a clause similar to Article 9 in its new constitution as a means to ensure a peaceful future for the country. Noting that "unlike Japan, in the case of Tunisia, the focus in more on domestic policy than on foreign relations", some participants at the roundtable spoke of their desire to include environmental perspectives in the new constitution, and resolved to introduce Article 9 at a meeting of environmental groups in Tunisia.
Visit El Taller's website here.
Photo: 1) El Taller Secretary General Corinne Kumar and former Under Secretary General of the United Nations Jayantha Dhanapala. 2) Peace Boat guest educators, Fujimori Toshiki and Matsura Hideto, both survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. (Photo credit: Peace Boat)
|JAPAN CONFEDERATION OF A- AND H-BOMB SUFFERERS ORGANIZATIONS TO STRENGTHEN ITS OPPOSITION TO NUCLEAR ENERGY
By Kohei Okada, Staff Writer
Hiroshima Peace Media Center
At its annual meeting in Tokyo, held on June 8, the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo) determined its policy for this fiscal year, indicating that, among other actions, it will demand strongly that the Japanese government move away from the nation's reliance on nuclear energy and call for the decommission of nuclear reactors that have been shut down. This intention goes beyond its previous policy of demanding "changes in Japan's energy policy."
A number of participants expressed their views at the meeting, making such comments as "The A-bomb survivors, who understand the harm caused by radiation better than anyone, must call for the early shutdown of nuclear power plants" and "We haven't seen any change in the government's energy policy." The organization's policy, which had called for "alternative energy sources to replace nuclear power generation" was amended in a draft of the document, and text which demands strongly that the nation move away from nuclear energy was approved at the meeting.
At a press conference following the meeting, Terumi Tanaka, the secretary general of Hidankyo, stated that such specific actions as calling for the decommissioning of nuclear reactors that have been shut down for periodical inspections and demanding the eventual shutdown of all nuclear reactors in operation will be included in its updated policy. The precise wording will be decided at the executive board meeting in mid-July. Once finalized, the policy will serve as the backbone of Hidankyo's efforts in demanding that the Japanese government and political parties take action in this area.
Hidankyo says that, following its founding, there were times when it did not explicitly oppose nuclear power generation, with even some A-bomb survivors working in the nuclear energy industry. However, since the nuclear accidents that occurred at Three Mile Island in the United States and at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union, Hidankyo has been calling for the Japanese government to alter its energy policy.
In 1990, Hidankyo adopted the position of opposing any new construction or expansion of nuclear power plants and called for shutting down plants already in operation if an accident should occur. After the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture was hit by the Chuetsu-oki earthquake, Hidankyo, in 2008, urged the national government to install anti-seismic reinforcement at nuclear power plants and to move away from an energy policy which relies on nuclear power generation.
View this article (originally published on June 9, 2011) on the Hiroshima Peace Media Center website here.
|JEJU ISLAND: THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES
"Jeju Island, the island of peace, does not belong to a few politicians or military officials. The many islanders of Jeju are the custodians of Jeju Island, and they have a right to live in peace and safety." Women Making Peace
The struggle of Gangjeong villagers in Jeju Island, South Korea against the construction of a naval base continues.
Despite strong local opposition, the South Korean government is pushing through the construction of the naval base to harbor US and South Korean aircraft carriers and Aegis destroyers equipped with missile defense systems.
Jeju Island is considered as a strategically important location - it is in between China and Japan. In addition, the naval base in Jeju is essential as the U.S. plans to expand its military forces in the Asia-Pacific region. Under US pressure, South Korea is enforcing this construction.
Although the Navy and the Korean government claim it will have minimum impact on the environment and will stimulate the Island's economy, the people of Jeju Island are fully aware that the construction of the base will destroy their environment (notably the endangered soft coral reefs, fishes, and local ecosystems) as well as the way of life of this fishing and farming community. People also fear that the base will undermine regional security, as it will prompt China and North Korea to build up similar offensive military systems, thus threatening peace in Northeast Asia.
A majority of the Jeju population opposes the construction of the base, as does increasingly South Korean public opinion. Determined to stop the construction, groups of Gangjeong residents and supporters are peacefully protesting, but many are being arrested, sometimes violently, and detained.
Professor Yang Yoon-Mo undertook a hunger strike for 60 days. Though he had pledged to fast to death unless the building of the Navy base comes to a halt, he was eventually convinced to break his fast when he reached a very critical physical condition, so as to be able to continue his fight for the preservation of Jeju Island.
Activist Sung-Hee Choi was arrested on May 19 for holding a banner saying "not one flower, not one stone". Under arrest for the second time, she has been put in jail and remains in detention waiting for her trial to resume on June 22. She is hunger striking again (she temporarily interrupted her fast due to deteriorating health conditions) in solidarity with Professor Yang.
For former Jeju Island Governor Shin Goo-Beom the construction of the naval base is a "criminal activity and the navy is betraying the residents under the excuse of national security and illegally destroying nature and trampling down people's human rights," he said in an interview. He also called on the National assembly to carry out an investigation on the construction of the naval base. On June 10, the Jeju Island Council (Congress) voted to stop the construction of the base, leaving it to the governor to take up the case.
The coastal waters of Gangjeong are listed by UNESCO as world heritage environmental sites and were designated as an absolute conservation area in 2004 - a status lifted hastily by the Jeju Provincial Council and the governor in order to go ahead with the construction, despite the fact that a field investigation report in 2009 stated that "the environmental condition of this area (Gangjeong coasts) has not been changed since October 27th, 2004."
This month, a National Assembly Fact-Finding Committee was formed - a move welcomed by South Korean civil society and advocacy groups. In a statement, People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy writes that the Committee "should take a primary role for recovering the island's life and peace through an overall investigation of the requirement as a basis for the construction, the residents' consent on the issue, the legitimacy of the administrational procedure, and the relationship between the naval base and Jeju, 'island of peace'." The statement also calls on the Committee to stop the construction work while it investigates "any illegal or violent" actions and "arbitrate[s] the dispute".
South Korean public opinion is increasingly supporting the people of Jeju Island. On June 1st, South Korean NGOs launched the "Korean National Committee against Jeju Naval Base Construction". Many organizations have issued statements of support and are taking legal actions to stop the construction and defend the rights of the protesters.
International support is growing as well to demand that the construction of the Navy base at Gangjeong be halted for it "will only make Jeju Island a target and a zone of conflict."
Read the statement "Jeju Must Be an Island of Peace" by the 110-member-strong Korean Civil Society Network for Opposing to a Construction of Naval Base in Jeju Island here.
Also read the International Statement in Support of Gangjeong Village here.
The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space is inviting organizations to send a banner of support to be put up in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island. Send the text and organization's logo to email@example.com, as well as a donation of $30 using the secure Donate Now! button on the Global Network's website, here. The banner will be printed by Jeju villagers.
It is also calling on concerned people to make phone calls to South Korean embassies in their country to urge to stop building the Navy base and send feedback to the village on the response gotten from South Korean authorities.
For more information about the situation in Jeju Island, visit Sung-Hee Choi's No base stories of Korea here and the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space's Organizing Notes here.
A new website is currently being developed to serve as a clearing house for information on Jeju in English. Although it is still under construction, you can already visit it here.
Photo credit: Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space's Organizing Notes
A VICTORY FOR PEACE IN COSTA RICA: COURT LIMITS MILITARIZATION OF THE POLICE
In what can be considered a landmark case for peace, the Administrative Law Court of Costa Rica unanimously decided to nullify a decree authorizing the country's police to use military weapons.
Issued by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in November 2008, Decree Nš34582-MSP is also known as the "Forbidden Weapons Decree", for it modified the Arms and Explosives Act that prohibits the possession and use of military weapons except in situation of emergency.
In February 2009, Attorney at Law and peace activist Roberto Zamora filed a legal complaint challenging the President's authority to modify a law issued by Congress by presidential decree and to authorize the use of forbidden weapons such as Uzis, Mini Uzis, M-16, AK-47, among others, at the discretion of the Chief of Police.
On April 28, 2010, the Administrative Law Court of Costa Rica unanimously reaffirmed that the use of these weapons was prohibited by Costa Rica's Arms Law and their use reserved for states of emergency, internal unrest, state of siege or invasion, all requiring a presidential decree of national emergency.
Further, the court found that the crime wave in Costa Rica could not be considered to be an exceptional situation, but instead, represented a fundamental problem that needs to be address through mechanisms established by law, not by decrees contrary to the law.
The court recognized, however, the possibility of revisiting the Arms Law if police weaponry was deemed as no longer adequate. But it found the President's recourse to exceptional decree "unreasonable and disproportionate" as a means to address the need of providing better police resources, using a mechanism specific to cases of internal disturbance for the purpose of solving an ordinary national problem.
Zamora welcomed the court decision as "a victory for Peace in Costa Rica" as "it limits, for the time being, the process of militarization of the police." Referring to the situation in Mexico, he pointed out that the militarization of the police has only led to escalating levels of violence by criminals. He also noted that "the use of these weapons implies the existence of special training processes, which is alarming if you relate it to the Costa Rican police being sent for training to the School of the Americas (WHINSEC, Ft. Benning, Georgia)."
Zamora is known for his legal work related to peace and weapons control. In 2004 he was instrumental in the Costa Rican Supreme Court's decision to invalidate the country's joining of the "Coalition of the willing" in the invasion of Iraq, and to declare that based on the Right to Peace and International Law, Costa Rica could not support wars in any ways. In 2008 he also successfully brought the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the fabrication of weapons of war in Costa Rica, including uranium weapons, and to recognize the existence of the right to peace. He is currently challenging the legality of CAFTA's weapons provision as well as disputing the Congress' authority to allow foreign troops to patrol Costa Rican waters.
Costa Rica's Constitution, through its Article 12, abolishes the Army as a permanent institution.
For more information about constitutional court cases to re-establish the principles found in the Costa Rican Constitution supporting peace as a human right, visit Roberto Zamora's Peace as a Human Right website here.
Thank you for your interest in and support for the Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War.
Celine Nahory, International Coordinator
Global Article 9 Campaign to Abolish War / Peace Boat