Monthly Demonstrations (Getsurei demo)

On the last Sunday of each month, you can see a group of people marching through the streets of Yokosuka.
We call this the "monthly demonstration" or "getsurei demo.
" The official name is "For a town without military bases," but many of the participants call it endearingly the "getsurei demo."
The rally has some unique features.The first is that it is relatively small.
If you think of a demonstration as an action by thousands or tens of thousands of people, you would probably be surprised to see ours for the first time.
There are just 30 or 40 participants, and the number rarely goes beyond 100.
Don't underestimate it, though. Though small in number, we are not isolated from other citizens.
If we had been, we could not have continued for over thirty years.
People look at us, a small number of demonstrators, with friendly eyes,
and with the silent encouragement of people, we have continued our small demonstrations every month for 32 years, meaning 390 times without fail.
A second feature of our demonstration is that one of our aims is to talk to soldiers.
We gather at Verny Park, and then walk forward the Yokosuka District Headquarters of the Maritime Self Defense Force.
In front of the gate of the District Headquarters, we appeal to SDF members on various issues such as the SDF,
Article 9 of the Peace Constitution, SFD members who have committed suicide, and bullying inside the SDF.
In front of the gate of the US Navy base, we make appeals to soldiers inside the gate regarding the Iraq War,
the problem of the deployment of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in Yokosuka,
crimes committed by US soldiers, and so on.
During the Vietnam War, your predecessors took part in a variety of activities in Yokosuka against the war.
In the belief that their anti-war actions were important to ending the war as soon as possible,
we supported them and worked together. We feel the same way today.
That feeling is related to our appeal to you, US soldiers, during the monthly demonstrations.
The third feature is the music accompanying the demonstration, of which we are somewhat proud.
The music group is called "Yorozu Peace Band" or in short "Yoropea."
We march down the streets accompanied by music played through the sound equipment set on a small two-wheeled cart.
Every month the Yorozu Peace Band delivers the messages they want to convey in the form of songs to people on the street and soldiers.
Their songs are indispensable for us in making our monthly demonstrations joyful.
In the morning of the monthly demonstration the "Yokosuka Peace Squadron" sails out to the military port.
This is an action aimed at reclaiming our sea from the military.
While sailing, we make observations on the state of the bases or talk to soldiers on the ships.
Here again, the basic stance of our activities is "Do not condemn but have dialogue."
From the boat we call out to soldiers "Don't go to the battlefield!"

March 27, 2011
Greetings to all who remain at Yokosuka Naval Base,
     We are citizens seeking a peaceful world without nuclear weapons, nuclear power or military bases.
  We were surprised to find out that the CVN George Washington suddenly departed Yokosuka on March 21,
   before the completion of its ongoing maintenance work. Is the George Washington really safe?
   We have also heard that the families of many sailors, civilian employees and engineers
   who were here for the maintenance work have flown back home to the United States
   to escape the danger of the serious nuclear accident at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant
   that was triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11.
  A number of countries have offered assistance to Japan to cope with this grave disaster.
  From the United States, the USS Ronald Reagan, among other resources, has been working in the area,
  providing precious help. We would like to express our gratitude for that.
  Japan is an earthquake-prone land. There have been a number of big earthquakes in the past,
  but the recent one ranks as one of the greatest. An enormous tsunami triggered by the earthquake struck a wide area
  along the Pacific of the northeastern region, swallowed thousands of people and left behind total devastation. Above all,
  it drove the Fukushima Nuclear Plant, which was supposed to be “totally safe,” into a gravely critical dysfunction.
  Four of the six reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant are in a critical situation.
  Although all-out efforts have been made to avert catastrophic disaster, a large amount of radioactivity has been already released.
  In the worst case it could become worse than Chernobyl, contaminating the entire world with radioactivity.
  Nuclear power is as dangerous as it is. The government and electric utilities have kept saying that the nuclear power is “safe.”
  But there is nothing “absolute” in what human beings do. As far as nuclear power is concerned, the “unexpected” cannot be allowed.
  CVN George Washington, which is no longer at port, is driven by two nuclear reactors.
  Since the time we learned about its deployment plan, we have continued to oppose the deployment,
  as it represents a grave threat to us. The U.S. Navy, however, stated that the ship was “absolutely safe,”
  without disclosing any information on its reactors, and claimed that even if an accident should occur,
  the radioactivity would never escape from the base.” There are active faults in Yokosuka,
  and in the past, tsunami occasionally triggered by big earthquakes.
  Does the Navy still say “it is absolutely safe,”
  even after seeing the recent disaster?
  We once again state strongly, as we have kept saying, that “We don’t want a CVN in Yokosuka!”

Dear everybody in the US Naval base in Yokosuka(2011.1.30)

Good evening, people on and around the base!
We didn't see lights decorating the ships last Christmas, and wondered if it was
because the troops were on alert to be mobilized in the wake of the North Korean attack on Yongyon Island in November.
We understand that the first part of a document explaining the Pentagon's ideology on defense presents a philosophical
analysis of human beings after 9/11, an analysis that classifies people into two groups,
those who believe in God and those who don't. (Are Muslim people, we wonder, included in the "believers" group?)
Anyway, when we didn't see any Christmas lights on the ships, we were relieved in a way,
thinking that maybe the Pentagon analysis isn't taken all that seriously.
However, at this time of the year, we folks in Yokosuka can't help being anxious
about maintenance work on the reactors of the George Washington.
This year again a number of workers (technicians) from Puget Sound in the U.S. have come to Yokosuka
and are still at work. The year before last a ton of radioactive material was removed from the George Washington
and shipped to the United States, which was in violation of a promise the U.S made to Japan.
Radioactive material was also removed and shipped out last year.
Will the similar amount be removed this year? This work is being done without any supervision by Japanese experts.
The first Japanese commercial nuclear power plant started operation in 1966.
Since then there have been many accidents and many of them have never been made public.
People responsible for nuclear power plants tend to cover up what's going on from public scrutiny.
But this can lead to serious accidents. In March 1979 there was a meltdown at the nuclear power plant
on Three Mile Island in the United States.
The fact that the accident was only a hair's breadth away from turning into a disaster on the scale of Chernobyl was kept under wraps until 1989.
So today we ask the President of the United States to allow Japanese scientists to be present at the maintenance site to monitor what's going on.
If he is a man who is really concerned about human rights and human lives, he will surely respond to the voices of we Yokosuka citizens.
If he doesn't, we will know he is the same old American leader as his predecessors, interested only in taking advantage of Japan.
We have another request. Please allow Japanese experts be present at the maintenance site and the work be made public.
Unless the information, which the citizens need to know to protect their own lives, cannot be made open,
the George Washington must get out of Yokosuka immediately. Thank you.

Dear everybody in the US Naval base in Yokosuka(2010.12.26)

The year 2010 is closing and it’s time for us to mumble “time flies”.
At the year end, let’s recall how the world has been for this year.
In Haiti, after the earthquake in Jan, the country has not been fully recovered.
The people are already poor enough and the earthquake worsened the situation.
In Nov, they were hit by the hurricane Thomas which was followed by the spread of cholera.
The two incidents, the hurricane and the cholera epidemic link closely.
Tuvalu, the country consisting of 7 islands in the South Pacific, is on the verge of extinction.
It’s only the matter of time before the country is swamped by the rising water.
The rising water, by anybody’s guess, is mainly caused by the global warming.
Myanmar, the election in Nov was not conducted according to the democratic process,
and a military dictatorship has been chosen to rule the country. In this 21st century,
there Is a country where people are governed by military dictatorship.
There are more in the world where people are forced to live under inhuman condition.
At the end of a year, let’s extend our thoughts to those who are less blessed.
Fighting continues in Afghanistan, not to mention in Iraq.
Soldiers are coming home to the States on wheel chair, and being suffered from PTSD.
According to the recent CNN news, the Defense Department Surveillance report from Nov examines
“a large, widespread and growing mental health problem among the US military personnel”,
and it reports that the incidents of the diagnoses of PTSD increased nearly six-fold from 2003 to 2008.
It’s staggering to know that in 5 years, 6 times more young people are advised as having mental disorder.
Another report says in 2010 so far, 700 death of coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan.
The total death of 2009 was 521.
With the time passing, more lives of people and soldiers are taken out in war, which,
if we stop and think, can be stopped. Let’s raise our voice that needs to be heard. “No more War”.
Merry Christmas!

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