Local entities at the crossroads
In spring 2005, all local communities, residents and local entities are urged to choose which way to go: the way leading to a war-supporting system, or the way to the creation of peace.
In the real world, these two ways are emerging as follows:
On March 25, the Koizumi cabinet approved the "Guidelines for People Protection." Despite Article 9 of its Constitution, Japan is now one of the occupiers of Iraq and hustling to complete war-oriented system development so that it could participate in war anywhere in the world. Under the Guidelines established in the name of "people protection," the drive for deploying a war-supporting system in every corner in local communities is picking up speed. Option No. 1 is to follow this line or to remain silent in resignation.
Option No. 2 is the way to block the warfare system through embodiment of Protocol I Additional to International Humanitarian Law, namely, the Geneva Conventions, which took effect in Japan on February 28. This Protocol explicitly provides for non-defended localities (Article 59), avoidance of locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas (Article 58) and other civilian protection measures. As the present Government is sabotaging its obligation to disseminate the contents of this protocol (Article 83) and implement them, peace drives among community residents are essential. Residents can speak up for peace and take steps toward the creation of peace-oriented communities such as non-defended localities.
Option No. 2 is the only way that we should take.
Basic Guidelines not aimed to protect residents
The Basic Guidelines approved by the Cabinet classify presumable situations of armed attacks into (1) landing invasions, (2) assaults by guerillas or special units, (3) ballistic missile strikes and (4) air raids and give instructions including measures for evacuation and rescue operations.
However, as one follows the more specific description of those measures in the Guidelines, the clearer the unrealistic nature of the Guidelines becomes. They say we should "be evacuated to concrete structures, basements or underground shopping malls" in case of air raids including missile attacks. In case of NBC (nuclear/biochemical weapons) attacks, they instruct us to "wear gloves, a hat, goggles and a raincoat and to cover the mouth and nose with a mask or handkerchief." So this is a Cabinet decision that also belongs to the category of jokes.
In short, we can see that the need for evacuation is a sheer pretext. The real target of the Basic Guidelines is to develop wartime system in which the military and civilians (the Self-Defense Forces, or Japanese troops, local public entities and residents) are mingled together.
The Government is pushing fast-track creation of accomplished facts for this objective. Under this pressure, 39 prefectural assemblies received in February a proposal of an ordinance for establishing a "people protection" council aimed to allow working SDF officers to get involved in the development of a "resident protection manual." Already, such ordinances have passed the Kanagawa, Kyoto and Osaka prefectural assemblies, with most of the remaining prefectures expected to enact similar ordinances during fiscal year 2005. Like it or not, residents would be forced to participate in war-game drills with the military as the war-supporting system development goes on concurrently or prior to the development of such manuals. There is no time to kill to counter this situation.
Leverage international law now
"We cannot remain silent any longer." "Isn't there something we can do from our community?" With such grass-root voices in the background, the Non-Defended Localities Movement has begun spreading rapidly. Movements for direct petitions aimed at a non-defended locality ordinance have yielded the record of 60,000 signatures among citizens of the city of Osaka, followed by cities of Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, and Arakawa Ward, Tokyo. Citizens of the city of Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, will file an official petition on March 31 with 20,000 signatures they have collected. In April, citizens of the city of Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, will start signature campaigns. Responses and sympathy representations are coming from all over the country, from Hokkaido through Okinawa.
In Hirakata and Arakawa, although the drafts of a non-defended locality ordinance were voted down, it marked a step forward; the municipal authorities have been persuaded to accept a common basis of discussion that has been clarified in the Commentary of the International Committee of the Red Cross. It says, "the declaration could come from a local military commander, or even from a local civil authority such as a mayor, burgomaster or prefect." The movement is for true resident protection based on international law that has also been ratified and taken effect in Japan. Never can this reason and residents' will be ignored forever.
Now is the time for launching a Non-Defended Locality Movement in every community around the country. (March 28)