Protest the environmental and cultural destruction on Jeju Island! Vigil at the South Korean Consulate in Honolulu

September 4, 2012 

Protest the environmental and cultural destruction on Jeju Island.  No Naval Base!

In solidarity with the Gangjeong villagers in the movement to protect their island from a South Korean/U.S. naval base, Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice is calling for a vigil at the South Korean Consulate of Honolulu

Thursday, September 6, 2012

5:30 – 6:30 pm

2756 PALI HWY, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817


World Conservation Congress convenes in Jeju amid protests, deportations, and repression, while the state of Hawaiʻi aims to host the event in 2016

September 4, 2012 

There has been a raging political struggle between the villagers of Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea and the Korean government over the construction of a naval base that is destroying pristine coast line, sacred sites and cultural treasures.  The conflict has intensified with the World Conservation Congress taking place this week in Jeju which will draw tens of thousands of environmentalists, scientists, and government officials from around the world, including a 39-person, $200,000 delegation sponsored by the State of Hawaiʻi.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported last week that “State aims to bring global event here” (August 31, 2012):

A Hawaii committee seeking to host a large international nature conservation gathering in 2016 will spend about $220,000 of private and public funds to market the state at this year’s event in South Korea.

The delegation, which includes Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz and 39 other leaders in education, government, meetings, tourism, culture and conservation, is traveling to South Korea next week to participate in the Sept. 6-15 event in what is shaping up to be the state’s most significant post-Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation campaign.

But you wouldn’t know from reading the Star Advertiser article that there was a major environmental controversy a few minutes away from the Congress.   Apparently, the state sponsored delegates have been instructed to not express their support of the Jeju struggle. Could it be that they fear the South Korean government will not allow entry for anyone sympathetic to the Jeju islanders?  It is certainly a possiblity.   Imok Cha, a California physician and leader in an international Jeju solidarity network, was forcibly deported after arriving in Incheon. To date, 16 international supporters of the Jeju people have been denied entry to Korea.

But another reason for the silence from the Hawaiʻi delegation may be that the State of Hawaiʻi wants to downplay the contradictory role of the U.S. military as one of the worst polluters in Hawaiʻi.  This attention would be especially embarrassing for the state since the South Korean government has been touting Hawaiʻi’s “harmonious” relationship between militarization and conservation as a model for the Jeju base construction.  Hereʻs my response to the comparison of militarization of Jeju and Hawaiʻi.

Meanwhile, Jeju islanders and their international allies have rallied tremendous support and visibility to call on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to declare its support for the Gangjeong villagers and to include their voices in the conference. A beautiful and informative new website has come online:   However, the IUCN blocked the Jeju villagers from having an informational table at the event.  (See the international statement to the IUCN below)  The most recent Jeju solidarity newsletter can be found here.

And Robert Redford had this to say to the attendees of the WCC:

From:    Robert Redford
To:     All of your people
Subject:    Tell Environmentalists: No Base on Paradise Jeju Island

Dear friends of Jeju Island,

From September 6-15, some 10,000 environmentalists will converge on Jeju Island to attend the World Conservation Congress (WCC) organized by the oldest environmental organization, the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The IUCN’s slogan is that it promotes “a just world that values and conserves nature.” If recent actions are any indication, nothing could be further from the truth.

The WCC will take place only a few minutes away from Gangjeong where the construction of a naval base is threatening one of the planet’s most spectacular soft coral forests and other coastal treasures, assaulting numerous endangered species and destroying a 400-year old sustainable community of local farmers and fishers.

Unfortunately, the IUCN leadership has ignored or whitewashed the naval base.

Instead of condemning the South Korean government’s actions, IUCN Director-General Julia Marton-Lafevre praised its seriously flawed “Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA) for the base project, which ignored critically endangered species, missed crucial impacts upon 40 species of soft coral, including nine that are seriously endangered, and five that are already protected by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). This naval base is being built just 0.13 miles from a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tiger Island.

Take action now and sign this petition to the IUCN Director-General, Julia Marton-Lefevre urging the IUCN to condemn the base construction.

While Gangjeong villagers trying to protect their treasured natural resources are subjected to daily police beatings and arrests, the IUCN has still failed to acknowledge the environmental or human-rights violations. One can’t help but wonder if this is because the WCC convention is partly financed by the very corporations building the military base, notably Samsung. Learn more about how you can help support an independent EIA and the villagers’ struggle at

Instead of inviting dialogue, the IUCN conference organizers have suppressed it. In an official letter from IUCN leadership – with no explanation — it blocked the villagers from even having a small information booth at the conference.

You can help give voice to the Gangjeong villagers who have been beaten and silenced by their own government, and now kept out by the world’s largest environmental organization. Add your name to this letter to IUCN Director-General, Julia Marton-Lefevre, to be hand delivered by Gangjeong village Mayor Kang Dong-kyun at the IUCN Congress.

For peace and protection of our planet,

Robert Redford

Actor, Director and Environmental Activist

P.S. Gangjeong village Mayor Kang Dong-kyun needs thousands with him when he delivers the petition to the IUCN Director General. Take one minute now and stand with him and the villagers fighting for the endangered species, coral reefs and their 400-year ecologically sustainable village!

Here is the open letter to the IUCN from the Emergency Action Committee to Save Jeju Island:



TO: IUCN Leadership, Participants, and Global Environmental Organizations.

FROM:Emergency Action Committee to Save Jeju Island




IUCN leadership still refuses to criticize Korea’s destructive naval base, though construction work is killing rare soft corals, numerous endangered species (including from IUCN’s Red List), and destroying indigenous communities and livelihoods. This stance from IUCN defies its traditional mission, conserving nature and a “just world.”



Police crack down on Gangjeong villagers protesting navy base construction a few minutes from the IUCN convention site.

ABOUT A MONTH AGO, this committee was joined by dozens of co-signers from around the world, in circulating open letters to the leadership of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its associated members. The statements were remarking on recent actions of IUCN that directly conflict with its important historical mandates.

While continuing to proclaim its devotion to protecting Nature, including the planet’s endangered places and species, IUCN leadership has ignored or whitewashed projects that are assaulting these wonders, and undermining human rights and sustainable livelihoods. For example, the organization inexplicably planned its giant September convention only a few minutes’ bus ride from one of the world’s great current outrages—the construction of a large new naval base near the village of Gangjeong, on Jeju Island, the “jewel” of South Korea. The naval base project, meant to become home-port for Korean and U.S. missile-carrying warships 300 miles from China, is threatening one of the planet’s last great soft coral reefs, and other coastal treasures, killing numerous endangered species (including one on IUCN’s famous Red List), and destroying centuries-old sustainable communities of local farmers and fishers. The Gangjeong villagers have been protesting the base project for years, and are being met with daily police brutality. Such activities represent all that IUCN has traditionally opposed.

Then, a few days ago (August 22), an official letter arrived from IUCN leadership informing the indigenous villagers that their application to host a small Information Booth at the convention was denied, though dozens have been granted for corporations and other groups. No explanation was offered. (More details below.)

In our earlier communiques we referred to public statements from IUCN Director-General, Julia Marton-Lefevre, supporting the Korean government’s environmental policies, including its decisions vis-à-vis the military base and the infamous Four Rivers Project (also discussed below.)

Navy base construction is destroying habitats of numerous endangered species, including Kaloula borealis, the Boreal Digging Frog.

Her praise encompassed the government’s seriously flawed “Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA) for the base project. This, despite that the EIA ignored three of the most critically endangered species at Gangjeong, the Red-footed Crab, Sesarma intermedium; the Jeju Freshwater Shrimp Caridina denticulata keunbaei), endemic to Jeju Island, and the Boreal Digging Frog pictured here (an IUCN Red-List species.) It also ignored effects upon Korea’s only pod of Indo-Pacific Bottle-nosed Dolphins which swim regularly through the area. Neither did it explore crucial impacts upon 40 species of soft coral, including nine that are seriously endangered, and five that are already protected by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). This activity takes place only 250 meters from a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tiger Island.

A vast array of rare, highly threatened corals are being killed to make way for the navy base. Most were ignored by the government’s EIA.

(In an upcoming letter we will report on a far more authoritative environmental impact statement now being conducted, secretly, by a team of well-known, non-governmental volunteer scientists from several countries—some with prominent IUCN member organizations. They have already documented a spectacular enormous coral garden, 7.4 hectares large, within a mile of where the destruction is now advancing. The only other place in the world where there may exist a soft-coral forest of this magnitude is in the Red Sea. (The divers are operating secretly because the government deported several prior researchers.)

On a related matter, the Director General has praised the government’s “Four Rivers Restoration.” Alas, however, this is not “restoration.” As the Korean environmental community has made clear, it’s a re-routing of Korea’s four great wild, winding rivers into straight-line channels, partly encased in concrete, combined with extensive dam building, and dredging, to make them more business-friendly. The effects on riparian communities are devastating. In four years the population of Korea’s migratory birds, such as white-naped cranes, has been reduced by two-thirds and in many areas, the rivers have become algae-infested cesspools. At the recent Ramsar Convention in Bucharest (July, 2012), the World Wetlands Network announced a “Grey Globe Award” to the Four Rivers project, ranking it among the five worst wetlands projects in the world. The IUCN community should publicly denounce it, too.

Throughout the run-up to the Convention, neither Director-General Marton-Lefevre, nor President Ashok Khosla, has expressed any disapproval of the above ongoing assaults on Nature. Neither have they made mention of the police beatings and arrests of the indigenous protestors from Gangjeong village who are trying, every day, to protect Nature’s treasures from being destroyed—activities that the IUCN was actually created to protect.


The response to our earlier e-mailers was enormous, with at least 90% of respondents supporting our positions—including many from mid-level IUCN leadership. In a brief burst of democratic openness, the IUCN’s web-page reprinted our letters, while responding with generalities about its great concern for Nature, and democratic process, and it opened the page for public comments. But after the first 20 comments appeared, all of them critical of IUCN’s position, the responses were erased off the page. On the other hand, the Korean government’s manifesto on its dubious “green” development policies continues to be displayed. So much for democracy.

IUCN also announced that it will propose that attendees pass a proclamation (“Nature+”) concerning the glories of Nature, but which still does not mention what’s going on ten minutes away, and while also denying permission for the local community to formally state their views in the Congress meetings. Up to this moment, the leadership of IUCN continues to avoid any expression of concern or even awareness of the impacts on Nature and community, just down the street, though such concerns are central to the organization’s mandate.

Why is IUCN leadership remaining so silent? For the leadership, it may be more of a financial and political matter than one of conservation or social justice, which is what IUCN was supposed to be about. There is also an underlying reality: A large percentage of the cost of this WCC convention in Jeju is being covered by the very people building the military base. Those would be the Korean government, and several giant global corporations, notably Samsung.

Having accepted the funding, it is difficult to criticize the funders.

IUCN’s top leadership has apparently determined its best course now is to avert its gaze while the government kills the shrimps and the frogs, destroys the corals, and jails the protesting local farmers. Meanwhile, IUCN can freely proceed with its great meeting next door to save Nature.

But the organization has gone still further. IUCN has granted the Korean government (the “Korean Organizing Committee of the 2012 WCC,” the chair of which, is Lee Hongkoo, the former Prime Minister of Korea, a supporter of the base) approval-power over any South Korean organizations wanting to present alternative views. These include whether to grant permission to speak on the issues at the meeting, even when they are invited to do so by bona-fide IUCN member organizations, or merely to host an information table at the event. (See #2 below.) IUCN has also agreed to partner with its Korean financial sponsor in constructing and presenting the formal program of the Convention. So now, the government, eager to advertise its green initiatives, will be represented on every one of the five “prime-time” plenary panels of the convention, either by government or corporate officials. It is the only country in the world to be so privileged. None of those panels will focus on the Gangjeong military base construction, or the Four Rivers fiasco.

Finally, the questions become these: Whose IUCN is this? Does the complicity of IUCN leadership truly represent IUCN membership? Can anything useful still be achieved at the WCC in Jeju? On the latter point, we actually think YES, there still is. We call upon the IUCN participants to use the occasion to take stands on the following:


#1. Assembly Resolutions: Shut the Base; Make a New EIA; Stop the Four Rivers Project.

Since our prior letters, our committee has become aware of the great work of several independent groups of environmental attorneys, representing IUCN-member organizations. They are working toward a series of Draft Resolutions to be presented at the WCC Assemblies, including all members. Among them are these:

Shut the Base. The first Resolution will demand that Korea end its military base construction, and that all ravaged lands be restored to their former condition. The Resolution will speak in behalf of the endangered species, the rare soft corals, the sacred sites, and the local villagers who are putting their lives on the line to protect these treasures.

The once-celebrated southern Jeju coastline is now being covered in concrete, thanks to the Korean government, Samsung corporation, and the silence of IUCN.

It will also describe the many IUCN rules and prior decisions that have been violated. These include, for example, the important principles of the Earth Charter passed by the 2004 Congress, as well as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the World Heritage Convention, the UN Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, among many others.

New Environmental Impact Assessment. A second Resolution may demand preparation and acceptance of a new Environmental Impact Assessment of the naval base construction near Gangjeong—free of government control and censorship—that will include a truly accurate assessment of the dredging and other impacts on the soft coral reefs, and the killing of rare species that are all absent from the government’s document. (As indicated above, a new independent EIA is already being prepared by several outraged IUCN scientists.)

End The Four Rivers Project. A third Resolution will demand that Korea immediately discontinue its notorious Four Rivers Restoration project, and begin to actually restore the great rivers to their prior condition.

There is one potential complication. Unsurprisingly, the attorneys were told by some IUCN management not to bother with these motions. They will be “too late,” past deadline, they were told. And yet, the historical record of IUCN offers many examples of last minute submissions. They have always been permitted if they raise new, urgent, unforeseen issues, and if at least ten IUCN members co-sponsor the request. There are already more than ten willing IUCN co-sponsors. And they certainly qualify as urgent new matters for IUCN. If we don’t stop this destruction now, by the time IUCN meets again in four years, the corals, the Boreal Digging Frogs and other species, and many local people will be dead. We must not let that happen.

#2. Let the Gangjeong People Speak.

Information Booth Crisis. As briefly mentioned above, the Gangjeong villagers, working to save habitats, biodiversity, and the Red-List species from the military’s destruction, applied a few months ago through official IUCN channels for permission to set up one “information booth” among the dozens of others that have been okayed within the convention center throughout the meeting. That would seem a benign enough request, but a runaround ensued. Instead of routinely okaying the application, the IUCN passed it to the Korean government (the KOC, mentioned above) which is heavily invested in silencing any and all opposition to the base or the Four Rivers project. Korean newspapers have also been silenced on these matters. Repeated efforts over recent weeks to confirm permission for the information table were ignored. Finally, a few days ago, they received an official letter from the Director of IUCN’s Constituency Support Group, Enrique Lahmann. He said this: “Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate your request for an exhibition booth at the WCC.” That’s it. No reason was given. And no explanation of how this fullfills official IUCN proclamations of democracy and inclusiveness.

No Protest Allowed Within Two Kilometers. Meanwhile, the Korean government announced that it would not permit any demonstrations or even picketing within two kilometers of the Convention. So, no information table inside. No demonstrations outside. Where are we again? Isn’t South Korea supposed to be a democracy?

During the upcoming Assemblies, IUCN leaders must at last denounce the government for these appalling moves, and permit the villagers, who are actually doing IUCN’s work, to not only have their information table inside the convention, but if they so choose, to go ahead and demonstrate freely outside, just as if this were a democratic society.

Addressing the Full Assembly. All of the above is not enough. The Gangjeong community should be permitted —-no, invited by IUCN leadership—to address the opening and/or closing plenary of the IUCN convention, to provide the full story of this local disaster and what they are going through. If the government resists, the IUCN leadership should insist. We all need to hear from the indigenous local farmers and fisher-people, and the custodians of the sacred sites, about what they have seen and experienced. Everyone needs to hear this. After all, we are meeting on their indigenous soil, on their island, on the coast that has nurtured them for thousands of years. So, our own group inquired as to the possibility of the villagers speaking at the assembly, but we were told by IUCN officials, as above, that all South Korean presenters have to be approved by the government.

Here’s some good news. Several IUCN member groups have already (quietly) invited local leaders to participate in some of the groups’ own scheduled workshop panel time to tell the Gangjeong story. (In our next letter, we will brief you on who is speaking and at what time. By delaying this announcement, we hope to avoid government crackdowns against the groups.)

#3. Go Visit the Destruction Sites, and the Sacred Sites

Members of our committee, and our Korean colleagues, will be arranging tours of Gangjeong village, the sacred sites that are threatened, and the front-lines of the ongoing confrontation between the villagers and the police at the construction site. It is horrifying and inspiring. (If you want to join those outings, please respond to: It’s very easy to get there—ten minutes by local bus.

#4 Institutional Self-Examination.

Finally, we suggest that all IUCN members take this moment to assess what is happening in Jeju, and to initiate a process of institutional self-examination, questioning and re-organization. None of us can afford to lose the moral and ethical leadership of one of the world’s greatest organizations. We need to do whatever is necessary to assure that IUCN will revive its historical mandate to place Nature first, and to protect social justice.

Thank you for your attention.

Please let us know if you want to see the proposed resolutions; we will forward you the final texts when they are complete. We can also forward you the new independent Environmental Impact Assessment, when it is completed. And you can sign up for a visit and tour of Gangjeong Village and the military construction site. (OUR EMAIL ADDRESS IS BELOW.)



Christine Ahn, Global Fund for Women; Korea Policy Institute

Imok Cha, M.D.,

Jerry Mander, Foundation for Deep Ecology; International Forum on Globalization

Koohan Paik, Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice


Maude Barlow, Food and Water Watch, Council of Canadians (Canada)

John Cavanagh, Institute for Policy Studies (U.S.)

Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., Navdanya Research Organization for Science, Technology and Ecology (India)

Douglas Tompkins, Conservation Land Trust, Foundation for Deep Ecology (Chile)

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Tebtebba Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education (Philippines)

Anuradha Mittal, Oakland Institute (U.S.)

Meena Raman, Third World Network (Malaysia)

Walden Bello, Member, House of Representatives (Philippines)

Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, Environmental Protection Authority (Ethiopia)

Lagi Toribau, Greenpeace-East Asia

Mario Damato, Ph.D.,Greenpeace-East Asia

Debbie Barker, Center for Food Safety (U.S.)

Pierre Fidenci, Endangered Species International (U.S.)

John Knox, Earth Island Institute (U.S.)

David Phillips, Int’l Marine Mammal Project, Earth Island Institute (U.S.)

David Suzuki, The David Suzuki Foundation (Canada)

Robert Redford. Actor, founder of Sundance Institute (U.S.)

Mary Jo Rice, Int’l Marine Mammal Project, Earth Island Institute (U.S.)

Bill Twist, Pachamama Alliance (U.S.)

Jon Osorio, Ph.D.,Chair, Hawaiian Studies, Univ. of Hawaii (U.S.)

Sue Edwards, Institute for Sustainable Development (Ethiopia)

Galina Angarova, Pacific Environment (Russia)

Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (Int’l)

Andrew Kimbrell, Center for Food Safety (U.S.)

Jack Santa Barbara, Sustainable Scale Project (New Zealand)

Gloria Steinem, Author, Women’s Media Center (U.S.)

Medea Benjamin, Code Pink, Global Exchange (U.S.)

Randy Hayes, Foundation Earth (U.S.)

Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (U.S.)

Renie Wong, Hawaii Peace and Justice (Hawaii)

Kyle Kajihiro, Hawaii Peace and Justice and DMZ-Hawaii (Hawaii)

Terri Keko’olani, Hawai’i Peace and Justice and International Women’s Network Against Militarism (Hawaii)

Wayne Tanaka, Marine Law Fellow, Dept. of Land & Natural Resources (U.S.) (signing independently)

Tony Clarke, Polaris Institute (Canada)

Sara Larrain, Sustainable Chile Project (Chile)

John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus (U.S.)

Victor Menotti, International Forum on Globalization (U.S.)

Arnie Saiki, Moana Nui Action Alliance (U.S.)

Nikhil Aziz, Grassroots International (U.S.)

Lisa Linda Natividad, Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice (Guam)

Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network (U.S.)

Kavita Ramdas, Visiting Scholar, Stanford U., Global Fund for Women (India)

Raj Patel, Institute for Food and Development Policy/Food First (U.S.)

Alexis Dudden, Author, Professor of History, Connecticut University (U.S.)

Timothy Mason, Pastor, Calvary by the Sea, Honolulu (U.S.)

Katherine Muzik, Ph.D., Marine Biologist, Kulu Wai, Kauai (U.S.)

Claire Hope Cummings, Author, Environmental attorney (U.S.)

Ann Wright, U.S. Army Colonel, Ret., Former U.S. Diplomat (U.S.)

Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ph.D., Educator, Singer-Songwriter (U.S.)

Yong Soon Min, Professor, University of California, Irvine (U.S.)

Eugeni Capella Roca, Grup d’Estudi I Protecció d’Ecosostemes de Catalunya (Spain)

Jonathan P. Terdiman, M.D., University of California, San Francisco (U.S.)

Evelyn Arce, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (U.S.)

Brihananna Morgan, The Borneo Project (Borneo)

Frank Magnota, Ph.D., Physicist (U.S.)

Delia Menozzi, M.D., Physician (Italy)

Aaron Berez, M.D., Physician (U.S.)

Begoña Caparros, Foundation in Movement: Art for Social Change (Uganda)

Antonio Sanz, Photographer (Spain)

Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice (U.S.)

Gregory Elich, Author, “Strange Liberators” (U.S.)

Joseph Gerson, Ph.D., American Friends Service Committee (U.S.)

Piljoo Kim, Ph.D., Agglobe Services International (U.S.)

Peter Rasmussen, He-Shan World Fund (U.S.)

Wei Zhang, He-Shan World Fund (U.S.)

Harold Sunoo, Sunoo Korea Peace Foundation (U.S.)

Soo Sun Choe, National Campaign to End the Korean War (U.S.)

Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares, (UK)

Ramsay Liem, Visiting Scholar, Center for Human Rights, Boston College (U.S.)

Kerry Kriger, PhD, Save The Frogs (U.S.)

Marianne Eguey, Jade Associates, (France)

Claire Greensfelder, INOCHI-Plutonium Free Future (U.S.-Japan)

Laura Frost, Ph.D., The New School (U.S.)

Chris Bregler, Ph.D., New York University (U.S.)

David Vine, Assistant Professor, American University (U.S.)

Simone Chun, Assistant Prof., Gov’t Department, Suffolk U., Boston (U.S.)

Matt Rothschild, Editor, The Progressive magazine (U.S.)

Henry Em, Professor, East Asian Studies, NYU (U.S.)

Eric Holt-Gimenez, Institute for Food and Development Policy (U.S.)

Maivan Clech Lam, Professor Emerita of Int’l Law, CUNY (U.S.)

Mari Matsuda, Professor of Law, Richardson Law School, Univ. of Hawaii (U.S.)

Beth Burrows, The Edmonds Institute (U.S.)

Aileen Mioko Smith, Green Action (Japan)

Susan George, Ph.D., Transnational Institute (The Netherlands)

Marianne Manilov, The Engage Network (U.S.)

S. Faizi, Institute for Societal Advancement, Kerala (India)

Syed Ashraf ul Islam, Ministry of Food & Disaster Management (Bangladesh)

Manaparambi Koru Prasad, Kerala Local Self Government Department (India)

Hernán Torres, Director, Torres Asociados Ltda. (Chile)

Carlo Modonesi, Environmental Biologist, Parma University (Italy)

Andrej Kranjc, Secretary-General, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Slovenia)

Ning Labbish Chao, Bio-Amazonia Conservation International (U.S.)

Perumal Vivekanandan, SEVA (India)

David Newsome, Environmental Science and Ecotourism, Murdoch University, Perth (Australia)


Korean Federation for Environmental Movement and

Citizen Institute for Environmental Studies (South Korea)


Ann Wright: Green-Washing War, Sinking Ships, Drones from Submarines — Largest International War Games around Hawaii

July 26, 2012 

Ann Wright wrote an excellent article in Op Ed News on the RIMPAC exercises in Hawaiʻi, the Pacific “pivot” and protests from Okinawa to Pohakuloa:

Green-Washing War, Sinking Ships, Drones from Submarines — Largest International War Games around Hawaii


Reflecting the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia and the Pacific, the United States military is now hosting in the Pacific waters around Hawaii, the largest and most expensive international maritime war games in the history of the world.

Called Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, war games, for 36 days during July and August, 22 countries, 42 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are conducting amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, counter piracy, mine-clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage operations and disaster-relief operations in the Pacific.

Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States are participating in this year’s RIMPAC exercise.

RIMPAC began in 1971 and is held every two years. According to the US Navy the purpose of RIMPAC is to “provide a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.”

22 Countries in RIMPAC War Games — But Not China

This year, pointedly excluded from the Pacific war games, is China, the largest country in Asia and the Pacific. China was invited in 2006 to observe part of the Valiant Shield war games off Guam and in 1998, a small Chinese contingent observed the RIMPAC military exercises. However, since 2000, direct military to military contact by the U.S. with China has been prohibited under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000.

The Chinese Communist Party newspaper, the Global Times, wrote, “Watching from afar, China is feeling uncomfortable. But it should be forgotten soon. The exercise is nothing but a big party held in the U.S. which is in a melancholy state of mind due to difficult realities.”

However, China was concerned in early July, when the U.S., South Korea and Japan conducted three-day joint exercises in the area of Jeju island, south of the Korean peninsula, where the Korean government is constructing a controversial naval base to homeport Aegis missile destroyers, a part of the US Missile Defense System. According to Hawaii’s Star Advertiser, a Chinese navy representative said those exercises were aiming to “threaten North Korea and keep China in check.”

Russia included for first time; but Kiwi vessels not allowed into Pearl Harbor

America’s cold war rival and major Asia and Pacific player, Russia, is participating in RIMPAC for the first time. Three Russian naval vessels, a destroyer, tanker and salvage tug, initially were allowed to dock inside the huge U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

However, the U.S. ally, New Zealand, had to dock its two naval vessels outside U.S. naval facilities. For 30 years, New Zealand has had a “no nukes” policy and has refused to allow U.S. naval ships into Kiwi waters as the United States will neither confirm or deny whether its military ships carry nuclear weapons. In a tit-for-tat move, the U.S. refused to allow New Zealand military ships into Pearl Harbor.  New Zealand sailors are not upset by the U.S. decision to exclude them as the two Kiwi naval ships are docked at Aloha Towers in the commercial harbor of Honolulu in midst of a busy tourist area.

Green-Washing War Games Extremely Expensive

In an attempt to green wash the largest naval war games in the world, the United States is using 900,000 gallons of 50/50 biofuel and petroleum-based marine diesel or aviation fuel blend and calling the armada the “Great Green Fleet.” The nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz carried some of the biofuel to refuel aircraft and Destroyers Chafeee and Chung-Hoon, Cruiser Princeton and Oiler Henry J. Kaiser used bio fuel. E-2C Hawkeye early-warning radar aircraft and helicopters gassed up with biofuel.

In support of the 2012 RIMPAC “green” war games, in December, 2011, the Pentagon purchased 450,000 gallons of biofuel for $12 million, the largest US government purchase of biofuel in history and the most expensive. While the Navy generally pays $4 per gallon for petroleum bases fuel, biofuel ended up costing $26 per gallon but dropped to a mere $15 per gallon when blended with petroleum. The difference in price between petroleum bases fuel and biofuel had some Congressmen challenging the rationale of “greening” of war games during times of economic stress. U.S. Representative Randy Forbes told Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus that “I love green energy, but it is a question of priorities.” Most of the biofuel came from restaurant cooking oil, through a contract with Tyson Foods, Solazyme and Dynamic Fuels.

SINKEX — Environmental groups protest sinking of three ships in target practice   

As a part of the mammoth war game, despite outcries from the environmental community, including the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity and Basel Action Network, the US Navy resumed using old war ships for torpedo and bomb target practice and sinking them. On July 22, the last of three ships to be sunk as a part of the RIMPCAC exercises was sent to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The USS Kilauea, a decommissioned ammunition ship, was sunk by a torpedo from an Australian submarine, in 15,500 feet of water, 63 miles off the coast of Kauai. The USS Niagara Falls and the USS Concord were sunk off the northwest coast of Kauai earlier in the war games.

The EPA gave the US military an exemption from Federal pollution laws that prohibit dumping in the ocean, under the proviso that the military “will better document” toxic waste left on the ships. According to EPA guidelines, the ships had to be sunk in at least 6,000 feet of water and at least 50 miles offshore.

US Navy sinks twice as many ships as recycles them

The U.S. has six approved domestic ship-breaking facilities, but since 2000, the Navy has gotten rid of 109 US military ships by sinking them off the coasts of California, Hawaii and Florida. During that period only 64 ships were recycled in domestic facilities. The Navy claims that only 500 pounds of PCBs were on the ships that were sunk.

Submarine Launched Drone

During the war games, the U.S. Navy will test a submarine-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) and blue-laser underwater communications technology. The Navy will attempt to launch a drone called the “Switchblade,” which has previously been used by US Army and US Marine ground troops in Afghanistan. The Navy’s version of the “Switchblade” drone is enclosed in a special launch canister and fired from one of the submarine’s trash chutes at periscope depth. The canister floats to the surface, opens up, the electric-motor unfolds the folded-wings and the drone launches itself.

“Tiger Balm” Army War Games on Land in Hawaii

Not to be left out as the huge naval war games take place off Hawaii, the U.S. Army is training Singaporean soldiers on Oahu in a military exercise called “Tiger Balm.” Using the U.S. Marine’s $42 million Infantry Immersion Training facility on Oahu built to simulate a southern Afghanistan village, the joint US-Singaporean task force practices clearing the village of enemy fighters.

The U.S. Army Pacific command plans on 150 multi-lateral military engagements with Pacific and Asian countries in 2012.

U.S. Marines in Hot Water in Hawaii and Japan over Osprey Helicopter

While a battalion of U.S. Marines from Hawaii were sent recently to Okinawa and a smaller detachment sent to Australia, those remaining in Hawaii are in hot water. Increasing administration emphasis on Asia and the Pacific has emboldened the Marines to attempt to increase the number of MV-22-tilt-rotor Osprey, Cobra and Huey attack-utility helicopter training helicopter flights in the Hawaiian Islands

Last week, Hawaiian activists on Molokai forced the Marines to back down from increasing from 112 to 1,383 the number of helicopter flights into the tiny airport that serves the National Park at Kalaupapa and the home of the surviving patients of Hansen’s disease.

The activists also build a “kuahu,” or stone alter on July 15 on the site of the proposed Marine helicopter fuel depot at Hoolehua, next to the Molokai airport “topside,” on the mesa above Kalaupapa. “It’s a statement that we have cultural significance there, that they cannot disregard what the people have been telling them. We represent people who do not want any military presence on Molokai,” said Molokai resident Lori Buchanan.

On the island of Oahu, residents around the Marine base in Kaneohe on July 16 at a Windward Neighborhood meeting, opposed flights of the Osprey from the base citing safety and noise concerns.

Protests in Japan over the arrival of the Osprey

In Japan, on July 23, the first 12 Osprey’s arrived to protests. The Ospreys will be on the Japanese mainland at Iwakuni Air Base only briefly, but opposition there has been “unusually strong, with both the mayor and the governor saying they do not support even temporarily hosting the aircraft. Opposition to the large military presence on Okinawa is deep-rooted. Protesters on July 23 held a sit-in outside the base where the Ospreys are to be sent.”

The US Embassy in Toyko countered on July 23 by stating that the 12 Ospreys are critical to defending Japan,   “Deployment of these aircraft in Japan is a vital component in fulfilling the United States’ commitment to provide for the defense of Japan and to help maintain peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.”The next day, on July 24, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told the Japanese Parliament that no Osprey flights would take place until investigations into the Oprey’s April crash in Morocco and the June crash in Florida were completed and Japan was satisfied the aircraft are not a safety hazard.

The deployment of the Osprey to Okinawa is a political headache for Japan because of intense local opposition. Half of the 50,000 US troops in Japan are located in Okinawa. The deployment of the aircraft has become another rallying issue for base opponents.

Protests of RIMPAC on Oahu and the Big Island

On Oahu

On July 2, 2012, activists in Honolulu held their first protest of the RIMPAC exercises. In front of the two New Zealands ships easily accessible at Aloha Tower in Honolulu’s commercial harbor, one activist held a sign saying: “Mahalo (Thank you) New Zealand for anti-nukes; No Aloha for RIMPAC war games.”

RIMPAC protesters in front of two New Zealand ships at a commercial dock at Aloha Towers as US government would not allow Kiwi ships into Pearl Harbor Naval Base

More protests occurred at Pohakuloa military training base on the Big Island of Hawaii

On July 15, 2012, 30 protesters challenged the desecration of Hawaiian lands in a protest against RIMPAC war games. As they gathered opposite the main gate of Pohakuloa Military base, a red flag flew over the base indicating that live fire and bombing was taking place. Concerned citizens from Hilo, Kona, Waimea and   Na’alehu, included old time Kaho’olawe Island “Stop the Bombing” activists (Kaho’olawe Island was used for bombing practice for over 50 years and only stopped in 1990 after a decade of protests by the Hawaiian community Members of the Ka Pele family who several years ago led a peace gathering to pray and build an ahu (stone altar) at Pu’u Ka Pele on Pohakuloa in opposition to the bombing found that access to the ahu and pu’u has been blocked by concrete barricades and chain linked barbed wire fence.


Korean groups statement about Jeju to IUCN and World Conservation Congress

July 12, 2012

July 10, 2012

Statement to the IUCN and the World Conservation Congress

We, civic environmental groups in South Korea, denounce the IUCN and the World Conservation Congress that have overlooked and misrepresented environmental and social conflicts in South Korea 

1. In September 2012, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will organize the World Conservation Congress (WCC) at ICC JEJU in Jeju Island, which is expected to be attended by more than 10,000 people from over 1,100 organizations in 180 countries.

We, civic environmental groups in South Korea, have a high regard for the international cooperation projects executed by the IUCN, which endeavor to help develop and implement policies that contribute to protecting the environment. We also recognize that IUCN is globally influential; the organization carries significant weight over the registration of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, sets criteria regarding internationally endangered species and develops conservation plans.

We also respect the milestones achieved by the IUCN, including the Ramsar Convention in 1971; the World Conservation Strategy in 1978, which proposed the concept of “sustainable development”; the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1992, and the Resolution on Biodiversity, passed at the 1996 World Conservation Congress in Montreal. In addition, we recognize that it was the IUCN which enabled numerous technological advancements which are currently in use in the field to protect biological ecosystems, such as the Technical Guidelines on the Management of Ex-situ populations for Conservation.

2. Meanwhile, the Lee Myung-Bak administration has destroyed four major rivers, continues to blindly pursue nuclear power, and continues to forcefully construct a naval base at Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, despite fierce opposition, both locally and nationally.

Against this backdrop, civic environmental groups and activists in South Korea continue to denounce the administration and are taking action against its destructive projects. We call for the South Korean government to halt its construction work at the four rivers and allow nature to reclaim it. We also oppose the Lee administration’s policy of promoting nuclear power under the guise of Green Growth and exporting it to the Third World. Furthermore, we are vehemently against the government’s execution of a plan to build a naval base on Jeju Island, which is destroying biodiversity and brutally violating human rights in the name of national security.

Given the above, civic environmental groups in South Korea state the following to the IUCN, the organizer of the World Conservation Congress (WCC) in 2012, and its Organizing Committee:

3. The World Conservation Congress will be held this year in South Korea, yet the Congress gravely neglects or misrepresents environmental and social conflicts in the host country. Because the Congress is financed by the Lee Myung-Bak administration and sponsored by industrial conglomerates, there is growing public concern that the WCC is promoting policies of the Lee administration without examining whether they are truly designed to preserve the environment.

This year – 2012 – is the fifth, and last, year of President Lee’s tenure, in which his administration is taking advantage of the WCC to justify his poor environmental, peace, and labor policies. The South Korean government is using the convention to advocate for its questionable “Low Carbon Green Growth” campaign, its appalling Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, as well as its policy of prioritizing nuclear power and favoring corporate construction conglomerates.

We are concerned that the IUCN Secretariat is not addressing any of the current environmental issues in South Korea among the themes for the upcoming WCC. Rather, Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre of IUCN faithfully endorses the Korean government and its dubious policies.

The Director General said “Korea’s green growth policies and Four Major Rivers Restoration Project are the results of the efforts to ensure nature conservation and sustainable development” during a meeting with President Lee on June 4. In an interview with a Korean reporter, she described the rivers project as “reasonable.”

4. We civic environmental groups of South Korea raise this question: Are members of the IUCN and its Director General aware of the grave implications of the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project?

Under the Lee administration, South Korean society has endured tremendous social tensions and environmental conflicts. The government has prioritized development at the expense of wreaking havoc on the environment and the health of its citizens.

For example, in 2008, the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands was held in Korea. At that meeting, President Lee publicly declared to withdraw a plan to build a “Grand Canal” in Korea, only to re-allocate its budget to execute the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, which has devastated the nation’s four crucial rivers. Sixteen dams were built at the rivers, destroying habitats for endangered species, critical biological diversity, and nearby wetlands. The rivers project violated several national laws, such as the National Budget Law, the River Law and the Environmental Impact Assessment Law. Construction contracts for the rivers project are reported to total around $900 million.

Before its Director General asserted that the Four Rivers project was “reasonable,” the IUCN should have conducted an on-the-ground assessment of the project, which would have shown how it is, in fact, undermining the organization’s hard work of preserving biological diversity. In December 2002, the Technical Guidelines on the Management of Ex-situ populations for Conservation were approved at the 14th Meeting of the Programme Committee of Council, in Gland, Switzerland. Nonetheless, the South Korean government’s Four Major Rivers Restoration Project has been committing gross violations of IUCN guidelines, by decimating the habitats of several endangered species, including the Danyang aster (Aster altaicus var. uchiyamae). Does the IUCN, the international environmental steward, recognize that the rivers project has utterly destroyed a haven for migratory birds’ – the Haepyeong wetland located at Gumi City, Kyeongsangbuk-do province in a flagrant breach of the Ramsar Convention? Is the IUCN aware that organic farmers in Paldang, Dumulmeori, continue to defend their farmlands against forced evictions by the Lee Administration?

5. We respectfully ask for the position of IUCN on these critical matters. Is the IUCN aware that 3,000 university professors and five leading religious groups in South Korea oppose this project? The environmental organizations in South Korea are united in opposition to this project, demanding punishment of those responsible, the removal of the dam, and the restoration of the rivers. We respectfully ask for your official position on this dire situation.

We, the civil environmental organizations of the South Korea, challenge the IUCN Director General’s position on the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project and therefore request the IUCN to clarify its position.

6. In addition, we express deep concern with the IUCN’s support of the construction of a naval base in Gangjeong village, Jeju Island. Last April, based on false information provided by the South Korean government, the IUCN issued an official position stating that “construction of the naval base in Gangjeong is valid according to legitimate processes.” It is questionable whether the IUCN put any effort into verifying the credibility of the data provided by the South Korean government.

The IUCN’s statement on the Gangjeong naval base contradicts its earlier resolutions regarding the negative impacts of military bases on the environment. At the General Assembly in 2008, the IUCN adopted “the Recommendation for protection of dugongs in Henoko, Okinawa, Japan” and at the General Assembly in Buenos Aires in 1994, passed a resolution addressing the relationship of “military base to conservation area.” The IUCN’s objective to protect global ecosystems cannot coexist with the goals of increasing militarization at the regional or global scale. We oppose the IUCN’s position regarding the naval base project in Gangjeong village, on Jeju Island.

7. The civil environmental organizations of South Korea, which seek peaceful coexistence on the Korean peninsula and with all our Northeast Asia neighbors, urge IUCN to express its clear position. Specifically regarding the naval base project in Gangjeong, we would like you to clarify whether the IUCN is aware of the serious violations of environmental laws, which have led to the destruction of species which are assigned as “endangered” by the Korean government. These endangered species include the red-footed crab (Sesarma intermedium) and Clithon retropietus V. Martens. We ask you to clarify how the IUCN arrived at its conclusion that the naval base construction “is valid according to legitimate processes.”

Just to clarify, the naval base is being built at a UNESCO Biosphere Conservation Area (designated in 2002), and was designated a Cultural Protection Zone by the South Korean government in 2000 and 2004. In 2002 the government’s Ministry of Land designated it a Marine Ecosystem Conservation Area; in 2006, the government of Jeju Island designated it a Marine Provincial Park; in 2006, the Ministry of Environment designated it an “Ecological Excellent Village”; in 2007, the Jeju Island government designated it an Absolute Retention Coastal Area; and in 2008, the Ministry of Environment designated it a Natural Park. We ask you to please clarify how the IUCN would consider a project as “legitimate,” when the government mobilizes both public and private police forces against residents who have committed no crime other than to object to the project’s desecration of this precious conservation area.

Gangjeong village in Jeju is an area that must be conserved in accordance with the values of the IUCN. That would mean that the military base construction must be blocked. The IUCN must actively seek to halt the naval base construction at Gangjeong and to restore and preserve the area’s natural ecosystems through a resolution at the WCC General Assembly.

8. We, in the spirit of peace on our Korean peninsula, are besieged by the South Korean government’s arbitrary administration of law in regard to the environment, and its dictatorial push for national projects for whom only the nation’s largest corporations benefit. Since President Lee took office, his administration has expressly weakened laws which had protected South Korea’s environment.

South Korea environmentalists are gravely concerned that the government will take advantage of the WCC General Assembly proceeding this September in Jeju to advance its illegitimate national projects. We therefore demand a clear explanation of the IUCN’s position regarding the Four Rivers Restoration Project and the Gangjeong Naval Base project. We formally request the IUCN and the 2012 WCC Organizing Committee’s clear position and response, which will be a central factor to the position taken by the Korean civil environmental organizations at the WCC General Assembly.

9. In keeping with the IUCN’s prodigious achievements toward preserving the biodiversity of the planet, we expect the IUCN and the WCC Organizing Committee to show significant efforts to resolve environmental disputes and related social conflicts in the Republic of Korea, the host nation of the WCC.

As funicular cable cars on the sacred mountains of Jiri-san and Seorak-san threaten Asiatic Black Bears; as sustainable farmers from Gangwon province struggle with the seizure of their land to build a golf course; as tidal power plants at Incheon Bay and Garolim Bay threaten the livelihoods of local fishermen; as residents battle nuclear power plants in Gori, Youngduk and Samcheok; as the farmers and fisherpeople of Jeju Island cope with the destruction of their reef and farmland in order to build a navy base; as country folk struggle to exist after their villages were subsumed by water to construct dams on Mt. Jiri and Youngju; as laborers strike against brutal working conditions at SSangyoung Motors– As these manifold violations take place, we shall, with our partners in the international community, take actions to expose the daily brutality levied upon the environment and the people of South Korea, and to correct the wrong doings of the Lee Myung-Bak regime.

We wish for a peaceful resolution to these many environmental and social conflicts, and request that the IUCN and the WCC Organizing Committee clarify their position on these issues as soon as possible.

Support Committee

National Network of Korean Civil Society for Restoration of Four Major Rivers, Provincial Civil Committee against Golf Courses in Gangwon Province, Gangjeong Village Association, Jeju Islanders in the Mainland Caring for Gangjeong, National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to cable car in National Park, Military Bases Peace Network(Gunsan US Military Airbase Retake Civil Movement, Counseling Office of U.S. Base Victims in Gunsan, The National Campaign for Eradication of Crime by U.S. Troops in Korea, Pyeongtaek Peace Center, Peace Nomad, Green Korea United), NANUM MUNHWA, Cultural Action, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Life Peace Fellowship, Seoul Human Rights Film Festival, Civil Society Organization Network in Korea, Center ‘Dle’ for Human Rights Education, Korea Human Rights Foundation, Jeju Council of Social Issue, Jeju Pan-Island Committee for Stop of Military Base and for Realization of Peace Island, National Network of Korean Civil Society for Opposing to the Naval Base in Jeju Island, Jirisan Action Network, Jirisan Netwoks, Institute for Sustainable Society, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Pastoral committee of Environment in Seoul Diocese, Catholic Human Rights Committee, Korea Culture Heritage Policy Research Institute, Korea Institute For Peace Future, Korea Wetland NGO Network, Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement, The National Network of Environmental Organisation of Korea(Green Korea Gongju, Green Korea Kwangju, Nation Park Conservation Network, KCEMS Korean Christian Environmental Movement Solidarity, Korean Network for Green Transport, Green Future, Green Korea United, Green Korea Daegu, Green Korea Daejeon, Green Korea Busan, Citizens Alliance for Bundang Ecosystem, Buddhist Environmental Solidarity, Forest for Life, Korean Ecoclub, Eco-Horizon Institute, Suwon Eco Center, Energy Peace, Eco Buddha, Korean Women`s Environmental Network, Good Friends of Nature – Korea, Cheonji Boeun Environmental Group of Won Buddhism, Green Korea Wonju, Indramang Life Community, Green Korea Incheon, Back to Farm National Movement Headquarters, Jeju Solidarity for Participatory Self-government and Environmental Preservation, Nature Trail-For the Beauty of This Earth, The National Council of YMCA‘s of Korea, National Young Women’s Christian Association of Korea, Korea Resource Recycling Federation, Environment and Pollution Research Group, Korean Teacher’s Organization For Ecological Education And Action, Pastoral committee of Environment in Seoul Diocese, Korea Federation for Environmental Movement, Citizens’ Movement for Environmental Justice)


The translated version is based on the Korean civic groups’ statement on June 12, 2012.  The statement was sent to the IUCN leadership members on July 10, 2012. You can see the Korean version here:

Feffer: Small Step Forward in Resolving Okinawa Base Impasse

May 9, 2012 

John Feffer, the editor of Foreign Policy In Focus and a leader with the Network for Okinawa has written an excellent article “Small Step Forward in Resolving Okinawa Base Impasse” (May 3, 2012) that analyzes the implications of the U.S.-Japan deal to move 9000 Marines from Okinawa and distribute them to different locations in the Pacific:

It’s a deal that’s been more than 15 years in the making and the unmaking. The United States and Japan have been struggling since the 1990s to transform the U.S. military presence on the island of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan.

In preparation for this week’s visit of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to Washington, the two sides rolled out the latest attempt to resolve what has grown into a major sticking point in alliance relations.

According to the most recent deal, 9,000 U.S. Marines will leave Okinawa, thus fulfilling a longstanding U.S. promise to reduce the overall military footprint on the island. Half of that number will go to expanded facilities on Guam while the remainder will rotate through other bases in the region, including Australia, the Philippines, and Hawaii.

Japan will cover a little more than three billion dollars out of the estimated 8.6-billion-dollar cost of the Guam transfer.

“These adjustments are necessary to realize a U.S. force posture in the Asia-Pacific region that is more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable,” according to a joint statement issued by Washington and Tokyo.


Key critics of the process of Pacific realignment – including John McCain, Carl Levin and Jim Webb – remain sceptical of the latest agreement since the review has not yet been completed.

Also skeptical are anti-base activists in the places where the Marine presence will increase.

“Hawaii does not need more military,” says Koohan Paik, a media professor at Kauai Community College.

“There are already 161 military installations in Hawaii, which have resulted in hundreds of sites contaminated with PCBs, trichloroethylene, jet fuel and diesel, mercury, lead, radioactive Cobalt 60, unexploded ordnance, perchlorate, and depleted uranium. And they call this security? The only ‘security’ this brings is economic security to military contractors.”


The latest U.S.-Japan deal comes at a time of considerable uncertainty regarding military spending. The Pentagon is under pressure to reduce costs in order to meet new spending limits dictated by concerns over rising national debt.

However, the Barack Obama administration’s “Pacific pivot”, announced last year, is difficult to achieve on the cheap. U.S. allies are concerned that they will have to shoulder an increasing amount of the costs of this realignment. Included in this bill will be the cost of upgrading the Futenma facility while Tokyo and Washington debate the base’s future.

Struggle to Protect Jeju Island from Monstrous Naval Base Intensifies

May 9, 2012 

There has been an intense amount of activity in the struggle to protect Jeju island from destruction due to the building of a naval base in Gangjeong.   The Save Jeju Facebook page is a great source of news with many photos and as-it-happens reports of protests at the site of the naval base.

John Feffer wrote a travel article about visiting Jeju in the Washington Post “South Korea’s Jeju Island, paradise with a dark side”(April 20, 2012) which included a significant amount of information about the anti-base struggle there.

The Los Angeles Times published “In South Korea, a small island town takes on the navy” (May 6, 2012).

Ann Wright also wrote a piece for Op Ed News “64 years later, in Second Massacre on Jeju Island, South Korea: US Missile Defense System Destroys a World Heritage Site” (April 4, 2012).

And an international solidarity team produced an English language newsletter that reports on the deportation of several international supporters from Korea and the denial of entry to a delegation from Veterans for Peace.

One of the issues has been South Korean politicians using Hawai’i as an example of the successful marriage between tourism and the military.  A leading conservative politician has repeatedly made the comparision.  Jeju activists asked us to address her claims. Here’s an email sent by Korean activist Sung Hee Choi on May 1, 2012, which contains my letter to the editor rebutting the claims:

“I would invite Ms. Park to take a swim in Hawai’i’s most famous military-tourist attraction: Pearl Harbor (the true name given by Native Hawaiians is Ke Awalau o Pu’uloa). However, the water is too toxic. And before she could get very far, she would be arrested by the Navy for trespassing in military waters. There is no tourist activity within Pearl Harbor except for those museum sites controlled by the government.” (Kyle Kajihiro)

On May 1, Labor Day, Park Geun-Hye, daughter of deceased ex-President Park Chung-Hee who ruled South Korea for decades with military dictatorship made absurd remarks that, “In case of Hawai’i, tourism income is 24% while military-related income is 20% in its whole finance,” and “If we construct the Jeju naval base as civilian-military dual use port and make it well so that 150,000 ton cruise can enter and exit, it would not likely to be less than Hawai’i” (Headline Jeju, May 1).  On March 30 before General election, Park, supporting the candidates of the Saenuri Party (the ruling conservative Party)-though none were elected in the Jeju Island furious on naval base, has said, “We should make Jeju like Hawai’I famous for global tourism site and naval base.” It was a happening that reminded absurd remark by Kim Tae-Yong, ex-Minister of National Defense on March 20, 2010.  Amidst raining all day, Gangjeong villagers and activists protested against her spreading absurd remarks of so called civilian-military dual use port, from morning to afternoon.  Kyle Kajihiro has sent a below writing refuting her remarks on April 25. Kyle Kajihiro is the program director for the American Friends Service Committee in Hawaii. He works on demilitarization, environmental justice, and Kanaka Maoli human rights issues. He has been involved in immigrant worker organizing, community mural projects, antiracist/antifascist activism, the Central America Solidarity movement, Hawaiian sovereignty solidarity efforts, and community radio and television. He has visited the Jeju and has many times expressed his solidarity on Jeju. Please refer to DMZ Hawai’i / Aloha ‘Aina (

Protest letter to Park Geun-Hye

The Military Impacts in Hawai’i should be a Warning to Koreans about the threat to Jeju island.

By Kyle Kajihiro

April 25, 2012

Ms. Park Keun-Hye is gravely mistaken to claim that military bases have been good for Hawai’i and therefore would be good for Jeju. The U.S. invaded and occupied the sovereign country of Hawai’i in order to build a military outpost. This included the taking of more than 200,000 acres of land for military bases, training and other activities. The result has been the destruction of the environment with more than 900 military contamination sites identified by the Department of Defense. The military’s toxic cocktail includes PCB, perchloroethylene, jet fuel and diesel, mercury, lead, radioactive Cobalt 60, unexploded ordance, perchlorate, and depleted uranium.

When the U.S. took over, especially during WWII, the military seized thousands of acres of Hawaiian land. Whole communities were evicted, their homes, churches and buildings razed or bombed for target practice, their sacred sites destroyed by bombs or imprisoned behind barbed wire.

Recently, hundreds of landless Native Hawaiian families were evicted from a secluded area of O’ahu where they had been living in cars and makeshift tents. They are the internally displaced native people, evidence of the so-called ‘benefits’ of militarization. Meanwhile the military occupies more than 13,000 acres of Hawaiian land, comprising a third of the land in that part of the island.

The enormous military presence did not bring security. On the contrary, it made Hawai’i the prime target during WWII and the Cold War. Militarization imported the most virulent forms of racism and martial law to the islands and provided the U.S. a launching pad from which to expand its empire. The military interests of the U.S. continue to override the needs and security of local communities as it distorts our development in ways that serve empire.

I would invite Ms. Park to take a swim in Hawai’i’s most famous military-tourist attraction: Pearl Harbor (the true name given by Native Hawaiians is Ke Awalau o Pu’uloa). However, the water is too toxic. And before she could get very far, she would be arrested by the Navy for trespassing in military waters. There is no tourist activity within Pearl Harbor except for those museum sites controlled by the government.

Ke Awalau o Pu’uloa is a perfect example of the dangers of militarization. The U.S. invaded and occupied the Kingdom of Hawai’i in order to take Ke Awalau o Pu’uloa as a strategic port. What was once one of the most productive fisheries for Native Hawaiian people with extensive wetland agriculture and aquaculture complexes that fed many thousands on O’ahu island has become a giant toxic Superfund site. Today there are approximately 749 contaminated sites that the Navy has identified within the Pearl Harbor Naval Complex. The seafood from Ke Awalau o Pu’uloa is no longer safe to eat. The famous pearl oysters are no more.

It is partially true that the military has become a major economic source in Hawai’i, but at a very high price. The military economy is artificial. It is largely a result of the corrupt processes of the military-industrial-political complex that injects money for pet projects in the islands like a drug. Politicians, businesses, and even unions become addicted to the quick high of these federal infusions and then become desperate to chase the next fix, even at the expense of the environment, Hawaiian rights and sovereignty and peace in the Asia-Pacific region. Meanwhile the real source of Hawai’i’s economy – the beauty and health of our natural environment and our cultural richness – deteriorates at an alarming rate.

The questions that we must always ask about the alleged economic benefits of the military in Hawai’i are: “Who gets paid? Who pays the price? What are the real social, cultural and environmental costs of such a dependent economy?” The native people of the land are the ones whose lands are always stolen and destroyed by the military. They and other poor groups live in the toxic shadow of the bases. Other productive capacities wither away as Hawai’i has grown completely dependent on imports (90% of food is imported) and federal spending. Meanwhile those who benefit most from the military economy are the contractors (many who flock to Hawai’i when new military funds are approved) who feed on the destruction wrought by all this so-called ‘prosperity’.

Jeju island is a unique cultural and natural treasure that must be protected from military expansion. The beautiful islands of the Pacific are being targeted because the governments think we are small and insignificant. But islands do not have to be isolated. As the peoples of the Pacific have known for centuries, Ka Moananuiakea (the great ocean) unites us, brings us life, culture, food and solidarity. We must join our efforts and broaden our solidarity beyond our local shores, we can weave a net that is big and strong enough to restrain those monstrous fish that threaten to devour us all.

박근혜 “해군기지로 제주발전 재도약 뒷받침할 것”
해군기지 업무보고…”70년대 감귤이면, 지금은 해군기지가 성장동력”
제주도 “15만톤급 크루즈 안전성 꼭 필요”…박 “좋은 결론 나왔으면”
2012.05.01 14:43:44
[사진]짧은 거리 경호원이 우산 펴자, 박근혜 위원장 손 저으며…
2012.05.01 13:24:46
박근혜 위원장, “제주해군기지 업무보고 받겠다”
오후 1시 제주도청서 민군복합형 관광미항 업무보고 받기로
제주항 터미널 현장투어…노인복지시설 현장 방문 후 이도
2012.05.01 09:44:34
박근혜 “제주, 해군기지로 ‘동양의 하와이’ 만들어야”
“민간인 사찰, 지위고하 막론하고 철저히 수사해야”

Several days later, Sung Hee posted news reports that the proposed mixed civilian-military use of the Jeju port was just a ruse; the Korean Navy had plans all along for the port to be an exclusive military port:
[May 3~7] It is a military-exclusive not civilian-military port. As the fakeness of dual use port was confirmed, People will have an emergency protest on May 7.

People will have emergency protest in front of the Island government hall in the morning of May 7, to demand Island governor Woo Keun-Min’s special decision to stop construction (destruction) and to revoke the project on the Jeju naval base which is so-called, “Beautiful Tourism Port for Mixed Civilian-Military Use.’

It is because it was confirmed that the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has secretly promoted military-exclusive port by making a prior legislation notice on the revision of bill on the enforcement of ordinance on harbor and bay law on April 26, even without informing to public. The notice was informed only by a Headline Jeju article on May 5 and 6, 2012.

According to a Headline Jeju on May 6, the item 2 of article 8, enforcement of ordinance, that is newly established reads:

‘Regarding the entry permission in the Beautiful Tourism Port for Mixed Civilian-Military Use among the zones applicable to each item […] of article 9 or military base and facilities […], the JURISDICTION UNIT COMMANDER should acquire the license on the ‘cruise passenger transportation business,’ or complex maritime passenger traffic business according to the maritime traffic law and guarantee maximum of port entry by the ships designated by him, among the approved and registered ships for the purpose of cruise business, following the ‘tourism promotion law.’

The most furious thing is that it is to take double-designation of water area of so called dual use port as both trade port and military protection zone-which means the cruise entry and exit of port would be under military control in reality.

Second, as seen in item 2 of article 8, the MND has no will to hand over the right to official regulations, [regarding cruise] to the MLTM (Jeju Island)

Third, there is no mention on commercial ships but only cruise, bringing confirmation that it would be a trade port only by name.

It is the violation of MOU (* which is dual itself) between the 3 parties of MND. MLTM, and Jeju Island on April 27, 2009, of which primary purpose was for the entry and exit of two 150,000 ton cruises. It is also violation of the recommendation item of sub-committee of Budget and Balance committee of National Assembly last October, which was of independent rights to official regulation for cruise by the MLTM (Jeju island) and for military vessels for NMD respectively.

(# MLTM: Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs)

The headline Jeju May 5 article reported navy’s press release which has not been informed to the public yet. The MND (navy) whole statement titled, “Position related to the establishment on the military facility protection zone on the water area of the Jeju civilian-military complex port,” is like the below:

– Even though some media on the date of May 4, Fri. (* reported in Jeju media on May 3), 2012, has reported that, if water area is designated as a trade port, breakwater, inner port area, and navigation route related to cruise entry and exit of port would be excluded from the military facility protection zone, it is different from the facts.”

– To guarantee cruise’s entry and exit of Jeju civilian-military complex port, the MND has made a prior legislation notice on the revision of bill on the enforcement of ordinance on military base and facility protection law on April 26 and the Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) has made a prior legislation notice on the revision of bill on the enforcement of ordinance on harbor and bay law as of May 4, in which the content is to designate the cruise related area as a trade port system.

– “If related procedure (procedure on the revision of enforcement of ordinance) is finished, the water area of Jeju civilian-military complex harbor would be DOUBLY designated as military protection zone and trade port kind so that the capacities as operation base that can accommodate maneuvering flotilla and as entry -exit port of cruise can be guaranteed.”

-The MND(navy) is in process of negotiation with related institutes to conclude a protocol on common use to effectively operate the Jeju Beautiful Tourism Port for Mixed Civilian-Military Use.”

The sub-committee of the National Assembly has recommended through synthetic opinion of its report last October, that “The MLTM revise the ‘enforcement of ordinance on harbor and bay,’ by this June and change the ‘harbor and bay basic plan,’ so that the cruse harbor and bay water area and its facilities can be designated as a ‘trade port.’

It also ordered that “The MND(navy) revise the enforcement of ordinance on military base and facility protection law by this June and the MND, MTLM, and Jeju Special Self-Governing Island promote the conclusion of ‘common use on the civilian-military harbor and bay,’ by June so that they can wipe out concerns that the base would be operated centered on military vessels.

Following it, it recommended that “Regarding the right to official regulations on harbor and bay, they finish the consultation by June so that the MLTM (Jeju Island) has it on cruise while the MND(navy) on military vessels, while regarding maintenance and repairing costs, the three conclude a protocol by June.”
Image source:

Proposal on the establishment of maritime zone in the Gangjeong section of the Seogwipo port

Source: Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs and Headline Jeju


또 ‘뒤통수’?…국방부 입법예고, 왜 쉬쉬 했나
[데스크논단] 몰래 이뤄진 국방부 군사보호법 시행령 입법예고
‘군사보호구역’ 중복 지정, 무늬만 ‘무역항’?…관제권은 부대장이?
2012.05.07 00:12:19
제주해군기지 ‘무역항’, ‘군사보호구역’ 중복 지정
군사시설보호법 시행령 입법예고…”경계 긋지않고 중복지정”
“무역항 지정되더라도 군사보호구역 제외 안돼”…작전 중에는?
2012.05.05 17:22:26
“강정해군기지 무역항 지정 시행령 개정은 위법행위”
강정마을회, 국토부 시행령 개정입법예고에 반박
2012.05.04 09:45:42
정부, 제주해군기지 강정수역 ‘무역항’ 지정
국토부, 항만법 시행령 입법예고…”서귀포항 구역 확대 지정”
군사시설보호법 개정 등 ‘군항과 민항’ 항만공동사용 협정 추진
2012.05.03 11:25:27


Military rethinking location of Guam Marine base

May 8, 2012 

With the U.S. changing its distribution of troops moving from Okinawa, Hawai’i is expected to get up to 2700 Marines, while Guam will get less than originally projected.   USA Today Reported that “Military rethinking location of Guam Marine base” (May 2, 2012):

The federal government is rethinking where to put a Marine base on Guam now that fewer Marines will be moving to the U.S. territory from Okinawa, Japan.

With fewer troops and families to house, a local Marine base could be smaller than previously thought, Joe Ludovici, the executive director of the military’s Joint Guam Program Office, said Wednesday.

New environmental impact reviews will have to be done:

New draft and final environmental impact statements will be released in 2014. A decision on where to put the base and firing range would come the following year.

And the ancient Chamorro village site in Pagat may yet dodge the bullet(s):

The changes could also lead to a new proposed location for a firing range.

Under the new plan, 5,000 Marines and 1,300 dependents will move to Guam. The old plan included 8,600 Marines and as many as 12,000 dependents.

The military had been planning to build the Marine base on about 680 acres of civilian land in Dededo, in northern Guam.

The firing range was to go on the site of an ancient village, Pagat, also in northern Guam. The Navy began reevaluating this idea last year after a lawsuit alleged it had failed to adequately consider other locations that would affect the environment and historical sites less.

Hawaiʻi premier of “Jam Docu Gangjeong” documentary about Jeju island struggle

March 6, 2012 

Hawai’i Peace and Justice in collaboration with Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking and DMZ Hawai’i / Aloha ‘Aina invite you to come see Documentary Film Shorts “Jam Docu Gangjeong” premiering for the first time in Hawai‘i will be shown at The ARTS at Marks Garage on March 17, 2012 6:30-8 PM in a free screening Light refreshment will be offered.   (You can download the announcement and press release.)

“Jam Docu Gangjeong” poster 3-17-12

Gangjeong Mar.17,2012 press release

When the South Korean government decided to build a naval base on the site of Gangjeong Village, a notice was sent out in 2007 and a quick vote taken (measured by applause) with a turnout out of a few dozen residents, out of a population of over 1000 and the measure approved. When the villagers realized what they had agreed to, they booted the mayor out of office, elected a new mayor who opposed the base and have been struggling against proposed naval construction ever since.  In a subsequent vote the same year 724 villagers voted against construction of the naval base. Gangjeong Village has been declared a UNESCO World Biosphere reserve, and Jeju island a UNESCO World Natural Heritage. Yet this conflict rages on and its fate may be decided soon. A group of filmmakers created a cluster of shorts that tell the story of the conflict at Gangjeong Village from different perspectives, but also portray the natural unique beauty of the coast of the northernmost semi-tropical island in the world. Banned from theater showings for 40 days by the Korean Film Commission, Jam Docu Gangjeong just recently received approval (January 31st) for showing in South Korea.

An update: Many of you are aware of the crisis on Jeju island at the village of Gangjeong, which was selected as the site for the construction of a South Korean naval base for use by the South Korean and U.S. military.  Most likely within the next 24 hours it will be decided whether 400,000 tons of explosives will be dropped on the islet of Gureombi just off the coast by Gangjeong village.  Please support the villagers struggling to protect their island from destruction!  Here is an action alert that came out today.

Action Alert:

Dear friends,

Thank you for taking action yesterday. Emails made a huge difference.

Today, Governor Woo of Jeju Island demanded postponing the blasting of the sacred Gureombi rocks, but the South Korean Ministry of Defense has refused to comply and is violating Korean law by moving forward in the project without the consent of the governor.

The blast is set for “around March 8,” Korea time. That’s Wednesday for those of us on this side of the Int’l. Dateline.

Several buses carrying dozens of riot police have been shipped in from the Korean mainland to handle protestors anticipated at the blast of Gureombi Rocks. The blast will require 400,000 tons of explosives.

Meanwhile, the S. Korean Ministry of Defense says, “The Jeju naval base is an important national project linked directly to national security. Unnecessary debates and social conflicts should be stopped for the construction to normalize as soon as possible.”

If you have not already done so, please send a letter asap to the following officials to STOP THE BLAST OF GUREOMBI ROCKS! STOP THE NAVAL BASE CONSTRUCTION! Also send your letter to the nearest South Korean embassy. (A list of embassies follows.)


To your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Korea, and to other heads of state, departments and consulates:

People from all over the world are shocked and disturbed that the government of South Korea would consider building a navy base on Jeju Island. It is a moral crime to cover Jeju’s fertile farmlands with concrete, and to destroy its rare, soft-coral reef. The Gangjeong villagers depend on their farms to live, and the planet depends on healthy reefs to live.

Jeju-do is sacred to all the people of the world, not only to the Korean people. Please do not allow Jeju Island to become militarized. If current tensions between China and the U.S. escalate in the South China Sea, if there is a naval base, the first target of attack by China will be Jeju Island. Please stop the militarization of Peace Island.

The South Korean government needs to listen to its people and not build a base to port US Navy Aegis missile destroyers and aircraft carriers. Please protect Peace Island and DO NOT BLAST THE GUREOMBI ROCKS! STOP CONSTRUCTION OF THE NAVY BASE!


(your name here)



Mr. Kim Kwan-Jin

Minister, Ministry of National Defense

No. 1, Yongsan-dong 3-ga

Yongsan-gu, Seoul # zip: 140-701


Tel: +82 2 748 1111 / +82-02-795-0071 (in the MND website above)

Fax: +82 2 748 6895 / + 82-02-703-3109 (in the MND website above)



Mr. Lee Myung-Bak


1 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu

Seoul, 110-820


Fax: +82 2 770 4751

Email: or or


Mr. Woo Keun-Min


The government of Jeju-do

312-1, Yeon-dong, Jeju-si, Jeju-do


Fax: +82 64 710 3009




Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the UN

New York


Consulate General of the Republic of Korea

Los Angeles


Consulate General of the Republic of Korea



Consulate General of the Republic of Korea

New York


Consulate General of the Republic of Korea



Consulate General of the Republic of Korea



Consulate General of the Republic of Korea



Consulate General of the Republic of Korea



Consulate General of the Republic of Korea

San Francisco


Consulate Agency of the Republic of Korea

Hagatna, Guam


South Korea Embassy

Washington, DC


Consulate of the Republic of Korea

Tamuning, Guam

Okinawa’s win may be Hawai’i’s tragedy

February 2, 2012 

As Okinawans move closer to removing the oppressive presence of U.S. military bases from their island, the repercussions are already being felt across the Pacific. In November, President Obama announced that the U.S. will deploy 2,500  troops to Australia.  Recently, the U.S. and Philippines have engaged in talks about expanding the U.S. military presence in the Philippines twenty years after popular movements forced the U.S. to remove its military bases. The prospect of renewed U.S. military expansion in the Philippines has been met with strong denunciations and protests.

As discussed previously on this site, despite looming Pentagon budget cuts (actually reductions in the rate of increase of the military budget), Hawai’i will continue to be inundated with more troops and military construction with the U.S. strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.  The expansion of Marine Corps aircraft and training areas may have been a fallback plan in the event that the plan to relocate troops in Okinawa and Guam fell through.

William Cole revealed in the Honolulu Star Advertiser “Isle Marine forces could grow by 1000″:

Hawaii’s military future could include another Navy cruiser and at least 1,000 more Marines if some forces are removed from Okinawa, the Star-Advertiser has learned.

The Pentagon outlined plans Thursday to cut $487 billion over the next 10 years, but Hawaii’s location makes it key in a new military strategy that emphasizes the Pacific, Asia and the Middle East. As such, Hawaii’s military forces are expected to grow in certain areas and stay about the same in others, such as Army strength, which will remain constant on Oahu, military officials said.

While the Marine Corps is making plans to drop to a force of 182,000 from 202,000, Hawaii’s Marine contingent could grow by 1,000 troops or more as the Pentagon looks at alternatives to moving Marines from Okinawa to Guam, a source familiar with the plans told the Star-Advertiser. Hawaii could get some of those reshuffled forces, said the source, who is not authorized to speak publicly about the plans.

The sheer cost of the Futenma-Henoko-Guam relocation plan is working to slow, or possibly even derail the plan. The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported:

In May the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the cost estimate to move the 8,000 Marines and 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam, and to relocate other Marines to another location on Okinawa, had ballooned to $29.1 billion from $10.3 billion.

Currently, the Marines maintain approximately 11,000 troops at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii Kaneohe Bay, and another 700 at Camp Smith.  If the Marines were to increase troop numbers by 1000, the total number of Marines in Hawaiʻi would reach 12,700, not counting dependents.   The Army will maintain 23,000 troops in Hawaiʻi. The Navy has six destroyers, two frigates and three cruisers homeported at Pearl Harbor.   However, Cole reported, “As part of the effort to strengthen a Pacific presence, another cruiser also might be moved to Hawaii, the source said.”

The Mainichi Shimbun reported:

The U.S. Defense Department is considering shifting part of some 8,000 Marine troops in Okinawa Prefecture to Hawaii and other Pacific areas instead of Guam, Pentagon sources said Tuesday.

According to the sources, the Pentagon is contemplating transferring about 3,000 of the Okinawa Marines to those locations as Guam, which is geographically close to China, could receive a catastrophic attack by Chinese forces in case of a contingency.

It is very curious that the Pentagon is using the excuse that Marines on Okinawa would be too close and vulnerable to Chinese attack.  Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee reacted that “It is almost inconceivable to me that the marines are being moved because of safety fears related to China.”  Instead, he interpreted the news as part of a psychological campaign to pressure Okinawans and Japanese to accept the base relocation to Henoko and a response to the lack of infrastructure on Guam and Congress’ refusal to fund upgrades to the military infrastructure on Guam.

Col. (Ret.) Ann Wright said that the possible expansion of Marines in Hawai’i may increase the danger to the public when seen in the context of two cases of aborted justice involving violent crimes by Marines:

Another military expansion threat to Hawaiʻi is the possible return of high-speed catamaran “superferries” to transport military troops and equipment. In “Isle home possible for past superferry”, William Cole of the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported:

The $35 million sale of the defunct Hawaii Superferries Ala­kai and Hua­kai by the U.S. Maritime Administration to the U.S. Navy, finalized last week, raised the possibility that one of the blue-and-white high-speed vessels could return to Hawaii in battleship gray.

All that’s certain is that one of the former passenger catamarans will not be operating out of Hawaii in the near future.

The Navy’s Military Sealift Command in Washington, D.C,. said one of the superferries will replace the leased 331-foot Westpac Express based out of Okinawa, Japan, a vessel used to transport Marines and equipment around the Western Pacific, sometime before the end of the calendar year.

The Hawaii Superferry was an ill-conceived and controversial venture to supposedly provide a passenger ferry service for the Hawaiian islands. But the project, which enjoyed the support of Governor Lingleʻs administration and many in business and political circles, was fast-tracked without an environmental review process.  Protests by surfers on Kauaʻi blocked the ship from entering Nawiliwili harbor, and legal challenges from Maui environmental groups eventually stopped the project.  The Hawaiʻi Supreme Court ruled that the ferry was operating illegally and ordered a halt until an environmental review was conducted. The company subsequently went bankrupt, and the two ferries were repossessed by the Maritime Administration which had given a $140 million loan guarantee. The Navy recently acquired the two vessels from the Maritime Administration for use as military transport vessels.

The transfer of the ships to the Navy confirmed what many had suspected, that military interests were the underlying driving force behind the superferry project.  The ships were overbuilt for the small Hawaiʻi market, but were perfect for military transport specifications.  The investment company of John F. Lehman, former Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan, owned Hawaii Superferry.  Austal, the Australian shipbuilder leveraged the Hawaii Superferry contracts to successfully bid for the Joint High Speed Vessel contract and the Littoral Combat Ship contract.   (Only ships in the U.S and under U.S. flag could be eligible for Navy shipbuilding contracts.)

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported:

Separate from the two former superferries, the Pentagon had plans to build and operate 10 additional Joint High-Speed Vessels, and said in 2010 that it was looking at basing up to three of the speedy cargo and troop carriers at Pearl Harbor.

But new defense budget priorities released Thursday call for reducing that number by eight. Officials with the Sealift Command, which will operate the high-speed vessels, could not be reached for comment about the reduction.

The Army talked for years about the advantages of having one of the big Joint High-Speed Vessels in Hawaii to transport Stryker armored vehicles and troops to Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island.

But the federal budget crises may have trimmed the original plans:

The Army published a notice in the Federal Register in early 2010 saying it would conduct a programmatic environmental impact statement analysis of the potential basing of up to 12 Joint High-Speed Vessels at five locations, including up to three of the ships at Pearl Harbor.

Other locations to be considered in the study were Guam, the Virginia Tidewater area, San Diego and Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.

The Joint High-Speed Vessel program initially had five of the first 10 ships assigned to the Army and five to the Navy, but the Army agreed in May to transfer its ships to the Navy.

The Army subsequently said it would not conduct the basing study. How much the basing examination has changed is unclear.

What is clear is that the situation in the Asia Pacific regarding U.S.  military bases and troops is rapidly evolving.  Resistance to bases in Okinawa, Japan and Korea is forcing the military adjust its basing plans and withdraw more military troops to Guam and Hawai’i, and possibly also to the Philippines and Australia.  As the hub of U.S. military bases and operations in the Asia-Pacific region, Hawai’i will face particularly intense militarization pressures.  Hawai’i can learn from the movements in Asia and use their momentum to push for an overall reduction, rather than relocation of U.S. troops and bases in the Pacific.


Okinawan Anti-Bases Delegation Makes An Impression in Washington, D.C.

January 30, 2012 

Even as Tokyo tried to force the Futenma base relocation plan on Okinawa in a desperate effort to salvage its unraveling deal with the U.S., a prominent delegation from Okinawa visited Washington, D.C. to educate political movers and shakers and lobby Congress to close the military bases in Okinawa.  An overview of the delegation “Making Okinawan Voices Heard in America” can be found at  David Swanson wrote “Japanese Delegation Wants the U.S. Out of Okinawa” on
A 24-member delegation from Japan is in Washington, D.C., this week opposing the presence and new construction of U.S. military bases in Okinawa.  Participating are members of the Japanese House of Councilors, of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly, and of city governments in Okinawa, as well as leading protest organizers and the heads of several important organizations opposed to the ongoing U.S. military occupation of Okinawa.

The famously stingy U.S. tax payer, frequently seen bitterly protesting outrageously wasteful spending of a few million dollars, is paying billions of dollars to maintain and expand some 90 military bases in Japan (and to make those who profit from such business filthy rich).  Thirty-four of those bases, containing 74% of their total land area, are in Okinawa, which itself contains only 0.6% of Japanese land.  Okinawa is dominated by U.S. military bases and has been for 67 years since the U.S. forcibly appropriated much of the best land.

In addition to numerous meetings, briefings and media sessions, the delegation held a public forum at Busboys and Poets. Here are a few snippets about the speakers:
Keiko Itokazu, a Member of the Japanese National Diet, depicted in this painting, said the Okinawan people had been heartbroken since having been unable to protect a 12-year-old girl from gang rape by U.S. troops in 1995.  The Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Japan gives U.S. troops immunity from Japanese prosecution.  Between 1979 and 2008, U.S. forces in Okinawa caused 1,439 accidents (487 of them airplane related), and 5,584 criminal cases (559 of them involving violent crimes).  The list includes fatal driving incidents, residential break-ins, taxi robberies, sexual violence, and other serious crimes against local citizens.
Hiroshi Ashitomi has been a leader of the nonviolent resistance in Henoko for 16 years.  “We use our own bodies,” he said on Monday, “to resist aggressive actions by the Japanese government.”  Pointing to the picture of Gandhi in the collage on the wall at Busboys, Ashitomi said, “We follow the example of Gandhi.  It is not easy.  We receive threats from the police.  But we are determined to use nonviolent resistance, and we get a lot of support from all over Japan.  We are trying to protect the environment, so many young people from all over Japan come to our tent and participate in our resistance.”
Specifically, the delegation is asking for the closure of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station; cancellation of plans to construct a new Marine Corps air base at Cape Henoko; reduction of unbearable noise caused by air operations at Kadena Air Base; withdrawal of any proposal to integrate Futenma’s helicopter squadrons into Kadena’s operations; an end to the construction of six new helipads in the Yanbaru forest in northern Okinawa; and revision of the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement to allow fair prosecutions of crimes.
The article mentioned the role of international solidarity in the Okinawan movement:
Base opponents in Okinawa work with others in Korea, Guam, and Hawaii, and with former residents of Diego Garcia, as well as others around the world.
Doug Bandow in Forbes Magazine wrote a thoughtful and in depth article entitled “Give Okinawa back to Okinawans”.   He wrote of the Okinawan movement:
Civil disobedience is a potential game-changer.  In May 2010 17,000 Okinawans created a human chain surrounding Futenma.  More recently roughly 200 demonstrators delayed delivery of an environmental impact report on a new runway from the defense ministry to the prefectural government.  Using force against protestors would threaten a future Japanese government’s survival and embarrass Washington.

Rather than resist Okinawan demands, the U.S. should voluntarily reduce its military presence on the island.  Jeffrey Hornung of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies observed:  “Given how much problems this is causing in Okinawa, it’s finally time to rethink things.”

Bandow also discussed how the Okinawa issue is helping to move public sentiment away from the Japan-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty (ANPO) which maintains Japan’s subordinate role to the U.S.:
Tokyo has essentially relinquished control over its own territory to comply with U.S. demands.  Although the Obama administration frustrated the 2009 DPJ campaign pledge to create a more equal security partnership, Japanese citizens will inevitably raise more questions about the bilateral relationship as they debate security issues.
Prof. Kenneth B. Pyle of the University of Washington argued that “the degree of U.S. domination in the relationship has been so extreme that a recalibration of the alliance was bound to happen, but also because autonomy and self-mastery have always been fundamental goals of modern Japan.”
The article goes on to explain that the United States’ paternalistic relationship with Japan is based on two rationales: containing a rising China and preventing a resurgent militaristic Japan. However, as Bandow points out, the “China peril” rationale for the Okinawa bases is overblown:

Exactly how the Marines help contain Beijing is not clear.  As Robert Gates observed, U.S. policymakers would have to have their heads examined to participate in another land war in Asia.  If a conflict with China improbably developed, Washington would rely on air and naval units.

Moreover, despite persistent fear-mongering about Beijing, the PRC is in no position, and for many years will not be in position, to harm the U.S.  Chinese military spending remains far behind that of America.  Beijing is working mightily to deter the U.S. from attacking China, not to attack America.

The article concludes that what Japan decides to do about the Japan-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty is up to the Japanese people; the U.S. should not try to dictate Japan’s policy:
Adopting such a stance would be in the interests of the American and Japanese people.  And especially in the interest of the Okinawan people.  The U.S. should begin transforming its alliance relationships.  Now is a good time to do so with Japan.
And even in TIME magazine, Kirk Spitzer wrote “Marines on Okinawa: Time to Leave?”:
More than six decades after U.S. Marines stormed ashore on Okinawa, it may finally be time for them to go home.
The visit seems to have influenced some lawmakers to take more proactive steps to call for the closing of the bases in light of the current U.S. budget woes and in response to President Obama’s new defense guidance statement. Representatives Barbara Lee, Barney Frank, Lynn C. Woolsey, and Rush D. Holt sent a letter to President Obama that criticized the U.S. troops in Okinawa and proposed expansion of troops in Australia:
Some of our troops in Asia as well, particularly our Marines in Okinawa, are stationed on bases with no well-thought out purpose, at considerable cost both in funding and in causing enmity with our Japanese ally.  While we should continue to offer protection to South Korea and enforce its cease-fire with its unstable and hostile northern neighbor, and we understand your overall emphasis on Asian security, particular South Asia with its proximity to the Persian Gulf and oil-shipping, we see no reason for any expansion into Australia.
These advances for the Okinawan movement have been hard fought and well deserved. But the consequences of their success may spell disaster for Hawai’i unless peace movements in the Asia-Pacific and the United States can push for a reduction of military forces in the region.   My next post will cover this issue.

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