@March 31, 2013 at Yokosuka Main Gate
Good afternoon our friends in the 7th fleet. We hope you are enjoying a happy Easter, a day of hope around the world. We hope youfve been enjoying your time here in Japan. While you are here, please take a good look around you. You will notice a few things. You will notice there is almost no crime. You can feel safe walking the streets here. And, wefve got great health care here. I got an MRI done at a hospital here in Japan. I didnft have an appointment. They said OK but youfll have to wait. Can you believe that? I waited about 30 minutes. They did the MRI. When we were done, the nurse said, gThe doctor is on his lunch break, but he can see you.h I went in and the doctor spent thirty minutes of his lunch break showing me the MRI pictures. Then, I got my prescription, 20 dollars. And then I paid the MRI bill, 40 dollars. Total bill, 60 dollars.
Most of you, I assume, are working in the war-making industry somehow, either in the military or working for a contractor. You donft have to worry about your medical care now, but the millions of hard-working American taxpayers who pay for your free medical care, canft get medical insurance themselves. You find out you canft get insurance. And then, your child has a medical problem, so you gotta sell the car, then you canft pay the rent or your mortgage and then you got no money left, maybe the company laid you off, too, and now youfre in trouble. What are you going to do?
Several years ago, when my friends and family still had a job, every time I would talk about the Japanese health care system, they would say gThatfs socialism!h I said, gWell, I donft know if itfs socialism or not, but it works really well.h You might say, itfs almost as good as the free socialized medical care people in the military get.
And, then my friends and family in America say, gBut, in Japan, you canft choose your own doctor.h I tell them, gNo, I can walk into any clinic in Japan and choose any doctor anywhere in the country I want to. I can walk into the clinic down the street, and I can walk into the biggest university medical center in Japan any time I want to and get all the high-tech world-class care I need.h
And then my friends and family in America say, gBut, in Japan, you have to wait months to see a doctor, right?h I tell them the truth: gNo, I walk in, give them my card, wait about twenty to thirty minutes, and the doctor sees me. And, you get the feeling that everybody in the health care system in Japan really cares about YOU. The nurses and doctors are real friendly, and the clinic office people are real polite.h
gBut, Japanese health care is really expensive, yeah?h they say. I tell them the truth: gNo, in fact, itfs a lot cheaper than American insurance. A family of four in Japan pays about 200 to 300 dollars a month for insurance. In America, itfs 600 to 800 dollars a month, and thatfs if youfre one of the lucky ones that a private, for-profit insurance company will accept.
gBut, the Japanese health care system is a bureaucratic mess, right?h my friends in America ask me. gNo, here in Japan I filled out one form at the city hall twenty years ago, Ifve never had to fill out any other forms at all when I see the doctor here, they never cancel your insurance or deny you medical care even if you are months behind in payments, and the amount I pay has barely gone up the last 20 years.h
And, do you know what? Lately, when I have this conversation with my friends and family back in America, they donft just say, gOh, well, thatfs socialism and then stop listening. Nowadays they listen and they kind of like what they hear. Do you know why? Because they donft have jobs, or the jobs they have donft pay a decent wage for the hard work they do. You drive around the neighborhood and the gFor Saleh signs in the front yard of house after house, all in a row practically in some neighborhoods, say gBank Owned,h gBank Owned,h gBank Owned.h Yeah, they couldnft pay the mortgage any more, they had their homes repossessed and now theyfre living in a small apartment or with family somewhere. The economic stress has caused so many more divorces, stress-related diseases and mental depression among my friends and family back in America.
If you stay in the military long enough to retire with all the benefits, youfre one of the lucky ones who get the monthly pension and good health care for the rest of your life. But, what about the vast majority of military people who donft get the benefit of the militaryfs socialized pension and socialized medical care? Whatfs going to happen to you when you leave the military and go back home?
If youfve been to Okinawa, you probably know the name of a US Marine base there called Camp Smedley Butler. Smedley Butler fought in China, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and in Europe in the First World War. For a long time, he was the most highly decorated Marine in history.
But, then, he turned against killing and destruction. He quit the Marines and changed direction 180 degrees. He started speaking out against the for-profit American war machine. He toured the US during the depression talking to unemployed people who had no social safety net. And, amazingly, this Smedley Butler who rose to the highest rank in the Marine Corps, realized he had been wrong the whole time and wrote a book called, gWar is a Racket.h He says in the book,
gI spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service.h These comments by the most decorated Marine of his time.
Since 1946, the US has been involved in at least 80 military interventions and wars and the invasion or military intervention in over 40 countries, including the Philippines where US Marines between 1902 and 1909 killed over 800,000 Filipinos who wanted their independence, Puerto Rico, the Korean Peninsula, Iran in 1954, for 21 years in Vietnam, Central America, Iraq in the 1960s, Cuba, Syria, Somalia, former Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Haiti, Grenada, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Morocco and the list goes on. And, not once, in the last 70 years has the American continent been attacked by any of these countries I just listed. In all of these cases, the American government said our brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, uncles, aunts and friends were dying to protect democracy and freedom. Thatfs what wefve been told wefre supposed to believe. But, if you look at the historical facts, you will see for yourself that all of these planned military interventions were to get, by force, oil or other natural resources that big business wanted or to prop up US friendly, un-democratic dictatorships.
And, finally, we appeal to you today, our friends in the US military, stop helping the corporations make their billions and bilions of dollars while hard-working Americans canft get a decent job, a stable place to live or affordable health care for themselves and their families while more than 50%, more than 50%, of all the federal taxes we pay goes to subsidize the war industry that makes the rich richer while the economic situation and quality of life for the working poor and middle class people in America gets worse. When you go back to America, we hope you will remember some of the good points of the Japanese way of life, and we hope that you will continue the struggle back home in America, not for the big corporations anymore, but for a better America and a better world. Have a good day on this Easter Sunday, this day of hope. See you again the last Sunday next month. God bless you and your families on this Easter Sunday.
July 31, 2011
Dear Friends on and around the base,
The anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are almost here again. It was 66 years ago, in early August 1945, that the worldfs first nuclear bombs were dropped on the two cities by the United States, reducing them to ashes and taking the lives of 300,000 people. Even today, many bomb survivors continue to suffer from the aftereffects of radiation.
On March 11 of this year, Fukushima sadly joined this list of nuclear tragedies.
Following U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhowerfs 1953 policy proposal to pursue@the gpeaceful use of nuclear power,h Japan committed itself to the development of atomic energy and today has a total of 54 reactors. The March 11 earthquake and tidal wave devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, causing multiple meltdowns that unleashed a world-class nuclear catastrophe and shattered the myth of gsafe atomic power.h The situation at the stricken plant has yet to stabilize, and every day brings fresh revelations of expanding radioactive contamination and continuing trauma for the people of Fukushima.
It is clear that whether atomic energy is used for weapons of mass destruction or for electric power generation, it poses the same threat to humanity and nature. Radiation, whatever its source, damages all life forms equally.
We are told that nuclear power is gclean,h gefficient,h and gcheap,h yet no solution has been found for disposing of radioactive waste. For that reason, nuclear power plants have been called gmansions without toilets.h The spent fuel contains massive amounts of highly radioactive materials, many of which have extremely long half-lives. According to the documentary film Into Eternity (Michael Madsen, 2009), Finland has built the Onkalo nuclear waste repository deep in the ground to keep the countryfs nuclear waste for the next 100,000 years. It will take such an unbelievably long time before the waste becomes harmless.
Japan is a small country prone to earthquakes. There is no place here where radioactive waste can be safely stored.
Have you heard about recent research findings on active faults below the Miura Peninsula where Yokosuka is located?. Weakened by the Great East Japan Earthquake, these active faults could slip at any time, triggering a huge quake of Magnitude 6 or 7. Surrounded by sea, the peninsula, including Yokosuka, would likely be engulfed by an enormous tsunami. The USS George Washington, equipped with two nuclear reactors, is said to be hardy and safe, but is it strong enough to survive a major earthquake and tsunami? Should its reactors suffer a fate similar to those in Fukushima, the U.S. Navy would become not just a victim but also a victimizer. Included among the victims would be you Navy personnel and your families, and as well as base workers of several nationalities.
No Nuke voices have been rising in Japan. The time has come for nuclear-powered warships to withdraw from Yokosuka and Japanese waters. In the event of another natural disaster, failure to do so could have grim consequences for American military personnel as well as Japanese residents.
As you know, the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant remains the same, and we have no idea when they will be able to get the fuel cooled. Will it take twenty years, or thirty years? Or it could take more than 100 yearsc What we face now is helplessness against a manmade monster that cannot be tamed by human technology, and which acts on its own. Itfs just like a Frankenstein.
What we have learned is that we should not accept explanations or propaganda from anybody who tries to convince us of how safe nuclear power plants are. Itfs time for us to look for alternative ways to get electricity and adapt our way of living to the scale of power we can generate.
Ifd like to talk about a conscientious expert from Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries who participated in the construction of commercial nuclear power plants. His name is Kojima, and he retired three years ago. Even before the Chernobyl Accident, he had already started distributing leaflets at the main gate of his firm to share his conviction not to accept the myth of safety of nuclear power plants with his fellow workers. He knew that a nuclear power plant is a complex structure with pipes stretching out like a spider web. In return for his conscientious action, he was only paid a basic pay. But he pushed it through. After 35 years of work, he came to the conclusion that we have to stop relying on nuclear power plants.
Crew of the George Washington! Have you ever met an officer who is free from the safety myth of nuclear power plants? If not, I hope youfll be the first. Then youfd be the one to serve the future of humankind.
Let us think about Okinawa. Itfs the U.S. government that decided to transfer the F15 station from Kadena to Iwakuni to increase the safety of its deployment and the lives of its Okinawan neighbors.
How dare the U.S. government plan to introduce Ospreys to Futenma, while the words are still fresh in their mouth? Itfs clear that Futenma will be a terribly dangerous base, terrifying local residents with its noise and the fear of accidents. Why doesnft the U.S. government decide to withdraw from Okinawa? It has been 66 years since it has held the island.
As people get older, their ideology and beliefs can change. Itfs good to change from bad one to good ideas, but not from good to bad. I would like to see Hillary Clinton, a contemporary of mine who was involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement, recover the pure soul she had and make use of it now for the liberation of Okinawa. Ms. Clinton is a little younger than Mr. Kojima, a Japanese expert on nuclear power plants. Which baby boomer is serving the world better?
May 29, 2011
We are a group of
The recent earthquake
and tsunami caused CVN73 George Washington to leave the homeport for a month,
due reportedly to avoid any radioactivity to be detected on her. If radioactivity
was found on the ship, no way to find where it is from; from the damaged
Just briefly, on Osama
bin Laden. Personally, I was shocked and felt very uncomfortable when the TV
screen showed the people were in celebration near White House early May. Ifd
believe this feeling is shared by many here and across
April 24, 2011
The George Washington has returned after one month of evacuation offshore. You must have been uneasy when you were told you had to leave, knowing nothing about where you would go and when you would come back. You must feel uneasy about not receiving any information about the earthquakes that struck many times since the land of Japan is located on the border of different continental shelves that move and push against each other. Now you know that the worst possible place has been chosen for the home-porting of the George Washington. Geologists warn it wonft be long before a huge earthquake may strike the Kanto region, and people need to be ready for it. What do you think? Would you like to become the cause of another disaster here, or would you like to bring the George Washington back to Virginia?
Incidentally, we thank you for the rescue operations you were involved in in the disaster areas, searching for victims and recovering bodies in a way that can only be done by the best equipped troops. More than 20,000 service people from the US Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps participated in efforts to reconstruct Japan. Thank you again for the personnel who went there. Ifm sure you are the first to have utilized the latest technology to rescue people.
If the 7th Fleet remains as troops for peace from now on, Ifll not oppose your deployment in Yokosuka. Ifll rather welcome you. Ifll support joint drills between you and the Japanese Maritime Defense Forces.
Your work in the disaster areas this time was given the name of operation gTomodachi.h It reminds me of an English saying I learned in junior high, gA friend in need is a friend indeed.h How much I wish we could realize friendship like this, helping each other, helping those in need, wherever on this earth they may be together. Let us develop our friendship not to be temporary imitation but a real one, eliminating exploitation of one by the other, and secrets in between. People sometimes cheat and exploit others under the guise of friendship. Let us not be like that. We should build a real friendship that listens to the voices of the other well and stops pushing things a friend hates. Itfs fun to imagine Yokosuka becoming a base for peace troops that reach out to people in need everywhere on this planet. No more killing! No more destruction! And put an end to the home porting of nuclear-powered vessels in Tokyo Bay.
March 27, 2011
Dear everyone in the US Naval Base Yokosuka,