Monday, October 31, 2011

Justice stalled in brutal death of deportee Autopsy suggests immigration officers used excessive force in restraining Ghanaian

"Japan's immigration authorities can detain any foreigner without proper documentation for indefinite periods when they suspect violations of the Immigration Control Law. They are under no compulsion to explain why such people need to be locked up.

Both asylum seekers and immigrants without proper visas are detained in the same facilities, known as "immigration centers." Human rights groups say immigration authorities apply regulations arbitrarily and make decisions with agonizing slowness."

For a direct link to the article, click the heading. From The Japan Times Online

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011

Immigration policy on trial: Abubakar Awudu Suraj died after being restrained by immigration officers with hand and ankle cuffs, a rope, four plastic restraints and a towel gag before a flight to Cairo from Narita airport. Below: An illustrated note that Suraj passed to his wife during her visit to an immigration center during one of his periods in detention. COURTESY OF ABUBAKAR AWUDU SURAJ'S WIDOW


Justice stalled in brutal death of deportee
Autopsy suggests immigration officers used excessive force in restraining Ghanaian


Abubakar Awudu Suraj had been in Japan for over two decades when immigration authorities detained him in May 2009. The Ghanaian was told in Yokohama of his deportation to Ghana at 9:15 a.m. on March 22 last year. Six hours later he was dead, allegedly after being excessively restrained by guards.

Jimmy Mubenga also died last year while being held down by three private security guards before takeoff on a British Airways flight from London to Angola. The father of five had lost his appeal to stay in the U.K. and was being deported. Mubenga put up a struggle and died after the guards sat on him for 10 minutes, say witnesses.

But the details of the deportations of two men from rich countries back to their native Africa, and their aftermath, are strikingly different. Mubenga's death is already the subject of a vigorous police inquiry, front-page stories and an investigation by The Guardian newspaper. The case has been discussed in Parliament, where security minister Baroness Neville-Jones called it "extraordinarily regrettable."

Suraj has received no such honors. The 45-year-old's case has largely been ignored in the Japanese media and no politician has answered for his death. An investigation by Chiba prosecutors appears to have stalled. There has been no explanation or apology from the authorities.

His Japanese wife, who had shared a life with him for 22 years, was not even aware he was being deported. She was given no explanation when she identified his body later that day. His body was not returned to her for nearly three months. Supporters believe he put up a struggle because he wanted to tell his wife he was being sent home.

An autopsy report seen in a court document notes abrasions to his face, internal bleeding of muscles on the neck, back, abdomen and upper arm, along with leakage of blood around the eyes, blood congestion in some organs, and dark red blood in the heart. Yet the report bizarrely concluded that the cause of death is "unknown."

Any movement in the Suraj case is largely down to his wife, who wants to remain anonymous. She won a lawsuit against the Justice Ministry, which oversees immigration issues, demanding it disclose documents related to his death. The documents were finally released in May, more than a year after he died.

According to the documents, Suraj was escorted from Yokohama by nine immigration officers to Narita airport. After spending about two hours in a waiting room at the airport, he was taken to another vehicle, in handcuffs and with a rope tied around his waist. They arrived at the aircraft at 1:40 p.m.

Suraj stepped out of the vehicle at 2:20 p.m. The immigration officers said in the documents that because he was protesting his deportation, they restrained him face down and carried him onto the Egypt Air MS965 flight for Cairo. They used an additional pair of metal cuffs around his ankles (a prohibited practice) and forced him to sit in an aisle seat on the back row.

One officer took out four pairs of plastic restraints that he had bought with his own money and tied the handcuffs to his belt. Other officers gagged him so tightly with a towel (again, illegally) that his front teeth bit through the towel. One officer pushed Suraj's neck from behind to bend his body further forward. Suraj was motionless by 2:35 p.m.

At the request of the cabin crew, the officers moved Suraj to a window seat, but he was unresponsive. The officers reasoned that he was just pretending to be sick, but the cabin crew saw Suraj was leaning motionless against the window and asked for him to be removed from the plane at 2:50 p.m. No resuscitation attempt was made until he was carried out of the aircraft and into the vehicle they came in. A doctor in an airport clinic confirmed his death at 3:31 p.m.

"These documents based on the accounts of the officers point to illegal and excessive use of restraints," says Sosuke Seki, a lawyer involved in the case. "Immigration officers are supposed to videotape deportation procedures when restraints are applied, but the officer in charge of Suraj's deportation specifically ordered videotaping to be stopped when he was carried into the aircraft. Whether this was intentional or not must be revealed in the trial."

Suraj's legal problems began after he entered Japan on a tourist visa in May 1988. He met his future wife four months later; they moved in together the following January, despite his tourist visa having expired in June. Suraj was arrested and detained 18 years later in 2006, following the announcement of a crackdown on "overstayers" by then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

By the time he was forcibly put on a plane at Narita, he had spent a total of 20 months in detention centers, despite the fact that Tokyo's Suginami Ward Office had officially accepted their marriage application.

Japan's immigration authorities can detain any foreigner without proper documentation for indefinite periods when they suspect violations of the Immigration Control Law. They are under no compulsion to explain why such people need to be locked up.

Both asylum seekers and immigrants without proper visas are detained in the same facilities, known as "immigration centers." Human rights groups say immigration authorities apply regulations arbitrarily and make decisions with agonizing slowness.

The Immigration Bureau says the number of people in the country who had "illegally stayed in Japan beyond the permitted period" was 91,778 as of January 2010. In addition, 1,388 people filed for refugee status the previous year. In principle, any of these people may be detained.

In 2010, 18,578 overstayers were handed deportation orders, representing about 77 percent of the 24,213 people who received such papers that year. Many were detained in Japan for many months before they were finally made to leave the country. Some had — for all intents and purposes — already settled productively into Japanese society, married Japanese nationals with Japan-born children. Others have children who have started school in Japan and only speak Japanese. Some are released on temporary permits, only to be detained again a few months later.

After Suraj's death, the police called on Junpei Yamamura, a doctor who regularly visits immigrants and asylum seekers at detention centers, and who had records of the victim's health.

"The police were obviously trying to find weakness in Suraj's health when they came to ask about him," Yamamura says. "They visited me four times about the case, despite the fact I repeatedly told them that there was nothing wrong with him."

Yamamura said his records showed that Suraj's heartbeat was slower than average on one occasion, but was normal when he was reexamined later. An electrocardiogram otherwise showed no abnormality.

Yamamura also examined his body after it was returned to his wife. He says he saw a cut on Suraj's cheek, an indication that the gag was too tight. "This is criminal abuse of power," says Yamamura.

Chiba Police began an investigation on the suspicion that Suraj died as a result of violence inflicted on him by the immigration officers. The case was sent to the Chiba District Public Prosecutors' Office in December. Prosecutors are still investigating. Police referred nine (possibly 10) immigration officers to Chiba prosecutors in December, but they have not been indicted. The criminal charges against the officers are still up in the air.

His widow fears the case will be forgotten if it is drawn out any longer. In desperation, she and Suraj's mother in Ghana filed a suit in August for compensation against the government and nine immigration officers who were involved in his deportation. The trial began on Monday.

Among their demands is that the Justice Ministry disclose why they stopped videoing the deportation on the day of Suraj's death. The ministry has admitted that such video existed but initially refused to disclose it, claiming that the case was still under investigation.

Human rights groups will be watching the outcome of the case very closely. As for Suraj's widow, she says she simply wants justice.

"Nothing will bring him back, but I just need to know why he died," she said.

Send comments on this issue and story ideas to

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Japan Multicultural Relief Fund members visited NPO Woori Hakkyo

Japan Multicultural Relief Fund members visited NPO Woori Hakkyo

Kyung Hee Ha

In August, Yongna Ryo, Haruki Yang-Saeng Ha/Eda and I were fortunate
enough to make our visit to NPO Woori Hakkyo. NPO Woori Hakkyo is one of
the seven recipient organizations in Japan that Japan Multicultural Relief Fund
has been working with in the ongoing efforts of recovery from the M9.0
earthquake that had hit the eastern parts of Japan.

Founded in 2008 as a non-profit organization, Woori Hakkyo has been
supporting K-12 and college students of Korean descendants in Japan, including
those attending the Ethnic Korean schools (a.k.a. Woori Hakkyo, literally
translates to “Our School” in Korean language) and Japanese schools.

Tohoku Korean school (in Sendai) and Koriyama Korean school (in Koriyama)
are located in the disaster region, and Koriyama Korean school is located less
than 40 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The students of
Koriyama Korean schools were quickly transferred to Niigata Korean school, and
they have not been able to return ever since.

NPO Woori Hakkyo staff members, Mr. KIM Yong Hun and Mr. PARK Kyung Ho
told us that the decontamination of the ground at Koriyama Korean school is not
fully funded by the national or municipal governments because Korean schools
are not recognized as “legitimate” schools by the Japanese law. Similarly,
Tohoku Korean school will not receive any financial support to rebuild their
school building that was destroyed by the earthquake. Being excluded and
isolated, Korean schools and communities still strive to recover--physically,
materially and psychologically--from the unprecedented scale of
destruction. NPO Woori Hakkyo, in conjunction with other Korean community
organizations, has been playing a central role in the recovery efforts, and they
continue to do so.

“I am very grateful for their generosity in sparing time to meet with us despite
their busy schedules. The meeting was personally rewarding for me because I
had only been able to communicate over emails with those who are doing the
work for community recovery in Japan. Even though it is no longer international
news these days, the people’s sufferings and struggles continue to be everyday
reality, and I hope we can strengthen this network of solidarity even further.”

“It was very honorable to meet with staff members, and I really appreciate them
for making the time to talk with us. It had a huge meaning for me to hear
information about the reality of our people and community, and their continuous
struggles in Japan directly from the people who have actually been there and
seen what have been going on, especially because it was extremely difficult to
hear through the media or other sources. I was also glad to hear that our work in
USA could become their support on the recovery, and I would like to keep our
work for the community recovery.”

Holding 2 sheets full of love and strength that people from the Bay Area, San Diego,
Seattle, Seoul and many other places shared in solidarity with students, teachers and
parents of Tohoku and Koriyama Korean schools!
(from L to R: Kyung Hee, Mr. Park, Haruki, Mr. Kim, and Yongna)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

ER endorses letter to Obama urging US Food Aid to North Korea

Eclipse Rising has signed a community letter to the Obama Administration urging them to provide food aid to North Korea.

There is food crisis of grave proportions in North Korea, according to David Austin, head of Mercy Corp North Korea program (they are the leading NGO of the five U.S. NGOs that provide food aid to North Korea).

Christine Hong of the Korea Policy Institute interviewed Mr. Austin about this situation and below is the link to the interview in KoreAm magazine. Christine wrote, "David's account dispels many prevalent misconceptions about food aid to North Korea, and he describes very clearly the crisis--not just chronic but verging upon acute--that the north korean people then faced."

According to Hong, North Korea reached out to the international community late last year to ask for food aid, which was an unusual move. The U.S. responded that North Korea open itself up for a "thorough assessment by humanitarian agencies" and four surveys were conducted (by US NGOs, US government, EU, and one by the UN World Food Program). ALL four confirmed that the country was heading toward a major food crisis. In addition, the typhoon that hit the Korean peninsula this summer has further devastated the food security of North Korea. Without proper food aid, the North Korean people could be facing a recurrence of the famine of the 1990's.

To see the letter to President Obama, please sign on to our googlegroup or e-mail us at

We urge you to spread the word about this crisis in North Korea and write letters of support to the Administration as well.

Thank you,
Kei Fischer
Co-coordinator, Eclipse Rising

Friday, March 25, 2011

Volunteers Needed: Support Survivors of the Recent Disasters in Japan from the Bay Area!!

Volunteers Needed: Support Survivors of the Recent Disasters in Japan from the Bay Area!!

Dear friends,

Eclipse Rising (ER) and Japan Pacific Resource Network (JPRN)* have come together and established Japan Multicultural Relief Fund to support the victims and survivors of escalating tragedy in Japan in the wake of the earthquakes and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Our goal is to provide aid to those who can be neglected and underrepresented in receiving disaster aids from the Japanese government or mainstream non-profit organizations. After careful assessment, we have determined the recipient organizations in Japan that serve these vulnerable people and communities in the disaster-struck regions. As of March 22, 2011, six grassroots organizations in Japan have been confirmed as interested parties to accept the financial support via the Japan Multicultural Relief Fund. We are currently working on logistics. Please visit our website to see the list of the organizations, as well as resources including a glossary of terms related to “minorities” in Japan and various information available in English.

This fund is now endorsed by Peace Development Fund, and supported by San Francisco Board of Supervisors and major philanthropic organizations including Levi Strauss Foundation and Lia Fund, in addition to individual donors.

We are writing today to ask you to join our effort by volunteering for this fund. We are looking for RELIABLE volunteers who have experience and/or skills in the following tasks:
-website administration: updating the website using Dreamweaver
-mailing: printing and sending thank-you letters to the donors
-other administrative tasks that may come up

In order to volunteer for this fund, you must:
-be reliable and responsible
-be able to work on a timely manner
-be able to work with minimal instruction and supervision
-be able to come to the office in Oakland
Japanese language ability is strongly preferred for volunteer working on website administration.

If you are interested in volunteering, please e-mail with “VOLUNTEER” in the Subject line and send us the Volunteer Intake Application form with your information.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to hearing from you.

In community,

Haruki Eda and Kei Fischer
Volunteer Coordinators
Japan Multicultural Relief Fund

*JPRN was established as a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization in California in 1985. JPRN has worked closely with the various grassroots community organizations in the United States and Japan as a "bridge" between the non-profit sectors of both countries, to support a growing bi-national civil society.
More at:

Monday, March 21, 2011

decompression op.1

by Haruki Eda
March 14, 2011

I heard the news about the earthquake and tsunami after I gave a presentation on Japan's anti-war education in a Zainichi panel at the Critical Ethnic Studies Conference. My first thought was that it would be just another relatively big incident that's not too serious. I thought so because Japan is used to natural disasters; my own grandma's house was demolished by an earthquake in 1995, and she was rescued from underneath. It happens all the time. I was too busy celebrating the success of the panel with friends with some beers and fries.

It was when I came back to the hotel that I realized the extent of the calamity, watching the footage of water washing away houses, cars, buildings, trees, boats, people, everything. It was horrifying. But I still continued to be preoccupied with the conference and managed to not think about it until I came home.

I knew my family was safe, and I personally don't know anyone in the areas most devastated. My family was shopping for my sister's moving for college in a couple of weeks when I finally contacted my mom, who was happy about purchasing a MUJI rice cooker for half the price at a local brand-new outlet mall.

But as I kept watching a Japanese news prgram through Ustream, I found myself arrested by the reports, or lack thereof, and unable to stop watching or go to bed. Without anything else to preoccupy my mind, I began to feel anxious, stressed, and depressed. I began to vividly imagine the people being washed away and the thousands of bodies scattered all around the land and sea. I won't be able to see any disaster movie for, who knows, a few years?

I am worried about the nuclear plants meltdown. I am worried about the survivors. I am worried about non-Japanese, disabled, and Queer/Trans survivors. I am worried about the environmental destruction. In 1995, we completely lost my grandma's house in the overly crowded Korean ghetto; now that she passed too, in 2002, it's like I don't have any more historical evidence to substantiate my Korean heritage. Wounds might heal, but scars will forever stay.

This havoc will no doubt transform the Japanese society more or less, but in which direction? I see Japanese flags all over facebook, which makes me want to vomit. I hear people attributing people's "calmness," "resilience," "civility," and "strength" to Japanese ethnicity as if they are superior than others, particularly African Americans after the hurricane Katrina. I am angered and frustrated. In the aftermath of the 1923 earthquake, many Koreans were slaughtered as scapegoats as rumors spread that Koreans poisoned wells, along with Okinawans who were mistaken for Koreans. In 1995, aid was not distributed evenly to everyone, leaving non-Japanese survivors short of resources. For me, disasters always come with flashbacks of historical trauma of Japanese nationalism and xenophobia.

I'm not even physically there, but I'm emotionally being overwhelmed. So I write. I am scared of going back to Japan this summer to see, hear, touch, smell, taste, and sense those irreversible changes. My brain says I'm privileged to not be there, by my heart feels left out. It wants to be there to feel everything. It wants to be there to share its absolute despair and absolute hope with people. It's disheartening.

It's not that "I can't do anything." In fact, I don't want to do anything. After the earthquake in Haiti, I donated money; not this time. I don't feel like doing that. I don't know why. I'm not even there, and I'm being impacted so much, and I don't want to do anything. You can say I'm selfish, but I don't feel any guilty. At least not yet.

This whole thing might discourage Japan from having nuclear plants, but it might encourage more money into the police and the Self Defense Force for further militarization and state control in the name of emergency preparation. As U.S. soldiers from Okinawa arrive at the ground zero, their existence in Japan is inevitably being reevaluated--most likely favorably.

Amidst of everything, the ultra-right-wing current governor of the Tokyo Metropolis, who have used derogatory terms for Koreans and called homosexuals "defunct" in the past, stated that this calamity is a "punishment by heaven." He also indicated that lootings wouldn't happen in Japan unlike Black America. I am hoping that this will result in the complete end of his political life as an election for his position is coming up. I will see how (un)reasonable the residents in Tokyo turn out to be.

My struggle for psychological health will continue, against the rise of disaster nationalism. I need to learn how to take care of myself better than this. I'm losing sleep, and it's 7am right now, but I think I can finally go to bed. I wish that I won't wake up to any more bad news.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors host a Fundraiser for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

**Please note
: Location has been changed from 111 Minna to SOM Bar.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors host a Fundraiser for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
5:30pm - 8:00pm
2925 16th Street (between Van Ness Ave & Capp St)
near 16th Street BART

$20 suggested donation at the door

Program will include:
Silent Auction Items donated from the Board of Supervisors
Presentation from Consulate General of Japan
A few items have already been donated:
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd:
* Behind the scene tour of SF Zoo
* 5 signed copies of Speaker Pelosi's book
* 2 tickets to SF Ballet's Little Mermaid

Supervisor John Avalos:
* Lunch for 2 with Supervisor Avalos at Zabb Thai Cuisine in the Excelsior.

Supervisor Mark Farrell:
* tickets to the Exploratorium
Supervisor Eric Mar:
* 4 Tickets to the Academy of Sciences

Port of San Francisco:
* 4 tickets to a SF Giants home game
Game: Giants vs. Nationals
Date: Monday, June 6, 2011
Time: 7:15pm
Location: AT&T Park (Giants Ballpark)
Value: $57 each; total value: $228

and much more!

TO RSVP: click here for the Facebook Invitation

Donation will be made to 2 organizations:
JCCCNC: Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund
for more information:
Japan Multicultural Relief Fund
for more information:

For more information: contact any of the Legislative Aides from your Supervisor office!

Viva Mogi
Legislative Aide
Office of District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
(415) 554-7969 Office
(415) 554-7974 Fax

Friday, March 18, 2011

Interfaith Vigil & Relief for Victims in 3.13.11 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

A note from Zainichi Korean professor from USF

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

These past several days have been very emotionally difficult time for those of us who are from and have loved ones in Japan. Recalling all the struggles that my family and friends endured in the aftermath of the 1995 Kobe quake, I know the road to recovery will be long and tough. I could not help but feel useless as I watch all the horrific news and images from afar while our friends and their family in the affected region are struggling to survive. But we also believe that there must be something that I could do even across miles.
In this spirit, I decided to organize the interfaith vigil for victims, survivors and rescue workers in Japan, next Tuesday at University of San Francisco, with generous help from my friends and colleagues at USF.

Interfaith Vigil & Relief for Victims in 3.13.11 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.

DATE & TIME: 6pm to 7pm on March 22nd (Tues)
LOCATION: McLaren 250 at University of San Francisco.

The purpose of this vigil is to share our concern and prayer, and to send a message of encouragement and hope for people in Japan. We will also prepare the donation bin so that we could raise relief fund for Tohoku, Japan.

If you're in Bay area, please join us and even if you cannot make it, please spread the word to your network.

Thank you,

Hwaji Shin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Dept of Sociology
University of San Francisco

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Support Marginalized Communities and Families in Japan!!

Dear friends,

Japan Pacific Resource Network (JPRN) based in Oakland, which is one of the leading organizations in strengthening the non profit sector in Japan and the bi-national civil society between the US and Japan, and Eclipse Rising have teamed up and launched the Japan Multicultural Relief Fund. We have setup this Fund with the endorsement of the Peace Development Fund.

We have set up the (online donation feature), you can make a donation HERE. Your charitable contribution is a tax-deductible donation.

As you may know, JPRN and ER and its members combined together bring close to 5 decades of organizing and solidarity experience with maringalized communities throught the Japanese nation-state, from occupied Okinawa, to Ainu and landless/denationalized Zainichi Koreans, to the 'Untouchable' Buraku caste communities. Amongst our extensive network of colleagues on the ground in Japan, we are currently determining the recipient organizations to ensure all the support is directly injected to those most vulnerable, exposed and farthest removed from a lot of mainstream governmental and NPO support -either due to invisibility of these communities in general, cultural/ linguistic barriers, as well as the highly anticipated discriminatory practices in the relief process.

Why are we doing this?

We are minorities from Japan and are already hearing word from our own families and friends about the challenges confronting them, so we hope this Fund will complement those of the government and other large institutional efforts and empower those who have been long serving their constituents to administer the support they themselves deem is critical and necessary in the manner they see fit.

JPRN has a track record in relief fund support, setting up and administering the Minority Relief Fund in the Kobe Earthquake of 1995.

We are also waiting on endorsements by some key allies.

Please visit for more information!

The final list of fund recipient organizations will be available on the site shortly.

Thank you so much, and please forward this widely and post on your social media & networks!

Twitter #JMRF

Facebook: Search Japan Multicultural Relief Fund

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Meet Eclipse Rising at UC Riverside this weekend!

UC Riverside's Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide conference
March 10 - 12, 2011

Eclipse Rising members, Haruki Eda, and Kei Fischer and Kyung Hee Ha will be on a panel titled "Collusion of Japanese and U.S. Empire and the Politics of Transnational Zainichi Korean Resistance."

Haruki Eda
“We Lost the War, But Who’s We?”: Deconstructing Japan’s Anti‐War Education Discourse

Kyung Hee Ha
Zainichi Koreans (Koreans from Japan) in the U.S.: Multiple Displacement, Statelessness and Home Making

Kei Fischer
Zainichi Korean Social Activism

Our panel is scheduled at 5pm on Thursday, March 10 at HUB302A.

Please come and support our exciting work!

Critical Ethnic Studies and the Future of Genocide:
Settler Colonialism/Heteropatriarchy/White Supremacy -A Major Conference
March 10-12, 2011
University of California, Riverside

Ethnic studies scholarship has laid the crucial foundation for analyzing the
intersections of racism, colonialism, immigration, and slavery within the
United States context. Yet it has become clear that ethnic studies paradigms
have become entrapped within, and sometimes indistinguishable from, the
discourse and mandate of liberal multiculturalism, which relies on a
politics of identity representation diluted and domesticated by
nation-building and capitalist imperatives. Interrogating the strictures in
which ethnic studies finds itself today, this conference calls for the
development of critical ethnic studies. Far from advocating the peremptory
dismissal of identity, this conference seeks to structure inquiry around the
logics of white supremacy, settler colonialism, capitalism, and
heteropatriarchy in order to expand the scope of ethnic studies. An
interdisciplinary or even un-disciplinary formation, critical ethnic studies
engages with the logics that structure society in its entirety.

As ethnic studies has become more legitimized within the academy, it has
frequently done so by distancing itself from the very social movements that
helped to launch ethnic studies in the first place. Irrefutable as the
evidence is of the university's enmeshment with governmental and corporate
structures, the trend in ethnic studies has been to neutralize the
university rather than to interrogate it as a site that transforms ideas
into ideology. While this conference does not propose to romanticize these
movements or to prescribe a specific relationship that academics should have
with them, we seek to call into question the emphasis on professionalization
within ethnic studies and the concomitant refusal to interrogate the
politics of the academic industrial complex or to engage with larger
movements for social transformation.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Panel on contemporary ethnic minorities in Japan

Panel on contemporary ethnic minorities in Japan:
“New Ethnic Identity for Sustainable Citizenship: Searching for the Meaning of ‘Belonging’ in Japan.”

Jointly sponsored by Center for Global Studies, University of Shizuoka and Japanese American National Library.

Sunday, March 6
2-4 pm in Hospitality Room, Union Bank, San Francisco Japantown
(inside Miyako Mall).

The New Ethnic Identity for Sustainable Citizenship in Japan:
Searching for the Meaning of “Belonging”

In recent years, ethnicity has become a major point of interest and argument in Japan. Increasing globalization and a rapidly aging population have made it difficult for Japanese society to uphold its established identity as a nation. Growing ethnic diversity as a result of transnational migration and the resurgence of the indigenous people’s rights movement are two conspicuous examples of shifting collective identities within the Japanese population. In this time of unprecedented economic, political and cultural transformation, Japan’s ethnic minority groups have asserted their rights and renewed their identity while affirming their membership in the nation-state that has for so long denied its ethnic heterogeneity.
How, then, is it possible for each indigenous and immigrant group to construct a new identity while enhancing its citizenship rights and sense of belonging? What are the responses of Japan’s dominant majority population, and the media, the government, industries, markets, and popular culture? In this panel, experts on Japan’s three major ethnic minority groups—Ainu, Latin American immigrants and Vietnamese refugees—will examine the emerging ethnic identity within each community and its efforts to claim its place and rights in Japan. There will also be a presentation of a memoir of a Japanese family with history of immigration to California.

Date: 2-4 PM, Sunday, March 6, 2011
Venue: Hospitality Room, Union Bank, San Francisco Japantown
Sponsorship: Center for Global Studies, University of Shizuoka (Shizuoka Kenritsu Daigaku), and Japanese American National Library

Keiko Yamanaka, Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Moderator

Mitsuhiro Fujimaki, Center for Global Studies, University of Shizuoka

Ainu Identity and Museum: Searching for Symbolic Repatriation at Asahikawa City Museum

Takahito Sawada, Center for Global Studies, University of Shizuoka

Economic Participation and Transforming Identity of Japanese Latino Immigrants after the Late-2000s Recession

Yuko Okubo, International & Area Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Vietnamese Community in Osaka: From Human Rights to Cultural Heritage

Keiko Nakayama, Chair, Center for Global Studies, University of Shizuoka

Japanese American and/or American Japanese? Identities and Biographies of My Mother and Her Brother in America and Japan

Discussion with the Audience.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

ER member, Miho Kim, selected to be a candleholder for Day of Remembrance


Eclipse Rising expresses heartfelt prayers for peace for this Day of Remembrance 2011, a gathering to commemorate the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII on Feb. 20, 2011 in San Francisco. Our co-founding member Miho Kim will serve as one of the candle lighters for this event, and we regard this as a valuable opportunity to stand together on the side of justice, on both sides of the Pacific, in the United States and in Japan, so that state-sanctioned racist injustice manifest in the internment shall never be repeated in history.

Public Enemy #1: Japanese Americans during WWII, and Zainichi Koreans Today

Eclipse Rising has a unique perspective on the internment of Japanese Americans.
While Japan's colonization of the Korean peninsula ended seven decades ago, we the Zainichi Koreans and our lived experiences are living proof that its colonial policies remain intact within its own borders, unbeknownst to much of the unsuspecting world. To this day, Japan continues to refuse to grant civil, political and constitutional rights to descendants of former colonial subjects of the Japanese Empire. We continue to actively hide our Korean names, in fact, far more so than did Koreans when an assimilationist law existed to prohibit the continued use of Korean names in Imperial Japan, because the cost of retaining our cultural identity is often loss of livelihood in Japanese society. Discrimination in employment, housing, marriage, schools, etc. run rampant. In fact, it is illegal in Japan to hire a Zainichi Korean into public sector jobs at all, due to pervasive racist prejudice against us as potential criminals that can turn against Japanese interests and compromise its national security.

Among many forms of racist violence against us, the Korean schools and communities throughout the country are under violent assault by popular ultra-nationalists that label Zainichi who retain their cultural identity as Koreans as dangerous and offensive terrorist threat to Japanese society. The Japanese government continues to condone, if not perpetrate, racist epithets uttered by officials against our peoples, such as the Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro, among others, with impunity. In light of persistent violence and harassment across the country the Zainichi -- many of whom are children -- continue to suffer, Japanese criminal justice system has not punished perpetrators for their hate crimes.
Nor have the courts of Japan delivered a single just verdict for its crimes of sexual slavery and forced labor. The surviving victims continue to suffer unspeakable shame and insult, and they are our ancestors and elders. We see their tears in the tears of thousands of Japanese Americans whose family perished in the internment camps, as well as in other communities of color that witness their children get shot on the streets, not uncommonly by law enforcement ironically meant to protect them. We see their tears in the tears of many day laborers and excluded workers in this country, who toil amidst profound invisibility and vulnerability. Indeed, their very realities today are reminiscent of what the first-generation Japanese Americans experienced, as Japan’s rural peasants seeking a better life for their children, leaving behind increasing repression and exploitation by the imperialist Meiji government. Similarly, our elders are mostly poor farmers, driven away from their motherland, after generations of hostile feudalist oppression, followed by brutal Japanese colonization.


We, as inheritors of a tragic past, insist on, and celebrate, our right to be healed and exercise of that right as a community. The Day of Remembrance, at the end of the day, is not about victimhood, but is about honoring the Story of Triumph, which has its beginnings in our experience as victims of injustice.
Naming the injustice, speaking up to tell our story, as painful as it may be, to rally support for reconciliation, healing, and ultimately, positive social change - we believe that is what Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. would see as the "arc of history bending towards justice." And Eclipse Rising is inspired by precisely this journey - albeit arduous - courageously undertaken by many of our friends in the Japanese American community, as we follow suit and advocate for an end to the prevailing grip of state-sanctioned racism at home – both in the United States and in Japan.

February 20, 2011

Eclipse Rising
--Building Solidarity Network between the Oppressed Communities in the US and Japan--

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Fight against KORUS FTA, Fight for Humanity An Interview with Joo-Ho Lee

Last night, members of HOBAK, Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans, put together a meeting for their members and Eclipse Rising to meet with Mr. Joo Ho Lee of the Korean Health and Medical Workers Union. He is currently in the U.S. for four months as a research fellow studying the effects of U.S. privatization of healthcare and working with the California Nurse's Association to see how Korea can lower its nurse to patient ration to about 1:5 - 1:7 instead of the current 1:25 - 1:50. Luckily the details of the very informative presentation/meeting are mentioned again in an interview of Mr. Lee conducted by Christine Ahn of the Korea Policy Institute. Please read below for the full interview.

The Fight against KORUS FTA, Fight for Humanity
An Interview with Joo-Ho Lee

Interviewed by Christine Ahn* | February 14, 2011
Translated by Juyeon Rhee and transcribed by Lisa Hahn

A Congressional vote on the proposed Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) is likely to be held in the coming weeks, yet few members of Congress are fully aware of the implications of the agreement. Christine Ahn interviewed Mr. Joo-Ho Lee on January 22, 2011 about the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement's impact on Korea's health system. Mr. Lee is the Senior Director of Strategic Planning for the Korean Health and Medical Workers Union (KHMU).

In the interview, Mr. Lee discusses the threat that the FTA represents to public health in Korea: among other points, because health insurance corporations are classified as financial investment institutions, not health institutions, they are subject to finance regulations, but not public health regulations. Meanwhile, provisions of the proposed FTA, negotiated primarily in 2006-2007, represent the deregulatory fervor that swept U.S. economic policy at that time. Experts have identified financial deregulation as a major cause of the economic recession in the U.S., and such deregulatory provisions become law under the KORUS FTA. Mr. Lee speaks from his standpoint in the context of Korean society, but this matter, and others that Mr. Lee raises, also impact conditions and public life in the U.S. The Investor-State Dispute (ISD) clause he discusses applies equally to U.S., Korean, and third-nation corporations operating in both countries, allowing corporations to sue governments in Korea or the U.S. to strike down legislation passed in the interest of public health and be awarded taxpayer dollars for profits lost on account of laws protecting the public health.

[Ahn] Mr. Lee, what brings you to the United States?

[Lee]: I am here to lo learn about single-payer universal health care and California's Registered Nurse (RN)-to-patient ratio legislation. My union aims to see Korea provide free health care for all citizens and provide adequate staffing for patient safety, which they currently don't have yet.

In order to prepare for a future where health care is free (universal health care), my union is interested in the single payer plan. I am conducting research on what other kinds of health care systems exist through a joint research project with the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United. The Korean healthcare industry, government and hospitals are working to reducing human resources costs to make health care more cost-beneficial. As a result many workers have been laid off and then rehired as irregular workers.

[Ahn] The Korea-U.S. FTA is likely to come up very soon for a vote and very few people understand it. What do you think about the FTA?

[Lee] Overall, I am against the Korea-U.S. FTA, actually against all FTAs, and instead would like to see fair trade. The FTA supposedly means free trade, but the 'free' part refers to corporate freedom, their freedom to make more profit. It's irrelevant whether the FTA is beneficial to the U.S. or Korea. From the perspective of the working class and public, this FTA is only going to increase the profit maximization of U.S. and Korean corporations, and decrease the quality of life of the working class in both countries. That is why I am opposed to the FTA and very critical of it.

[Ahn] My understanding is that there are some provisions within the FTA that would extend the life of patents on pharmaceuticals and negatively influence Korea's positive list. Could you explain this and also the issue of Free Economic Zones (FEZ) U.S. health care insurance companies are establishing in South Korea?

[Lee] Since being here in the United States, I have discovered that a lot of people are critical of pharmaceutical companies because of their extensive taking of benefits and profits, and that their profits were huge. In Korea, it's the same problem. The entire amount spent annually on health care is about 30 trillion won, or $26 billion dollars. A third of that budget goes to paying for medicines. This is quite high because worldwide, statistically the cost of medicines is typically 1/10th of the entire cost of health care. In Korea it's much higher because Koreans spend more money on over the counter medicines rather than going to the hospital. Due to the high ratio of spending on medicine, Roh Moo Hyun (the former late South Korean President) sought to introduce a bill to put a limit on the positive list, that it only include generic medicines to keep people's health care costs low. This bill didn't go through and his reform failed because of internal politics and lack of support.

Under the FTA, pharmaceutical companies and the Korean government will purportedly create an independent agency to determine the costs of medicine. But we all know that pharmaceutical companies will determine the prices of medicine. Patents on U.S. pharmaceuticals would be extended 20-30 years and will therefore prevent all these medicines from becoming generic. Then these corporations can determine their own price, and by being able to determine their own price, they will be able to lobby for their own medicines to be included in the positive list. This will definitely have a huge impact on the cost of medicine, and the money will come from the people's pockets. Pharmaceutical companies are known for their lobbying activities and their financial support for politicians, for profit hospitals and doctors. For example, pharmaceutical companies finance most medical conferences, not just in Korea but also in the United States, which is also where doctors are given promotional medicines to give to their patients.

In addition to pharmaceutical companies, U.S. private health insurance companies coming into Korea will be really detrimental to South Korea's national health care. Insurance companies will not be regulated by public health care laws—rather, they are set to be regulated by financial legislation because health insurance companies are technically finance companies. MetLife, for example, doesn't just do health care. There are no articles on public health care or health provisions under financial regulations.

The social movements have been fighting for free, universal health care. Currently, public (government run) health care covers about 64% of an individual's medical costs. Because 36% is not covered, many people buy private insurance. The social movements have been calling for increasing national health care coverage up to 90%. Recently, the South Korean Democratic Party has added this call onto their platform. The critical problem if the FTA passes is with the Investor to State Dispute [ISD] mechanism. If it passes, U.S. health care insurance companies will be able argue that if they lose their profits they will have legal right to sue the state for their losses. For this reason, the South Korean parliament will likely decide against increasing the portion of national health care to 90% of a person's coverage since such a policy would place the government at risk of being sued for lost and future profits under the ISD mechanism.

In recent years, the South Korean parliament tried to regulate the entrance into Korea of super supermarkets (SSM), like Wal-Mart. But Tesco, a British supermarket, used the Korea-EU FTA to threaten lawsuits alleging that such legislation was impeding its future profits. But small-businesses are seeking support from their locally elected officials for some protection from these SSMs. The Korean legislature considered regulations that would prohibit them from entering certain portions of the market, but Tesco threatened to sue the government. Due to the threats, this legislation didn't even pass Parliament. Even though this regulation was intended to protect Korean markets and the people, the excuse legislators made publicly was "Let the market handle it." The ISD clause in the FTA is universal to all incoming corporations, including insurance companies, which will only be regulated by the Finance Committee, not the Public Health Committee.

Currently, the entrance of private insurance companies into the Korean market will be detrimental for many reasons. First and foremost is the issue of the lack of regulations. In the United States, there are many private insurance companies and U.S. regulations, which prohibit insurance companies from taking advantage of consumers. In Korea, private health insurance is still a relatively recent trend.

Korean private health insurance companies have been lobbying to increase their share of the country's health coverage (currently at 36%). Of the $26 USD billion national budget for medical care, $10-12 billion, half, goes to private insurance. We fear that with the FTA and the incoming U.S. private health insurance companies, the Korean healthcare market will be soon be entirely privatized. Private health insurance already absorbs 30-40 percent of the nation's entire health cost, and with this FTA their share of the entire health care budget will only grow.

[Ahn] Why are South Korean insurance companies supporting this FTA given that they would be in fierce competition with U.S. health insurance companies?

[Lee] Good point. First, why would Korean capitalists be supporting the FTA if they would be in direct competition with U.S. corporations? Why would Korean private health care insurance companies support FTA? Actually, if you look at most of Korea's corporations, the majority of their shareholders are U.S. corporations. For example, if you look at POSCO, Korea electricity, Korea communications, most of the shareholders are comprised of American companies. In other words, the Korean economy is subjugated to the U.S. economy, in that most Korean corporations are already U.S. ones. Approximately 50% of most Korean companies are U.S. owned. For example, GM owns Daewoo.

The second reason is that by weakening Korea's national health care system, the market would expand for private insurance companies. If the national health care system collapses, private insurance companies, which now have 36% of the market, can reap profits from the remaining 64% of the market now receiving care from the public health system. Even small Korean health insurance companies can get a small portion of that market dominated by U.S. companies. It's still beneficial to them, so of course they would support the FTA.

[Ahn] Do you think that because of the growing popularity of moving public health coverage to 90% and the threats to Korea's national health care system by this FTA, that there is widespread opposition, like there was to the beef issue?

[Lee] At the time of the explosive candlelight vigils, there were two important issues. One was beef and the second one was the issue of the privatization of health care. At the time, the progressive movement was able to highlight that the Lee Myung Bak administration was about to privatize the national health care system, which would collapse with the FTA. These two issues became very close to the people's hearts. It was such a sensitive issue that even political parties are using it on their presidential election platforms. The largest oppositional party is now called the Democratic Party, and they won the last mid-term elections.

The Democratic Party took on the issue of free lunch for elementary school students. The conservative Grand National Party was against it. They realized that the policy wouldn't cost much money and with this issue, they got popular support from the people. With regards to the Yeon-pyeong-do issue, they took up the banner of, "Do we want war or peace? We don't want war." This position also received broad popular support. The Democratic Party is running the 90% public coverage of health care on their election platform because they recognize that this is an important issue for the people. I think that their advocating for this policy as an election platform means they think they can win it.

The people's support for the issue is broad. If it comes to a debate in Parliament, then of course the people will advocate for keeping the national health care. One problem is that the Lee Myung Bak administration has been really silent on the FTA clause. They deny that the FTA will affect Korea's public health system.

There are two pillars that support health care in Korea. First, all hospitals are supposed to be not-for-profit. Although a hospital may be privately owned, there are many regulations on how much profit you can make from providing care. As a not-for-profit, you have to reinvest the money back into the hospital. This law keeps hospitals from becoming for-profit. The second pillar is that all hospitals must take national health care insurance. They cannot say, " I don't want to take a national health care insurance, I only want to treat patients who have private insurance." They cannot do that. These two regulations support national health care. Without them, public health care would not survive.

Naturally, there are doctors who have incurred high costs of training, and many of them have become discontent or disgruntled by their limited profit making. Meanwhile large hospitals have tried to privatize through lobbying government. One of President Lee's platforms when he was running for office was to privatize health care. But as soon as he was elected, he hit the wall of people's resistance on the beef issue and then on the issue privatization of health care. This is one of the sensitive, very sensitive areas that Lee has yet to move on. He could not do anything, so far.

[Ahn] But maybe through the FTA he can?

[Lee] He may be able to through the FTA, if he can mask the details. But the progressive movements are conducting massive education campaigns to build public support for expanding public healthcare coverage. I believe that the FTA can be stopped by the issue over the public's right to healthcare.

[Ahn] It seems to me the most promising, and I'm honored to be sitting with the person who's going to help make it happen!

[Lee] As for the Free Economic Zone [FEZ], it's not a part of the FTA package although it came about at the same time. As I've noted, the pharmaceutical companies and private health insurance companies (financial services companies) are major drivers for the passage of the FTA.

The third industry that threatens the healthcare system is large, for-profit hospitals in the Free Economic Zones. The three interest groups (pharmaceutical companies, private health insurance companies and for-profit hospitals) are working together to destroy the national health care system. We have to see all them working together in tandem.

The Lee Myung Bak government has established six special economic zones in major cities, like Incheon, Gwanyang, and Busan. In these six places, U.S. for-profit hospitals have been established to accommodate foreigners, especially foreign investors. The government argues that foreigners living in South Korea will find it hard to go into any hospital to receive care, and that special hospitals must be built for them. In these free economic zones, only private health insurance companies can operate. These for-profit hospitals are not required to take national health care insurance. The reality, however, is that these hospitals are also set up to service Korean nationals who can afford private health insurance. These companies advertise that they have the best health care in the world, the best technology, and direct connections to the U.S. health care system.

In response to this trend, our union has come up with the slogan "one country, two health care systems." This type of health care system will divide up people according to their income level, which will in turn enable private health insurance companies to come in and worsen the quality of the national health care system.

[Ahn] Could you clarify that point, Mr. Lee?

If you are a trained doctor, and you thought you were one the best doctors, where would you want to work? Would you want a regulated salary position or to work for a private, for-profit hospital that will pay you much more money. The quality of the national health care system will go down, which is the point we have been making in our public education that according to income level, the national health care system will suffer, which covers most (90%) of the people. In response, the government has said that they are just testing this model only in six cities. The government has also said that this would not impact the overall national health care system, but we know otherwise.

In conclusion, the three threatening forces—pharmaceutical companies, private health care insurance companies, and for-profit hospitals—are what has made U.S. health care not work for the people, and now they are going to do the same in Korea. They are the enemies of public health care systems around the world, so we need a joint struggle against them, from the United States and Korea.

When we talk about the problems of the FTA, we talk about tariffs, opening up markets, protectionist policies. But in the Kor-U.S. FTA, I understand that in the U.S., the loss of jobs in the auto industry and other manufacturing industries is more tangible. It becomes the easy social issue. But, what the FTA also does is deregulate and privatize sectors. It changes a country's social and public policies. It destroys them, what is left of a social welfare system. We have to understand that this is really about destroying public welfare systems so that corporate profits in both countries will be maximized. Under that premise, when we are struggling against the FTA, there are a lot of things that both countries can learn from each other.

There are four classes of social insurances that every country should have: 1) Health care insurance, 2) Compensation for industrial accidents, 3) National pensions, and 4) Unemployment compensation. These are four universal social insurances a country must provide for its people. When we struggle against the FTA, we can focus on how to restore these basic social pacts. We should fight not only to protect what's left, but also draw from other countries' examples and learn how people in the United States can restore their social welfare from what has already been privatized. Of course, this is going to be really hard. But this is a movement for humanity.

*Christine Ahn is Executive Director of the Korea Policy Institute.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Essay by Kei Fischer, Eclipse Rising co-coordinator.

“Koreans in the U.S. Call for Peace”
By Kei Fischer
January 20, 2011

When I disclose that my mother is Korean, I am occasionally asked, “Is she the bad kind or the good kind of Korean?” I was shocked when I first heard such a question, but soon realized it was said out of ignorance thanks to mainstream media’s polarized portrayal of good and evil on the Korean peninsula. This rhetoric of North Korea as the “axis of evil” is part of what has prevented the end of the Korean War. Now in its 6th decade, the Korean War never formally ended since there was no peace agreement, thereby dragging the Unites States, along with the two Koreas, into a perpetual Cold War state. Consequentially, it has built up to such scares like the recent Yeonpyeong Island artillery exchange between South and North Korea where two civilians were killed. The weeks of following news coverage went in circles, always blaming North Korea and never attempting to move forward by discussing denuclearization of Korea through peace and engagement, and not through escalating military aggressions like the war games conducted at Yeongpyeong Island, which started this recent conflict in the first place. As for myself and other Koreans in the United States, peace and division is a deeply personal issue with multiple generations continuing to experience the trauma related to war and division, yet hardly any media attention has been given to the Korean American perspective. Korean activists are out there advocating for peace because it means, “reclaiming something that was brutally taken from us.” The division of Korea was conducted without any input from Koreans, but it is the Korean people, “who were the first and foremost to be impacted.” Korea suffered under Japanese colonialism for 35 years, immediately after experienced the Korean War, and now a divided homeland. Families continue to endure separation because of the arbitrarily drawn 38th parallel. The signing of a peace treaty with steps toward reunification symbolizes healing and reconciliation for Koreans. A Korean activist commented that peace in the peninsula was a move toward a world where people could “thrive in peace,” since most importantly, an end to the Korean War would mean an end of the Cold War.

In the aftermath of the Yeongpyeong conflict, the Obama Administration’s response was to send 75 warplanes to South Korea and blame North Korea for attacking. Nevertheless, North Korean officials clearly warned before the South Korean military exercises were to happen that if conducted on the disputed maritime border, they would see it as a threat to national security. Hardly a month later, South Korea, backed by the U.S. military, reinstated the war games. This time North Korea showed great restraint by not retaliating and rightfully sending a message that, “The world should properly know who is the champion of peace and who is the real provocateur of a war.” This was thanks to Senator Bill Richardson who recently met with Pyongyang officials and was able to negotiate the return of UN inspectors to North Korea, an establishment of a hotline to avert “potential crisis” and sending fuel rods out of North Korea. Such an action should not be a surprise as North Korea has consistently shown that when approached with diplomacy, they reciprocate in steps toward negotiating a peace agreement with the United States.

Former president Jimmy Carter wrote about his visit with the “Great Leader,” Kim Il Song, in 1994 during which an “agreed framework” was accomplished as a result, stopping fuel-cell reprocessing and restoring the International Atomic Energy Agency inspection for 8 years. In 2005, the 6-party talks between North and South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States agreed on denuclearization, a pledge of non-aggression by the U.S. and steps to a permanent peace agreement. Unfortunately, the talks had been at a standstill up until last year due to the sudden shift to hard-line policies against North Korea by Bush and South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak. It seemed we were back to square one with the imminent threat of war. During Carter’s revisit to North Korea this past summer, officials clearly spelled out a “detailed desire” to denuclearize Korea and establish permanent ceasefire as based on the 1994 agreement and 2005 terms. North Korea’s wish for talks toward a permanent peace agreement has been the strongest and most unfailing message for peace since the armistice agreement was signed in 1953. As of today, the two Koreas have agreed to engage in high-level defense talks to resolve some of the tensions between the two nations. This occurred immediately a day after Obama visited China’s President Hu Jintao. Both encouraged talks between the two Koreas and, “agreed that sincere and constructive inter-Korean dialogue is an essential step” to improving North-South relations. This may potentially be followed by a return to the 6-party talks, which if successful, could end the Korean War and lead to nuclear disarmament.

When I visited Pyongyang three summers ago, the message for peace and reunification was unmistakable and unlike the demonization of North Koreans by South Koreans and Americans, the North Korean people continue to see other Koreans, including Koreans in the Diaspora, as their brothers and sisters and only regard them with love and affection. One of the guides during our tour there reminded us that Koreans shared over 5,000 years of history as one nation, so 60 years of being apart is a mere bubble in their existence as a unified Korea. Peace in the Korean peninsula is a constant in the North and Koreans and supporters all over the world have dedicated their lives to advocating for a peace agreement. Analyzing the decades-old peace movement and all the time individuals have committed to bringing about peace on the Korean peninsula makes me believe that a peace treaty is achievable within my lifetime. Therefore, I have no qualms about continuing to advocate for peace until that day comes true.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

土井敏邦(どい としくに) さんの「ガザ攻撃」2月4日 金曜日 午後7時より

An Eclipse Rising co-sponsored event - information in English below Japanese
*Please note: Film is in Arabic and some English with Japanese subtitles







2011年 2月4日 金曜日 午後7時より

2 プラザストリート, サンフランシスコ, カリフォルニア
(Arab Culture and Community Center
2 Plaza Street, San Francisco, CA)



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


土井敏邦(どい としくに)



(Palestinian Youth Network)

(Eclipse Rising)


支援団体:ACCC, Al-Awda, AROC, Break the Silence Mural and
Arts Project,Committee for Justice, Eclipse Rising,
Freedom Archives, Japanese Activist - Masao Suzuki,MECA
-Middle East Children
’s Alliance, SJP- UC Berkeley,

Join the PYN in a day of Action Commemorating the Gaza Genocide: Gaza Indivisible from Palestine the Homeland! Break the Siege! End Occupation!

A film screening of
Assault on Gaza*
Q & A to follow with Japanese Journalist and filmmaker, Toshikuni Doi

Friday, Feb. 4, 2011 - 7:00 pm
Arab Cultural and Community Center
2 Plaza Street, San Francisco, CA

~Light refreshments will be served~
*Please note: Film is in Arabic and some English with Japanese subtitles

Endorsed by: ACCC, Al-Awda, AROC, Break the Silence Mural and Arts Project, Committee for Justice, Eclipse Rising, Freedom Archives, Japanese Activist - Masao Suzuki, MECA - Middle East Children’s Alliance, SJP- UC Berkeley, USPCN

Monday, January 31, 2011

Blackness in Flux in Okinawa: Making Race in Between Racial "States of Being"

Blackness in Flux in Okinawa: Making Race in Between Racial "States of Being"
+ Black Japanese Guest Artists

February 11, 2011
@ 691 Barrows Hall
UC Berkeley
4:00 - 6:30pm

Ariko Ikehara (Ethnic Studies)

Mitzi Uehara Carter (Anthropology)

Co-recipients of the UC Center for New Racial Studies Grant 2010-11

Two black-Okinawan graduate students at UC Berkeley will present some of their research findings and their works in progress on race, space, and US militarization in Okinawa.

This forum will also bring together several black-Japanese who will share their poetry, art, and other creative works which speak to blackness in flux in their own lives

Guest performers:

Fredrick Cloyd
Sabrena Taylor
Michael James
Ahmed Yamato
Ariko Ikehara
Mitzi Uehara Carter

Program A: 4-4:45 pm
Mid-Year Grant Report

Ariko Ikehara: “Situating black-Amerasian Okinawans in mixed space/race history”

Mitzi Uehara Carter: “Nappy Routes and Tangled Tales of Blackness in Okinawa”

Program B: 5pm-6:30pm
Guest Performances

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Eclipse Rising demonstrates against the KorUS FTA

At noon on January 14, 2011, Eclipse Rising joined a group of Koreans, Korean Americans, Labor organizers, students, fair trade proponents and concerned citizens of the Bay Area who rallied in front of Representative Pelosi’s office in downtown San Francisco. The message was clear: a total dissemination of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, or KorUS FTA for short.

To see pictures from the rally in mid-January, please click the following the link (photo credit Richard Plunk):

First proposed in 2006, this bilateral free trade agreement would eliminate tariffs on 95% of goods traded between the two countries within five years, something that President Obama claims would create jobs for Americans. Yet, despite the anticipated increased cargo movement if the agreement passes, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has publically stood up against this agreement, “because it continues failed trade policy and is harmful to workers, consumers, and the environment in both South Korea and the United States.” In a letter to Representative Pelosi, the President of ILWU wrote that, “The ILWU will not support trade policy that exacerbates inequities, awards special rights to foreign investors, allows banks to practice the same disastrous policies that resulted in the current economic downturn, opens domestic environmental laws to foreign challenge, increases the trade deficit, and costs jobs.” Many against this FTA have pointed out that free trade agreements of the past have promised access to multiple markets for larger corporations, but increased competition and lowered workers wages and living conditions for the average citizens. KorUS FTA is actually the largest trade agreement since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994, the effects of which, such as job loss and suppressed wages, continue to impact US workers and our economy to this day. Not to mention the complete destruction it has caused in Mexico, where farmers were pushed out of business, workers completely exploited and the environment of Mexico totally exhausted by deforestation and the high usage of chemicals and fertilizers.
Sadly there is more than trade agreements imbedded within the KorUS FTA. Korean Policy Institute fellow and organizer with Korean Americans for Fair Trade, Christine Ahn, wrote that many chapters within the agreement, “detail a number of complex regulations and restrictions that have one clear aim: weakening public power and strengthening corporate power.” The investment chapter would allow foreign corporations to sue the South Korean government if they implemented new laws that restricted the corporation’s ability to profit. Also, a great concern among many Korean citizens is the threat of losing universal health care. With this FTA, U.S. pharmaceutical corporations could mandate the placement of higher priced drugs on South Korea’s positive drug list, “which is a listing of generic, low-cost drugs that the government believes are medically effective and which its insurance will cover.” This would make medicine that was once accessible, inaccessible to the everyday working people of South Korea, “potentially leading the government to abandon its public commitment” to health care.

You might be wondering why the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement has gone through four years of renegotiations and is yet to pass through either government bodies. There has been resistance to this agreement in both governments, but most especially by the Democratic Labor Party and Democratic Progressive Party of South Korea whose members physically blocked out other members of congress from ratifying the agreement in 2008. Ms. Kim Kyung Ran of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions from South Korea was one of the featured speakers at the rally. At a dinner following, she presented on the 4-year movement by the masses of South Korea against the KorUS FTA, which started with 300 organizations in 2006 and grew to a 700,000 strong candle light vigil in Seoul the summer of 2008. Ms. Kim warned us that the movement has since lost some of its numbers and received less coverage in the media. Both South Korean and U.S. governments are continuing negotiations around the FTA behind closed doors and unless the people come out strongly against the KorUS FTA, it will be passed by both governments in February of 2011 when it is up for ratification.
Please join Eclipse Rising in our campaign against the Korean-US Free Trade Agreement. You can
• click on links below for more information about the agreement and look out for future posts about this topic.
• write to your congressional representatives, Speaker of the House, or the President to speak out against the KorUS FTA.
• Or, write an op-ed for your local newspaper!
1) Analysis: Christine Ahn's article "Forget the FTA Fix, just say no"
and another is from People's Solidarity for Social Progress: "The Revival of the U.S.-Korea FTA, the Global Economic Crisis and U.S. Intentions in East Asia" by Pilsoo Im
2) From the US side: the website of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, which has a whole series of linked pages with facts on the Korean US FTA:
3) This is the page from, on the Korean US FTA, outlining the undemocratic nature of how this FTA was passed in 2007 :
4) and finally, for history and context, this is the blog of the grouping of KA orgs that fought the negotiations back in 2007, when delegations from movement groups in South Korea came to each negotiation site:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lunar New Year Festival 2011 - Year of the Rabbit

This event will feature a Korean drumming group, Jamaesori, and one of our members in an Okinawan drumming group!
Family-centered celebration of the Lunar New year!

For more information: