Tomorrow the Group of Eight summit of the world’s richest nations begins in Okinawa Japan. Activists there are planning anti-globalization protests. But these demonstrations will undoubtedly be overshadowed by protests over a major issue in Japan itself — the massive U.S. military presence. [includes rush transcript]
People from Okinawa say they will try to draw the world’s attention to their outrage over the activities of U.S. marines and other soldiers on their land, and the fact that they do not want the U.S. military in Okinawa. Today peace activists formed a 25,000 person human chain around the U.S. marine base calling for the US to get out. They also sported red ribbons with messages that included:
No more U.S. bases. No more weapons. No more military accidents. No more GI rapes. No more misery.
- Suzuyo Takazato, the Co-chair of the Okinawa Women Against Military Violence and an elected representative to the NAHA city council of Okinawa.
- Gwyn Kirk, a member of the Bay area Okinawa Peace Network. She has just returned from a women’s peace summit in Okinawa.
- Kevin Danaher, co-founder of Global Exchange and Editor of Globalize This! (Common Courage).
AMY GOODMAN: We move on to the G-8 Summit that’s taking place in Okinawa, and before we go there, we’re also going to speak with Kevin Danaher. In addition to the G-8 Summit, we’re going to talk with him about the plans for Los Angeles. Kevin Danaher, are you with us?
KEVIN DANAHER: Yeah, with you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Danaher is author of the book Globalize This! and one of leading activists against globalization and will be participating in the Los Angeles protest at the Democratic National Convention. What are the plans there, and how are police responding at this point?
KEVIN DANAHER: Well, unfortunately, the LAPD are sort of living up to their reputations already. We just cosponsored with some other organizations and the Ruckus Society a democracy training camp down in Malibu for about a hundred young activists, and the LA County Sheriffs Department had helicopters hovering over it, taking photographs, which is totally stupid, because if they had just come to the entrance, we would have ushered them in, and they could have come in and shaken hands, met everybody there. These are totally open training camps, where we teach people nonviolence, strict nonviolence.
And as was pointed out, you know, this thing of throwing urine at the police, I don’t know where this mythology gets created within the police department, but we do know certain facts. For example, the movement has already rented a convergence center in Los Angeles, a big four-story 24,000-square-foot building. Immediately, within the first week of us, you know, getting the operation up to speed, the LA police come in, actually from the Ramparts Division, interestingly enough, the one that’s been, you know, most exposed for corruption, and they come in with all these questions about, "Let’s see your lease" and "Did the fire marshal check this?" and right away you think, well, if this were some dotcom start-up, would the police be harassing it? No, of course not.
And I think the way to bridge this and the Okinawa Summit being — you know, the G-8 leaders being hidden away, far away from any protesters, the basic issue here is inequality. On a global level, the richest 20% of the world’s people consume 86% of the world’s resources. Within the United States, the richest 1% of the population controls more wealth than the poorest 95%. The police get put in the middle to protect that inequality, if you look at US law. Most US law is property law, and the police get put in this position. They’re working-class people getting paid working-class salaries to do the job of the ruling class, to hold the working-class majority in place.
If I ask my ten-year-old daughter, "When there’s confrontation between capitalists and workers, whose side do the police take, whose side — who do the police come out and beat and tear gas?" my ten-year-old will know the answer to that. So we have a very clear pattern, historically, of the police, even though they’re public employees — they’re supposed to be working for us — taking the side of the elite wealthy minority. I should point out that those —- if you look at the family incomes of those convention delegates, both in Philadelphia and in Los Angeles, it’s over $100,000 a year in income. The average family income in the United States is more like $35,000—$40,000, so these people do not represent the general population of the United States, and I think that’s why half the population doesn’t bother to vote. That’s the basic problem, the divide, the inequality in this society and in the world economy. And, unfortunately, it gets into this position where us protesters get beat on by the police trying to defend this inequality.
AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Danaher, one of the founders of Global Exchange, author of the book Globalize This!, one of the leading protesters against globalization. As we talk not only about the protests at the Republican and Democratic National Convention, but about protests that are taking place in Japan right now with the Group of Eight Summit of the world’s richest nations beginning in Okinawa, Japan. Activists are planning anti-globalization protests, but the demonstrations will undoubtedly be overshadowed by protests over a major issue in Japan itself, and that is the massive US military presence there.
People from Okinawa say they’ll try to draw the world’s attention to their outrage over the activities of US Marines and other soldiers on their land and the fact that they don’t want the US military in Okinawa. Today, peace activists formed a 25,000-person human chain around the US Marine base, calling for the US to get out. They also carried red ribbons with messages that included "No more US bases, no more weapons, no more military accidents, no more GI rapes, no more misery."
We’re going to go to Okinawa right now with Suzuyo Takazato, who is co-chair of the Okinawa Women Against Military Violence and an elected representative to the Naha City Council of Okinawa. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Suzuyo Takazato.
SUZUYO TAKAZATO: Hello.
AMY GOODMAN: Welcome. Can you tell us why you’re in Okinawa and part of this human chain today?
SUZUYO TAKAZATO: Because we felt that this must be the good chance to show our very strong desire that Okinawa will be the island without military base, military violence. So, you said, today 27,000 people gathered, and we succeeded to encircle Kadena Air Base.
AMY GOODMAN: I don’t know if people remember, but the wave of protest was unleashed five years ago by a GI abduction and rape of a twelve-year-old girl, four years after 92% of Okinawan voters called for the withdrawal of US bases. Can you explain how that rape five years ago affects your perceptions today?
SUZUYO TAKAZATO: Well, we really wanted our land to be freed from military violence, but after four years now — five years now, actually the situation is the same. And in US government and Japanese government, they set aside and then they made to create some improvement for Okinawa, they said. And it was written in the final report of a Special Action Committee on Okinawa, which is called SACO, but the results are really disappointing. Actually, it’s not for us. It’s really to reorganize and re-strengthen the presence of US military base, and the situation is just the same.
And beside, two years ago, two governments agreed on relocating Futenma Air Station to a northern part of Okinawa, which is a very beautiful seaside and where the special species, dugong, live. And we are really against this relocation. And beside, two weeks ago —- I mean, July 3rd, again, a fourteen-year-old girl, she was -—
AMY GOODMAN: Molested?
SUZUYO TAKAZATO: — sexually assaulted and in the midst of her bedroom. And that, we really saw that it’s more than enough, and because of those things, and not only those crimes committed by US military personnel, but almost, you know, all the exercise accidents, tremendous noise, constant noise everyday — although these, you know, the three days while this Summit is going, no exercise planned. So, you know, all the leaders will have a very quiet conference, but we really feel that it’s really more than half the year, and it’s enough.
AMY GOODMAN: Susuyo Takazato, we have to break for stations to identify themselves. She is co-chair of the Okinawa Women Against Military Violence. And when we come back, we’ll be joined by Gwyn Kirk, who is a member of the Bay Area Okinawa Peace Network. And finally, we’re going to find out about a court case, a lawsuit, that’s taking place today in New York against a computer hacker and journalist, Emmanuel Goldstein — why is Hollywood so angry at him?
AMY GOODMAN: As we talk about the G-8 Summit, what isn’t getting as much attention is the level of protest that is going on there. A 25,000-person human chain around the area today, people from all over Japan gathering around the US Marine Base calling for the US to get out. Our guest, Suzuyo Takazato, co-chair of the Okinawa Women Against Military Violence. Five years ago, three GIs abducted a twelve-year-old girl and raped her. Three weeks ago, a fourteen-year-old girl was molested as a GI broke into her house, a drunken Marine.
We’re also joined on the phone by Gwyn Kirk, a member of the Bay Area Okinawa Peace Network. She has just returned from a women’s peace summit in Okinawa. Gwyn Kirk, your impressions of the level of activism there and the major demands?
GWYN KIRK: Well, Okinawa people are very determined that the US bases will go. They’ve actually been campaigning for this on and off since 1945 with a lot of demonstrations over the years, protests, sit-ins, you know, referendum, and that kind of thing. So I see this human chain that Suzuyo Takazato is talking about today around Kadena Air Force Base as, you know, the latest, really, outpouring of opposition to US military occupation, basically, of Okinawa.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you all for being with us. If people, Gwyn Kirk, want to find out more about these protests here in this country, where can they call or go on the web?
GWYN KIRK: The Asia Pacific Center for Justice and Peace in Washington, D.C. has some of this information on their website, which is www.apcjp.org. They can call me here in San Francisco, if they want to, (415) 550-7947.
We, as you mentioned, held a women’s summit in Okinawa a few weeks ago to put demands of a different kind of security, not the military security that’s really a central element of the world economic system being presided over by the G-8 nations, and our notions of a redefined security are very simple really. The environment in which we live must be able to sustain life, that our basic survival needs for food, clothing, shelter, etc., must be met, that people’s fundamental human dignity and respect for cultural identities should be honored, and that people and the natural environment must be protected from avoidable harm.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, on that note, Gwyn Kirk and Suzuyo Takazato, I want to thank you both for being with us.