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Maintain Justice

June 1, 2005

Thus says the Lord; Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.   Isaiah 56:1

"We do not want any more bases to be built in Okinawa.  We do not want to comply with the forces that drop bombs on people in other lands such as Iraq and Philippines."  Rev. Natsume Taira has literally spent the last year and a half out at sea. He is a part of a movement among the people of Okinawa to oppose the building of a new US air base in Henoko. He says, "We know what its like to have helicopters fall out of the sky onto our universities. We have seen flames flare up from our wells. We have experienced the unrest among US service men who return from active service in combat. We know the deafening noise of US Airforce maneuvers, which disrupt our daily lives. That's why we do not want any more US bases to be built on our islands. We do not want this quiet fishing village to be yet another victim of the US military presence."

In March this year I had the opportunity to travel to Okinawa and visit Henoko. Henoko is a small fishing village, the proposed site for a new US Airforce base. The base is to be built out at sea on the coral reef, which is home to the endangered species, the dugong. Eight years ago 52% of the local residents voted against the proposed construction of the US base, but the Japanese government (with strong backing from the US) is trying to force its hand upon the local residents. So the local people decided to put their lives on the line by rowing out to sea, and getting in the way of the drilling. Since last September, Rev. Natsume and others have succeeded in non-violent resistance out at the four drilling sites. They must reach the sites before the government authorities do. And each day they put their lives on the line to stand up for the sake of justice toward God's creation.

In the fishing village there is a large tent - the site of a daily sit-in to support those who are out at sea. Among those who show up everyday, are the grandmothers and grandfathers (the Oba and Oji) who lived through the destruction of war 60 years ago. They know what it is like to be bombed. They also have a deep respect for the ocean, which provided them with the sustenance they needed to make it through those first years after the war. They are there to share with younger generations their convictions, that villagers have the right to live off of the blessings of the ocean. If the base is built the beautiful bay will be destroyed. And along with the bay the livelihood of the people.

Please pray for Rev. Taira and the many people, young and old, who continue their struggle for justice for all God's creation.

With love,

Jeffrey, Kazuko, Hana, and Tomo

Jeffrey Mensendiek serves with the Council on Cooperative Mission, assigned to the Gakusei (Student) Center in Japan. He serves as Director of Gakusei (Student) Center in Sendai, Japan.



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