Inter-Imperialist Contention and Seeds of Opposing Blocs Forming

China Calls for Security Pact with Russia, Iran

By Louise Watt, AP, May 21, 2014

SHANGHAI — China‘s president called Tuesday for the creation of a new Asian structure for security cooperation based on a regional group that includes Russia and Iran and excludes the United States.

President Xi Jinping spoke at a meeting in Shanghai of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia, an obscure group that has taken on significance as Beijing tries to extend its influence and limit the role of the United States, which it sees as a strategic rival.

“We need to innovate our security cooperation (and) establish new regional security cooperation architecture,” said Xi, speaking to an audience that included President Vladimir Putin of Russia and leaders of Central Asian countries. Continue reading

Brazilian megaproject in Mozambique set to displace millions of peasants

UNAC, Via Campesina Africa, GRAIN | 29 November 2012

The Brazilian government and private sector are collaborating with Japan to push a large-scale agribusiness project in Northern Mozambique. The project, called ProSavana, will make 14 million hectares of land available to Brazilian agribusiness companies for the production of soybeans, maize and other commodity crops that will be exported by Japanese multinationals. This area of Mozambique, known as the Nacala Corridor, is home to millions of farming families who are at risk of losing their lands in the process.

brazil-mozambique-slide-1-638The Nacala Corridor stretches along a rail line that runs from the port of Nacala, in Nampula Province, into the two northern districts of Zambézia Province and ends in Lichinga, in Niassa Province. It is the most densely populated region of the country. With its fertile soils and its consistent and generous rainfall, millions of small farmers work these lands to produce food for their families and for local and regional markets.

But now ProSavana proposes to make these same lands available to Japanese and Brazilian companies to establish large industrial farms and produce low cost commodity crops for export. Through ProSavana, they intend to transform the Nacala Corridor into an African version of the Brazilian cerrado, where savannah lands were converted to vast soybean and sugar cane plantations.

Large numbers of Brazilian investors have already been surveying lands in northern Mozambique under the ProSavana project. They are being offered massive areas of land on a long-term lease basis for about US$1/ha per year.

GV Agro, a subsidiary of Brazil’s Fundação Getulio Vargas directed by the former minister of agriculture, Roberto Rodriguez, is coordinating the Brazilian investors.

Charles Hefner of GV Agro dismisses the idea that the project will displace Mozambican peasants. He says ProSavana is targeting “abandoned areas” where “there is no agriculture being practiced”.

“Mozambique has a tremendous area available for agriculture,” says Hefner.  “There is room for mega projects of 30-40,000 ha without major social impacts.”

But land surveys by Mozambique’s national research institute clearly show that nearly all the agricultural land in the area is being used by local communities.

“It is not true that there is abandoned land in the Nacala Corridor,” says Jacinto Mafalacusser, a researcher at the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM). Continue reading

US hegemony-media on the US’ military “pivot” to Asia

[This year has seen US power beginning to shift its central focus from the middle east to Asia.  In line with this, the Pentagon has been making new deals for military force “visitations” and deployments, from Okinawa to Guam, Australia, and Philippines, along with new force buildups in Hawaii, Taiwan, Korea, and “joint operational and training” arrangements with India, Vietnam and elsewhere.  This article, from TIME magazine in July, explores the responses to, and embraces of, these US moves in the Philippines. — Frontlines ed.]

American ‘Pivot’ to Asia Divides the Philippines

Recent trouble in the South China Sea has renewed debate as to whether the U.S. is a trusted friend, or an old foe

By Catherine Traywick , TIME magazine, July 23, 2012

Romeo Ranoco / Reuters — Members of a militant women’s group hold up placards condemning the joint Philippine-U.S. military exercises during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy in Manila on April 27, 2012 

Bai Ali Indayla, a human-rights worker and antimilitary activist, has met just one American soldier. They convened at a picnic table inside a Philippine army camp in Mindanao in 2010 to discuss the alleged suicide of a Filipino who died under mysterious circumstances after starting a job with the U.S. military’s counterterrorism program. Indayla believed the death was suspicious, and she wanted answers, but her first and only interaction with a U.S. soldier earned her none. He was dismissive, she says, as well as arrogant and profane. After a brief and terse exchange, he walked out of the meeting without warning, and she walked away with all of her prejudices soundly affirmed.

The encounter, colored by her mistrust and his apparent indifference, reflects an enduring dynamic at play between two forces in Philippine society: the U.S. military, whose decades-long occupation of the islands eventually gave way to civil unrest, and a small but historically significant network of activists who believe the former’s presence is tantamount to neocolonialism. As China more aggressively asserts its claim over the South China Sea and the U.S. ponders a “pivot” to Asia, the gap between these groups seems to widen, calling fresh attention to the question of U.S.-Philippine ties.

The relationship between ordinary Filipinos and U.S. armed forces is a tortured one, dating back to America’s “liberation” of the Philippines from colonial Spain more than a century ago. The U.S. takeover of the Philippines in 1899 kicked off a short, bloody war, during which Filipinos were forced into reconcentrados (a type of concentration camp), massacred in their villages and subjected to a new torture technique now known as waterboarding. When the U.S. finally gave the Philippines its independence in 1945, sprawling American military bases remained — and with them, an exploding sex industry and a legacy of human-rights violations widely publicized by the national press.

A decades-long antimilitary movement culminated in the 1991 closure of American bases and the ousting of U.S. troops. Yet American forces have nevertheless maintained a limited but continuous presence in the country, where they conduct regular joint training exercises and have, in recent years, extended antiterrorism efforts. Dubbed “the second front of the war on terror” in 2002, western Mindanao has played host to 600-strong U.S. troop rotations as they pursue two al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups. Though officially base-less, barracks, ports and communications infrastructure emerged within and near the Philippine military camps that host American soldiers. This year, the Aquino administration granted the U.S. Navy permission to use the former U.S. base in Subic Bay for the service of U.S. warships. Continue reading

Okinawa: Ongoing mass protests at US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma

Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012
News photo
A group of protesters, including Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine (front row, second from right), rally against the aircraft’s deployment at the air base’s front gate. KYODO

Okinawa residents protest transfer of six Ospreys to base

Low-altitude test flights of controversial tilt-rotor aircraft set for this month

By AYAKO MIE, Japan Times Online, Staff writer

Six MV-22 Ospreys were transferred Monday morning to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, the Defense Ministry said, as local residents protested vociferously in front of the base.

It is not clear when the remaining six tilt-rotor Ospreys currently at the U.S. Iwakuni air station in Yamaguchi Prefecture will arrive in Okinawa, but the U.S. Marine Corps is expected to deploy all 12 to Futenma and start low-altitude test flights across Japan later this month.

The hybrid transport aircraft’s deployment to Futenma, situated in a heavily populated neighborhood in Ginowan, comes despite Tokyo and Washington’s failure to placate local opposition.

Okinawans remain deeply concerned over the aircraft’s safety following the crash of an Osprey in Morocco that killed two marines in April and a second accident in June that injured five crew members in Florida. Continue reading

Tens of thousands converge in Okinawa to protest Osprey deployment

Monday, September 10, 2012

Thousands protest in Okinawa against the Osprey deploment

An aerial photograph shows thousands of people gathering in Naha to protest the deployment of the controversial Osprey aircraft. KYODO PHOTO

Kyodo

NAHA — Tens of thousands of people gathered for a rally in Okinawa on Sunday to protest against the planned deployment of U.S. Ospreys in the prefecture in the face of a series of problems involving the tilt-rotor military aircraft.

An elderly demo participant holds a sign bearing the kanji character for 'anger.'
An elderly demo participant holds a sign bearing the kanji character for “anger.”

“It cannot be considered normal to live under conditions in which an Osprey may fall from the sky at any moment,” Masaharu Kina, chairman of the Okinawa prefectural assembly, told the protesters at a seaside park in Ginowan, which hosts the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station.

Organizers said 101,000 people took part in the rally.

The protest was held after safety concerns over the deployment of the aircraft in Japan were amplified following Osprey crashes earlier this year in Morocco and Florida. Pentagon reports suggest human error was a factor in both crashes.

On Saturday, it was also reported that an Osprey made an emergency landing at a field behind a church in Jacksonville, North Carolina, on Thursday.

Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima told the rally the U.S. and Japanese governments “aim to bring Ospreys, whose safety cannot be assured, into Futenma without making any improvements.”

Among the participants was Yoshitaka Shinjo, 45, a neighborhood community leader from Ginowan. “While I oppose the Osprey deployment, I also believe in the need to remove the dangerous Futenma air base.”

The rally on Sunday was organized by the prefectural assembly as well as Okinawa municipality leaders and business circles. Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima did not attend.

In a message sent to the rally organizers and read out to participants, Nakaima said, “I will continue to convey Okinawa residents’ opposition to the deployment to the Japanese and U.S. governments.” Continue reading

Japan: Protests of re-opening nuclear plants in nuclear-scarred Japan

Protesters took part in a demonstration demanding a stop to the resumption of nuclear power operations in front of Mr. Noda’s official residence in Tokyo on Friday. Japan approved the restart of two reactors despite mass public opposition.

A woman holds placards and shouts slogans during an anti nuclear rally in Tokyo, Japan, 01 July 2012. Thousands of protesters participated in the rally on the same day that the Kansai Electric Power Company restarted the No. 3 reactor at the Oi nuclear power plant at the Sea of Japan coast in western Japan. It is the first time a nuclear reactor is resuming operations after Japan had no active nuclear reactors for almost two months. EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON

Japan: 58 Years later, “Bikini” Atomic Test experience speaks to Fukushima victims today

by Mamoru Shishido, Evening Edition Department, Mainichi Daily News, Mainichi, Japan

February 20, 2012

‘Bikini incident’ survivor’s story relevant today as Fukushima crisis continues

Matashichi Oishi, 78, talks about his experience as a crew member of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru at his home, where he has a photo with author and anti-nuclear activist Kenzaburo Oe hanging on the wall. (Mainichi)

Matashichi Oishi, 78, talks about his experience as a crew member of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru at his home, where he has a photo with author and anti-nuclear activist Kenzaburo Oe hanging on the wall. (Mainichi)

Eleven months since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), with people still living in fear of radiation exposure, I went to hear what a man who was exposed to radiation 58 years ago, had to say.

Matashichi Oishi, 78, was a crew member of the fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru, or “Lucky Dragon 5,” which one day in 1954 found itself covered in the “ashes of death” from a nuclear experiment being conducted in the Pacific by the U.S., off the Bikini Atoll.

“Many people were exposed to blasting winds and extreme heat by the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Oishi said. “As for us, we were covered in radioactive white powder that rained down from the sky, and suffered internal radiation exposure.”

It was Feb. 11, and Oishi was speaking to an audience of about 60 people attending a study session co-hosted by a civic group and the Nishitokyo Municipal Government. He’d shut down the dry cleaning business that he’d run for years in Tokyo at the end of 2010.

“I’d always been trying to share my experiences through spoken and written words, but no one would listen to a mere former fisherman-turned-launderer. But ever since the disaster in Fukushima broke out, what I have to say is no longer ‘someone else’s pitiful story,'” he said.

That Oishi characterized his ordeal — an incident which sparked Japan’s anti-nuclear activist movement — as having been viewed as “someone else’s pitiful story” is testament to the turbulent road he’d been forced to take. Continue reading