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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

「COVID-19世界連帯マニフェスト」について――「『ズーム』で築く世界連帯」(琉球新報より)Ryukyu Shimpo aritcle on the COVID-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto

『琉球新報』6月1日3面に掲載された「乗松聡子の眼」34回「コロナ時代のマニフェスト 『ズーム』で築く世界連帯」を許可を得て転載します。Here is Satoko Oka Norimatsu's article in June 1, 2020 edition of Okinawan newspaper Ryukyu Shimpo. See below for English translation. 

ここで紹介している「COVID-19世界連帯マニフェスト」のサイトはここです。このHPから20か国語版へのリンクを張っています。See the COVID-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto website and sign!



 In the Corona-Era, Global Solidarity Building is Still Possible

Satoko Oka Norimatsu

(The original article in Japanese appeared in the June 1 edition of Ryukyu Shimpo. Translated by the author.)

Twice from May 23 to 24, the COVID-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto launch events were held using the online conference system ZOOM.

In mid-March, as strict quarantine measures were underway to deal with the global spread of COVID-19, David Vine, professor of the American University, reached out to his colleagues around the world. Vine is the author of Base Nation (Japanese version is Beigun kichi ga yattekita koto, Hara Shobo, 2016), which he put together after six years of field work at more than sixty U.S. military installations in twelve countries and territories, including Japan, Korea, Italy, and Germany. He is also one of the signatories of the “International Intellectuals’ Statement to Oppose the Henoko Base Construction” of 2014.

Almost every week since our first meeting on March 22, participants from the U.S., Canada, Italy, Spain, Okinawa, Korea, Brazil, Peru, Greece, and other countries came together and exchanged ideas. Soon enough it transpired that our common concern was the fact that under the pandemic, the socially and economically vulnerable people -- the poor, homeless, imprisoned, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, women, disabled, refugees and immigrants – are most affected.

How can we save the lives that we can save now? What kind of a world do we want to build? We brought our visions together to draft the “COVID-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto.” The Manifesto denies militarism by calling for an “immediate ceasefire,” “closure of foreign bases,” “cessation of military exercises,” and “immediate lifting of all sanctions.” It urges a departure from the “fantasy of endless growth” and transformation to the economies “where human life, biodiversity, and our national resources are conserved.” It demands “health care as a basic right,” the guarantee of a “universal basic income,” and the rights of all workers to work safely. It challenges the “wealthy nations” to “live up to their responsibility” as they brought about the extremely unequal world in which the “richest 1% having more than twice of the wealth of 6.9 billion people.” The Manifesto, which has been translated into 19 different languages including Ryukyuan and Japanese, accepts on-line signatures. For details, visit the website (

We had two launch events, twelve hours apart, over May 23 and 24, so that people around the world could participate in at least one of them. We had a total of over one hundred people attending (See video links to the 1st event, and 2nd event). Both events started with Okinawan member Sunshine Chie Miyagi’s performance of a song, with sanshin, the Okinawan 3-string instrument. Her grandparents died in the forced mass suicides of Tokashiki Island, March 1945, at the start of the Battle of Okinawa, one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific Theatre of WWII. Through Miyagi’s singing of “Tinsagu nu Hana (Balsam Flowers),” participants paid tribute to the lives lost in the battle that happened 75 years ago.

Other participants of the event included historian Peter Kuznick, who continues to raise his voice against the military occupation of Okinawa, and Daniel Ellsberg, who is known for exposing the secret Department of Defense documents “Pentagon Papers,” in opposition to the Vietnam War.

Akari Kojima, an editor who participated from Hiroshima, commented afterwards, “Through this event, I realized that the COVID-19 crisis that we are facing is not just about dealing with the infectious disease, but it is fundamentally about facing the whole system that stands on war, poverty, discrimination, and the capitalist economy, and that is why we have to tackle this challenge with a global perspective.”

I find it hopeful that, even though many international events have been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions, such citizen-oriented global solidarity building is still possible.

Satoko Oka Norimatsu is an Editor of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Director of Peace Philosophy Centre, Co-chair of Vancouver Save Article 9.