Suzuyo Takazato – Japan

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005

Suzuyo Takazato (Japan), Suzuyo Takazato is a driving force behind the crucial question posed to the present militarized global security system: for whom does the military provide security?

She works with two groups: 1) as director for the Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence; 2) East Asia-US-Puerto Rico Women’s Network against Militarism.

Suzuyo Takazato (born 1940) is a long-time feminist peace activist who has analyzed the interplay between sexism and militarism from the experiences of women in Okinawa. Her work has inspired global feminist peace movements for structural understanding of violence against women. She helped create Okinawa’s first rape crisis center to provide hotline and face-to-face counseling to victims of sexual violence, and in 1995, her activism led to a large-scale protest by people of Okinawa against US military bases.

Fifty-three years is long enough. We have really suffered“, says Suzuyo Takazato. And: “Prostitution and rape are the military system’s outlets for pent up aggression and methods of maintaining control and discipline – the target being local community women.”

The Key Points are:

1) Negative effects of U.S. militarism on women and children in East Asia include sexual exploitation, physical and sexual violence, and the dire situation of many Amerasian children;

2) Instead of seeing U.S. troops sent home and military bases closed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, East Asians have seen signs that the U.S. military is digging in deeper;

3) The concept of security is too militarized and does not include the human rights of women and children and the protection of the physical environment.

Lecture given in Spring 2005 by Suzuyo Takazato: “Nonviolent Resistance to the U.S. Military: Okinawan Women and Elders Take Action”: Mudd Bldg Rm 100, Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. Berkeley, CA 94709. Ms. Takazato is an inspirational and internationally recognized Asian feminist activist, a four-term Naha City Councilwoman, and co-coordinator of Okinawan Women Act Against Military Violence, which she co-founded in 1995 following the rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by 3 U.S. servicemen. Since that time Ms. Takazato’s organization and her activism have been making headlines internationally in their nonviolent resistance to prevent the expansion of the U.S. military in Okinawa, bring about greater accountability of military crimes, and promote genuine security on an island which has the largest concentration of overseas U.S. military bases and serves as a support base for the U.S. Iraq war. Ms. Takazato will be coming directly from the 2005 World Social Forum in Brazil, where she bought international attention to the 250-day sit-down strike and other nonviolent efforts of elderly women and hunger strikers to stop the construction of a new U.S. Marine airbase in Henoko. Event sponsored by: the PANA Institute (Institute for Leadership Development and Study of Pacific Asian North American Religion) at Pacific School of Religion; the Mills College Women’s Leadership Institute; and the Women of Color Resource Center. Free to the public. Wheelchair accessible. Ten minutes walk from the downtown Berkeley BART. Parking available in the PSR parking lot at Scenic Ave. and Virginia St. Contact: PANA Institute, 510-849-8244, pana@psr.edu, www.pana.psr.edu.

Activists to push G-8 for end to military violence – Asahi Evening News, by TARO KARASAKI and SUSUMU MAEJIMA, June 27, 2000:

NAHA-Suzuyo Takazato, a woman who heads an international network campaigning against military bases in Okinawa ahead of July’s Group of Eight summit, knows her fight is not just with the world’s political leaders.

At a September 1995 protest of the rape of an Okinawan schoolgirl by three U.S. servicemen, she was enraged by the strong words she heard from a man whom she had thought was on her side of the issue.

“You shouldn’t distort the problem-don’t narrowly focus on this as a women’s issue. This is all about the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty,” the man told Takazato, who was holding a placard that read “Women’s Human Rights.”

She immediately shot back: “You only understand half the problem because you don’t see that this case needs a woman’s viewpoint,” she said. The man, who appeared to be a unionist in his 30s, just walked away.

Takazato, who co-founded the group Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence after the 1995 rape case, views the upcoming summit of G-8 leaders-all of them men-as a valuable chance to convey her group’s message: Military bases are a source of violence against not only women and children, but all citizens.

Members of her group and like-minded female activists, part of a network of women’s groups from the United States and East Asian countries, met Thursday through Sunday to come up with proposals to be submitted to the G-8 leaders.

Their message is loud and clear: Until now, problems stemming from the bases, including land appropriations, noise pollution and accidents during military drills, have been discussed only in the light of the U.S.-Japan security pact.

“Of course these are political issues. But I think there has been a lack of discussion about violence against women and children,” said Takazato, who organized the pre-summit program together with the East Asia-U.S. Women’s Network Against Militarism, a San Francisco-based group.

“And cases of sexual violence against women (perpetrated by U.S. military personnel) have been brushed aside as being just personal tragedies-which has forced the victims to remain silent.”

In a nutshell, the women argue that the “traditional concept of security,” based on maintaining the military, which is supposed to protect the interests of all the nation’s people, is contradictory. In reality, the group says, military bases pose a very real threat to nearby residents.

Last week’s gathering brought 40 delegates from the Republic of Korea (South Korea), the Philippines, Puerto Rico and the United States together with 40 Okinawan woman activists. The event was the third such pan-Pacific confab, following one held in Okinawa in May 1997 and a second held in Washington in October 1998.

“The lack of recognition of our perspective can be seen easily: The Okinawa prefectural government does not even have comprehensive data on crimes against women by U.S. military servicemen,” said Takazato, a Naha Municipal Assembly member who has been a driving force behind women’s peace activities in Okinawa. Facing such apathy, the Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence has researched military-related crimes directed at women.

The group has identified at least 200 cases of rape by U.S. military personnel between 1945 and 1997. Many of these were never reported to authorities.

Last week’s participants say the military itself is a machine of violence that dehumanizes its members
through their training.

“When I look at what they (military personnel) are doing, I think `How can you have economic, social or political security?”’ said Dorothy Mackey, a former U.S. Air Force captain who said she was raped twice by a senior officer and now heads the Survivors Take Action Against Abuse by Military Personnel (STAMP), an Ohio-based victims support group.

Mackey said she was raped soon after she began working in a complaints office by her superior, after she confronted him over his mismanagement of the cases the office received.

She continued to be sexually harassed and subjected to mental abuse during the one year she stayed in thatoffice.

“How can there be national security when we cannot check on and hold accountable those who have done wrong (within the military)?” Mackey asked.

Okinawan experts stressed the importance of the active women’s movement against bases and in anti-war activities, citing that women hit “closer to home” on the issues that spring from a military presence.

Women, particularly mothers, can give impetus to the movement with their eye on protecting children, according to Kimiko Miyagi, an associate professor at Meio University in the northern Okinawan city of Nago.

“What women try to do is to put issues in a long-term perspective,” said Miyagi, who has been involved in Nago-based activities that seek the reversal of a proposed relocation of U.S. Air Station Futenma in Ginowan to the city.

She said that a number of women’s groups have been formed through such activities. These groups, unlike the male-dominated groups leading the anti-base movement, encourage children to participate by having them design posters or help in other ways.

“In the long run, we hope to endow children with the viewpoint that allows them to say, `Isn’t it wrong to have so many bases in Okinawa?”’ she said.

The women acknowledged that their groups’ activities have not always been accepted by the men who lead the mainstream movement.

“The general attitude toward female activists is `What do women know? Women don’t have policy, only emotional response,”’ said Gwyn Kirk, head of the East Asia-U.S. Women’s Network Against Militarism.

“While awareness of the problems military bases pose by the average citizen is higher than ever before, the spotlight has yet to be brought on women’s problems,” said You Young Nim, who represents the National Campaign to Eradicate Crimes by U.S. Troops in South Korea.

She said that while democratic reform in South Korea has made activism against bases stronger, public attitudes toward female victims of violence, particularly vulnerable sex industry workers, remains unsympathetic.

She said that her country’s strong Confucian background hinders open discussion of any gender issues, not only the problem of abuse directed toward sex workers.

Shigeko Urasaki, a member of the Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, said: “The problem is an extension of the sexual inequality that prevails in society.”

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links:

Spring 2005-lectures;

hartford-hwp;

women and military;

project ‘good bye US Marine‘, and this link;

ZMagazine;

Okinawa Times.

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