Monday, August 17, 2015

Eclipse Rising's 'The People's History of Japan' mini-series: a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of Japan's colonial aggression and WWII: (2) Jiichiro Matsumoto (1887-1966)

In April 1955, Jiichiro Matsumoto (1887-1966), a leader of Buraku liberation movement, a politician, and a proponent of “Suihei-undo (Horizontal movement, i.e., Buraku liberation movement) of the world,” participated in Bandung Conference in Indonesia, where leaders from thirty newly post-colonial states, along with observers from national liberation movements throughout the colonial world, gathered. The photo is a reminder of the central role played by this Buraku liberation leader in the Third World Internationalism in the 1950s, which brought together Third-World radical grassroots activists and political leaders from all over the world.

According to AAPA (Asian American Political Alliance) Newspaper (vol. 1, no.4, 1969), “the Bandung Conference was one of the major impetus in the development of the Third World consciousness among the nations of Asia, Latin America and Africa.” The AAPA Newspaper went on to quote from Chou Enlai’s speech at the conference. He maintained, despite their ancient civilizations and contributions to the world,

 “ever since modern times, most of the countries of Asia and Africa in varying degrees have been subjected to colonial plunder and oppression, and have been thus forced to remain in a stagnant state of poverty and backwardness … we Asian and African countries, which are more or less under similar circumstances, should be the first to cooperate with one another in a friendly manner and put peaceful coexistence into practice. The discord and estrangement created among the Asian and African countries by colonial rule in the past should no longer be there. We Asian and African countries should respect one another and eliminate any suspicion and fear which may exist between us.”

Matsumoto was a friend to Chou Enlai and a regular participant of many international conferences. Matsumoto’s principle of  fukashin fukahishin (Do not invade, Do not allow getting invaded) was reflected in the Ten Principles for Peace declared at the Bandung Conference. 

In 1952, prior to Bandung Conference, Matsumoto had also played a leadership role in founding the Asian Ethnic Friendship Association. The Association originated in a deep regret of Japan’s invasion of Asian countries. The founding statement of the Association maintained: “If Japan desires to become a truly independent and democratic country and to contribute to world peace, Japan must establish friendly relationships with all ethnic groups in Asia.” The statement continued: “Asian people, who reside in Japan, would take the central role in this Association. The Association would promote mutual understanding and friendship among all Asian ethnic groups, based on the principle of fushin fukashin, equality, and mutual support.” According to Kazuaki Honda at the library of the Human Rights Research Center, the Association reached out to Koreans, Chinese, Indians, Mongols, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Thai, and Indonesians, who were residing in Japan, to become co-founders of the Association. (It would be interesting to find out how leaders of each group responded to the invitation.)

Matsumoto was also befriended by American civil rights activist and renowned performance artist Josephine Baker. In an interview, Matsumoto recalled his encounter with Baker:

“When Ms Josephine Baker visited Japan, I had an opportunity to meet with her and witnessed her suffering as a member of an oppressed race, which was engraved into her brown skin. I deeply empathized with her determination to devote herself, even to the last drop of her blood, to eliminating unjust discriminations from the world. [It was because of my encounter with Baker] I started to participate in [the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism]. Baker’s suffering and determination reminded me of my own lived experience of suffering as an oppressed person in Japan, my determination to end discrimination, and my struggles over thirty years. That is why I was delighted to promise her to work with her.”

Friday, August 14, 2015

Eclipse Rising's 'The People's History of Japan' mini-series: 
a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of Japan's colonial aggression and WWII

Eclipse Rising members may be Koreans but we are all born and raised in Japan, and consider Japan to be our home -- it is where our own families live, work, play, worship and raise our children and bury our dead. We continue to live under a virtual 'apartheid' system wherein we are denied citizenship, thus excluded from protection of Japan's constitutional rights, right to compulsory education, fair employment, and access to public resources such as pensions and welfare services. We are given no voting rights and cannot participate in electoral politics in Japan. This remains the case even as we are now third, fourth, or even fifth generation Zainichi Koreans born and raised in Japan. 

While we denounce and protest racist subjugation of our peoples and continue to call for genuine emancipation from Japan's colonial rule that should have been delivered to us when we were liberated in 1945, we are proud of the little-known history of the people of Japan who spoke up and out against injustices in their time and bestowed upon us a proud legacy. They are our honored forebearers, our Senpai; while nationalities may differ, we are united by shared values and principles of peace, justice and equity.

When we look back at Japan's modern history through the lens of what unites us, we find abundance of evidence that the people of Japan have weaved a rich history of their courageous activism and resistance for what is truly in the interest of their own families and communities. It is high time that we Nikkeis take the initiative to elevate evidence of the People's history of Japan and honor its legacy as stewards of its cause into the future.

It's a daunting task, but we have to start somewhere. In this mini-series, we'll introduce one tidbit of a blast from the past at a time that introduce, and illuminate, the undeniable truth of a proud social movement led by diverse people throughout the country -- ranging from the Buraku-min (the 'Untouchable Caste' people of Japan), workers, farmers, women, Japan's colonial subjects including the Koreans and Chinese, and more.


"Stop the War! Use the Money for the War, to Feed the Unemployed! ABSOLUTELY OPPOSED TO IMPERIALIST WAR" --- political poster, circa 1933-4. Source: Photo Archive of the National Suiheisha's 60-year History; Ed., Buraku Liberation League Central Office, 1982.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"A legacy of WWII, Korean residents test nation’s ability to accommodate non-Japanese" (Japan Times)

As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the "liberation" this month, we also know that the liberation is yet to come as imperial system that had put Koreans and other colonial subjects in the position of "second class citizen" during the colonial occupation is still alive and well in Japan. The third-, forth- and fifth-generation Koreans born and raised in Japan -whose condition is a byproduct of not only Japanese colonization, but also unending Korean War, the Cold War, and thriving War on Terror -struggle to gain recognition and equal access to resources as full members of the society to this day.
August 10, 2015

"A legacy of WWII, Korean residents test nation’s ability to accommodate non-Japanese"
by Eric Johnston

Underneath the train tracks of JR Tsuruhashi Station, it’s easy to wonder if you’re still in Japan. The smell of yakiniku barbecue permeates the air and the narrow warrens of shops offer all sorts of Korean foods, including the ever-popular kimchi pickles. Advertising posters are often in Korean, and the shop owners chat with each other in the same language.

The Tsuruhashi district is known nationwide and, increasingly, abroad as one of Japan’s main Korean neighborhoods. It’s part of Osaka’s Ikuno Ward, home to over 24,000 resident Koreans. That’s nearly 20 percent of the total ward population, the highest ratio of resident Koreans nationwide.

There are no official statistics on the total number of ethnic Koreans with Japanese nationality, but about 430,000 Koreans live in Japan as foreign nationals with permanent residency. Of these, about 370,000 hold special permanent residency, as they or their forebears came to Japan between 1910 and 1952 as colonial subjects.

The Kansai region, particularly Osaka, Kyoto, and Hyogo prefectures, are home to the largest numbers of Korean residents. Today, the Tsuruhashi “Korea Town” area attracts locals and tourists from around Japan and the world. It has a reputation as being one of the few remaining traditional working-class neighborhoods of “old” Osaka, the one that hasn’t yet been transformed into a cold, gleaming, upscale cultural desert of Italian and French fashion house chains and fast food restaurants — as one finds in many other parts of the country.

“Tsuruhashi and the Ikuno Ward area are one of many areas settled by Koreans during Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula. They did a lot of dredge work on the rivers and canals in the area, and were mostly laborers,” said Kwak Jin Woong, head of the Tsuruhashi-based Korea NGO Center.

The occupation lasted from 1910 to 1945. During that time, millions of Koreans, who were legally Japanese citizens even though they faced discrimination, came to Japan to work. After 1940, many were forcibly brought to do the toughest, dirtiest, and most dangerous jobs. By the time Japan surrendered in 1945, there were about 2 million Koreans living in the country.

The U.S.-led Allied Occupation offered them the chance to return to their homeland and about 1.4 million did. The roughly 650,000 who remained did so for a variety of reasons. Some had worked in Japan before 1940, had children born in Japan, and felt more Japanese than Korean. Some had prospered, or believed their economic prospects would be better if they remained in Japan. And some simply were too poor to return to Korea.

Occupation officials were not quite sure what to do with the large population of Koreans who remained. Officially, the American government wanted them to be treated as either “liberated nationals” or “enemy nationals.” But in May 1947, the Japanese government passed the Alien Registration Law, which declared that Koreans and Taiwanese were now to be considered foreigners. As such, they were required to carry identification papers.

When the Occupation ended in 1952 with the signing of the San Francisco Treaty, which returned sovereignty to Japan, the government formally revoked the citizenship of Koreans in Japan. The peninsula had been divided into North and South Korea and the Korean War was raging.
An estimated 90 percent of Koreans in Japan changed their nationality to South Korean, and two civic groups were formed: Mindan, which supported South Korea, and Chongryon, which supported North Korea.

About a decade later, in 1965, Japan and South Korea normalized relations, but those who supported North Korea were effectively stateless.

In 1959 the North Korean government launched an effort to draw Koreans from Japan by promising them the rewards of a socialist paradise. By 1967, Chongryon had gotten about 89,000 Koreans in Japan to resettle in the North, according to Soo Im Lee, a professor at Ryukoku University, in her 2012 report “Diversity of Zainichi Koreans and Their Ties to Japan and Korea.” Zainichi is a name for Japan-based ethnic Koreans.

Those that remained in Japan suffered discrimination in public life and from society, and they remained second-class citizens.

However, the Japanese government exploited the existence of Mindan and Chongryon, using their executives as quiet back-channel liaisons between Japanese politicians and the governments of South and North Korea.

It would be revealed in the late 1990s that some Chongryon members also served as spies for North Korea in Japan.

In stories that sounded like the plots for fiction thrillers, Korean residents in Japan who had become disillusioned with North Korea wrote books about how they had received coded instructions over short-wave radio and made secret trips to Pyongyang to deliver suitcases full of cash.
They also mapped parts of the coast on the Sea of Japan, where North Korean agents sought isolated beaches on which to land at night by rubber boat. The mappers would include information about the nearest train station for agents to continue their journey.

By the end of the Cold War in Europe in the early 1990s, much had changed. In 1991, the Japan-South Korea Foreign Exchange Memorandum gave pro-South and pro-North Korean residents in Japan the status of special permanent residents. Previously, only those with South Korean nationality had enjoyed special permanent residency status.

At the same time, the past 20 or 30 years had seen some positive changes. The requirement that Korean residents be fingerprinted was abolished. Some municipalities now allow Korean residents to vote on certain local ordinances. More public-sector jobs are open to Korean residents than in the past.

However, problems remain. Kwak noted that many major Japanese firms remain reluctant to hire Korean residents, and that discrimination in jobs and housing hasn’t disappeared. More worrisome for many Korean residents is the rise of anti-Korean hate groups like Zaitokukai, which verbally abuse Koreans and make death threats toward them.

A survey by the Organization of Korean Youth in Japan between June 2013 and March 2014 of 200 Korean residents under 30 years old showed that about a third of them avoided discussing Japan-Korean history in public and on the Internet. In an August 2014 report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Lawyers Association of Zainichi Koreans (LAZAK) called on the U.N. to pressure the Japanese government to prohibit the use of public facilities by groups promoting or inciting racial discrimination.

Just this month, the Diet has also begun to debate a bill that not only Korean residents in Japan but human rights activists have long sought: a law that would ban public racial discrimination at the national and local level. Kim Chang Ho, a lawyer with LAZAK who helped prepare last year’s report to the U.N., called the bill a major step forward to secure the rights of foreigners, but noted it faces tough political hurdles.

“The bill was jointly submitted by the Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and independent Upper House member Keiko Itokazu. But the Liberal Democratic Party has taken a very cautious stance, so it’s unclear as to whether . . . the bill will be enacted in the current session,” Kim said.

If enacted, the bill would benefit not only Koreans but all foreign residents in the future. It is part of the larger effort by Japan to come to grips with not only its historical legacy in Korea in the pre- and postwar period but the more general question of how Japanese in the future want to live with foreigners in their midst.

“For many years, Japan’s policy toward resident foreigners was one of ‘assimilation,’ which basically meant ‘make them the same as Japanese.’ Now, it’s evolving toward ‘integration,’ which allows for more differences,” Kwak said. “Hopefully, though, we’ll see the day when the official policy and social mindset in Japan is one of ‘coexistence’ with Korean residents and foreigners, which will respect and protect differences.”

Friday, April 3, 2015

Support Nan Hui!

April, 1, 2015 -- Eclipse Rising member Kei went to Sacramento today (actually close by) for Nan Hui Jo's sentence hearing. It was extended to April 28, since a new trial lawyer took her case. He is supposed to be one of the best criminal lawyers in the country and we're hoping he might be able to contest the jury's decision to find Jo guilty. The sad thing is that she'll have to be detained at the Yolo County jail until then.
Today's experience hit many of those who attended, hard. We had a short debrief afterward. It was shocking to see Jo, herself, looking so small in a striped green jumpsuit and shackles. It was even more shocking to see the father of Jo's child in person at the hearing. This is the man who admitted in court he abused her "once," was described by the DA as a "victim" since he claimed Jo kidnapped his child, and now has full custody of their daughter. I was told by the campaign organizers that unfortunately there are too many cases similar to Jo's where the abused is punished.
Despite all the struggles, there are 4 things you can do to support! I wanted to encourage you all to take part in one way or another and please share this with your networks. The following, I wrote for my students. You may want to check out their facebook pageand official campaign page for up-to-date info and background info.
1.) The organizers of her campaign are asking folks to write her letters in the mean time. If you can write in Korean, great, but if not, English should be fine, since she'll hopefully receive help translating. She's also a photographer and an artist, so if you want to draw her pictures, I'm sure she'd love that! She is finding a lot of comfort in these letters. Please read the following guidelines for letters at this link:
2.) The new trial lawyer costs a lot of money, so the campaign needs help fundraising! If you are part of an organization, or would like to organize a fundraiser, please do so! Here's the link to the online fundraising page:
3.) No matter what happens with her criminal case, Jo is still at high risk of being deported to Korea and never seeing her child again. The little girl has already been cut off from calling and speaking to her grandparents in Korea. She only speaks Korean and is cut off from any communication with family members who she really knows and speak the language. You can still call, email, or tweet ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and demand they drop the deportation hold on Jo. Click on the following link to see the ways you can contact ICE and CBP:
4.) Follow the case on social media ( or (@STANDWITHNANHUI on Twitter) and stay tuned for details about the new sentence hearing court date: April 28. We need to pack the court room this time and can use as many bodies to show support!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Critical Voices From "Japan" is presenting 4 films in February & March in the Bay Area. Thank you to those who came to the screening of "Our School" and "Sayama"! 
Here's our next film!!!

My Heart is not Broken Yet (2007, dir. Ahn Hae Ryun: English subtitles)

Presented by Eclipse Rising
Co-sponsored by Asian Women United and SFSU Asian American Studies Department
Opening introduction by Professor Grace J. Yoo, Asian American Studies
Tuesday, March 3, 6:30 pm
J. Paul Leonard Library, Room 121
San Francisco State University (mapdirectionsparking​)
Suggested donation: $3-15 (no one turned away for lack of funds)

Ms. Shindo Song is the only Korean resident who has sued Japanese government for the human rights violation she experienced as a “comfort woman.” Born in 1922, Ms. Song was forced into sexual slavery for Japanese imperial army in China at age 16. In 1993, nearly half a century after the war ended, Ms. Song sued Japanese government, demanding an “official apology.” Even after losing the 10-year-long courtroom battle in 2003, Ms. Song wasn’t defeated and stayed strong as she told her supporters, “Although I lost the case, my heart is not broken.”The documentary was made possible with the donations of 670 individuals who have built a loving and trusting relationship with Ms. Song, and it portrays her as someone who’s more than just a “former comfort woman,” but a super witty, talented, kind and caring human being.
Trailor (Japanese):

For questions, e-mail Kei Fischer at:
Also save the date for our last film showing from Critical Voices from "Japan" series!! 
For details, please visit our FB event page!!!
  • March 10: Iitate Village: Investigates the challenges of a farming village in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster@ New Parkway, Oakland 7p
P.S. Eclipse Rising is leading the global petition to stop Abe regime of Japan to deny Japan's imperial past and miseducate youth using revisionist history textbooks! Please sign and spread the word!!
Say NO to ‘Revisionist History’ that glorifies Japan’s WWII aggression and war crimes! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Eclipse Rising presents "Critical Voices from 'Japan'" Film Series (Feb & March 2015)!!!!!

2015 is a very important year for Zainichi Koreans as it marks:
  • the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II; 
  • the 50th anniversary of the (re)establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Republic of Korea (South Korea);
  • the 4th anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters that hit the greater Tohoku region.
In commemoration of these historical "endings" and "new beginnings" that have continued to shape our lives in Japan and beyond, Eclipse Rising is thrilled to present a social justice film series in collaboration with other progressive organizations!!!

Save the dates for Critical Voices from "Japan"!!
(film descriptions at the end)
- Feb 17: Our School: Depicts every day life of Korean school in Japan @ New Parkway Theater, $8
Opening remarks by the award-winning filmmaker, Deann Borshay Liem

- Feb 24: Sayama: Follows an untouchable buraku couple's life after unjust conviction and decades of incarceration of the husband, Mr. Kazuo Ishikawa
@ New Parkway Theater, $10
Discussion with Asian Prisoner Support Committee & East Point Peace Academy 

- March 3: My Heart Is Not Broken Yet: Humanizes a former Korean "comfort woman" residing in Japan, co-sponsored by Asian Women United
J. Paul Leonard Library Room 121, San Francisco State University, $3-15 suggested donation (No one turned away for lack of fund)

- March 10: Iitate Village: Investigates the challenges of a farming village in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster, co-sponsored by No Nukes Action
@ New Parkway Theater, $10
Poetry reading by Suzy Huerta

Check out our Facebook event page for updates!

------------------------------ film descriptions --------------------------

FEB 17
OUR SCHOOL (2006, Dir. KIM Myung Joon: English subtitles)
Our School depicts the every day life of Koreans in Japan or "Zainichi Koreans," particularly, the "North Korean" school and 3rd generation Korean students. It illuminates an invisible aspect of North Korea through the history of the diaspora of Korean people who believed in one unified and liberated Korea. It offers a poignant counter-narrative to the popular representation of "North Korea" as seen in The Interview or any other media in the West or in Japan. Through Our School, a narrative put together by South Korean director, Kim Myung Joon, we witness a very small but misunderstood community of Zainichi Koreans who dream of a unified Korea that transcends the Cold War and negotiate complicated systems of nationality, identity, and belonging as Koreans in Japan.

FEB 24
(2013: Dir KIM Soung Woong)
Sayama follows everyday life of Mr. Kazuo Ishikawa and Ms. Sachiko Ishikawa in their struggle for justice. Kazuo, a descendant of buraku --Japan’s outcast group-- was wrongly convicted of rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Sayama-city in 1963 (known as the “Sayama Case”) and imprisoned for more than 30 years until he was conditionally released in 1994. At age 74, Kazuo and Sachiko still continue their weekly demonstration at the Tokyo High Court to demand retrial and seek justice, in addition to touring all over Japan to meet their supporters and raise awareness around the case. Although one tends to see Kazuo and Sachiko simply as “freedom fighters,” the film does a beautiful job humanizing the tireless warriors by showing the “back-stages” where they get to do “ordinary” things such as doing house chores, having haircuts and going on a vacation. Director Kim invites all of us to join the movement and be part of Kazuo’s dream of getting back to school after retrial.
Official website:
English Trailer:

My Heart is Not Broken Yet
(2007: Dir. AHN Hae Ryung)
Ms. Shindo Song is the only Korean resident who has sued Japanese government for the human rights violation she experienced as a “comfort woman.” Born in 1922, Ms. Song was forced into sexual slavery for Japanese imperial army in China at age 16. In 1993, nearly half a century after the war ended, Ms. Song sued Japanese government, demanding “official apology.” Even after losing the 10-year-long courtroom battle in 2003, Ms. Song wasn’t defeated and stayed strong as she told her supporters, “Although I lost the case, my heart is not broken.” The documentary was made possible with the donations of 670 individuals who have built loving and trusting relationship with Ms. Song, and it portrays her as someone who’s more than just a “former comfort woman,” but a super witty, talented, kind and caring human being.
Official website:

Iitate Village
(2012: Dir. DOI Toshikuni)
“Iitate Village” follows 2 families and several villagers in the rural farming town of Iitate in the Soma District of Fukushima, Japan during the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 Tohoku Tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Famous for its beef, most residents depend on cattle breeding, yet due to radiation contamination, we witness the families having to throw out fresh milk, sell off their cows, and slowly shut down the very farming facilities their families have depended on for generations as a way of life. Within a month, the town is forced to evacuate its residents and we observe the nuanced challenges that result from family separation and what was once a tight-knit community quickly dissipates. Doi interviews these family farmers in their most vulnerable and intimate moments when they are forced to let go of all they know: their families, their farms, their livestock, their way of living, and most importantly, the town of Iitate, a place that Minori Takahashi, a young mother, called, "A place you come home to, where you're comfortable, you belong."
Official Website:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Reclaiming the Cherry: Questioning what it means to be from "Japan"

Note: I was moved to share this piece as a way to convey my deeply personal motivation for supporting the global petition campaign currently under way to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to stop the whitewashing of Japan's wartime history in history textbooks in Japan. In order to contribute to peace in the region, and peaceful Japan that reflects our values, I believe we must reclaim what it means to be from Japan on our own terms, rather than assume what it has come to represent in the minds of the far-right revisionists in power in Japan today. Only then, there is a potential for a perspective that is wholly Nikkei and also sides with the victims and not the aggressors, shielded from the characterization of the historical revisionist issue as a matter of geopolitical maneuvering by China and Korea vying to squeeze Japan out of the evolving sphere of influence in the region.

Join our social media photo campaign and use‪#‎TruthTodayPeaceTomorrow‬ and sign the online petition at today!

I've had the privilege of getting to know the members of a small Native American Tribe up in Shasta the last decade. Despite unimaginable violations and assault by settler government(s) and corporations that seeks to obliterate them "from the map," they continue to carry out their traditional ways of life and fight for their right to exist as a unique nation of peoples. It was at one of their ceremonies, an elder said to me, "we always say 'you must know where you come from in order to know who you are, and also, where you're going, and supposed to go.'"

This elder, actually is by blood, a Nikkei, Japanese American. And she's also a proud Tribal elder and fierce advocate for social justice and human rights. She sighed upon learning about Japanese government's attempt to deny its own history of aggression and wartime atrocities. She later posted on Facebook:

From Meiji times, Japan has deliberately embraced American white supremacy attitudes, making white supremacy policies and stand in the world in order to build an empire. White supremacy, violence, hate go hand in hand with what destroyed Japan from the inside out.

She also said to me: "When Japan lost their clan ways, they lost their path." This surprised me.  The reason for the surprise, is that from my experience, very few people know of any Japan other than one that these revisionists refer to, such as the Japan that actually was full of hundreds of 'clans,' such as Emishi, Satsuma, Kumaso and Izumo, and oh so many more, that flourished with their respective distinct cultures and ways, even languages. One needed an interpreter travelling from Kyushu to Honshu. I doubt she knew, but after I thought about it, I came to a realization, that she spoke universal truth not just about Japan but human souls, as well as nations. She didn't need to know that Japan actually really had 'clans' prior to 'Contact.'

Nikkeis must reclaim our indigenous roots in the land that Abe now calls "Japan" on our own terms in order to transcend the failed historic legacy of White Supremacist ideology-influenced Imperial ideology and the worldview Abe is trying so hard to revive with his administration as a vessel to resurrect the Empire to its past glory.

Our ancestors in Japan less than two centuries ago may not have identified as "Japanese" the way Abe defines "Japan" today. In fact, they may not have identified as Japanese over Korean. For example, Izumo had long historic relationship with the Shilla Dynasty, and their religious worldviews are more similar than that of Izumo and Yamato to the north, both part of what is now "Japan." Asuka era left us with many historic shrines still frequented by the faithfuls in Kyoto and beyond -- and it's recognized as fact, that Asuka began when fallen princes from warring states in what is now the Korean peninsula fled and settled there. When you see a map of the Far Eastern Archipelago (I just made this up but it suits the worldview I choose to have for that region much better than Japan/Korea binaries) as a mediterranean without any regard to today's modern nation-state boundaries, you might be surprised how we've managed to come so far with this unquestioned, deeply imbedded assumption, that the Far East is divided into territories neatly divided into three: China, Korea, and Japan. There are literally thousands of islands splattered all over the fringe of the continent. Of course cultures and civilizations mixed every which way for tens of centuries.

In that context, in retracing our 'roots,' how helpful is it, if at all, to use today's definition of "Japan" as unit of analysis and reflection? Really, is "Japan" even relevant to our hidden story of where we REALLY come from?

What if, by accepting "Japan" to be however it is defined by the Abe regime, we are inadvertently internalizing the impact of an explicit strategy of conquest Meiji leaders exercised for the sake of national cohesion? Local 'kami' worshipping practices and rites were made illegal (while only State Shintoism was recognized 'Japan's official' religion); language was homogenized ; US creators of public education system (designed to support settler expansion) were recruited to Japan to appropriate indigenous controlled territories (Hence, first university is Hokkaido, Ainu territory)... and the list goes on.

And so, I feel quite easefully, the elder made a very astute -- observation. Indeed, "Japan" had implemented a line of strategies designed for conquest of what was truly a diverse, multiethnic, multicultural archipelago, as gleamed from the US vis-a-vis mostly Native Americans. The clan roots would give this truth away. God forbid that we relcaim any roots other than one Abe would like us to believe is ours.

Therefore, I'm willing to bet, the "Japan" that is a victim of racist bullying by the international community, is not referring to the Japan that most of our ancestors would have identified with. Abe's grandfather (first post-war Prime Minister Kishi) was in a leadership position for the Imperial Japanese government, which unleashed unspeakable tyrannic rule over the Japanese people -- our ancestors -- and fiercely repressed and exploited farmers and rural peasants throughout Japan to fuel its empire-building effort. Japan's war capacity was built on the backs of our farmer and merchant ancestors, women, elders and children. Life was so incredibly difficult, so many chose to jump on a boat destined for some faraway distant land (like the United States) they knew nothing about. Nikkeis around the world share this history. Massive emigration from Japan in early 20th century is interestingly timed with the succession of popular riots and rebellion throughout the country for excessive taxation and other exploitative government practices. many of our ancestors stood up to protest the Japanese government - run by people Abe strongly identifies with, ideologically, and politically.  He fashions himself a self-appointed 'heir' to THIS throne.

Only in the "clan ways" we can trace the courageous legacy of our great-grandparents standing up to power, scaling the walls of the kura to liberate rice for the children, organizing and founding Japan's first national farmers cooperative, or the socialist party, or the Suiheisha, organization led by the bold and brave Burakumin which published modern Japan's first human rights declaration in history....

When we lose our "clan ways" we simply are left with "Japan" and it is unidimensional. We are simply consuming the Japan that is served up by the Abe regime and are fine with that because in absence of it, there is only emptiness. But if we choose to heed the message of the elder, then we just may come to discover, that our roots and the roots of Abe's are not only quite distinct, but at odds....

When Imperial Japanese Army occupied new territory, they planted cherry trees on the school grounds as they did so throughout schools in Japan. Public education was a means through which to instill imperial ideology and cultivate absolute, unconditional loyalty and surrender to the Emperor. As the cherry flower petals fluttered away with the slightest of a breeze at the height of its blooming beauty, as the Emperor once stated, "see, that, is the most virtuous way of life..." to give up one's life at the height of his youth. This, is how Kamikaze fighter spirit was born. Becuase the value of one's life is "lighter than goose feather." Yes, he was speaking about your life, and those of our ancestors. But probably not Abe and his ancestors.

In the course of its Empire-building effort, the Imperial Japanese Army appropriated cherries for its symbol precisely due to its sacred standing among the Japanese. The planting and harvesting of rice, our lifeblood, was informed by the timing of wild cherry blossoms in the mountains. Without cherry flowers, our ancestors would not have existed at least in the way we understand today. We can either reclaim our cherry flowers as source of life as our ancestors surely did, or as signifying the disposable nature of human life in absolute, unconditional service to the holy Emperor and his country, as the fascist leaders of WWII Japan (and Abe now carrying their torch) would have liked us to embrace with joy and gratitude.

Looking inward and backward is like looking into a hologram. It's never what it seems, and it's all of what it seems, all at the same time. It's hard to see past the distorted images or collages of pieces of images... but the important thing to note, is that you take that first step, acknowledging, but not engaging, all that illusion. All the path lead to the same place at the end of the day, as the elder would say. As long as you continue to seek the truth. When you do, you will know, to distinguish illusion from what is real.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Co-sponsored by Eclipse Rising!
1/20/14 Report In Berkeley  from Fukushima by Chieko Shiina

Tuesday! Jan 20, 2015 at 7 pm
BFF Fellowship Hall
1924 Cedar Street, Berkeley, CA 94709

Wheel-chair accessible via the ramp on Bonita Avenue.
(At Bonita Ave, one block east of MLK Way & three blocks west of Shattuck Ave)
This location is wheelchair accessible via the ramp on the Bonita Avenue side of the building.
Suggested Donation $5 - 10 No one turned away for lack of funds!

Chieko Shiina, an anti-nuclear  activist from Fukushima, Japan will be visiting California in January and will be speaking in Berkeley about the present situation for the children and people of Fukushima as well as the growing repression of anti-nuclear activists and rise of militarization including the introduction of the Abe administration of secrecy laws.
The contamination of the people of Fukushima and Japan continues. Children and families are getting sick. There is a growing epidemic of thyroid cysts and surgeries. The statistics are being covered up by the Japanese government. Additionally, Shunichi Tanaka, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority is preparing to release thousands of tons of contaminated radioactive water into the Pacific ocean.
This will be lethal to life in the oceans! It will reach California and the entire Pacific rim. The Abe government in power is continuing to tell the Japanese people that they can "overcome" radiation, and that they can de-contaminate Fukushima. Chieko Shiina is an anti-nuclear activist in Fukushima who has been fighting to get emergency healthcare to the residents. They are organizing against the restart of Japan's remaining 50 nuclear plants, which the Abe government wants to restart.

The SF Bay Area “No Nukes Action Committee” has been campaigning to protect the people of Fukushima and Japan, and to keep other Japanese nuclear plants closed. The Committee also opposes all nuclear plants, including the PG&E operated Diablo Canyon nuclear plant on the Pacific coast over earthquake faults and near San Louis Obispo. They have monthly rallies to speak-out  at the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco on the 11th of every month at 3:00 pm. The consulate is located at 275 Battery St/California St., San Francisco, near the Embarcadero BART Station. Next action is on Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 3:00 PM.

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