Page One

Japan looks here for peace model

By John Geluardi Daily Planet staff
Wednesday January 09, 2002

Two high-ranking officials from Japanese political organizations conferred with Councilmember Dona Spring Monday to discuss possible strategies for their country’s fledgling anti-war movement. 

“In Japan it is very difficult to receive accurate information about American anti-war responses,” said Kiyoshi Matsuya, who heads Japan’s Rainbow and Green organization. “That is why we came here, so we can learn about the American anti-war (movement) and spread this information so Japanese cities and towns can become just like Berkeley.” 

Also attending Monday’s meeting, conducted through an interpreter, was Community Environmental Advisory Commissioner Leuren Moret, Japan’s Secretary General of the All United Workers Union Ippei Torii and Ichiro Kobayashi, a freelance journalist who has organized several “peace walks” in Tokyo, one in which 5,000 people participated 

Matsuya said there are many people in Japan who are interested in the anti-war movement, but since the movement is new in Japan, there is no existing organization. He said the small contingent had come to Berkeley seeking possible models. 

He added that until recently there had not been a need for an anti-war organization because the Japanese constitution had been largely successful in preventing military action. 

According to the Global Green Conference 2001 Web site, Japan’s Rainbow and Green organization, which is similar to the Green Party of the United States, was formed in 1999 and has approximately 200 representatives elected to local and state offices, although none have been elected to Japan’s national parliament. 

Matsuya wanted to meet with Spring, because she authored the controversial resolution that called for an end to the bombing of Afghanistan as quickly as possible. The resolution, which the City Council approved by a 5-4 vote, generated thousands of e-mails, letters and phone calls from around the country that both condemned and supported it. 

“Berkeley is a very unique place,” Spring said. “This community has a different world view than many other parts of the country and a majority of the city’s residents agree with the statement the resolution made.” 

During the meeting, Matsuya invited Spring, and Vice Mayor Maudelle Shirek and councilmembers Linda Maio, Kriss Worthington, Margaret Breland, who supported Spring’s resolution, to attend an international peace conference in Japan in the coming months. He said he also intended to invite Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who was the only member of congress to vote against giving President Bush war powers to respond to the terrorist attacks. 

“We would like to help creating a great anti-war network,” Matsuya said. He also announced that about 20 representatives from various Japanese peace organizations are scheduled to come to Berkeley sometime in February. 

According to Matsuya, there is a growing concern in Japan over an apparent backslide from his country’s constitutional renunciation of war. After World War II, the Japanese were so adamant about not participating in future military activity that Article 9, which completely renounces war and the maintenance of land, air and sea military forces, was added to their constitution. 

But during the U.S. military response to the terrorist attacks, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi ordered naval vessels to provide rear support to the American military campaign against Afghanistan.  

The Japanese naval vessels, according to Steven Vogel, associate professor of Political Studies at UC Berkeley, were available to participate in almost every facet of the campaign including transportation of supplies, medical support and intelligence gathering. In a phone interview Monday, Vogel said the only activity the Japanese could not participate in was battle. 

“The anti-war voice has gotten weaker in Japan,” Vogel said. “While their contribution to the Afghanistan campaign was not overwhelming, it represents a major upgrading in the scope of Japanese military activity.” 

In addition to participating in the military action, Koizumi, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, led a successful campaign to change national laws that had previously limited the geographical scope in which the Japanese could participate in military activity. 

“We believe the Japanese Prime Minister used the occasion of the terrorist attacks to pass these laws,” Matsuya said. “The attacks were a big shock to the Japanese people and since the attacks, the mass media has given the prime minister a great deal of support.” 

Spring agreed and said President Bush was able to manipulate some American laws because of a climate of fear and anger over the terrorist attacks, such as activation of military tribunals for suspected war criminals and the withholding of selected presidential documents. 

“The threat of war and war itself are very powerful for politicians because it allows them to play on people’s fear,” Spring said. “Unfortunately it’s very difficult to convince people that violence will only make the world a more unsafe place.”