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by Pacific-Asia Resource Centre Monday, Sep. 24, 2001 at 7:18 PM

Mr. Muto Ichyo, a longtime activist in Japan's peace movement and for many years the leader of the PARC (Pacific-Asia Resource Centre) collective in Tokyo, released this statement by leading Japanese progressive groups and intellectuals.

We oppose the U.S. war of retaliation and Request the Japanese government to retract its support for this war

We were shocked at the sight of the massive destruction and deaths that resulted from the suicidal attacks at the economic and military centers of the United States carried out on September 11 using passenger airplanes as weapons. Thousands of innocent people were killed, and many more people suffered physical and psychological injuries. We who seek a world free from violence condemn this act, whatever its motivation, as a crime we cannot tolerate. We express our profound condolences for the victims to the bereaved families, their relatives, and friends, and wish for quick recovery of those who were injured.

We are alike shocked by what the U.S. government has decided to do in response to this incident. President Bush, declaring that the attacks were "acts of war," decided to launch "the first war in the 21st Century" mobilizing the whole international community to retaliate against the terrorists. Islamic extremists headed by Osama bin Laden are the immediate putative enemy. The United States is engaging in a full-scale war to annihilate terrorist systems said to be spread all over the world. The world's superpower has thus declared war against an entity which is not a state. Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz explained that the military campaign has as its objective termination of the terrorist networks and the states harboring terrorists. President said that the war will be large-scaled and prolonged. White House Press Secretary Fleischer briefed that in this war no option is excluded. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution giving President all powers of exercise of military forces and allocated billion for this war. The NATO has decided to participate in this war invoking its collective security clause.

Meeting an act of terrorism with a full-scale war is an unusual response. The September 11 mass killing of civilians obviously constitutes a major international crime, a crime against humanity. In addition to procedures under the U.S. domestic law, the perpetrators and accomplices of this crime should be brought to justice under the international laws and tried and punished by an international criminal court set up by the United Nations. Without such procedures proposed, the United States declared a state of war. Military attacks on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan are impending, and given the declared purpose of destroying the international terrorist systems, the theater of war is not limited to that country.

For the following reasons we strongly oppose this call for war and ask the Bush administration to immediately retract it. Firstly, this war not only would fail to bring about solution to the problem but also is highly likely to bring the whole world into an infinite chain reaction of violence and hatred. It is impossible to eradicate amorphous networks of terrorists by regular military means. As long as the social soil generating terrorism persists, the eradication of one organization would not foreclose the emergence of another. More importantly, the September 11 incident strikingly demonstrated the high vulnerability of advanced societies that makes their perfect defense a matter of impossibility.

Predictably, the U.S. retaliation is likely to invite an escalating terrorist counter-retaliation, which will be met by yet larger-scale counterattacks, thus leading the world into a situation where an ever larger number of innocent civilians will be victimized. The only way to prevent such would be to introduce a complete global system of surveillance that will deprive individuals everywhere of their freedom and privacy and destroy democracy. Already, steps are being taken in this ominous direction.

Secondly, we hear in the loud official and private voices calling for vengeance a horrifying note of arrogance and hatred, indicating the revival of colonial-time notion of civilization versus barbarity. This war is described as a war to protect civilization (Secretary of State Powel) and the struggle of "the good against the evil"(President Bush). Reports are arriving about Arabs and South Asians in the United States being treated with hatred and violence. The mainstream opinion in Europe seems to uncritically accept this civilization-versus-the-other approach. The perception that this arrogance equating Euro-America to civilization has historically humiliated and excluded the Islamic world and eventually generated antagonists to the West is dangerously absent in the dominant retaliation discourse.

"Shock, rage and grief there has been aplenty. But any glimmer of recognition of why people might have been driven to carry out such atrocities, sacrificing their own lives in the process, or why the United States is hated with such bitterness, not only in Arab and Muslim countries, but across the developing world seems almost entirely absent." (Seumas Miln, The Guardian Sept. 13) The lack of this recognition fuels terrorism as a desperate form of action. The world remembers that the United States, by waging wars from Vietnam War to the Gulf, by supporting dictatorial regimes in Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere, and, among others, by backing Israel's unlawful occupation of Palestinian territories, have directly and indirectly caused the deaths of far larger numbers of innocent

non-combatants than the victims of the September 11 incident. Now the dominance of the world by the United States has come to an unprecedented level.

The United States behaves as the global power center imposing neo-liberal globalization on the overwhelming majority of the world population, without addressing the resultant yawning gap between the rich and the poor and the disruption of the global environment. The Bush administration, adopting unilateralism as its policy, has been disrupting one positive international arrangement after another, ranging from global warming through ABM, nuclear testing, and international criminal court, to racial discrimination, all in the name of the U.S. national interests. This has provoked yet more intense public criticism and anger throughout the world. Such a global environment that the United States itself has created is the historical backdrop against which the September 11 incident occurred. In this sense, we consider that the September 11 incident victims were also sacrificed by the U.S. global domination.

Prime Minister Koizumi surprised us by promptly expressing his unconditional support for the United States "war of retaliation." The Japanese government is now searching for ways to enable the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to participate in the war, either by making new laws or misusing existing laws. They are also taking advantage of this incident to introduce crisis management packages and to militarize society. The government and ruling parties have decided to revise the Self-Defense Law in order to protect U.S. military bases in Japan and facilitate SDF's deployment for internal peace. These rightwing forces are now using the U.S. war for a trial run of a war-capable state introduced under the 1997 Japan-U.S. joint defense guidelines.

We are convinced that Japan ought to do exactly the opposite. If Japan is a country that "renounces war forever as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes," (Article 9 of the Constitution), what Japan ought to do with confidence and dignity try to persuade the United States into opting for other solutions based on "the trust in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world." (Preamble) The situation strongly suggests that only this approach will open up perspective for the prevention of another tragedy of the same kind.

We demand that the Japanese government, following the Japanese constitutional pacifism, retract its support for the Bush government's war of retaliation and request the U.S. government to drop its war plans. We demand that the Japanese government drop its attempt to use this opportunity to become a full-fledged war-capable state. In concrete, we demand that the Japanese government abandon its state-of-emergency legislation, SDF law revision for the protection of U.S. bases, new legislation and/or enlarged interpretation of the guidelines related laws for SDF's war participation.

We demand that the Japanese government drastically review its policy of promoting neo-liberal globalization processes that intensify social tensions and conflicts everywhere to an unbearable level. On this basis, the Japanese government should propose to the WTO and other related agencies a fundamental change of direction in global politico-economic management toward mitigating social tensions and ending elimination of the people at the bottom and further destruction of environment.

If people's security matters, marking a step forward in this direction is the only way to enhance the security of the people in the United States as well as the rest of the world. This is time we should cut the vicious cycle of violence and hatred.

Whether the September 11 tragedy can be the starting point in this direction or be the trigger to set the vicious cycle of violence into motion depends on our ability and will to create viable people's linkages to prevent the war and its expansion.

We are encouraged by voices coming from grieved New York people, "Peace, Not revenge!" In these voices we sense that many in New York who experienced the clashing calamity, now feeling war, bombing, and massive violence close to them, find that vengeance using overwhelming military power and the show of American force do not make amends for their grief. Voices against this war of vengeance are rising from peace movements and informed public of the United States. They are rising everywhere in the world.

We join our voices with them. Let us act together to stop the war and create a world that does not foster terrorism!

Original signatories include:

Akiyama, Naoe (Japan Negros Campaign Committee)

Ishizaki, Atuko (Grass Seeds Association)

Ukai, Satoshi (Hitotsubashi University)

Oshima, Koichi (Christian Political League)

Otsu, Kenichi (National Christian Council of Japan)

Kokawa, Yoshinobu (Christian Peace Network)

Kimura, Kenzo (Catholic Council for Peace and Justice)

Ogura, Toshimaru (Project against Network Monitoring)

Kurihara, Yukio (literary critic)

Sugimoto, Rie (Institute of Local Science)

Ogasawara, Kimiko (NCC-J, Peace and Nuclear Issues Committee)

Ohashi, Yukako (Soshiren: From my Body)

Koshida, Kiyokazu (Pacific-Asia Resource Center)

Tawara, Yoshibumi (National Network on Children and Textbooks)

Tono, Haruhi (Asia-Pacific Worker's Solidarity Links)

Tomiyama, Yoko (Japan Consumer's Union)

Nakayama, Chinatsu (writer)

Hanasaki, Kohei (Sapporo Freedom School)

Fukutomi, Setsuo (Concerned Citizens of Japan)

Matsui, Yayori (VAWW-NET-Japan)

Muto, Ichiyo (People's Plan Study Group)

Yoshikawa, Yuichi (Concerned Citizens of Japan)

Watanabe, Ben (Center for Transnational Labor Studies)

Mizuhara, Hiroko (Japan Consumer's Union)

Yamaguchi, Yasuko (Women's Democratic Club)

Yamaguchi, Yukio (Citizen's Nuclear Information Center)

Mizushima, Asaho (Waseda University)

Ota, Masakuni (writer)

Amano, Yasukazu (National Fax Network Against War)

Tateyama, Hiroki (Yamaguchi University)

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