A coalition of Asian Indigenous Peoples advocacy groups delivered a Collective Statement to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in United Nations Headquarters, New York,
16-27 May, 2011, which brings up the issue of U.S. militarization in Okinawa (Henoko & Takae) < http://okinawabd.ti-da.net/e3421074.html>. The groups utilized the U.N. Declaration on on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to challenge the imposition of U.S. military bases on indigenous territories. Chamorro activist and legal scholar Julian Aguon wrote a short article about how the Declaration applies to issues and problems facing Kanaka Maoli people in Hawai’i.
The statement addresses the failure of the Japanese government to recognize Ryukyuan/Okinawan people as an indigenous people and blasts the U.S. military bases in Okinawa as a form of discrimination against the Okinawan people:
Second, regarding the Ryukyuan/Okinawan people, the Government of Japan has not implemented the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which call on the government to recognize Ryukyuan/Okinawan people as an indigenous people. As a result, as reported by UN Special Rapporteur Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Doudou Diene, the heavy presence of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa remains as a form of discrimination against the people of Okinawa. At present, two new military bases construction plans are being carried out under the agreement between the governments of Japan and the U.S., despite the longtime opposition from local indigenous peoples’ communities.
One massive military base is being constructed in Henoko and Oura bay. While the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB) expressed its concerns on this plan in the closing statement of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10) in Nagoya in 2010, the Government of Japan has ignored the concerns raised in the statement and is proceeding with the plan. Another military base, six new helipads, is being constructed in Yambaru forest, Takae district of the Okinawa island. In response to their protest, the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the local agency of the Government of Japan, has filed Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation (SLAPP) against local indigenous community members.
The reluctance of the Japanese government to implement the UNDRIP at the local level violates Ainu and Okinawan rights to participate in the decision-making process. The authorization of the construction of the Industrial Waste Dumping Site in Mombetsu city, Hokkaido Prefecture, and the construction of military bases in Henoko and Oura bay and helipads in Takae, not only violates Article 29 of the UNDRIP but also seriously violates the indigenous peoples’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) which is clearly stated in Article 32. It also denies the important role of indigenous and local community to preserve bio-diversity as stipulated in Article 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The statement calls for:
1. We recommend the Government of Japan shall establish national and local systems in conjunction with indigenous peoples to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, in accordance with the UNDRIP.
2. We recommend that the city government of Mombetsu shall respect Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the local Ainu community concerned, and to reconsider the authorization of the Industrial Waste Dumping Site.
3. We recommend that the Goverments of Japan and the U.S. immediately stop the construction of the military bases in Henoko and Oura bay as well as helipads in Takae and review the plans.
4. We request the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people shall use his good office to directly intervene in the Government of Japan regarding the construction of the Industrial Waste Dumping Site in Mombetsu city, Hokkaido Prefecture, and the construction of military bases in Henoko and Oura bay and helipads in Takae, Okinawa Prefecture.
Jen Teeter wrote a great article about the issue on the Ten Thousand Things blog:
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Ainu and Okinawan Human Rights- United Nations Forum on indigenous issues
The tenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues convened at the United Nations Headquarters, New York from the 16th to 27th of May. Shimin Gaikou Centre (Citizens’ Diplomatic Centre for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) vice president, Makiko Kimura, on behalf of her organization, Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, Forest Peoples’ Programme, Citizens’ Network for Biological Diversity in Okinawa, No Helipad Takae Resident Society, and Mo-pet Sanctuary Network, submitted a collective statement to the forum.
These organizations urge the Japanese government to fully realize the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and address human rights violations against the Ainu and Okinawan communities. Japan ratified UNDRIP in 2007, and subsequently recognized the Ainu people as the indigenous people of Japan, but does not recognize the indigeneity of the Okinawan people despite UN recommendations.
The report addresses how the government of Japan has violated Articles 29 and 32 of UNDRIP by authorizing projects which affect the lands and/or resources of indigenous peoples (including Okinawans) without “free, prior and informed consent” of the indigenous inhabitants. The report highlights a proposed industrial waste facility project in Monbetsu, Hokkaido, and the (de)construction which will result from the proposal of a new U.S. military base and helipads in Okinawa. The organizations request the direct intervention of the Special Rapporteur to the forum to halt further construction and ensure the establishment of a system by which the Ainu and Okinawans must provide free, prior, and informed consent before such projects are authorized.