Subject: [cwj 44] Activists to push G-8 for end to military violence
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 2000 12:42:41 -0700
Seq: 44

Activists to push G-8 for end to military violence

Asahi Evening News 


June 27, 2000 

NAHA-Suzuyo Takazato, a woman who heads an
international network campaigning against military
bases in Okinawa ahead of July's Group of Eight
summit, knows her fight is not just with the world's
political leaders. 

At a September 1995 protest of the rape of an
Okinawan schoolgirl by three U.S. servicemen, she
was enraged by the strong words she heard from a
man whom she had thought was on her side of the

``You shouldn't distort the problem-don't narrowly
focus on this as a women's issue. This is all about the
Japan-U.S. Security Treaty,'' the man told Takazato,
who was holding a placard that read ``Women's
Human Rights.'' 

She immediately shot back: ``You only understand half
the problem because you don't see that this case needs
a woman's viewpoint,'' she said. The man, who
appeared to be a unionist in his 30s, just walked away.

Takazato, who co-founded the group Okinawa
Women Act Against Military Violence after the 1995
rape case, views the upcoming summit of G-8
leaders-all of them men-as a valuable chance to
convey her group's message: Military bases are a
source of violence against not only women and
children, but all citizens. 

Members of her group and like-minded female
activists, part of a network of women's groups from
the United States and East Asian countries, met
Thursday through Sunday to come up with proposals
to be submitted to the G-8 leaders. 

Their message is loud and clear: Until now, problems
stemming from the bases, including land
appropriations, noise pollution and accidents during
military drills, have been discussed only in the light of
the U.S.-Japan security pact. 

``Of course these are political issues. But I think there
has been a lack of discussion about violence against
women and children,'' said Takazato, who organized
the pre-summit program together with the East
Asia-U.S. Women's Network Against Militarism, a San
Francisco-based group. 

``And cases of sexual violence against women
(perpetrated by U.S. military personnel) have been
brushed aside as being just personal tragedies-which
has forced the victims to remain silent.'' 

In a nutshell, the women argue that the ``traditional
concept of security,'' based on maintaining the
military, which is supposed to protect the interests of
all the nation's people, is contradictory. In reality, the
group says, military bases pose a very real threat to
nearby residents. 

Last week's gathering brought 40 delegates from the
Republic of Korea (South Korea), the Philippines,
Puerto Rico and the United States together with 40
Okinawan woman activists. The event was the third
such pan-Pacific confab, following one held in
Okinawa in May 1997 and a second held in
Washington in October 1998. 

``The lack of recognition of our perspective can be
seen easily: The Okinawa prefectural government does
not even have comprehensive data on crimes against
women by U.S. military servicemen,'' said Takazato, a
Naha Municipal Assembly member who has been a
driving force behind women's peace activities in
Okinawa. Facing such apathy, the Okinawa Women
Act Against Military Violence has researched
military-related crimes directed at women. 

The group has identified at least 200 cases of rape by
U.S. military personnel between 1945 and 1997. Many
of these were never reported to authorities. 

Last week's participants say the military itself is a
machine of violence that dehumanizes its members
through their training. 

``When I look at what they (military personnel) are
doing, I think `How can you have economic, social or
political security?''' said Dorothy Mackey, a former
U.S. Air Force captain who said she was raped twice
by a senior officer and now heads the Survivors Take
Action Against Abuse by Military Personnel (STAMP),
an Ohio-based victims support group. 

Mackey said she was raped soon after she began
working in a complaints office by her superior, after
she confronted him over his mismanagement of the
cases the office received. 

She continued to be sexually harassed and subjected to
mental abuse during the one year she stayed in that

``How can there be national security when we cannot
check on and hold accountable those who have done
wrong (within the military)?'' Mackey asked. 

Okinawan experts stressed the importance of the
active women's movement against bases and in
anti-war activities, citing that women hit ``closer to
home'' on the issues that spring from a military

Women, particularly mothers, can give impetus to the
movement with their eye on protecting children,
according to Kimiko Miyagi, an associate professor at
Meio University in the northern Okinawan city of

``What women try to do is to put issues in a long-term
perspective,'' said Miyagi, who has been involved in
Nago-based activities that seek the reversal of a
proposed relocation of U.S. Air Station Futenma in
Ginowan to the city. 

She said that a number of women's groups have been
formed through such activities. These groups, unlike
the male-dominated groups leading the anti-base
movement, encourage children to participate by having
them design posters or help in other ways. 

``In the long run, we hope to endow children with the
viewpoint that allows them to say, `Isn't it wrong to
have so many bases in Okinawa?''' she said. 

The women acknowledged that their groups' activities
have not always been accepted by the men who lead
the mainstream movement. 

``The general attitude toward female activists is `What
do women know? Women don't have policy, only
emotional response,''' said Gwyn Kirk, head of the
East Asia-U.S. Women's Network Against Militarism. 

``While awareness of the problems military bases pose
by the average citizen is higher than ever before, the
spotlight has yet to be brought on women's
problems,'' said You Young Nim, who represents the
National Campaign to Eradicate Crimes by U.S.
Troops in South Korea. 

She said that while democratic reform in South Korea
has made activism against bases stronger, public
attitudes toward female victims of violence,
particularly vulnerable sex industry workers, remains

She said that her country's strong Confucian
background hinders open discussion of any gender
issues, not only the problem of abuse directed toward
sex workers. 

Shigeko Urasaki, a member of the Okinawa Women
Act Against Military Violence, said: ``The problem is
an extension of the sexual inequality that prevails in

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