Pax Christi USA calls upon the U.S. and South Korean governments to stop the costly and provocative war games and take proactive steps to de-escalate the current tensions of the Korean peninsula. Pax Christi USA has signed onto the following statement from the Working Group for Peace and Justice in Asia and the Pacific.
Stop War Games, Start Peace Talks: Statement Opposing U.S.-South Korea Joint Military Exercises Key Resolve Foal Eagle
The Korean War, known in the United States as “The Forgotten War,” has never ended. Every year, the United States stages a series of massive joint war games with its ally, South Korea (ROK). These coordinated exercises are both virtual and real. Among other things, they practice live fire drills and simulate the invasion of North Korea—including first-strike options.
While we – peace, human rights, faith-based, environmental, and Korean solidarity activists – are deeply concerned about North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test, we also oppose the U.S.-ROK joint war games as adding to the dangerous cycle of escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula. North Korea views these war games as an act of provocation and threat of invasion like that which we have witnessed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and routinely condemns these maneuvers as aimed at “bring[ing] down the DPRK by force” and forcing it to“bolster up the war deterrent physically.” South Korean activists also decry the role of these war games in the hostile perpetuation of the division of the Korean peninsula and are often persecuted for their protests under South Korea’s draconian National Security Law…
Click here to read the entire statement.
The following letter was co-signed by Nick Mele on behalf of Pax Christi USA.
We take this opportunity to greet you with warm New Year’s wishes in these winter days.
We, the undersigned, are representatives of various faith communities from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States, who undertook a visit to Kangjeong Village, Jeju Island on December 5-7, 2011 to learn about the construction of a Korean naval base. We are writing to report on our findings.
As people of faith our commitment is to serve and seek Peace, Justice and the Integrity of Creation. All of these aspects are deeply compromised at Kangjeong Village by the construction of this base.
Integrity of Creation – Kangjeong Village and its surrounding area is uniquely beautiful—in fact, it is a UNESCO-designated ecological reserve. It contains endangered and rare life, both on the water front and the sea bed. The construction of the naval base will disrupt its water source, and the entire ecosystem. The people of the community have practiced stewardship of the land and sea for many generations as farmers and fishers, and their way of life will be disrupted.
To read the entire letter, click here.
By Huh Ho-joon, Jeju Correspondent
“As the general election draws closer, you get the feeling that the government is trying to make the building of the Jeju naval base into something set in stone before it can be affected by the election result. It‘s really sad and disappointing to see it being pushed so one-sidedly, without paying any attention to people’s voices.”
Peter Kang Woo-il, bishop in Jeju and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, had words of harsh criticism Thursday for the government’s blasting of the Gureombi Rock coast in Seogwipo’s Gangjeong village the day before.
Speaking with the Hankyoreh at the Jeju diocese, the bishop said, “When the National Assembly cut the Jeju naval base construction budget by 96% late last year, it was voicing the legislature‘s view that there were too many problems with the design and other aspects, and that construction should not be carried out until it had been reexamined.
“I can’t understand why the government is refusing to communicate with the people and making these decisions,” the bishop added. “We’re not living under a dictatorship.”
Click here to read the entire article.
from Mercy Corps
One year after the worst natural disaster in Japan’s history — the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 — Mercy Corps continues to work with our partner agencies, Peace Winds Japan and PlaNet Finance Japan, to help the Japanese people rebuild. Thanks to your support, we have brought much-needed assistance to four towns where 148,000 people live and are recovering from the disaster. On their behalf, we thank you and offer this brief report of the progress they have made.
As the world prepares to mark the first anniversary of the tragic tsunami and nuclear accident in Japan, Maryknoll missioners convey their continued sympathy for all those directly impacted by the disaster, and present a new statement that expresses their deep reservations about the continued reliance on the use of nuclear power and the development of nuclear weapons.
Washington, D.C.– In a new statement released today, Maryknoll addresses a range of threats posed by nuclear power and urges political leaders to reject the cultivation and use of nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuel. “We believe that the radiation and proliferation hazards endemic to nuclear energy production breach the safety and security of human life and endanger the integrity of creation,” the statement reads.
In addition, Maryknoll has produced a 16-page background document that provides an in-depth analysis of the dangers of nuclear energy production, from uranium mining to spent fuel disposal and storage. Both documents are available on the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns’ website, www.maryknollogc.org.
“The Catholic commitment to defend life embraces more than protecting human life in the womb,” said Kathy McNeely, the interim director for the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. “Our Catholic moral tradition calls us to respond when the sanctity of life and the integrity of creation are threatened by corporate greed, war and ecological destruction. For the sake of future generations and for the planet, we who live in industrialized countries must use energy more efficiently and look for ways to reduce our consumption.”
The statement also establishes a link between the development of nuclear energy and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The late Pope John Paul II described nuclear weapons as “terrible instruments of death” and the Vatican has condemned the use of these weapons since 1963.
Maryknoll missioners – Catholic men and women, clergy, vowed religious, married couples and single people – serve impoverished and marginalized communities around the world. Our headquarters are located in Ossining, NY, less than 10 miles from the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Maryknoll sisters have lived and worked in New Mexico among uranium miners Maryknoll missioners have lived in Japan long enough to witness the destructive capacity of nuclear technology in both the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the most recent Fukushima Daiichi accident.
From Pax Christi International
For many years, an ongoing internal conflict has occurred in the Philippines. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has been waging a battle against the Philippines government to gain local autonomy. In the midst of all this, however, pursuits of peaceful solutions and peace talks between the two groups became the norm. Yet MILF has increased their attacks in recent weeks, resulting in the deaths of 20 Philippine soldiers and renewed calls for all-out war from within the government.
Before this new round of violence erupted, a campaign began calling for an end to the ongoing war. The goal is to bring together local and international voices to reassure both sides and find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Pax Christi International is joining the International Dialogue in calling for “One Million Voices for Peace.”
We ask that all our members please visit the campaign website, www.onemillionvoicesforpeace.org, and add their name to the petition rejecting the use of force and calling for continued peaceful negotiations. Members can also contribute to the cause by “liking” the campaign on Facebook, subscribing to the OMV4P Youtube channel, and following the campaign on Twitter (all links are on the website).
by Nick Mele, Pax Christi USA National Council
Last week, I participated in the 3rd Asia Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution. For two days before the conference, most of the 220 participants also experienced an exposure tour highlighting Okinawa’s past, present and future. This is the first of three posts, photo courtesy of Filo Hirota.
My first full day in Okinawa was intense. Since I am here for an interfaith peace conference, whose organizing committee arranged the exposure tour as a prelude to the conference, its focus was on war, peace and the military bases which occupy significant portions of the island. Our first stop was a Japanese military base, to visit a patch of land in the middle of it that has been reclaimed from the military by its owner.
The owner, Mr. Takaesu Asao (see photo), is a native Okinawan who inherited
this land from his parents and then spent more than 15 years in court obtaining recognition of his right to own and use the land. It seems that both the U.S. and Japanese militaries rent the land on which they site bases from the legal owners. Mr. Takaesu and his wife have turned their small plot into a Peace Garden, although the Japan Self Defense Force refuses to allow him to pipe in water. He has hosted visitors from around the world, and has planted several trees whose wood he hopes to harvest and make into samisen, a three stringed instrument that evolved in Okinawa and is familiar throughout Japan. He told us that he wants to make musical instruments because music is one form of communication that crosses all borders. He also showed us a tree he calls the “Shalom Salaam Tree” because it was planted by two visitors, an Israeli and a Palestinian. He plans on making two samisen from the wood of this tree, one for each of them.
To read the rest of this post and two more on this subject, click here.