By AWC Secretariat
The ILPS International Peace Solidarity Mission, Korea-Japan (Aug. 3-11, 2014) successfully carried out its program and completed its mission. It was an encouraging effort building solidarity and getting informed of various struggles concerning nuclear technologies and the US and Japan imperialist war preparations. The success was due to collaboration among groups sharing common concerns and working towards common goals who, responding to the urgency of the world situation, wanted to be better informed and join in taking action together.
Both the Korean and Japan Committees of the Asia Wide Campaign against US militarization and domination (AWC) mobilized coordination and participants who whole-heartedly welcomed the participation of TEA-KOR, representing the ILPS organizations in South Korea and the International Coordinating Committee (ICC), as well as our guest anti-nuclear power activist from the United States. It was beneficial to the peoples’ struggles to work on building this alliance, and incorporate demonstrations of the peoples’ opposition to nuclear technologies and US and Japanese military policy. It was especially positive to have the involvement of youth activists in this important and timely mission.
In investigating the status of the nuclear power infrastructure in South Korea at the start of the Mission, participants stood in solidarity with many residents of Sampyeong Village in North Gyeongsang Province in opposing the construction of transmission towers that are to carry power from the Gori Nuclear Power Station and learned of the repression against the activists. The area has been heavily fortified with 500 police personnel and a hired goon squad who constantly block the site and like to beat even the most elderly and youngest of the community dissenters. When we left, they raided the roadside camp and beat people. Similar repressive measures have been levied against community protesters in Miryang too.
A contingent of the Peace Mission went to the Gori Station to meet local activists who explained the dangers, especially since there have been radioactive leaks from its six reactors. This information is largely suppressed and whistle-blowers punished. The Mission participants joined in a protest action against the Gori Nuclear Power Station. The contingent then returned to Seoul in order to stage a protest against militarization and nuclear power in front of the US Embassy.
The representative of the ILPS ICC and ILPS Korean organizations, along with a youth of Leftworkers and AWC-Korea, and the guest from the US then went to meet AWC-Japan Secretary who guided the Mission to several sites in Japan. On August 5, a survivor of the atomic bomb genocide and incineration of Hiroshima presented his testimony to youth activists and the special visitors. The bomb hit early on Monday morning as commuters were packing the city center and the transit system. Only 750 meters from the blast, he witnessed the injured, dead and dying by the thousands around him at age 11 as his mother took him desperately to the river and a rescue train transported them to safety. His mother and sister died within weeks. . Avoiding the hypocritical and empty state ceremony, we participated in the AWC rally on August 6 and toured the Peace Park and Museum. The main speaker of our rally called for compensation for more victims, the abolitiont of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy development, a shutdown of existing nuclear reactors, and the dismantling of all US bases. He condemned nuclear energy development, and the Abe governmentâ€™s attempts to amend the Constitution of Japan.
Despite what is widely known about the consequences of the use of nuclear weaponry, and the hazards of toying with nuclear energy as the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station disaster clearly shows, the government of Japan is contemplating resuming the operations of all 50 nuclear reactors in the country, setting the country on a path of war again, and catering to the US militarization. In fact, the government is planning to build a new nuclear power station in Yamaguchi Prefecture, not far from Hiroshima.
The youth group and special visitors were guided to a meeting with a leading activist at Iwakuni. The Abe government is allowing the expansion and consolidation of the enormous US base at Iwakuni, and accepting plans for the construction of two more bases in the vicinity of Okinawa, much to the vehement objections of the vast majority of the citizens in those areas and despite the damage to arable land and natural habitats. Fighter aircraft from overloaded bases elsewhere in Japan and some 6,000 personnel are to be installed in Iwakuni. Papers have been released proving that the US kept nuclear warheads at the Iwakuni base in the 1960s.
In Nagasaki, a contingent of the ILPS Peace Mission toured the museum, Memorial Hall and Peace Park and attended the memorial Peace Concert presented by high school students and educators on the eve of the anniversary of the atomic bombing on August 9th, 1945. We participated in a public rally and march organized by labour, peace and democrats on the 9th. At the rally held a sports center, about one thousand people listened to speeches that focused on two problems of the region with regard to the nuclear danger and war preparations. One speaker described how two additions to the existing cluster of US military bases in the area of Okinawa are in the works, and talked about the peoples’ actions to oppose them. Another speaker criticized the government’s plans to resume operations at two nuclear power stations in Kyushu and roused the people to respond with “no”. After the speeches, we marched through the streets to the Hypocenter by 11:02 in time for a moment of silence and prayer in remembrance of the A-bomb victims.
The last activity of the Peace Mission was a meeting with teachers in Busan, South Korea where the US anti-nuclear technology activist spoke of the precarious condition of the 113 nuclear reactors in the US because of defective and counterfeit parts. He also decried the inadequate inspection and evacuation procedures that jeopardize the lives of millions every day.
There is an urgent need to revive the anti-imperialist, anti-nukes and anti-war movements where they have dwindled and become passive, and consolidate and extend them. The people need a coordinated and united defense against the attacks and threats of the US-lead war machine and the global nuclear menace. ILPS Peace Solidarity Mission hopes to have helped to stimulate and strengthen an alliance opposed to US militarization, all wars of aggression and nuclear technologies.
No more Hiroshimas and Nagasakis! No more Chernobyls and Fukushimas!
US bases, go home!
No to the Abe vision of Japan!
Build lasting peace and international solidarity!
or TEA-KOR (Teachers of English abroad in Korea) firstname.lastname@example.org