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A Year of Living Positively -Day 234

We met the youth contingent of the AWC-Japan committee participants in the ILPS Peace Solidarity Mission, and a Korean youth of Leftworkers/AWC-Korea Committee in the ILPS Peace Solidarity Mission, along with three regional leaders. We slept in the same hotel and went together to hear a presentation by a parish priest in Iwakuni City where the US Base exists and is expanding. We met him in the kindergarten that he administers and sat on kiddies’ chairs in the classroom while a half dozen kiddies played in a back room. He is a rep in a community organization that is part of the Iwakuni citizens join opposition to the expansion of that base and the construction of a massive housing development for approximately 4,000 US military personnel. He is also a member of the AWC-Japan and therefore the ILPS. He explained the US’ base expansion plans, including the transfer of US airforce craft from other bases, and the impact (actual and future) to the community. He explained all the protest positions and activities. After two hours of the lecture and a q & a session, the Father lead us to a viewpoint to see the area where the US military personnel housing is to be built. Then he lead us to a spot where we could appreciate the scope of the base development and use. It is an enormous landfilled area at the waterfront that has expropriated prime agricultural land, prized marine habitat, waterfront access.


The US enjoys the cooperation of the Japanese national government but the widespread objections of the people. Actually, a petition was signed and collected in 2006 and it bore the names of the vast majority of Iwakuni residents. Peace and environmentalists and concerned individuals of Japan also oppose the base develop. International groups and observers also object. The US and Japan authorities have no eyes and ears for objectors and the efforts to punish protesters continue.
There are more than 50 US military bases in Japan, 11% of them on Okinawa Island and neighbouring Islands. Two new bases are planned to be built in the Okinawa region. In addition to the dangers posed by these bases, there are also 50 nuclear reactors in Japan, and another is scheduled to be built near Hiroshima in the Yamaguchi Prefecture. Recently released historical documents show that the US did indeed have nuclear warheads in the Iwakuni Base in the 1960s.
Continuing our tour today, the priest took us down to the fortified barrier on the east edge of the runway and development site of the Iwakuni Base. Several jets took off between the time we observed the base up on the hill and our time spent at the fence of the base compounds. Then as Osprey aircraft landed. Such planes carry troops, equipment and armaments. The area would have been a huge maritime marshland, so the natural environment has suffered a great glow there, in addition to prime delta agricultural land. Besides, it looks frightening and ugly.
All of us went to the city center and had lunch at the City Hall cafeteria. We chose from the menu and made orders at the machines. It was soon time to part with the youth and the AWC leaders. Y, our AWC/ILPS companion, guide and translator, S and I will meet A-bomb survivors in Yamaguchi tonight, then tomorrow, go to Nagaskai to join the peace march there on August 9, the anniversary of the A-bomb explosion over Nagasaki.
Last night, we had a little free time to enjoy a fish dinner, with sashimi as well as fried fish, and sake. Y did not have to drive after dinner, so he was free to imbibe a bit. Our discussion among us opened up and we debated strategies for a short while.

I have still been unable to recharge the computer battery. Postings and photo uploads will therefore have to be made later.

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