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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Paul Arenson's Letter to Japan Times ポール・アレンソン:ジャパン・タイムズ紙への投稿

TokyoProgressive's Paul Arenson, in his letter to Japan Times, points out the media's general reluctance to cover material that touches upon the "taboo" of questioning the Japan-US Security Treaty.

During my 31 years in Japan I have appreciated the Japan Times' coverage of social issues such as discrimination against ethic and social minorities, which the vernacular papers give only passing mention to. Why then on the issue of the Okinawan bases, does the Japan Times, like the other media, choose to limit discussion chiefly to whether the Prime Minister's flip-flops are hurting the US-Japan alliance? While vague reference is made to the suffering of Okinawans, your editorials and news coverage exclude those experts who are unafraid to breach the taboo of questioning the Japan-US Security treaty. The result of this information blackout can be seen in the lack of critical thinking displayed by young people in "Voices from the Street: Should Japan continue to host American military bases?"(Tuesday May 11, 2010).

As long as some of the facts are withheld, it is only natural that people will continue to believe that despite the "nuisances," US forces are needed to secure Japan's peace and, incredulously, to preserve Article 9 of the Constitution. Few are aware, for example, that US forces violently seized the land for Okinawan bases, and that these bases were the staging areas for missions which killed millions in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Few equate the Okinawa base issue with the fact that the very nation which rained death upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki continues to wage global imperial war, enrich weapons manufacturers and encourage an arms race which makes a mockery of experts' claim that the US presence helps to preserve the peace. Even in South Korea, there are many voices who say a decreased US military presence would increase security, and bloody battles have been fought between anti-base protesters and police there. All, of course, unreported in the Japanese media.

Secret agreements have forced Japan to pay a "sympathy budget" of 2,274 million yearly to maintain its unequal status as a client state in the permanent and discredited American war on terror while politicians and pundits continue to peddle the fiction of an equal relationship that preserves the peace. Tama University president Jitsuro Terashima notes that mainstream Japanese intellectuals, who command the bulk of media attention, remain "slave-faced" (do-gan) toward a bullying colonial master. Most worrying to experts such as Professor Gavan McCormack is that, given the unbalanced media coverage which helps to manufacture consent for maintaining the status quo, Hatoyama may well be forced by U.S pressure to adopt something akin to martial law in defiance of Okinawans and anti-base protesters. The Japan Times should be less concerned with Hatoyama's flip flops and ask what the consequences of that would be for Japanese democracy.

Paul Arenson paul@tokyopregressive.org http://www.tokyoprogressive.org/
Paul Arenson has been living in Japan since 1979 where he has been involved in citizens movements fighting for social and economic justice and against militarism. He is also a songwriter. On his days off he assists his wife's NGO in providing street people in Tokyo's Sanya's district with some shelter from the elements, a cup of tea, a place to bathe, some new clothes, and a little mental & physical space to rejuvenate themselves.

References

Another battle of Okinawa
Despite protests, the U.S. insists on going ahead with plans for a new
military base on the island.
May 06, 2010By Chalmers Johnson
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/06/opinion/la-oe-johnson-20100506

The Futenma Base and the U.S.-Japan Controversy: an Okinawan perspective
Yoshio SHIMOJI
http://www.japanfocus.org/-Yoshio-SHIMOJI/3354

The Travails of a Client State: An Okinawan Angle on the 50th Anniversary
of the US-Japan Security
Treaty
(Japanese text available)
http://japanfocus.org/-Gavan-McCormack/3317
Gavan McCormack

Japanese version: 属国の苦悩??日米安全保障条約五〇周年の沖繩の一視点
http://admin.japanfocus.org/data/mccormack_okinawa.pdf

US Bases and Empire: Global Perspectives on the Asia Pacific
Profe4ssor Catherine Lutz
http://www.japanfocus.org/-Catherine_Lutz/3086

3 comments:

  1. David McNeil in Tokyo reports the following:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/south-korea-ends-trade-with-north-as-frigate-crisis-escalates-1981971.html

    "Former unification minister Chung Se-hyun yesterday told the South Korean media that lettering found on the North Korean torpedo that supposedly split the Cheonan frigate in two was not North Korean at all.

    "Some military experts have questioned whether the 130-tonne Yono class submarine blamed for the attack is capable of firing a torpedo big enough to sink the 1200-tonne Cheonan. Allegations have also surfaced that South Korean and US forces were conducting joint military exercises in the area of the incident, raising the possibility that the Cheonan was sunk by friendly fire from an American submarine. "

    Tanaka Sakai may be right. In any case, like 9-11, the event itself is being used as an excuse to prop up US militarism in NE Asia.

    And in any case, even IF NK did torpedo that boat, I would liketo see some arguments put forth on why EVEN THAT is no reason to allow US forces in Japan, since that is what the Japanese right wing and the US elite are claiming.

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  2. I also think we need to organize to keep the press honest. In the US they have FAIR.org. in the UK medialens.org

    But while South Korean media reports on the possible coverup, Japanese and US media don't.

    Likewise, noone reports on the fact that Okinawa was used to kill millions in US wars. These facts of not being reported by the mainstream need to go beyond places like this site or Japan focus.org. How else to reach mainstream readers. if we only post to friendly sites, we are not having much effect.

    It remains a question how much censorship will be exerted if we send more letters and write more articles, but if enough of us expose the media bias, we can have some effect.

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  3. Thanks Paul. I understand what you are saying about preaching to the converted. I see my role is to provide information in English material that is not available elsewhere. I want to have a unique place in the millions of websites in the world. Again, you are right in questioning its significance if only five people are reading it. It will be less than a drop in the ocean. We will make a bigger impact.

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