Peace in North-East Asia


Conference Reader


War Resisters' International worked together with South Korean partner organisations for an international seminar on peace in North-East Asia, held at the Bongdo Centre outside Seoul in June 2005. The seminar brought together peace activists and peace researchers from North-East Asia and all over the world, to discuss the present threats to peace in North-East Asia, and possible peace movement responses, based on War Resisters' International's more than 80 years of experience with nonviolence.

The international seminar builds on the past cooperation between War Resisters' International and Korean organisations, especially KSCO and SPR, with a focus on conscientious objection to military service. This cooperation goes back to 1999, and lead to an international conference on conscientious objection to military service in Seoul in 2003. The seminar is intended to expand on this issue, by putting conscientious objection to military service into the broader framework of peace in North-East Asia.


Welcoming Speech

Jungrok Oh

I would like to warmly welcome all of you to the "International Seminar on Peace in North-East Asia"

I am Jungrok, an activist from the Civil Network for a Peaceful Korea (CNPK).

Right now, I can think of the difficulties that I faced while I was preparing this Seminar. Among them, the most difficult task was inviting participants from countries in North-East Asia. I could never imagine inviting North Korean participants. I have tried so hard to invite participants from Taiwan, but unfortunately, they could not make it. I really worried about the Chinese participants, but fortunately, James Reilly, the representative of an AFSC in North-East Asia, came here. The difficulties that I faced could have resulted from my poor ability or experience but, at the same time, it reflects how difficult and rare it is for free individuals in this region who are facing harsh conditions to have a conversation about Peace issues in North-East Asia. Since this is the region where the Cold-War conflicts still exist and confrontations among the nations and countries are still acute, I believe that demonstrations and solidarity with the individuals who are working for Peace in this region are vital and important.

Particularly, over the last century, we have been forced to endure cruel violence, such as the Japanese colonial invasion, the Pacific war and the Korean War, which victimized numerous people in the name of the "state." Therefore 'Peace-Building' by the peace-loving individuals in North-East Asia is an urgent task that we are now facing. We, the peace-loving individuals, have to gather and write a new history of 'co-existence' and 'peace' against the powers that are again calling on the memories of hatred and confrontation from a past miserable history.

While I was working on the preparations for this seminar once again I realized the cynical reality of this region, North-East Asia. But, as the experience of the Conscientious Objector movement taught me: even one human's warm heart can move many others and can bring about the larger changes, I believe that all of your warm hearts and enthusiastic actions will surely consolidate the foundation of a Peace Movement by liberal and peace-loving individuals in North-East Asia.

Thank you very much

What Prevents our Peace

Min Choi

1. Forewords

For more than 100 years, the Korean Peninsula has been a place where war and violence have become entangled. In 1910, it was forcefully annexed to Imperialistic Japan and could not achieve liberation until 1945 after theend of the WWII, but soon again it was divided into Communist-Capitalist countries. The Korean War in 1950 devastated the whole peninsula and more than a million people were killed in that war. Additionally, the Korean War consolidated the foundation of authoritarian power for several decades in both Koreas while the division of the peninsula served as uncontroversial reason why both Koreas had to expand their arsenals. The DPRK government has been taking a firm grip of the 'nuclear weapon cards' in its hand to preserve its security and regime. On the other side, ROK government is still expanding its military expenditure in the name of the 'self-reliant national defense.'Moreover, the United States government is transforming its global security strategy towards the Korean peninsula as well as Northeast Asia in a more aggressive direction. Including these circumstances, there are various kinds of obstacles that continue to prevent peace on the Korean peninsula.

2. Obstacles against Peace on the Korean Peninsula

1) The So-called, North Korean Nuclear Crisis

Among the peace and security issues around the Korean peninsula, DPRK's nuclear weapons issue is one of the most controversial and well-known problems. South Korea signed the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) in 1975 and DPRK signed it in 1985. Additionally, those two countries adopted the "North-South Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" on December 1991, as the USFK (the United States Forces of Korea) had announced its total withdrawal of nuclear weapons deployed on the peninsular. However, to understand the recent three-year unstable situation of the peninsula starting after the adoption of the Joint Declaration, we have to look back into the continuous military confrontation between the DPRK and the US after the Korean War. In particular, the so-called DPRK nuclear crisis has to be understood as a Korean peninsula and Northeast Asian nuclear war threat in the context of the confrontation between a US threat of nuclear attack and the DPRK's nuclear weapons development in the 1990s.

The United States had planned to use tens of nuclear weapons on the DPRK and Manchuria in the middle of the Korean War, and the plan was in the operable level at that time. General Macarthur had demanded the right of using nuclear weapons as soon as he was placed in command of an American-led coalition of United Nations forces. Moreover, he had indicated 26 atomic bombing sites by the 24th of December 1950. He had also insisted that the US has to build a 'Radioactive Cobalt Belt' from the East Sea to the Yellow Sea of Korea by bombing 30-50 atomic bombs, and at that time, the US Joint Chiefs had showed its favor to a radioactive belt in Manchurian region.

The father of the former vice-president Al Gore, Albert A. Gore Sr. also had insisted that the US needed a 'drastic method' to end the war at a early stage Bruce Cumings, "North Korea : Another Country", New York : The New York Press, 2004. Refer to Korean edition,"Kim Jongil Code", Seoul : Tatuhan Son, 2005. Fortunately, they did not use nuclear weapons in the war, but the DPRK has been targeted by the US for possible preemptive nuclear strikes since then. Right after the adoption of the armistice agreement on the 27th of July 1953, the United States had revealed its 'mass retaliation strategy' that says it would retaliate with nuclear weapons if DPRK attacked ROK again. In actuality, the USFK had started an advance deployment of various tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula since 1958 Most of the nuclear weapons in ROK had deployed on the peninsula to avoid the resistance of peace movement groups of Japan. By deploying its nuclear weapons on the peninsula and Okinawa until it returns Okinawa to Japan, US have proclaimed its nuclear umbrella policy on Japan and ROK. Approximate 700 nuclear weapons deployed on ROK was reduced to about 250 and combined to Kunsan Air Base in Carter administration era. .

Although the Carter administration had promised a Negative Security Assurance, the US had started 'Team Spirit Exercises'for a nuclear weapons strike, targeting DPRK from 1978. In addition, even though the US had withdrawn its nuclear weapons from the peninsula after the Joint Declaration in 1991, simultaneously it had formed an offense scheme like the deployment of long-range bombers, such as F-15E and B-1 and Trident ballistic missile submarines to keep its nuclear strike capability against the DPRK See . Moreover, the Agreed Framework in 1994 stipulated that the US would exchange security assurance in exchange for the DPRK's abandonment of nuclear development. However on the contrary, the US has revealed lately that it did not negotiate Security Assurances with the DPRK The Japan Times, March 6, 2005. .

Therefore, the DPRK has suffered from US nuclear strike threats for more than 50 years after the Korean War. Additionally, as the nuclear umbrella of the Soviet Union disappeared after the post-Cold war era in 1990s, the DPRK had decided in earnest to develop nuclear weapons as an independent security strategy. Related countries' foreign policies and fact sheets about the Plutonium reprocessing and the Uranium enrichment are refer to Lee, Samsung "Hanbando Haekwikiwa Migukwoegyo (The Nuclear Crisis and US Policy on the Korean Peninsula)", Seoul: Hangilsa, 1994 and Cheong Wooksik "2003nyun Hanbandoui Junjangwa Pyonghwa (War and Peace on the Korean Peninsula in 2003)", Seoul: Ihue, 2003.

The continuous nuclear confrontation between the DPRK and the US was assumed to be resolved with the Agreed Framework in 1994, North-South Summit Meeting in 2000, and President Clinton's visit to Pyongyang, but after the Bush administration entered the White House in 2001, the confliction between the DPRK and the US has gone from bad to worse.

By a simple and easy description, a Cold War confrontation that is obsolete on the international level still exists between the US and the DPRK Post Cold War era have brought the normalization of relations between the West and the East but to the Northeast Asian regions, only DPRK could not join the era since it failed to establish diplomatic relations with ROK, Japan and the US.. The difference between the confrontations is that while the US and the Soviet Union confronted against each other in symmetrical status, the status of DPRK is not tantamount to that of the Soviet Union. That is the preponderant superior position of the US is more likely to trigger its aggression against the DPRK. As a usual reaction for the countries in the Cold War era, DPRK also has been developing nuclear weapons, which is the most extreme method of the national security. While the potential of mutual collapse in the Cold War had deterred the war strikes, the situation of the past and present Northeast Asian region is entirely different.

Besides, President Bush has called Iraq, DPRK and Iran an 'an axis of evil.' It meaning that the US is willing to attack the DPRK, if it meets the conditions, is evident.

Now the people of Northeast Asia are totally exposed to the most extreme violence, nuclear threat, among the states disputes. Therefore, it should be an urgent and first priority to ensure massive and global agreement towards the principle that in any case, we cannot accept a war on the Korean peninsula. With this principle, we have to acknowledge that the DPRK nuclear crisis is the offspring of the continuing Cold War confrontation onthe Korean peninsula and, have to find a solution to resolve the crisis In the long run, we have to reduce the nuclear threat with macroscopic access in whole Northeast Asian region such as 'Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.'.

2) Division, and Continuous Confrontation

'DPRK's nuclear weapon' is the most well knownthreat, but still conventional weapons and armies are also serious threats. According to the 'Military Balance 2004-2005, published by IISS, ROK had spent 16.4 billion dollars on its military budget in 2004. This means that the ROK has the 11th largest military budget spending of any country in the world. What makes this worse is that the ROK is continuouslyincreasing its military expenditure even now. According to the ROK Ministry of National Defense resources, the ROK military expenditure has been increasing gradually for 15 years, except during the foreign currency crisis from 1997 to 1999, and it is planning to increase spending even more in the future under the title of a 'self-reliant national defense.'

The DPRK, because of its poor economic condition, had spent about 1.8 billion dollars on military expenditures. However, considering its GNI (Gross National Income) was 18.4 billion dollars in 2003 See, the Bank of Korea, DPRK Economy References , its military expenditure accounts for 8.7% of its GNI (DPRK's military expenditure of 2003 was 1.6 billion dollars). What is more, the ROK Ministry of National Defense, since they estimated the DPRK's military expenditure amounts to 5 billion dollars, announced that the DPRK's military expenditure accounts for about 25% of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) The Ministry of National Defense, International Military Expenditures 2004.

Diagram 1

2004 Defense White Paper The DPRK's annual military expenditure and the ROK Ministry of National Defense official announcement of estimates of the DPRK's military expenditure

  • The exchange rate at the time depends on the statistical standards of the Bank of Korea


DPRK (unit : billions of dollars)


Officially announced military expenditure by the DPRK

ROK The Ministry of National Defense Estimates of the DPRK's military expenditure

Officially announced military expenditure by the ROK Ministry of National Defense

(unit : hundred million won)

Estimates by the exchange rate at the time

(unit : billions of dollars)




7 trillion 4.764





8 trillion 4.100





9 trillion 2.154





10 trillion 753





11 trillion 744





12 trillion 2.434





13 trillion 7.865





13 trillion 8.000





13 trillion 7.490





14 trillion 4.774





15 trillion 3.884





16 trillion 3.640





17 trillion 5.148


According to the 'Military Balance 2004-2005, published by IISS, UK, ROK's military force accounts for approximately 687,000 and the DPRK's military force accounts for about 1,106,000. The DPRK has the 4thlargest military force in the world, following by densely populated countries such as China, the US and India the ROK is the 6th largest in the world. Considering both countries' populations, the heavily grown military force systems need to force conscription on their nations. For ROK citizens, forceful military service continues for 26-30 months and 3 - 10 years for DPRK citizens.

The military itself is not only the instrument of killing and wounding but also is a blind spot for human rights. Particularly, if a state enforces the conscription regulation, it is easy to imagine more and serious problems could be resulted by theinstitution since it enlists the people to a hierarchical and violent army against their own wills. For examples among the acts of cruelty, inductees were made to taste human feces at a training center in January, of 2005 and about a month later, in February of 2005, an army private in a forward-deployed unit was found dead, having apparently hung himself after being assaulted by a senior enlisted man, two weeks after being assigned to his unit [Editorial] Uproot Acts of Cruelty in Military February 11, 2005

For 15 years and 5 months, from 1980 to May 1995, there were 3,263 suicides and 387 homicides by assault, so in total, 8,951 people died while in the service of the army. In the ROK, enlisted privates are paid 400won (about 40 cents) every month Han, Honggu "Chanranhan Byeongyounggukgaui Tansaeng (The Birth of a Beautiful Army Country)" , "Hankyoreh 21", February 20, 2002 and for tens of months, they are forced to serve in the army. It's equal to mass exploitation by the state. Besides, since the ROK government does not accept Conscientious Objection, more than a thousand conscientious objectors are currently confined in prison. The ROK, which had experienced a 25-year military dictatorship, is still experiencing the delusion of repeating and expanding militarism through a military service period.

There are not many resources to assess the DPRK's human rights conditions in the army or how conscription affects the society of the DPRK. However, we still can predict some of the influence of collective and military mobilization and its prevalence in the society from the fact that the DPRKgovernment has developed its identification by recognizing its confrontational status with the US or the ROK for over 50 years, and has presented rhetoric such as the 'Army First Policy' or the 'March of Hardship' to overcome difficulties at home and abroad.

3) The US Northeast Asian Strategy ROK-US Alliance

There are not only ROK forces or DPRK forces on the Korean Peninsula but also the USFK, armed with high-tech weapons, has been stationed on the peninsula since the Korean War. After the end of WWII in 1945, USFK had come to the peninsula making the excuse that it needed to disarm the Japanese army below the 38th parallel, and they established and maintained a military government until the foundation of the ROK government in 1948. After the foundation of ROK government, the US forces had fully withdrawn except for a few military advisory groups by 1949. However, when the Korean Warbroke out in 1950, the maximum 320,000 military forces were dispatched to the peninsula and several million dollars were spent for armies including the American-led coalition of United Nations forces, US forces and ROK armies. After the end of war in 1953, the US forces started withdrawing by 1954, and there were about 70 thousand stationary forces left in 1957. The US government informed that it would reduce USFK forces to 12,500 from the recent 37,500. The basis of the stationeries is the ROK-US alliance that followed the Korean-American Mutual Defense Agreement in 1953, after the war. Additionally, a commander of the USFK also maintains military operational command over the ROK armies in wartime as a commander of ROK-US Combined Forces. That is, the commander maintains the substantial operational command over any military force on the peninsula.

Therefore, the US operational plan is equal to that of the ROK-US Combined Forcesand it implies that the national defense of the ROK is actually subjected to the US Northeast strategic policy. The original USFK defensive operational plan prescribes that the ROK-US Combined Forces would repel an attack and restore an armistice line if DPRK crossed the 38th parallel. However, the previous restrictive plan is changing into the offensive operational plan now that widely covers the Korean peninsula as well as other regions, after the Bush administration had come into the White House. The US New Military Strategy, sometimes named the 'Bush Doctrine' or 'Rumsfeld Doctrine', is pursuing the preemptive and preventive strike strategy to exclude potential threats through comprehensive military transformation. Promotion of the Missile Defense system and the invasion of Iraq as for excluding potential threat against the US are typical examples of the Bush administration's New Military Strategy. Also the Northeast Asian regions including the ROK and Japan are now rearranging their alliances with the US in accordance with this military transformation.

A transformation of the USFK is taking place through three key initiatives; enhancing the armed forces, reshaping the role, and relocating the bases.

  • Enhancing the armed forces : The heavy armed forces, US Second Infantry Division, which had been positioned near the armistice line will be reshaped until this summer to the futuristicmilitary like a Stryker Brigade. The USFK is now deploying the PAC-3 around the western part of the peninsula and is also planning to deploy AegisDestroyer at the east sea. The personnel will be reduced to 12,500 over a five-year period, but it will spend 11 billion dollars to enhance the forces over a three-year period.
  • Reshaping the role : As the Second Infantry Division is relocated from the front line to backward positions, it had transferred its mission to the ROK military. That is, the USFK had transferred its mission of defending against the DPRK to the ROK and now it intends to stabilize the Asia-Pacific region by including other far regions as well as the DPRK. It also means that the USFK will pursue 'strategic flexibility', so this issue has become significantly controversial in the ROK.
  • Aligning the bases :To carry out the missions above, the forward positioned US bases will be returned to the ROK government or the civilians and other scattered bases all over the peninsula will be summoned up in Pyongtaek. Thus the USFK, which had been caught near the armistice line, will be summoned in Pyongtaek, equipped with a harbor and an airport, and it can be transferred to outside of the peninsula freely and will be able to implement combined operations by armies and navies. To precede the plan, the current ROK government has started to purchase land in Pyongtaek. At the same time, residents of Pyongtek are protesting hard against this.

After the transformation of USFK is completed, the US forces will be capable of freely dispatching its forces anywhere in Northeast Asia. We can see this in the 5,000 personnel from the Second Infantry Division that were redeployed to Iraq in August 2004, through the transformation, the ROK would provide a stable and secure outpost for invaders and in the near future, other US forces from all over the world, all the more, will be easily deployed to the peninsula, targeting the DPRK, China and others. So then the number of US forces in a certain area will not matter as much as the flexibility of their mobilization.

3. The Peace Movement in Korea

Although the Korean peninsula has suffered severe tension like other disputed areas do, it has endured it for more than half a century consoling itself with the thought that it is a 'weak nation's fate'. Naturally, in accordance with the idea,it has strong security awareness which triggers confrontations against the DPRK and furthermore, in recent days, against China and Japan. Therefore, it has focused more on building up its military capability than settling peace and easing tension on the peninsula. From the 1980s, there have been several positive movements acting for 'withdrawal of the USFK', 'anti nuclear weapon deployment' and 'unification of the two Koreas,'but most of them were focused on opposing the forced tension from outside of the peninsula and there was no profound consideration for peace itself.

However, nowadays in the ROK, there are various peace movement related issues like 'conscientious objection to military service', 'reduction of military budgets and military conversion', 'group actions against the US forces in Northeast Asia and its military strategies', 'women group against war' and so on. There are also several working groups studying the relations between women and militarism or human rights issues in the military. In particular, there have been active movements against the Iraq war in 2003, and from diverse areas, various people voluntarily organized anti-war and peace movements. I believe in gathering these small but various civil powers, it is the duty of Korean peace activists to achieve peace over the idea of 'national security.'

Japan as a Security Threat in North-East Asia


1. The redefinition of Japan's security policy in the 1990s

Most Japanese believe that the post-WWII Japan has been a peaceful and only light-armed country. In one sense, this evaluation isright. Japan does not possess nuclear weapons, it abolished conscriptionright after WWII, it has never exported arms to foreign countries save a limited technological cooperation with the US and Japan had never dispatched its military forces overseas until the beginning of the 1990s.

But at the same time, we--especially Japanese citizens--should not forget the fact that the relatively peaceful nature of the Japanese post-war state is a backstop to the oppressive regimes in South Korea, Taiwan and Okinawa. Japanese mainland, Okinawa, South Korea and Taiwan have functioned as one unit to sustain the US-led "free world." Therefore, if people living on the Japanese mainland can escape the burden, it actually has to be shouldered by "marginalized" people. This is why Okinawa still has to host a large section of the US bases, and why South Korea and Taiwan still have to maintain conscription.

But it is becoming more and more apparent that the pressures from the US now have made it impossible for even "peaceful" Japan to indulge in its defense-oriented security policy. The end of the Cold War posed a serious problem to Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) as its main task was to deal with an invasion upon Japan by communist forces. But the First Gulf War provided Japanese conservatives and militarists with a golden opportunity. During the course of the war, and even well after the event, they were and are vocal in advocating the significance of "international contribution" or "international cooperation." This phrase represents well the atmosphere surrounding security arguments in Japan after the end of the Cold War. Since the Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) Law was enacted in 1992, the Japanese government has deployed the SDF overseas several times.

The period from the late-1990s on is characterised by a slight shift in emphasis in Japanese security policy. That is to say, Japan and the US began to stress the significance of achieving peace in the "Asia-Pacific" region through closer cooperation between the two countries. In April 1996, they issued the "Japan-U.S. Joint Declaration on Security: Alliance for the 21st Century." Accordingly, the "New Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation" was approved in the next year. The New Guidelines put more emphasis on how Japan and the US can cooperate in security situations in areas surrounding Japan. These two documents are the springboard by which Japan's SDF transforms itself away from the exclusively defense-oriented system to more aggressive and outward-looking military forces. This is why the documents above are regarded as the "redefinition" of Japan's security policy.

2. Measures to remilitarise Japan

SDF's cooperation with US forces

An immediate outcome of the New Guideline is the Law Concerning Measures to Ensure the Peace and Security of Japan in Areas Surrounding Japan in 1999. This law is designed to ensure that the SDF can give a variety of logistical supports to the US forces in the situation where in areas surrounding Japan there is a security concern thatcould lead to an attack upon Japan. But the law is still limited in scope in that the SDF cannot use force for itself nor provide the US forces with arms and ammunitions (due to Article 9 of the "Peace Constitution").

The next step to the remilitarization of Japan is the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law of 2001, which was prompted by the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001. The law again authorizes the Japanese troops to give logistical support to the US forces. But the geographical area of SDF's activities is not limited to the "areas surrounding Japan." Thus SDF vessels were sent to the ArabianSea to engage in refueling for their US counterpartsand others. This was the first time for the SDF to take part in an actual war although the Japanese government has pretended that it is only "rear-area" support ( = logistical support).

In 2004, seven new laws that broadened the scope of SDF activitieswere enacted. One of them is the Law concerning Support to the US Forces in Armed Attacks.

These attempts correspond with a bilateral agreementbetween Japan and the US--the Japan-U.S. Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). The ACSA was signed by both countries in April 1996. Under this agreement, Japan can provide suchgoods and services to the US forces as food, water, clothes, accommodation, fuel, transportation, communication, training, parts, repairs, and so on. The original ACSA allowed Japan to do so only in joint drills, peacekeeping operations and international humanitarian assistance. However, in the revised ACSA in 1999, "the security situation in areas surrounding Japan" was added. In addition, the revision of the agreement in 2004 also enables Japan to give such support to the US in "armed attack situations" and "situations where an armed attack is predicted,"as will be explained below. Only in the last case is Japan is allowed to supply ammunitions to the US forces.

SDF's overseas activities

In addition to support of the US, the SDF has also gained greater latitude in overseas activities in its own right. As I said before, the overseas activity of Japanese troops began with UN peacekeeping operations. Another pretext for such an activity are rescue operations of Japanese nationalsliving overseas. Now Japan can send its air force and navy overseas for that purpose.

A recent big step for Japanese militarists was the dispatch of the SDF to Iraq for the "humanitarian assistance and reconstruction of Iraq" since 2003. But the activities of the SDF are limited here again because it is allowed to engage in such activities only in "non-combatant zones." Nevertheless, even within the non-combatant zones, the SDF has never produced real progress in Iraqi people's lives even though the Japanese government is so desperate to show how friendly and helpful the SDF has been to Iraqis. It is crystal clear that the SDF is sent to Iraq not for the sake of Iraqis but for the sake of those Japanese (and American) ruling elites who want to use the dispatch as leverage to expand the extent to which the Japanese troops can act overseas for Japan's own national interests.

The establishment of the military emergency system

These attempts, however, would not make sense ifthey were not underpinned by a domestic system for military emergency. Thus the Law to Respond to Armed Attacks was approved in 2003. The law covered the responsibilities of the national government, local authorities, and designated public institutions in "armed attack situations" and "situations where an armed attack is predicted."The latter category is a contentious one. It means situations in which an armed attack onJapan has not yet happened, but the atmosphere is so tense that such an attack is predicted. The implication of this vague definition is thatthe Japanese government can mobilise a wide range of domestic resources even in situations where an armed attack on Japan has not yet taken place. Imagine the case in which the US begins to prepare for the war on North Korea for some reason or other and international tension in the North-East Asia becomes acute. Japan could also prepare for the war to help the US forces by mobilising domestic resources. Thus this law can be dovetailed into the US military strategy of preemptive attacks.

3. Rampant public opinion against the DPRK and China

In the historical summit in September 17, 2002 between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korea's national head Kim Jong-Il, Kim revealed that North Korean spies had abducted some Japanese nationals in the 1970s. Just after the event, most Japanese welcomed the outcome of the summit since North Korea allowed the abducted people to go back to Japan with their children. But Japan's national sentiment against North Korea has become worse and worse. For North Korea pressed Japan to return the abductees' children because they had been originally born in the DPRK. The country also refused to expose more information about other Japanese citizens who were suspected of being abducted. North Korea's declaration of going nuclear in 2003 added more fuel. Now Japan's newspapers and news shows on TV are flooded with anti-North Korea reports and Japanese hawks are busy advertising the image of a "vicious" North Korea.

Recently, a spate of anti-Japan demonstrations in China has given Japanese nationalists further ground for inciting anti-Asian sentiment among Japanese citizens. As has been already known, the demonstrations were precipitated by the Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi's unapologetic attitude towards his visit to the Yasukuni Shrine where the Japanese war dead, including class-A war criminals from Japan's invasion upon neighbouring Asian countries, are honoured.

But these Japanese hawks, nationalists, conservatives, and militarists all forget what Japan did to its Asian neighbors in the past, namely the problem of Japan's invasion. They also forget the fact that the problem has remained unresolved even now, and ignorehow the recent moves to remilitarize Japanese society are perceived by their neighbors.

4. Recent developments

US bases realignment

US bases in Japan are no exception to a global strategy for the realignment of US bases. The plan for bases in Japan has not yet been finalised, but it is apparent that the realignment work is designed from a purely military point of view even if a base is withdrawn from somewhere. We need to look closely at what the US is aiming for in each case of the realignment plan. A rough overview of the proposed plan for Japan is as follows:

  • The transfer of the headquarters of US Army Corps I from the state of Washington to Zama in Kanagawa prefecture.
  • The transfer of the Japan's Air SDF's headquarters to Yokota where an US airbase is located.
  • The transfer of Hutemma Marine Corps base in Okinawa to Henoko (also in Okinawa) or somewhere? The transfer to Henoko was originally announced in 1997. But continued struggles by local residents may dissuade the Japanese and US government to press the plan.

Lifting of arms export ban?

The Japanese government has been a good friend to the US government in terms of the latter's planto establish a worldwide missile defense (MD) network. Both governments have already agreed to proceed to the joint development stage of MD. Regarding this plan, some Japanese, including economic elites, have started to propose the revision of the Three Principles on Arms Export so that manufactured components of the MD system can be sold to the US.

5. Conclusion

What I have explained so far is the process of Japan's remilitarization. But Japan cannot become an empire on its own. It is only a junior or subordinate imperialistic country whose main strategy cannot but reflect that of the US. So what we need to do is to keep an eye on the joint military strategy and practices established by the US and Japan. In this regard, it is also quite important to know how the military strategies of South Korea and Taiwan are connected to that of the US-Japan strategies.

If these countries are organized as one battle group against the DPRK and China, the movements to derail the militarists' plans also have to be Northeast-Asia-wide. I believe that this international seminar will serve that purpose.

Asia's Peace Movements and China: Seizing the Opportunity

James Reilly

While the topic of this session is "Issues threatening peace and security,"I would like to talk about both challenges and opportunities raised by developments within China at both the elite, policymaking level and at the level of Chinese society. The dramatic changes within China over the past two decades have significantly increased the autonomy of Chinese society. To understand how China will relate with its neighbors and impact upon regional security, we need to go beyond the traditional perspective of looking only at the views and objectives of Chinese leaders and consider also the views of Chinese society, and the interaction between state and society in China.

I will make a relatively controversial argument in this presentation: as the market economy and social autonomy continue to expand in China, they are providing an opening for a powerful popular nationalism to develop and influence Chinese foreign policy. Thus, although Chinese civil society may be increasingly "free,"this will not necessarily contribute to peace and mutual understanding in East Asia. The behavior of important actors, including Asian peace movements, can help affect future trends in Chinese society and help determine whether it will play a positive or detrimental role for peace and security in East Asia.

In contrast to my concerns about popular nationalism in China, I believe that the Chinese elite policymakers are actually quite moderate with regards to their security objectives in East Asia, although there are three important limitations to the broad trend of China's moderate policy of engagement and cooperation with its East Asian neighbors. Thus for traditional "Liberals" China presents something of a contradiction: a Communist leadership which may be more moderate in some aspects of foreign policy than the increasingly free civil society which it oversees.

I first discuss Chinese elite policymakers, describe briefly the "sub-elite" realm in China, and then turn to Chinese society, focusing particularly on the history-related tensions with Japan. I conclude by discussing implications and recommendations for the peace movements of East Asia.

China's "Grand Strategy:" Internal Stability, External Security

The overwhelming priority for Chinese leaders remains domestic stability. As the economic reforms move toward their fourth decade, they are creating governance challenges of immense proportions. In moving from a command to market economy, Chinese leaders have to maintain economic growth while mitigating the inevitable growing socioeconomic inequities. Social unrest is on the rise as the implications of Deng Xiaoping's famous injunction for some to "get rich first" is finally hitting home for the vast majority of China's population: rural farmers and urban workers. Chinese news brings regular stories of protests over seizures of rural farmland, environmental degradation, official corruption, urban unemployment and underemployment, and the difficulties facing the migrant workers in coastal cities. As the social and economic implications of the reform program continue to deepen, Chinese leaders continue to "ride on the back of a tiger," struggling just to stay on top.

Like all political leaders, Chinese leaders seek first and foremost, to remain in power. Chinese foreign policy is thus centered on creating a regional security environment which supports the two overarching domestic priorities: social stability and economic growth. This has been particularly true over the past decade. In 1995-1996, China became embroiled in a round of tensions with the US over the Taiwan elections, with Japan over nuclear testing, and with its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea. China's behavior at that time led to a tightening of the US-Japan Security Alliance. Chinese leaders learned a lesson from that period: China can better advance its foreign policy goals by reducing others' fears of the "rise of China" and acting as a "good neighbor." Since then China's foreign policy in East Asia has generally been one of moderation in order to avoid worsening others' threat perceptions of China.

Within this broad trend of moderation, there are three exceptions: Taiwan, Japan, and the US. For these three crucial areas, Chinese leaders have certain "red lines" and long-term security objectives which affect their policy decisions. Taiwan is the most important. Beijing must prevent de-jureindependence, and so continues to reserve the right to use military force in the event of a declaration of independence by Taiwanese leaders. Yet since 1996, Beijing has relied primarily upon diplomatic and economic mechanisms to mitigate the steady "Taiwanization"of Taiwan politics rather than shows of military force. The massive economic integration serves as a mutual constraint upon extreme steps by either side (though it particularly constrains Taiwan). Despite this positive trend, Chinese growth in short and mid-range missiles and ongoing military improvements within Taiwan seem entwined in an emerging arms race.

Secondly, Chinese leaders and analysts generally see Japan as the most likely long-term challenger to Chinese strategic interests in East Asia. As traditional Realists, most analysts subscribe to the ancient Chinese adage: "one mountain cannot hold two tigers." While Chinese analysts generally presume that Japan's relative national power is stagnant or even declining compared to China's own booming economy, they worry about the shift in Japanese strategy toward becoming a more "normal" country in its security and diplomatic policies. These strategic assessments are probably driving China's steady, long-term process of military modernization, particularly its pursuit of "power projection" capacity and a blue-water navy(something it has not yet achieved), aimed at balancing or even surpassing Japanese military power in East Asia. Yet despite these concerns, China's top leadership has remained relatively consistent in their insistence on resolving tensions peacefully and in their reliance upon diplomacy and economic interactions to advance Chinese interests with Japan.

We turn finally to China's relations with the world's 800 pound guerilla: the US. Like countries around the world, China faces a great dilemma in dealing with the post-9-11 United States. The US's unparalleled level of power dominance in diplomatic, economic, and military spheres, augmented by the Bush administration's insistence that "you are either with us or against us" has forced many leaders around the world to reluctantly align themselves with US policy, often against domestic pressure and their personal grave misgivings.

Unlike most states, China has in many ways been a beneficiary of the US's "War on Terror." Before September 11, 2001, the Bush administration had labeled China a "strategic competitor,"however the need to obtain Chinese cooperation or at least acquiescence in US military actions in Central and Southeast Asia, in the UN Security Council, and particularly on North Korea has putBeijing back in Bush's camp of "our side,"(at least for the time being). Beijing remains wary of US expansion of military bases in Central Asia, its aggression and occupation in Iraq (setting a worrisome precedent of ignoring territorial sovereignty), and the US pursuit of missile defenses and advanced nuclear and sub-nuclear missile capacity. Tensions with the US over China's human rights record, differences in policy toward North Korea, and trade tensions are also important factors leading Beijing to seek to balance against the US by improving relations with Europe, as well as with Southeast Asia.

Despite facing significant security challenges in these three areas of security concerns, Chinese leaders remain squarely focused upon ensuring that the external security environment does not damage domestic stability and economic growth. A policy of moderation and engagement, participation in international institutions, expansive trade relations, and diplomatic engagement has helped China to mitigate fears of the "China threat." While long-term interests continue to drive China's military modernization and conflict over Taiwan remains an ever-present danger (as it has since 1949), in many ways there is much to be optimistic about in China's foreign policy over the past decade.

China's Sub-Elites: Shaping Perceptions, Offering Access

China's influential sub-elites exist at a level between the top policymakers and broad public opinion. For foreign policy, such individuals often work in influential thinktanks and universities around China. These people often meet with policymakers, write analytical pieces for both internal official consumption and for the broader public, and appear regularly on Chinese television and other popular media outlets. Their analysis helps shape both leaders' and general public's understanding of the regional security environment. While space and time does not permit an extensive discussion about the sub-elite and their role in foreign policy, I would like to make one point: they are increasingly divided.

We can roughly split China's foreign policy community into two groups. The first is a newly-emerging more moderate and cosmopolitan group of individuals. They often have extensive interaction with their counterparts from East Asia as well as with Europe and the US. They tend to be pragmatists and Realists. They understand very well that appearances of a more aggressive military and diplomatic policy will give rise to a backlash in Japan, Taiwan, and the US and will tend to work against China's own national interests. They have a sophisticated understanding of domestic politics in these three places, and do not simply ascribe domestic developments as necessarily reflecting an evil intent to undermine the CCP's authority or keep China suppressed. Such moderate individuals tend to argue for continued economic engagement, conciliatory diplomatic policies, and patience in exerting Chinese influence in East Asia. They tend not to presume that Japan will invariably return to the exact same militarist route, to take a nuanced understanding of the populist trends within Taiwan, and to counsel patience in dealing the Bush administration's aggressive foreign policy. These perspectives and recommendations both reflect and shape the moderate elements in China's foreign policy which I discussed above.

The second group is more nationalistic. They are fiercely proud of China's economic success over the past two decades and are determined to use Chinese power to avoid any hints of a return to the era of foreign invasion and domination during the past "Century of Humiliation."They are also Realists in the sense of seeing politics in terms of a great power struggle, but have far less faith in the power of economic integration to moderate others'foreign policy and achieve China's fundamental national interests. They urge heavy investment in military modernization and insist on preserving the power of the central authorities in Beijing at all costs. They have little understanding of the "Taiwanization" trends on Taiwan, tend to see Japan's pursuit of a more "normal"nation status as a thinly-veiled attempt to return to the road of militarism and aggression, and see the US as a global hegemony seeking to keep China weak and divided by undermining CCP authority and power. This group too is both representative and influential in some aspects of foreign policy, but their greatest significance may come from the way they both shape and reflect powerful trends within Chinese society.

China's Popular Nationalism: An Uncivil Civil Society?

Like the Chinese leadership, and like people the world over, most Chinese people are worried about domestic issues, primarily personal economic security and opportunities. However, there is a growing segment of the Chinese population, particularly younger people in cities, who pay close attention to international relations. A number of survey results reveal that these young people in China are strongly opposed to the trends of US and Japanese security policy in recent years. These young people are at the forefront of a growing trend of what one scholar recently called "China's New Nationalism"the growth of popular nationalism in China.

Popular nationalism in China is evident in a number of areas, particularly in popular books, news articles, on the internet, and through popular protests. Beginning with the inflammatory work "China Can Say No"in 1996, there have been a rash of nationalist tracts that call for Chinese people to rise up in resistance to US and Japanese efforts to suppress China from taking its "rightful place" on the world stage and as the unchallenged leader of East Asia. News articles strongly critical of the US and Japan are mirrored by even more activist publications and organizing efforts on the internet, such as the recent sign-on letter which garnered over 3.5 million signatures calling for Japan to be denied permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Most prominent have been the outbursts of public anger against the US and Japan, such as the recent round of protests in cities around China criticizing the revisions of Japanese school textbooks

It is important for peace movement activists from or engaged in East Asia to take careful measure of the rising wave of Chinese popular nationalism. To many progressive activists and scholars outside of China who are also opposed to US or Japanese policy, they may feel a common cause with the sentiments of Chinese protestors. Indeed, there is a great potential for cooperation, as I will discuss below. However, we must first note that the rise of popular nationalism in China is not necessarily a progressive or even a liberal movement. I will illustrate this point briefly by a comparison with South Korean groups on the issue of Japan's management of how its wartime atrocities are presented publicly today.

South Korean NGOs have been at the forefront of criticizing the Japanese government for its failings in admitting, apologizing and offering compensation to the victims of its occupationand wars of aggression in East Asia. Yet South Korean groups have simultaneously been critical of their own country's history of aggression and atrocities, such as during the Vietnam War, during the Korean War, and during the long period of military dictatorship. Korean activists and scholars have reached out to their Japanese counterparts in cooperative programs (this meeting is itself an example of that). While they demand Japanese apologies and compensation for victims, they offer in return a willingness to forgive and express a desire to move toward peaceful relations. They are able to distinguish Japan's wartime aggression from today's democratic Japan and to distinguish the actions of a few right-wing groups from the great mass of peace-loving, ordinary Japanese people. The visionary steps taken by South Korean NGOs have been reflected to some extent in government policy, evident in expanded interaction begun under former President Kim Dae-Jung. Despite the continued presence of nationalists on both sides and the recent outburst of protests, Japan and Korea appear truly to be starting to walk the long road of reconciliation together.

In contrast, there has not yet been a willingness among either the Chinese government or civil society to articulate how China and Japan might start a process of reconciliation. Most Chinese activists who demand that Japan deal with its wartime past more openly and honorably do cooperate with Japanese counterparts, distinguish Japanese right-wing groups from the general populace, and generally have a sophisticated understanding of Japanese politics and society today. However, despite their good intentions, the rise of "history activism" in China has largely not contributed to deeper friendship and understanding between Japanese and Chinese people or governments, but instead has served primarily to unearth the widespread distrust and even hatred of Japan and Japanese people which, inflamed by decades of government propaganda, continues to poison relations.

Chinese nationalist sentiment, evident in books, newspapers, on the internet, and in street protests, is underlain by this broad anti-Japan sentiment still prevalent among most people in China. This nationalist sentiment is fiercely critical of diplomatic cooperation with Japan, wary of economic integration with Japan, and advocates taking a strong stance on territorial disputes and all history-related issues. Unfortunately, not far below the surface of such policy objectives lies a set of virulent prejudices against Japan and Japanese people.

Why is nationalist sentiment, particularly anti-Japanese sentiment, so strong in China? In addition to the suffering in China under the Japanese invasion and Chinese anger at Japanese historical revisionism, there are at least three less commonly-noted reasons. First, the government augmented decades of propaganda with an expanded "patriotic education"campaign after the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, which has contributed to nationalist sentiment. Secondly, Chinese people are proud of having overcome their "Century of Humiliation" and seek for China to regain its historic place at the center of East Asia. Many see the policy trends in Japan as a dangerous return to the pre-war militarization policies. Finally, overthe past two decades, Chinese society has enjoyed only partial liberalization amidst the rapid rise of a market economy. This has led to greater social activism but only in certain permitted areas. For instance, the media has to find topics which sell newspapers but which are not forbidden by the government. Nationalism fits the bill nicely; particularly criticism of Japan.

In sum, Chinese civil society has built upon the opportunities of the deepening reform program in China to take a more prominent role in Chinese foreign policy. They have been most active in the WWII history-related issues. While this issue is potentially quite productive for building ties with their East Asian counterparts and is usefully challenging Japanese historical revisionism, there remains a grave danger that Chinese civil society is instead being integrated into the broader wave of "popular nationalism"now swelling in China.

If we now combine the elite, sub-elite, and popular levels of analysis, it becomes clear that Chinese foreign policy toward East Asia today stands at a crossroads. One path points toward moderate pursuit of security interests, deepening economic engagement, diplomatic cooperation, and building of cooperative networks among civil society activists. The alternative path is one of rapidly expanding military capacity, a more assertive security policy, economic competition, and the rise of a narrowly, chauvinistic popular nationalism in China. Peace activists in East Asia can play an important role in determining which path China chooses.

East Asia's Peace Movements: Seizing the Opportunity, Shaping the Future

I believe there are primarily two productive ways that peace activists in East Asia can productively interact and influence the foreign policy orientation of Chinese society and government policy: by affecting China's external security environment and by interacting directly with Chinese civil society. The most effective way to reduce Chinese security anxieties is through altering Japanese and US foreign policy. Three areas are most important:

  • Resist the establishment of a more military-based, assertive foreign policy by Japan.
  • Oppose US efforts to strengthen its military alliances in East Asia through the introduction of missile defenses to the region.
  • Promote a policy by the US, Japan, and South Korea of diplomatic engagement with North Korea aimed at solving the nuclear impasse and support economic reform in North Korea.

While working to improve China's external security environment, Asian peace activists should also seek direct engagement with Chinese civil society. Such cooperation will draw Chinese activists closer into networks of regional cooperation, setting the foundation for a more integrated and open China. This cooperation will also mitigate the trend of rising assertive nationalism in China, and instead build a foundation for true friendship and mutual understanding in East Asia. Chinese cooperation with individuals and groups from Taiwan and from Japan is particularly important. While extensive interaction with China already exists among academics, officials, and businesspeople in East Asia, Asia's peace movements have generally been unsuccessful in building closer ties and cooperation with China. I suggest three areas which may be productive:

  • Build upon China's growing "history movement" to encourage deeper integration into East Asian networks active on this issue, with particular emphasis upon cooperation with Japan, learning from the South Korean-Japan model, and holding public, cooperative programs in China whenever possible.
  • Bring Chinese students into peace-related activities in East Asia, and hold such programs within China whenever possible. These programs need to address the tough issues that continue to divide East Asians, such as history-related issues and varying perspectives on democracy and human rights. Establishing internships for Chinese young people to work in and with Asian peace groups, reaching out to Chinese exchange students already studying in Korea, Japan, and elsewhere, and developing Chinese language materials for internet-based distribution may be useful techniques.
  • Integrate "progressive"Chinese academics into peace-related activities in East Asia. In addition to building these networks and relationships of trust with potential Chinese counterparts, this may require moderating program activities to ensure that Chinese participants can comfortably take part without encountering political difficulties when they return home.

I personally believe that one of the most important roles that East Asian peace movements can play is in expanding their cooperation with China. The "rise of China" is the most defining element of the current and future security environment in East Asia: we simply cannot afford to ignore China. Asia's peace movements have a unique opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to reach out to China at this historic moment. We should not let it pass by.

Nonviolence and Antimilitarism

Andreas Speck

1. Introduction

Conscientious objection is one form of nonviolent action against militarism. However, due to its character as refusal, as not doing what you are supposed to do serving in the military it might in some way be more appropriate to called it inaction. In a narrow sense conscientious objection addresses one aspect of militarism: the need of the military for personnel. While the military cannot do without personnel (at least for the time being), an antimilitarist strategy solely based on conscientious objection or counter-recruitment (in countries without conscription) does not address other aspects of militarism: the justification for the existence of the Armed Forces, military expenditure and other military resources (such as space training grounds, military barracks, etc.), and the underlying values of militarism, which often conflict to some degree with human rights and social values in society (see Illustration 1).

Illustration 1: The pillars of militarism. Taken from: Rafa Ajangiz: Peace Action and the Modernisation of the Military theme group, War Resisters' International, 1998

The limitations of conscientious objection are obvious when we look at the war on Iraq, and the present occupationof Iraq by mainly US and UK forces, with a few other forces, which are in Iraq mainly for political reasons. OK, we could try to increase the number of conscientious objectors and deserters (and they are going up the longer the war/occupation continues), but at the same time there is a continuous stream of military supplies from our own countries the UK, USA, and all those countries with troops in Iraq without which the occupation could not be maintained. Yet this continuous stream of supplies is largely ignored by the anti-war movement, and even in the run-up to the war only very few groups tried to nonviolently disrupt the quite considerable stream of supplies from US depots all over Europe, mainly in Germany and Italy. Even if wars are fought far away from home, we should not forget that they require a huge amount of infrastructure at home which we can use as targets for nonviolent direct action.

Later in the seminar we will talk about "Nonviolent Social Defence". How I see it, we will need some form of "Social Attack on the Military"(Ulla Eberhard) in order to get to nonviolent social defence, and to bring down the pillars that keep war and militarism alive in our societies. In this social attack, nonviolent action has to play an important role.

2. Social attack: military in our societies

We are not only confronted with the military when we are being conscripted, or when a military recruiter tries to recruit us for the military. The military is much more deeply embedded in our societies, and if we look around us we will find it almost everywhere: statues and street names reminding us of mass murderers called military heroes, state ceremonies, "remembrance day"ceremonies, military education in schools, and military establishments all over the country: recruitment or conscription offices, military bases and training grounds, military vehicles on our streets, individually and as part of military convoys, low-level flying, etc. The list could be continued. It shows, that we all are affected by the military, whatever our age, gender, or social status is in society. It also means there is much more we can do to fight militarism than wait for our call-up order and then refuse to obey. I think it is important for a nonviolent strategy against militarism to look for a strategic nonviolent confrontation with the military, to wage this conflict nonviolently and to push back the military as much as we can.

2.1 Military bases as symbols of militarism

Military bases are everywhere, and most people do not know the military base closest to them. Many bases are just small and "unimportant"local bases, but others play an important role in the military infrastructure. Do you know what the role of some of the military bases around you is? Do you know what role it plays during the deployment of troops from your country to Iraq?

Several important nonviolent antimilitarist campaigns focused and focus on military bases, for different reasons. The extension of a military base in Larzac in the South of France lead to a 10-years long creative nonviolent campaign, which was successful not only in so far that it stopped the base extension, but it also lead to the development of alternatives and the improvement of living conditions in the area (Hertle 1982). This nonviolent campaign was successful, because it combined the nonviolent resistance against expropriation of land for military use with the development of social alternatives for those living in the area.

Illustration 2: Action of local farmers against the military on the Larzac

For example: the farmers of the Larzac did not only use all available legal and political means to fight the extension of the military training site, they also nonviolently attacked the military presence on their land. Military vehicles outside the existing training ground were surrounded, blocked, and painted with antimilitarist slogans whenever possible (Hertle 1979).

But at they same time they worked on their own unity among themselves, they built a telephone network between the different farms, laid water pipes, an action for which they had to break up a main national road through the Larzac, and many more things.

In a slightly different way the women of Greenham Common in Britain, and also the permanent presence and frequent blockades of anti-war activists at the Pershing-II missiles base at Mutlangen in Germany played a crucial role in the struggle against nuclear weapons. The permanent presence and a wide variety of nonviolent action turned both sites into symbols of the nuclear arms race, and achieved a wider mobilisation of the peace movement.

In Mutlangen, this was achieved through an ongoing campaign of low-risk nonviolent blockades, involving over the years several thousands of people (Stay 2004). I guess in Greenham Common the permanent presence and the creativity of the actions, as well as the feminist vision, played an important role in mobilising wider parts of the peace and feminist movement.

During the war on Iraq, some groups, especially in Britain, attempted to focus more attention of the anti-war movement on military bases used for the war. This was somewhat successful at USAF Fairford, the airbase which was used for the B52 bombers bombing Iraq. The actions included creative demonstrations every Sunday, a permanent peace camp, and creative go-ins and disarmament actions (the nonviolent damage of support vehicles for the loading of B52 bombers). In doing so, the activists brought the confrontation over the war on Iraq from the streets of London directly to the military, and attempted to disrupt the military machine. However, for political reasons which go beyond the topic of this presentation the main anti-war movement in Britain did not support these activities, which meant they remained somewhat small scale. Other attempts to "Reclaim the bases", at Northwood headquarters and at other UK military bases, remained on an even smaller level.

But the military does not only use military bases in times of war. They are used to prepare for war, and during military exercises the military also leaves its bases, and trains for war somewhere in the country whichcauses disruption to civilian life. In the 1980s, nonviolent action groups in Germany organised a nonviolent action campaign to disrupt military exercises, with the side effect that these activities highlighted the existence of those military exercises.

In several Western European countries, a growing nonviolent campaign against civil-military NATO exercises under the name WINTEX CIMEX finally lead to NATO abandoning these exercises on civil military cooperation and control of refugees and the effects of war within NATO countries.

2.2 The military and public spaces

The military does not only leave its bases in times of war or military exercises the "occupation"and use of public spaces by the military is often not noticed, which shows that it is perceived as very normal.

Illustration 3: Antimilitarists attempt to disrupt a public swearing in ceremony in Berlin in 2003

In Germany, at latest since the reunification in 1990, the military embarked on a strategy to use public spaces for military swearing in ceremonies (the swearing of the military oath by new recruits), in a move to "reclaim public spaces from the peace movement" and to improve its image somewhat successful. In many places, peace activists did not only protest against these ceremonies, but attempted to disrupt them, or to make them look ridiculous (which they are anyway).

While these activities are public ceremonies of militarism, we also face the challenge of everyday presence of military in our public spaces especially in schools and universities, which the military sees as recruitment ground, but also through "recruitment buses" and stalls on job fairs or at public festivities. I think our friends from the USA have quite some stories to tell here, and it seems to be obvious to me that we should not just let them be, but that we need to confront the military presence in educational institutions and public places.

A special case are remembrance day ceremonies, which are officially to "remember the dead of war and violence" (this is what they say in Germany), but which in practice are used to promote militarist values. These are difficult targets for action, but nevertheless I do believe it is important to act here too, as these ceremonies are an important part of militarist traditions, deeply rooted in our societies.

In Germany, on remembrance day throughout the whole country wreaths are laid at military cemeteries, mostly by the military, official institutions, and mainstream and right wing political parties. These wreaths honour the dead soldiers of past wars mostly. In the 1980s, peace groups began to attend these ceremonies and to place a wreath for the "unknown deserter" there quite a provocation. The pictures show a remembrance day ceremony in the small town of Bad Kreuznach in the 1980s. The first pictures shows the setting of the ceremony, the second shows the wreath with the writing "For the unknown deserter" and "German Peace Society", the third one shows "our" wreath in the middle the day after the ceremony, but the writing "the unknown deserter" has been cut off it obviously was well targeted, and had to be removed.

Illustration4: Bringing down the military

3. Conclusions

From my point of view it is the aim of antimilitarist nonviolent action to abolish all armies. Refusal, conscientious objection is one obvious way to remove one of the pillars of militarism. However, the other pillars the justification of theexistence of military, the values of militarism, and resources/expenditure require a more active nonviolent approach. Some historical examples show that we can have (limited) success with a nonviolent strategy the examples of Larzac, Mutlangen, Greenham Common, but also Vieques, and probably many others.

It is important to reject the notion that the military is something normal, that the occupation of public space by the military is normal. It shouldn't be.

A nonviolent antimilitarist strategy cannot besatisfied with the personal refusal not to take part in war (conscientious objection), but needs to seek confrontation with the military, to open a public debate about the role of military in society.

In addition, strategies confronting the military are more open for participation of women than a narrow CO approach (most countries do only conscript men). But also the way women are affected by militarism is more visible in other areas of society than just through recruitment.

Furthermore, the acceptance ofCO by the state and military can lead to a laissez fair approach (live and let live) in parts of the peace movement, which needs to be avoided. The same can happen with the abolishment of conscription (see the example of Britain). To let the military be means to accept the militarisation of our societies. CO is/can be confrontation with the military, but when it stops to be a confrontation, then we need to seek others ways of confrontation (CO is only a tool, not an aim in itself the existence of the military is the problem).

When we have conscription, conscientious objection can highlight the conflict between military values and civil values in society. It can, but it does not have to (see the present German example). Without conscription or CO (and evenwith), it will be an important role for us as antimilitarists and nonviolent activists to nonviolently escalate this often hidden conflict of values (and resources). In this, nonviolent direct action has to play an important role.


Rafa Ajangiz: Peace Action and the Modernisation of the Military theme group, War Resisters' International, 1998,;

Wolfgang Hertle: Neues aus dem Larzac. In: Graswurzelrevolution No 42/43, summer 1979

Wolfgang Hertle: Larzac 1971-1981. Der gewaltfreie Widerstand gegen die Erweiterung eines Truppenübungsplatzes in Süd-Frankreich, Weber, Zucht & Co, Kassel, Germany, 1982

Sasha Roseneil: Disarming Patriarchy. Feminism and Political Action at Greenham. Open University Press, 1995

Jochen Stay: Massenhafter Ziviler Ungehorsam. In: gewaltfreie aktion No 138/139, Vol. 36, 1st/2nd quarter 2004

Nonviolence and Security on Feminism

Ellen Elster

Green Belt Movement

Last year Wangari Mathai received the Nobel peace price for her work on environment and human rights in Kenya. This was not unanimously applauded. Some outspoken Norwegian men within peace and international research asked what had this to do with peace. How could planting trees merit a Nobel peace price?

In her Nobel Lecture (1) Wangari Mathai explained the connections. The Green Belt Movement started in 1977 in response to needs identified by rural women, namely lack of firewood, clean drinking water, balanced diets, shelter and income. Throughout Africa, women are the primarily caretakers, holding significant responsibility for tilling the land and feeding their families. As a resultthey are often the first to become aware of environmental damage as resources become scarce and incapable of sustaining their families. Also the introduction of commercial farming, and international trade controlling the prices of the exports, became damaging for these small-scale farmers. For Wangari Mathai and her group, tree planting became a natural choice to address some of the initial basic needs identified by women. All together they planted over 30 million trees that provided fuel, food, shelter, and income to support their children's education and household needs. The activity created also employment and improved soils and watersheds. Through their involvement women gained some degree of power over their lives, especially their social and economic position and relevance in the family.

This work was not easy. Women were poor, lacked capital, knowledge and skills to address their challenges, and they were conditioned to believe that solutions to their problems must come from "outside". They were also unaware that the degradation of the environment and injustices of international economic arrangements and conflicts produced the poverty. So part of the work was to develop a citizen education programme where they could identify their problems, the causes and possible solutions, and through this make connections between their own personal actions and the problems they witnessed in the environment and in society. Initially the Green Belt Movement did not address issues of democracy and peace, but it soon became clear that these activities were impossible without democratic space. In organising the women, the movement met many bureaucratic obstacles as well as police-harassment. Therefore the tree planting became a symbol for the democratic struggle in Kenya. People were mobilised to challenge widespread abuses of power, corruption and environmental mismanagement. Thousands of ordinary citizens were mobilized and empowered to take action for change. They learned to overcome fear and the sense of helplessness and moved to defend democratic rights. Trees also became the symbol for peace and conflict resolution, especially during ethnic conflicts using peace trees to reconcile disputing communities.


Local community work linked with struggle against global oppressive structure is well known within WRI context. For example it was the main theme on the WRI conference on non-violence social empowerment in Puri in India 2001, hosted by the Indian WRI-section Swadhina (2). Here we heard about personal experiences as well as experiences from working in groups and organisations, and social movements and international co-operation with empowerment and disempowerment, as for example Swadhina, a woman's organisation working mainly among tribal women living in ruralareas (2), (3). I see many similarities between the work of the Green Belt Movement and the work of Swadhina. The economic empowerment of women is the main focus of their work. Many of the problems women encounter have economic roots. Their work is educational, supporting women's self-confidence, and focusing on the discrimination between men and women in order to reach economical independence of the women. The women get support for the local way of growing food, small trades, etc as this is threatened by new technology, which in itself makes a priority to men and makes the villages dependent on external factors. As in Africa, agriculture has been commercialised with promotion of cash crops and introduction of machines and the use of chemicals. Also in the Indian society the women play a vital role as bread winner for the family, yet the society as a whole are not prepared to give women the tools, by not giving proper education, health situation being ignored, not given importance to the economic role. The challenge as Swadhina sees it, is to strengthen the self-sustaining local systems, re-establish people's faith in the wealth of indigenous knowledge for self-development.

I have given these two examples as an illustration of how struggle for security at local level are closely linked to threats from global structures, and how creative and constructive struggle by nonviolent means may be effective. In my part of the world we have a tendency to separate our struggles. Either we have a focus against economic globalisation, environmental issues or militarism. Community work has nothing to do with antimilitaristic work. I also think that WRI's challenge is to link the different issues. WRI Nonviolence Programme (4) is running out from Nonviolence Social Empowerment Programme and the programme on Globalisation and Militarism, which so far lack a follow up. This will now change with our new programme worker, and gives hope that WRI will move into a new phase of making the links between nonviolence, antimilitarisme,economic globalisation and justice, possible. The Green Belt Movement and Swadhina show how important it is to combine struggle against poverty, empowerment and against global structures as economics and militarism.

I will start with what I mean by nonviolence, feminism and gender perspective, and then move to the concept of security by mentioning the UN security council's resolution no 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.


WRI's principle statement (5) says among others: "WRI embraces nonviolence. For some, nonviolence is a way of life. For all of us, it is a form of action that affirms life, speaks out against oppression, and acknowledges the value of each person. ...As a way of engaging in conflict, sometimes nonviolence attempts to bring reconciliation with it: strengthening the social fabric, empowering those at the bottom of society, ..."

Both my examples above combine nonviolence as a way of life and take nonviolent action against oppression, by focusing on empowerment from the bottom. This was also expressed by the participants at the international Consultation of Women Trainers in Chiang Mai, Thailand, last October, organised by WRI Women's Working Group and IFoR's Women Peacemakers Program (6). Mai Jan from Burma said: "I understand that without the participation of our people nothing will change. The people don't understand the decisions from high up. We have to give awareness training to the grassroots in Burma to build peace" (p 19).


Talking about feministic perspectives, Iam concerned about the dominance in the society, the dominance of men over women in all aspects, which is a kind of unnamed processes, and we need to get these processes up on a conscious level by naming them. To me feminism is not the same as equality between the sexes. In Norway we talk more about equality in the sense that women shall be more like men and get the same opportunities as men. We don't talk about the other way around. This means that areas traditionally linked to women, as domains of work as well as how we see women, are not recognised. As I understand feminism, it has to do with freedom of structures which forces us into specific social roles because we are born a certain sex, and where the one sex has the right to dominate the other. This domination has to be seen on the personal level, between the man and the woman, and on the society level of how the society has developed to accept oppressive male structures, and in its extreme, military structure. Radical feminism means that we need to choose methods which are coherent with the goals we want to achieve. Radical feminism is very much the same as I understand nonviolence. I think that the women at the Thailand consultation framed it very nicely (6): "Feminism we define as the philosophy or political force that gives expression to women's voice for cooperating in society" (p12).

Gender perspective

Seeing the world from a gender perspective is not only about seeing the world from a woman's perspective, but also from a man's perspective, and that these may constitute two different worlds. Again I like to draw experience from the women at the Thailand consultation. Many expressed that gender wasn't just about women, but as it was said, "how to deal with men's fears of changing gender roles" (p 9). Veasna Am from Cambodia work with people who have lost their land. She became aware the importance of gender (6): "We thought that men were stronger than women, especially when fighting economic power structures. We trained men, but we forgot about women. Yet many times women are very brave. When people struggle with the police or government, sometimes men want to fight back violently, but women will try to persuade people, to talk politely to them. It was a turning point for me, seeing this, how men forgot their training" (p 12).

An example from planning this seminar, is the concerns that there would be too few women in the panels. I personally would like to raise another concern, sometimes a few women are "used" again and again in order to secure the gender balance. The problem could be refrased: How come that there are mostly women who raise concerns around gender? Why shouldn't also men ask questions like How would this phenomena effect men and how would it effect women? And what differences wouldthere be? Not only talking about people, activists or whatever, as there is only one gender!

Sometimes it is important to only focus on women. We have for long lived in a world which has been dominated by men, men's view has been what has been acknowledged as the norm. And this normality might not fit the way women live and organise their daily lives, the way they think, their hopes etc. WRI Women's Working Group (7) was established as a need to have a space for women within WRI at a time when the men dominated the organisation. Even if the power positions in WRI are more equal to-day, there is still a tendency that the men are more outspoken and more visible.


What have all these to do with peace and security? And what do I mean by security? What are the threats we are facing?

I think we need to see the concept in a contextual framework and ask the question what does security means to me and to us, to men and to women. It is not only about the freedom from war and military threats. As the example from Green Belt Movement and Swadhina, for women in rural areas, security-issues are about what is necessary for the daily life for herself and her family, which means what the environment brings. When the environment is destroyed by pollution and by so called modern farming, this will mean a security threat for these women.

Security can also mean a safe life where you don't have to fear violence in your every day life. As a woman at the Thailand consultation said (6): "I discovered that when gender violence happens to a woman, regardless of their organisation or employment, there is no implementation of gender policies. How do you deal with this as a trainer working on violence against women? You have to choose your entry points. You have to make sure the person who is victimized isn't further vicimized in the process of seeking justice" (p 11).

Security may also mean fear from natural disasters, like the Tsunami. We have seen that earth-quake primarily destroys areas where the poor people are living, which again can be linked to distribution of resources. And we can go on like this. For me, security means experienced threats in local communities and in the wider society. Men and women may have different views of what security is. Security is closely linked with nonviolence as a way of dealing with security issues. The American activist Barbara Deming (8) explains it in this way: "What is it that those who advocate nonviolent revolution believe most essentially? They believe, in the first place, that all of us are born with certain inalienable rights rights, that is, not to be taken from us under any circumstances and that among these rights are the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to the pursuit of happiness" (p 10).

UN security council resolution no 1325 on Women, Peace and Security

The resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was accepted by the UN security council in 2000. Prior to the resolution there had been years' pressure from Women's NGOs. Lastly it passed unanimously. Maybe many thought: let's pass it and they (the women) will shut up. This is the impression we can get when we look at the follow up from the Governments' side, including the Norwegian. But for many women around the world, it has been a resource to inspiration for actions and pressure.

I will not say very much about the resolution as such. There are aspects which are absolutely disputable. Maybe the most serious one is about increasing women's participation in the UN-forces, which means an increased recruitment of women into the military forces. My point is mainly that women are not only victims during conflicts and wars, but also resources, and in many cases the ones who take initiative for rebuilding the local community as well as playing an important rolein peace building, stretching hands across the lines, yet they are systematically left out from all decision-making bodies including peace-negotiation. They are also left out to define what security is for them. The Norwegian government, who is praising themselves for the role of peace-mediation, has chosen a passive, and in fact a non-interest in the issue. In discussion with the authorities on questions around Sri Lanka and Sudan, we get the same answer, all initiatives need to come from the parties themselves. There is no willingness to even raise the question about women's participation by showing to the resolution.

An illustrating example from Sudan (9): Women are organising themselves in order to have an impact in rebuilding the society. They think that resources from the outside should also include women in all processes, activities, that women are included in all sort of position, and they are demanding gender budgeting. Traditionally women were marginalised, but during many years of war, women had to take the responsibility of the local community while the men were fighting or killed in the war. Women are now around 60 65% of the population, and they are not willing to go back to the former position. Even they lack both economical and political support, they have started organising local peace-centres in order to build a sustainable peace from the bottom. But from the top, there are at the moment no sign that the women's effort is taken seriously. When the peace agreement was signed during a ceremony in Nairobi earlier this year, they were left out, even they were promised to have 25 places of a total of 500. But through creativity, they managed to smuggle 200 women into the stadium where the ceremony was finding place.

I find it very encouragingto see how African women are raising themselves to become a strong force and demanding a role in peace building. The deep trauma faced by Rwandan women who survived the genocide after suffering indescribable humiliation, violence and sexual abuse, has to-day given women a vital role to play in building the new society. The parliamentary elections in Rwanda, women were secured 49% of the seats, the highest number of women parliamentarians anywhere in the world, and far beyond the prescribed quota on 30%. The future will tell us what sort of impact that will have on the Rwandan society. At the peak of the crises in Liberia, women of the Mano River region (Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone) came together to form the Mano River Women's Peace Network (MARWOPMET).So powerful was this network that it was invited to the peace talks on Liberia in Ghana, and later was invited to be one of the signatories to the peace agreement (10). I would like to add that it is too early to say anything about the impact of the women, or if there is a danger that the women will take over the male way of thinking in the politics, in the same way as we to some extent has seen women in Norway doing, when they get power-positions.

Rounding up

My purpose here is to show that when you put on the women's glasses, we get another look or perspective on the world. As my theme is security, we see that security for women means also access to the every day's basic needs, and that these needs need to be seen in the context of overall structure ofthe society, for example when technological farming is introduced, it may mean good opportunity for some men, but is a serious security threat for most women in these areas.


(1) Matthai, Wangari (2004). Nobel Lecture given in Oslo, Norway December 10.

(2) Peace News (2001). Nonviolence and social empowerment. September November.

(3) Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Project (2001). Case Studies submitted to the Nonviolence and Social Empowerment Conference, Puri, Orissa, India. 18-24 February.

(4) The Broken Rifle (2005). War Resisters'International launches new Nonviolence Programme. Newsletter of War Resisters' International No 65, February.

(5) Statement of Principles (1997). Adopted by the War Resisters'International Council in Carmaux, France.

(6) Asking the Right Questions: Gender and Nonviolence. An International Consultation of Women Trainers, Chiang Mai, Thailand October 3-8 2004. IFoR Women Peacemakers Program and WRI Women's Working Group.

(7) WRI Women's working group.

(8) Deming, Barbara (1971/1986). Peace News 10 January 1986.

(9) Kvinner Sammen (Women Together) no 1/2005, issued by FOKUS (Forum for Women and Development).

(10) 1325 peacewomen e-news.

Envisioning our Utopias

This short workshop is intended to provide an opportunity to investigate our own utopias: "don't dream about your life, live your dreams".

There are many utopias and some people have written their ideas down and they have become quite well-known, such as Owen, Marx, Bakunin and "p m" (author of Bolo bolo). But everyone has a view of their own utopia and while some of our ideas are similar, in other things we differ. Often we know nothing at all about our dreams and our political visions of "another, better society".

But what actually are utopias and why do we need them? And how does my utopia look? I asked these questions as the starting point for a session during a three-hour workshop.

To encourage the first contributions from participants, I gave four cards to each participant and asked them to write their names on each.

Then I wrote four questions down on a big poster: Do utopias promote or restrain change? In your opinion what is the relationship between analysis and utopia? What do you expect from a utopia? How are your visions linked in with your life? These questions are suggestions to help us think about our understanding of our own utopia.

The participants wrote their individual responses down - one on each of their cards.

When everyone had finished (after approximately 20 minutes), they were asked to take their cards and talk with different people in the group. In each encounter they discussed one of the questions together in pairs and using a small bell I limited the time for their exchanges and with each of their cards.

They then had to find a new person to talk with and discuss the second question, and so on. It is good to allow three to five minutes for each question. This introductory session enabled us to identify our future discussion material: what utopias are for us and where they can lead to.

We identified the important points from the discussion and wrote them on a flipchart. Already we were in the middle of our utopias discussion! Which topics and ideas now belonged to our utopias?

In addition I asked the group to divide into small groups of 4-5 participants. Their task was, with the help of a "mindmap", to collect the many different concepts of utopia expressed by participants. We then carried on together as a whole group. In this workshop it was obvious that most of our images of utopias represented quite different types of societies than the current ones. The second part of the workshop looked at how we link our daily lives with our visions of utopias. Because utopias are not for some future existence, but are for living now, and so many people in so many places have begun to turn their utopias into reality.

Using a brainstorming session, we easily identified many small projects the participants knew about. But when we saw them all on a large piece of paper, then we could see that many people were already working on their utopias.

Here are a few thoughts noted on different cards from a workshop at the Youth Environmental Congress in Dresden in December 2001: "Utopias can change things. But it depends on the type of utopia and on the person themselves. Utopias can be catalysts for change and can inspire action. In no way do they restrain my action, because I only try to live a utopia that I really agree with". "Utopias are probably impossible, because the conflict between the individual and society will always exist. People simply cannot make everything ok for everyone. Nevertheless utopias should not be absent in our lives, as they offer us a bigger vision of our lives".

Intentional communities

The following is a list of geographically diverse intentional communities, eco-villages, and co-operatives which represent a wide range of visions. Also included is basic contact information for each community so you can learn more about them.

Rainbow Family of Living Light (International). Unofficial website: tel +1 212 560 7111

Findhorn Foundation (Scotland, Britain) tel +44 1309 690 311 fax +44 1309 691 301

Wholelife Housing (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) email tel +1 403 276 4296

Tamera (Colos, Portugal) email tel +351 283 6353 06

Pacha Mama (Costa Rica) email

Ecovillage at Burdautien (Eire) ireland/burdautien/ email tel +353 47 522 95

Eco Carabane Center (Ziguinchur, Senegal) email fax +221 91 22 56

Clays Lane Co-Operative (London, Britain) tel +44 20 8555 9182

Auroville (Tamil Nadu, India) email

Web-based resources

These sites each offer a wide range of information and provide numerous utopia-related links:

Society for Utopian Studies,; Utopia on the Internet, utopialist.htm

Ecotopia,; Utopia: The Search for the Ideal Society in the Western World is a New York Public Library online art exhibition celebrating the women and men who have "imag-ined, depicted, described, and cre-ated" ideal societies throughout history.; Utopia Builder teaches utopian concepts in a fun and inventive way. Visitors create their own virtu-al "utopia" by answering a series of questions and selecting various images,;

Defending without the Military

Brian Martin

1 Introduction

When faced with the threat of organised violence, often the only option considered is 'defence.'This is assumed to be military defence, which is itself a form of organised violence. The result is arms races, military races or, more generally, violence races. The assumption that defence requires violence is so deep-seated that alternatives are seldom considered. Yet there is another, very different option: develop the capacity for struggle using nonviolent methods such as strikes, boycotts, rallies, sit-ins and setting up alternative institutions.

Historical examples show the potential of nonviolent action. In 1968 the Czechoslovak people used nonviolent resistance against the Soviet invasion, and were much more successful than military resistance would have been. They were able to convince many invading soldiers that the Czechoslovaks had a good cause. Czechoslovak solidarity was so strong that no one could be found for months to head a puppet regime. The nonviolence of the resistance had the important impact of undermining the credibility of the Soviet Union within communist parties around the world (Windsor and Roberts 1969).

In 1986 in the Philippines, tens of thousands of people came onto the streets to oppose the Marcos regime and to defy his troops. Government soldiers refusedto attack the civilians. This massive display of "people power" helped topple the dictatorship (Schock 2005; Thompson 1995; Zunes 1999a).

In 1989, East European regimes collapsed in the face of popular resistance (Randle 1991). For example, in East Germany masses of people emigrated to West Germany, while at the same time street protests became larger and larger. In the face of this vote of no confidence, the government resigned (Bleiker 1993).

The most famous use of nonviolent action was the campaign for independence of India from Britain, led by Gandhi, involving mass civil disobedience and other techniques. It was the nonviolence of the Indian movement that inhibited the British from being more violent themselves (Gandhi 1927; Sharp 1979). In contrast, when British colonialists faced a violent rebellion in Kenya, they set up numerous concentration camps and ruthlessly killed thousands of people (Edgerton 1989).

There are numerous examples of popular nonviolent insurrections that have challenged and often overthrown authoritarian governments (Parkman 1990; Zunes 1994). Nonviolent action played a key role in the ending of apartheid in South Africa, after earlier challenges by armed struggle had been defeated (Zunes 1999b). Asian examples include challenges to regimes in China, Burma, Nepal and Thailand some successful, others not (Schock 2005).

The history of nonviolent struggle has been cast into a shadow by theattention given to battles and conquests. Even so, there is ample evidence to show that protest, noncooperation and nonviolent intervention have enormous potential (Ackerman and DuVall 2000; Cooney and Michalowski 1987; Crow et al. 1990; McAllister 1991; McManus and Schlabach 1991; Powers and Vogele 1997; Schock 2005; Sharp 1973, 2005; Weir et al. 1994). The key question is how to turn this potential into a viable option.

To tackle this issue, I outline how nonviolent methods can be used in a coordinated fashion as an alternative to military defence. This option, called social defence, has implications for skill development, technology policy, social organisation and external relations. These are described as components of a programme in which social defence is a process as well as a goal.

2 Social defence

Historical examples show the potential of nonviolent action, but it is hardly wise to rely on spontaneous protest, noncooperation and nonviolent intervention by the population. After all, spontaneous use of violence would have only a small chance of success against a well prepared military force. Successful military defence depends heavily on recruitment and training of soldiers, production and/or purchase of weapons, planning and preparation for a range of contingencies, collection of information about threats and potential enemies ("intelligence"), and maintenance of support systems based in the wider society, such as for military funding, transport, medicine, education and the like. To be effective, a nonviolent alternative needs a similar level of preparation.

Since the 1950s, a number of researchers and advocates have investigated and promoted popular nonviolent resistance to aggression as an alternative to military defence (Boserup and Mack 1974; Burrowes 1996; de Valk 1993; Ebert 1968; Geeraerts 1977; Keyes 1981; King-Hall 1958; Martin 1993; Niezing 1987; Randle 1994; Roberts 1967; Sharp 1990). This involves means such as strikes, boycotts, symbolic protests, noncooperation and setting up alternative institutions. This alternative is called by various names, including social defence, nonviolent defence, civilian defence, civilian-based defence and defence by civil resistance.

Social defence aims to defend the social fabric rather than territory. One way it does this is by reducing the benefits of aggression, such as by strikes and work-ins to deny economic advantages to the aggressor. Another way is by undermining the social support for the aggressor, such as by fraternising with troops and communicating with the people in the aggressor country.

What would social defence look like in practice? Imagine a limited invasion by foreign troops backed by an internal coup. In other words, key parts of the government and military are imagined to collaborate with the invaders so that no military resistance is mounted. Social defence to this political-military takeover might include:

  • mass demonstrations and protests to show people's nonacceptance of the takeover;
  • refusal by public servants and soldiers to do work for the new rulers, including resistance by strikes, go-slows or noncooperation;
  • destruction of files on dissidents and other potential leaders of the resistance;
  • disruption by telecommunications workers of communications by the new rulers, and use of media to mobilise the resistance;
  • taking over of factory production by workers to sabotage production useful to the invaders and also make sure necessities are provided to the populace;
  • attempts to win over the invading troops and social pressure applied through the families and friends of the collaborators;
  • international communication to mobilise economic and political pressure on the new regime, and also to foment resistance in the country from which the invaders came.

With these and other methods of nonviolent resistance prepared in advance, potential invaders might well be reluctant to act. Social defence, just like military defence, has the potential to act as a deterrent.

  • Social defence has the potential to challenge the basic assumptions underlying military defence:
  • instead of violent means, only nonviolent means of resistance are used;
  • instead of defending a state, social defence methods can be used to defend local communities, ethnic groups, or social classes;
  • instead of most combatants being young fit men, social defence is based on participation by all sectors of the populace, including women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities;
  • instead of being planned only by elites, everyone can be involved in planning and preparing for social defence.

These features of social defence that challenge the military model are actually keys to its success. The nonviolence of the resistance allows much wider participation in the defence, and the refusal to use violence provides a strong moral appeal to the aggressors and third parties. Since the methods of nonviolent action can be used to push for the interests of workers against employers or women against men rather than just the interests of the state against its challengers social defence can draw on the energy released in struggles for social justice as well as providing energy to these struggles. By potentially involving all the populace, social defence is much more likely to be a true defence of the people's interests.

One of the key advantages of social defence is that it provides protection against government repression and military coups (Roberts 1975). In North-East Asia, like most of the world, a country's troops are far more likely to be used against the local population than to defend against foreign enemies. Justified by the alleged need for 'defence,'military forces are most commonly used by governments to repress and exploit their own people.

Social defence does not have this defect. Social defence can only be effective if it is supported by all or most of the population, hence it provides no basis for repressive rule. It is this powerful antiauthoritarian dimension that makes governments neglect this alternative.

3 Objections and responses

Objection 1

Nonviolent action won't work against a ruthless aggressor. Actually, nonviolent resistance can be quite effective against ruthless aggressors (Summy 1994), as shown by opposition to Nazis in occupied Europe (Semelin 1993). Nonviolence of the resistance can undermine the loyalty of the aggressing forces, whereas violent resistance often unifies the aggressors. The Iranian revolution was almost entirely nonviolent. It succeeded against the Shah's regime which was based on overwhelming military might, the routine use of state violence and torture to terrorise the population, and foreign support from every major power, including the United States, the Soviet Union, Israel and the Arab states (Albert 1980; Hoveyda 1980). (This is not to deny the militarism and many abuses of human rights of the clerical regime which took power after the revolution.)

It is a cruel illusion to imagine that building up military forces can be a protection against genocide, since genocide is almost always carried out by a state and its military forces against people under its own control, as in the case of the genocide of the Armenians by the Turkish government (1915), of the Jews by the Nazi government (1941-1945), of the Bangladeshis by the Pakistan government (1971) and of the Cambodian people by the Cambodian government (1975-1979). None of these genocides could have developed without substantial support among the people of the state undertaking the genocide. In the case of the Jews, there was little resistance nonviolent or otherwise and there was widespread complicity with or acquiescence to the Nazis, both by non-Jews and by leaders of some Jewish communities who helped organise registration and deportations. Social defence is bound to be more effective that this.

A key to understanding the power of nonviolent resistance is avoiding the us-them dichotomy. In almost all cases of organised aggression, there is a political struggle going on: the struggle for supporters. Armies and genocidal programmes cannot be mobilised without numerous collaborators and many others who make no resistance. Active nonviolent opposition has a much greater scope for mobilising resistance to aggression, because it does not induce a counter-mobilisation among the aggressors the way that violence does, and because it allows everyone to play a part in a way that violent resistance does not.

Objection 2

Social defence won't stop an aggressor which just wants to make use of remote territory, for example for mining. True: social defence is not designed to defend territory. But military defence is not very good at stopping attacks on remote territories either, as the Malvinas/Falklands war showed. Social defence cannot be conceived as a protection of territory; it operates through political, economic and social mobilisation. If an aggressor took control of a remote territory for mining purposes, then 'social attack'(Martin 1993) could be employed to mobilise international opposition, for example through boycotts and other forms of economic pressure, communications to the people of the aggressing country, and offers of amnesty and asylum to noncooperating troops of the aggressing forces.

Objection 3

Social defence won't deter an aggressor that has vital interests at stake. It is true that even the best efforts of nonviolent resistance in Czechoslovakia in 1968 would probably have been insufficient to prevent reassertion of Soviet political control, since the Soviet rulers perceived Czechoslovakia as being vital to their whole system. But defence by the Czechoslovak military forces wouldn't have worked either and for this reason it wasn't even tried. Nonviolent resistance has a greater potential for undermining the popular support on which the aggressor depends. In 1968, Soviet troops had to be rotated out after only a few days because their reliability had been undermined by talking with the Czechoslovak people. In a situation in which no method can ensure full liberty, organised nonviolent resistance holds a great potential for maximising freedom.

Objection 4

Social defence won't work against a nuclear attack. But then, neither will military defence. In addition, a society employing only social defence is less likely to attract a nuclear attack, since it does not pose a violent threat to anyone else.

There are many other possible objections to social defence, but answering them on logical grounds will be insufficient to convince some people, since their assumptions about violence and professionalisation of military defence are so deeply rooted. In this regard, two points are of importance. First, social defence is not a panacea. It cannot be expected to do everything desired by everybody, without hardship or death. It is not an easy road to a truly peaceful world. Second, social defence has not been developed yet, so the real question is whether it is promising enough to warrant further study and effort towards bringing it into being. If the answer is yes, the next question is, what can be done to help promote it?

4 Two approaches to transarmament

How could a conversion from military to social defence a process called transarmament be brought about?

One approach is through convincing government and military elites of the advantages of social defence, and also putting pressure on them through public support for social defence. In this approach, social defence would be implemented by governments. This approach is flawed by its assumption that state elites would themselves ever promote significant aspects of an alternative that undercuts their own power. It is rather like trying to convince capitalists of the virtues of producing unprofitable goods. A few may be convinced, but they are likely to go bankrupt. Just as the behaviour of capitalists is a product of the wider capitalist system, the behaviour of state elites is a product of the system of competing states and the internal control exercised within states. As a result it is fruitless to expect social defence to be implemented by elites. This is indeed the experience in the United States, where the dedicated efforts of Gene Sharp and others to win support for civilian-based defence in government and military circles have had little success.

Another approach is through grassroots organising to promote and implement social defence. In this approach, social defence would come about in the face of apathy or opposition from state elites. It is this approach that I will adopt and describe here.

5 A social defence programme

A grassroots programme to promote and implement social defence could include the following components.

Promotion of the idea.

Many people need to be exposed to the main ideas of nonviolent action and social defence, and also to relevant criticisms of military defence. Such a campaign of mass education is necessary for most social action campaigns. It can involve talking to individuals and groups, production and distributionof leaflets and articles, radio programmes, and publicity from related activities such as nonviolent resistance simulations. Once the idea becomes established, further publicity will become routine by means ranging from word of mouth to the mass media.

In most of the world, promotion of the idea of social defence is rudimentary or nonexistent. Only a limited range of literature is available, and knowledge of the idea is restricted mainly to sections of the peace movement.

Local planning.

Ideas can have only a limited impact unless they are connected with practical activities. The most immediate practical activity towards implementing social defence is local planning, preparation and training in the methods of nonviolent action (Clark et al. 1984; Coover et al. 1981; Herngren 1993). Local groups can assess what they could do to nonviolently resist an invasion or coup. This might range from organising rallies, talking with aggressor troops, going on strike, hiding or protecting dissidents, organising communications through local radio or or person-to-person networks, and arranging for distribution of food. Once such options are assessed and given priorities, steps can be taken to prepare for them. For example, communications networks might be set up, including telephone networks and local courier services. An inventory of local resources might be made, including food stocks and printing equipment. Skills could be developed, such as being able to speak any relevant languages (for fraternisation purposes), beingable to operate telecommunications equipment, or knowing how to disable machinery. Systematic training could be used to prepare for various contingencies and to develop confidence and resourcefulness.

Immediate threats can provide an incentive for local planning. People can be asked what threat worries them the most: government repression, marauding gangs, military coups, forced conscription or nearby fighting, for example. After selecting one or two of these threats, various ways of responding and preparing can be canvassed. Usually the most effective methods for dealing with one sort of violent threat are also quite useful for dealing with others.

Infiltration of established institutions.

Local social defence organising can take place in many areas, including villages, workplaces, and interest groups such as teachers. But in order to become a dominant mode of defence, the ideas and practices of social defence need to be taken into key institutions, including the military, the police, the government, corporate management and the state bureaucracies. Until significant numbers of people in these areas support the shift to social defence, nonviolent resistance can at most be a subsidiary form of defence.

Social defence can be taken into key institutions in the same way as it is spread elsewhere: through communication, organising and direct action. Personal persuasion will be a key factor: as mass involvement in local nonviolence organising develops, many people who also play roles in key institutions, or knowpeople in them, will pass on the ideas and begin promoting the alternative. Direct organising in places such as the military will also be important: passing out information, arranging for inside discussion and action groups, and developing plans and making preparations for nonviolent resistance. Finally, direct action will be necessary in many cases. For example, workers might strike or work-in to encourage management to participate in social defence planning in factories.

Clearly, taking social defence into institutions such as the military means making a direct challenge to the power and prerogatives of institutional elites. Organising a workforce and converting a workplace for nonviolent resistance might require implementing workers' control at least if managers are resistant to changes required for social defence planning. So the project to implement social defence from the grassroots cannot simply be tacked on to existing institutions, but has to be a component of a wide-ranging challenge to existing power relations in society.

Restructuring society.

For a really powerful social defence, it is necessary to go beyond preparations for nonviolent resistance within the context of existing society. Eventually the restructuring of economics, politics, technology, communications and other aspects of society will be required. For example, economic production can be made more resistant to takeover by being decentralised, by being based on less hierarchy and narrow job specialisation, by providing a more egalitarian distribution of the economic product, and by providing greater participation in decision-making over economic goals. Centralised production facilities are susceptible to being taken over by an aggressor, who can use coercion or try to buy off a smallgroup of workers. A decentralised and locally self-reliant economy would be much better suited to resisting nonviolently, and also would be less attractive to a potential invader since the possibilities for quick exploitation of the economy would be less. If workers are able to understand and run factory production, aggressors will have more difficulty obtaining acquiescence by threats or bribes.

A more egalitarian distribution of the economic product would reduce the social antagonisms resulting from unemployment, exploitative wages, or discrimination by sex or ethnic origins. Divisions in the population caused or fostered by economic inequality can be used by aggressors to divide and rule. And just as obtaining a fair share of economic output is important in promoting solidarity for nonviolent resistance, so is having the opportunity to do meaningful work.

Finally, widespread participation in decision-making over economic goals would aid social defence. Participation would increase the commitment people feel to the society as a whole and undercut the power of economic elites to dictate directions, thus removing the vulnerability of the elites to aggressors.

These are some examples of how restructuring of the economic system would fit into a programme to restructure society for effective social defence. Similar changes could be made in politics, technology, communications and other areas (Martin 1993, 2001). For example, the potential for popular nonviolent resistance would be enhanced by non-hierarchical decision-making systems, by technologies which could be used or dismantled by anyone, and by decentralised communications networks.

It should be clear that such changes would not be undertaken solely to make social defence more effective. They would require popular initiatives to restructure power relations throughout society because of the advantages these changes would have for their own sake, such as job satisfaction and economic justice.

It should also be clear that such changes do more than protect against external aggression: they challenge the systems of unequal power and privilege that are so often protected by military forces and police against the people they are supposed to be guarding. In other words, social defence by grassroots initiatives can be linked to grassroots challenges to the institutional structures which underlie the resort to organised violence.

External affairs.

The development of 'social defence in one country'is unlikely to be successful. The threat to the prevailing power structures could well provoke external attack. Therefore, just as important as developing local plans and preparations for nonviolent resistance is promoting social defence in other parts of the world, especially among the people in potential aggressor states. This means liaising with dissident and social action groups in other countries, building communications facilities, developing foreign language skills, learning more about other cultures and political systems, and developing strategies to deal with potential threats.

If this liaison and preparation is successful, then any foreign attack would be threatening to the attacker because of the risk of stimulating opposition in the aggressor country and undermining the loyalty of its armed forces.

6 Leading the change

A full-scale system of social defence may be the ultimate goal, but for practical purposes steps along the way are important in themselves. Anything that increases the capacity of people to resist violence is worthwhile. There are lots of ideas for how to do this, but who will lead the way?

Government initiatives could lead to rapid change. This could be through provision of information, inclusion of materials in school syllabuses, financial support for training programmes, setting up of decentralised communication systems, support for workplace committees and a host of other possibilities. However, governments are the least likely source of initiative for social defence. A few western European governments have sponsored studies of social defence but none has yet done anything really substantial in terms of implementation. The most that might be hoped for from governments is tolerance for initiatives by others.

Far more likely are initiatives by individuals and groups in a range of arenas. Individual teachers ight raise ideas in suitable contexts, village leaders could hold meetings and encourage activities, and so forth. Already there are many initiatives that are supportive of nonviolent resistance, even though they are overtly about something else, such as developing local self-reliance in food production, building networks among local organisations and defending free speech.

Another source of initiatives is outsiders: visiting activists. One model is Peace Brigades International, which sends trained teams to accompany local activists who are at serious risk of attack. Another model is peace teams that interpose themselves between warring forces or otherwise intervene directly in other countries (Moser-Puangsuwan and Weber 2000). But probably the most important role of outsiders is the more routine one of sharing ideas, experience, contacts and inspiration. Local action groups can gain great encouragement just by knowing that outsiders know and care about their efforts.

7 Conclusion

News reports in the mass media give the impression that violence is what drives world affairs and that only the intervention of governments or international bodies like the UN can make a difference. The problem is that terrorism, massacres and wars are far more newsworthy than local efforts to build tolerance, participation and self-reliance. Nonviolent action receives little attention compared to violence: a violent incident involving a few individuals can overshadow the actions of tens of thousands of peaceful protesters. It is no surprise that nonviolent alternatives are off the mainstream agenda. Nonviolence has low visibility, yet poses a deep threat to the status quo.

Without waiting for government endorsement, there are many things people can do to build their capacity to defend their communities nonviolently, whether the communities are based in villages, neighbourhoods, workplaces, or ethnic or religious groups. The key first steps are making people aware of what they can do, increasing their skills and building solidarity and willingness to act. Medium term goals include greater economic self-reliance, use of appropriate technologies, systematic training and the establishment of transnational support networks. Long term goals include restructuring of political and economic structures to maximise the capacity for nonviolent defence.

None of this will be easy, and in a seemingly violence-drenched continent the obstacles can seem overwhelming. It is important to remember that the potential for nonviolent action plays a role even when it is seemingly invisible. Government leaders and military commanders are often restrained by their awareness of likely noncooperation or protest, but we seldom learn about coups or invasions not undertaken on these grounds. This possibility can offer encouragement for even small efforts to increase the capacity of people to defend themselves nonviolently.

This is an edited version of a chapter published in Geoff Harris (ed.), Achieving Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: Cost Effective Alternatives to the Military (Pretoria: Institute for Security Studies, 2004), pp. 43-55.


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Case Studies of Nonviolent Campaigns

A nonviolent campagn in eco-environemtal movement in South Korea: Mt. Cheonseong-san and Salamander go to law - The echo of green

Salamander's friends

# The main presentation will be done in the form of flash animation files made by Buddhist nun Jiyul and photos.

# Supplementary information will be provided for background understanding of the issue such as a book called 'Jiyul, getting out of the woods,' media coverage, comments by Jiyul and the Friends of Salamander

# Some interviews also will be presented for a better understanding

Brief introduction about the salamander lawsuit

  • Jiyul's Hunger strikes

    1. First - 38 days (February 2003)
    2. Second- 45 days (April 2003)
    3. Third - 58 days (Summer 2004)
    4. Fourth - 100 days (started October 27, 2004)
    5. (the significance of her hunger strikes will be explained)

  • Flash animation files

    • Through the years of salamader lawsuit process, Buddhist nun Jiyul learned computets, how to take photographs with digital cameras, and to produce video files with beautiful music included. She learned these techniques one by one which later became electronical messangers delievering her green messages widely to Internet users. Her messagers were more impressive and catching more attention than any breaking news, from which many people got to know the existence of Mt. Cheonseong in Yangsan city in South Gyeongsang province. The video files contain beautiful images of numerous living creatures nesting in the mountain such as long dotted tail salamander, an endangered species. The combination of video files and short writings generated the echo of green and it spread throughout the nation. Hundred of thousands of people voluntarily signed their names in support for Jiyul and the mountain saving movement demanding an immediate halt to tunnel construction which will used for bullet train service between Seoul and Busan.

      (A sample of the video files will be played)

  • Buddhist nun Jiyul's nonviolent demonstration in front of excavators
  • Children send picture postcards to the chief judge.

    Before the last trial of the salamander lawsuit, appeals made by 'Friends of Salamander' throuout the nation continued. Especially, children sent picture postcards to the chief judge in hoping to champion Mt. Cheonseong and salamanders.
  • Making salamander bookmarks

    Bookmarks with salamander paintings were hand made based on the children's postcard pictures. Bookmarks were particularily popular during the whole campaign because the salamander paintings represented children's perspective on the issue. Each bookmark was hand made in earnest and it has a Korean traditional knot, which helped pass on sincerity if the movement. The message it sent was stronger than any beatifully decorated advertisement rubbish massively produced in factories.
  • Making salamander dolls and crowns

    The salamander lawsuit went against the grain of capital's merciless development and destruction. Salamander dolls and crowns were good tools to let people know that salamanders, as a part of the nature have the legal right to file a lawsuit. It was a new and fresh method when most activists typically use computer-printed slogans and pickets to get the word out. People found salamander freindly and paid attention to the campaign.
  • Embroidering salamander

    Embroidering salamander is like quilt in the West. People could embroider with leftover pieces of cloth. Scrap of cloth and buttens made good materials. Different shapes and colors of salamanders were collected from every part of the country and became a huge, beautiful pull-down artwork.
  • Folding paper salamander

    Friends of Salamander came out with the idea of paper folding salamanders in order to share the stories of Mt. Cheonseong with broader range of people.

  • Making salamander recycled accessories

    Thinking over how to save the mountain while saving the eco system and environment at the same time, Friends of Salamander recycled bottle caps by painting small pictures on them to use them as badges or buttons.
  • Painting salamaders on people's faces

    Street performers (Redclef, Lee Daeri, Acomda, Dopehead Zo, Ocarina Team, Tungpul, The Performance Team With No Name, etc.)

    Wherever Friends of Salamander go, street performers followed. Lee Daeri, an ordinary office worker sang delightful songs with new lyrics he altered appropriately, making the campaign even more joyous. Under the influence of him, some amateur ocarina players got the guts to play ocarina in public, too.

  • Candlelight cultural festival
  • Brief evaluation

Asian Peace Movement - Achievements and Challenges

Environmental Movement: Instruments for Sustainability and Security

Kaori Sunagawa

1 Environment and Security

Principle 25 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development proclaims: "Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible." [27]

Although it is reported that the relationship between environment and security has been under consideration since the 1980s, [28] I think that the realization of this principle has become mainstream in the international community only recently. People in the world acknowledged this principle when Ms. Wangari Mathai received the Nobel peace price for her work on environment and human rights in Kenya. Now I feel that a new era integrating environment, sustainability and security movements has come.

2 Interactive Relationship Between Environment and Security

Recent streams of challenges for integrating the environmental aspect into security are explained in a report titled 'Environmental Security' [29] by Mr. Kirchner.

He explains these challenges as follows:

When political scientists took up the environmental aspect of security, they defined environmental impacts as being part of the security issue. This approach attempted to re-define the concept of national security completely. In the early 1980s, the Independent Commission on Security and Disarmament Issues (ICSDI) developed and introduced the concept of common security, giving the idea of national security a broad perspective. In addition to the traditional security aspect, other non-traditional threats to security, e.g. economic decline, social and political instability, ethnic rivalries and territorial disputes, international terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking as well as environmental stress, have been incorporated. [30]

Mr. Kirchner explains about linkage between environment and security as:

Environmental security has basically two interlinking dimensions: (1) environmental stress as a cause of conflict, and (2) environmental stress as a result of conflict.

In this section, I try to develop these two interlinking dimensionsin a more concrete way.

There is an interactive relationship between environment and security. One aspect of this interactive relationship is that environmental stress such as deforestation andwater pollution leads to conflicts among peoples over the resource. An example of this is the conflict over Jordan River waters among four bordering states (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) in the Middle East. [31] Arrow (a) in Chart 1 shows this aspect. In this context, appropriate environmental management is necessary for security.

Chart 1

Another aspect of this interactive relationship between environment and security is that conflicts and military training have caused environmental stress. Prof. Vo Quy, Vietnam National University, Hanoi gives us an example:

The Vietnam War involved an unprecedented assault on the environment. The damage to the environment was so intense and widespread that it gave rise to the term "ecocide". These military attacks on the environment, which were conducted on a massive scale for many years, were highly systematic and led to the destruction of entire ecosystems in large areas of Vietnam. Among the means employed were high-explosive munitions, napalm, landmines, chemical herbicides, and mechanical land-clearing. They all resulted in immediate and long-term impacts on the soils, nutrient balance, hydrological regimes, plants, animals, severe and persistent problems of public health, enormous economic losses, and severe constraints on human development. [32]

This year, Vietnamese Agent Orange survivors and their representative, the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, filed their lawsuit against U.S. chemical companies. Their lawsuit is a historic first effort by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange to achieve compensation from the manufacturers who profited from this chemical warfare. [33]

Even at peacetime, military activities have caused environmental problems and health problems all over the world. Mr. Saul Bloom points out that currently, the United States military produces more hazardous waste than the five largest domestic petrochemical producers combined and spends in excess of $5 Billion per year in pollution abatement and control. The US military currently operates bases controlling over 25 million acres of domestic land, and 3 million acres overseas. [34] Environmental problems stemming from active, as well as closed, US military bases overseas, such as in the Philippines, South Korea and Okinawa, Japan have affected human health and the community environment.

In this context, military activities during wars as well as during peacetime are causes of environmental stress. Arrow (b)in Chart 1 shows this aspect. In this context, war prevention, disarmament, appropriate environmental programs for military sectors are means to decrease environmental stress.

If the adverse circulation between environmental stress and conflict/military activities is accelerated, it will undermine sustainability and security for the human race and societies worldwide. On the contrary, if a positive circulation between environmental protection and peace activities is accelerated (Chart 2), it will contribute to sustainability and security for the human race and societies worldwide.

Chart 2: A positive circulation between environmental protection and peace activities

As Ms. Wangari Mathai's winning of the Nobel peace price for her work on environment and human rights shows, it is high time for our generation to rise to the challenge of making more integrated movements which accelerate positive circulation between environmental protection and peace activities.

3 A Case in Okinawa

Because disputes over national security issues are conceptual and vague, and foreignaffairs are the exclusive task of the central government of Japan, it is difficult for Okinawa's municipalities, which are subordinate administrative bodies to the Japanese government, and people in Okinawa to win the argument withthe Japanese government about national security and military threats.

For example, in September 1995, Okinawa prefecural governor Ota refused to cooperate with the Japanese government in renewing land leases required by the Land Acquisition Law. [35] But the prime minister of Japan sued Governor Ota at the Fukuoka High Court, seeking a court order for Governor Ota to execute the duties delegated to him. In February 1996, the court supportedthe prime minister. Dissatisfied with the ruling, Governor Ota appealed to the Supreme Court of Japan. In August 1996, the Supreme Court announced a very unfavorable verdict on the governor's appeal. [36] In this context, the Japanese government executed "the forceful expropriation" of Okinawan people's landunder the name of "National Security", using the court order.

Moreover, after the 9.11 incident in the US, the situation over base construction for Okinawan people becomes severer. It is easier for governments to control civil movements by labeling protesters as sorts of terrorists.

To prevent drilling of the seabed off Henoko by Naha Defense Facilities Administration Bureau (NDFAB), protesters such as divers, a flotilla of sea kayaks and fishing boats have engaged in a daily cat-and-mouse game, at times becoming tense and dangerous, blocking the work of NDFAB contractors.

In this case, the Japanese government is able to arrest protesters in Henoko for violating laws against interfering with government official duties to construct the new US military base. However, there have not been any arrests and work on the new US military base has been put off. Why?

The Okinawa public support local people and environmental groups who protest in Henoko has been gaining strength. Moreover, drilling of the seabed sometimes destroys the coral reef in Henoko. Thus, it is not easy for the Japanese government to arrest protesters and continue with the base construction.

I think that one of the reasons that the public supports protesters lies on their movement to protect the marine environment in Henoko, Okinawa."@In addition, environmental protection movements have played vital roles to prevent the Japanese government from making light of Okinawa's valuable nature in the name of "National Interest and Security".

Chart 3: How can we balance between two interests?

Chronology of the Environmental Movement

Regarding the Relocation Plan of Futenma Air Station

  • Sep. 1995 An Okinawan school girl was raped by three US military servicemen
  • Oct. 1995 The Okinawa Prefectural People's Rally where approximately 85,000 participants gathered.
  • Nov. 1995 The US and Japanese governments established the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) as a consultative committee to reduce the excessive burden of the U.S. military bases on Okinawa.
  • Dec. 1996 The SACO final report was concluded. In the report, 11 facilities were set to be returned, including Futenma Air Station.
  • May 1997 The Japanese government started advance research off Henoko, Nago to relocate Futenma Air Station there.
  • Oct. 1997 A dugong [37] was observed during a survey for the relocation of Futenma Air Station by Naha Defense Facilities Administration Bureau (NDFAB).
  • Dec. 1997 In a referendum asking residents in Nago whether they agreed to the base construction plan of a US heliport or not in their city, 52% of people were against the plan.
  • Feb. 1998 Governor Ota expressed his objection to relocate Futenma Air Station to Henoko. One of reasons of his objection was that the planned relocation site was one of the most environmentally protected areas in Okinawa.
  • Nov. 1998 Mr. Inamine was elected as the governor of Okinawa.
  • Nov. 1999 Governor Inamine announced that he selected a costal area of Henoko, which is a migratory route for dugongs, as a site of relocating Futenma Air Station.
  • Jul. 2000 G8 summit was held in Okinawa. At the eve of the summit, the International Environmental NGO Forum was held. After the forum, environmental groups had a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Mori to urge him to halt the relocation plan of Futenma Air Station to Henoko, and protect the dugongs. Environmental groups also submitted petitions to Japanese Prime Minister Mori to protect the dugongs.
  • Oct. 2000 Arecommendation, "Conservation of Dugong, Okinawa Woodpecker and Okinawa Rail in and around Okinawa Island" was adopted at the 2nd IUCN World Conservation Congress (Amman, Jordan). [38] This recommendation urges the Japanese government to complete an environmental impact assessment for the military base construction plan, to implement measures to prevent the dugong's extinction, to prepare a conservation plan for the Yambaru forest inhabited by the Okinawa Woodpecker and the Okinawa Rail, and to consider nominating the area as a World Heritage site. It urges the US government to take the environment impact assessment into account, and it expresses concern regarding both the military basesand military exercises, and urges both governments to implement conservation measures for these species. [39]
  • Feb. 2002 The first comprehensive survey of Okinawa's Dugong and their habitat was conducted by Japan's Ministry of Environment
  • Feb. 2002 The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a report on Dugong. It urged the Japanese government to designate dugong habitats in Okinawa as marine protected areas.Apr.-Nov. Nature Conservation Society of Japan (an environmental organization) conducted
  • 2002 Seagrass Watch Surveys in Henoko 5 times. These surveys played a role as a counterpart to Japanese Environmental Ministry's surveys.
  • Jul. 2002 Japan's Ministry of Environment decided to include Dugong to the Wildlife Protection Law for protected mammals.
  • Aug. 2002 Okinawa Environmental Network held a Forum "Military Activities and the Environment" at the Civil Society Forum of World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Sep. 2002 Japanese environmental groups held an international symposium (Tokyo, Japan)
  • The symposium adopted a draft action plan for conservation of dugongs in Okinawa including legal protection of dugongs, avoidance from accidental loss by fishery net, conservation of seagrass beds and the environment impact assessment on airport to be undertaken by the Government of Japan. The government of Japan was asked to undertake the Environmental Impact Assessmentin cooperation with international NGOs and foreign scientists. [40]
  • Dec. 2002 NGOs from the Philippines, South Korea, Okinawa-Japan held a workshop on Militarism, Sustainable Development and Environment at Asian Civil Society Forum 2002 (Bangkok, Thailand)
  • Mar. 2003 The 1st International Workshop on Military Activities and the Environment was held in Okinawa.
  • Sep. 2003 US and Japanese conservation groups filed a lawsuit in the US to halt US airbase construction in ocean waters off Okinawa, Japan, that would destroy the habitat of the endangered dugong (seacow). [41]
  • Sep. 2003 See the URL:;
  • Apr. 2004 Residents of Henoko and their supporters denounced the injustice of the drilling survey by the NDFAB, using nonviolent direct action, turned away the NDFAB staffs and contractors. The sit-in has continued until today, under tents near the entrance of the fishing port.
  • Apr. 2004 Japanese government started environmental assessment process for relocation of Futenma Air Station.
  • Aug. 2004 A Futenma Air Station helicopter crashed into a university in Ginowan City.
  • Aug. 2004 The 2nd International Workshop on Military Activities and the Environment was held in South Korea.
  • Jun. 2004 Over 1,000 people gathered at the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium held in Okinawa. 889 coral reef experts from 83 countries signed a resolution calling on the US and Japanese governments to immediately abandon their joint plan to construct an offshore airbase atop a coral reef on the eastern coast of Okinawa. Signatories included over 150 researchers from the US, and roughly the same number from Japan. [42]
  • Jul. 2004 1175 individuals and organizations submitted their opinion papers for environmental assessment in Henoko, Nago, which is a planed relocation site of US Futenma Air Station.
  • Sep. 2004 Over 400 US organizations signed onto a resolution calling on both governments to abandon the project. [43]
  • Nov. 2004 The recommendation "Conservation of Dugong, Okinawa Woodpecker and Okinawa Rail in Japan" was adopted at the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress (Bangkok, Thailand). [44]
  • Dec. 2004 Since then, protesters have occupied the four drilling platforms set up around the bay.

Eight years have passed since the relocation plan of Futenma Air station was adopted. The US and Japanese governments have run into many hurdles in constructing the new US base in Henoko. Because the recommendations and laws require both governments to implement their obligations to protect the natural environment, the US and Japanese governments need to put their environmental obligations above national "security" policy.

During the US Force transformation process, it is reported that the US and Japanese governments are reconsidering the relocation plan of Futenma air base and may halt the plan.

It is my dream that in the near future we in Okinawa will be able to cry victory in our struggle to protect the environment in Henoko, Okinawa.


27. Rio Declaration on Environment and Development; This declaration was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development at Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992.

28. Ansree Kirchner, 'Environmental Security', 25 Years Environmental Management Training integrated Approaches for Ensuring Sustainable Development, 2002, p1

See the URL:


30. Cf. e.g. T.F. Homer-Dixon, On the Threshold-Environmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict in: International Security, Vol. 16, No.2 (fall 1991), pp76-116.

31., p4.

32. Prof. Vo Quy (Vietnam National University, Hanoi), 'Military activities during the Vietnam War and Environmental problems', "The First International Workshop on Military Activities and Environment", 2003, p69

33. Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign

See the URL:

34. Saul Bloom, Executive Director of Arc Ecology

'CONVERTING US MILITARY BASES Prospects for United States Military Realignment in South Korea Presents Challenges & Opportunities', The 2nd International Workshop on Military Activities and Environment, August 2004, p13

35. Okinawa's land on which the military bases are built is subject to lease renewals every five years. The lessee is the government of Japan, which then turns over the leased land free of charge to the stationed American military forces under the terms of the U.S.-Japan Mutual Treaty. (Masahide Ota, 'GOVERNOR OTA AT THE SUPREME COURT OF JAPAN', "OKINAWA: COLD WAR ISLAND" Edited by Chalmers Johnson, 1999, p205) .

36. 국방부, 세계 주요 국가 국방비, 2004.

37. Dugong is classified in the Washington Convention for International Tread in Endangered Species (CITES) in Appendix 1 (a species to be deal with under the most strict regulation), and it is designated as a National Treasure of Japan. The current distribution of the dugong in Japan is only along the northeast coast of the main island of Okinawa, and the number is thought to be very small, possibly less than 50 animals. (Kaori Sunagawa, 'Country Report from Okinawa, Japan' "The 1st International Workshop on Military Activities and the Environment", Mar. 2003, p224)

38. See the URL:; 39. World Wide Fund for Nature Japan, Nature Conservation Society of Japan, and Save the Dugong Campaign Center, 'Statement to Call for the Conservation of Dugong Habitat in Okinawa and a Review of Plans for Construction of a Facility to Replace Futenma Air Station' April 2004, See the URL:

40. WCC II Resolutions and Recommendations Input from IUCN Component Programmes"CJan. 2003, p10, See the URL:

41. Center for Biological Diversity (USA), Earthjustice (USA), and Japan Environmental Lawyers Foundation (Japan) ,"US & Japanese Conservation Groups Join In Legal Effort To Save Okinawa Dugong From Extinction, Lawsuit filed to halt US airbase construction in ocean waters off Okinawa, Japan, that would destroy the habitat of endangered dugong (seacow)"

42. Center for Biological Diversity and civil movement activists, 'World's Leading Coral Reef Experts Voice Opposition To U.S. Military Airbase Project At Henoko, Okinawa, And Highlight The Threat That Land-Fill Projects Pose To Coral Reefs' Jul. 2004,

See the URL:

43. Center for Biological Diversity (USA) and Earthjustice (USA) 'International Conservation Groups Call on Bush & Koizumi to Save the Okinawa Dugong, New Airbase Would Destroy Essential Dugong Habitat' Sep. 2004

See the URL:

44. The Guardian, Sep. 2001.

WMD Issues and Anti-Nuclear Movements in Japan


1. A brief account of Japan's WMD policy

US nuclear umbrella and the "three non-nuclear principles"

Japan's central policy on the nuclear issue is the 'Nuclear Four Policies,' which was announced by the Sato administration in 1968. It is not legally-binding, but still valid. The four policies are: i) the "Three Non-Nuclear Principles" (not to possess, produce, nor allow nuclear weapons to be introduced into Japan's territory), ii) the dependence on US nuclear deterrent, iii) the promotion of nuclear disarmament, and iv) the promotion of peaceful utilization of nuclear power. As can be seen easily, there is no consistency between each of the four components. The largest contradiction lies between the Three Non-Nuclear principles and the promotion of nuclear disarmament on the one hand, and the dependence on the US nuclear deterrent on the other hand.

For conservative politicians and military strategists, the dependence on the US nuclear deterrent (the so-called "nuclear umbrella") is an indispensable element of Japanese defense policy. Recently, they have cited North Korea as a security threat in order to legitimizethis reliance, backed by a spate of anti-North Korea reports through the Japanese mainstream media. But these militarists never imagine how their aggressive policies are perceived in Asian countries surrounding Japan.

In this connection, the Three Non-Nuclear Principles have not been fully followed even though the Japanese government pretends to have obeyed the rule. That is, there is a strong case that the US has secretly introduced its nukes onto the Japanese mainland and the Japanese government has allowed this.It has been revealed so far by some official documents that the US has not "introduced" its nukes but "transited" Japanese soil with them. "Introduction" means the deployment, unloading, or storage of US nuclear weapons, while 'transition' means the passage of US bombers or US ships which carry nuclear weapons through Japanese territorial air or sea, or the entry into Japanese ports. Nevertheless, the US adopts a "neither confirm nor deny (NCND)" policy regarding nuclear weapons on a particular US battleship.

What's worse, conservatives have refused to codify the ThreeNon-Nuclear Principles in an attempt to keep them intact only as a political statement. This is possibly because right-wing ruling elites at any moment do not want to lose an option of developing their own nuclear arsenals. So will Japan go nuclear?

Japan armed with nuclear weapons?

In May 2002, the then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda asserted thatthe Japanese Constitution did not prohibit the country from possessing nuclear weapons but that only "political" deliberation had led the Japanese government to maintain the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. This remark could be interpreted in such a way that a changing security environment might be a trigger for Japan going nuclear. According to a parliamentarians'opinion poll conducted by a Japanese leading newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun,in 2003, some 17% of legislators in the House of Representatives gave a favourable answer on the possibility of Japan's nuclear armament.

Another piece of news that irritates us concerns a nuclear spent fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho in northern Japan. At the moment, the Japanese government is planning to begin operating the plant in 2007, which could separate and stockpile up to 8 tons of plutonium annually. From that amount, 1,000 nuclear bombs can be produced.

Nevertheless, it is still somewhat difficult for politicians or government officials to openly advocate the possibility of Japan's going nuclear, mainly due to the constant pressure from peace-loving people not only in Japan but also in other Asian countries, and to the US government's dislike of having another nuclear weapons state. Therefore, my estimation is that Japan cannot go nuclear in the near future.

Chemical weapons left on Chinese soil

Another WMD issue, which is especially relevant to Asian people, is the problem of chemical weapons abandoned on the Chinese continent by the Japanese Imperial Army during Japan's invasion of China. This problem had been long left untouched until the 1980s, but the 1990s saw a positive outcome. Namely, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997, stipulates in Article 4 that all chemical weapons must be destroyed no later than ten years after the Convention's entry into force. Both Japan and China are state parties to the Convention. Thus the work of destruction is currently underway in China.

But there are still problems remaining. For one thing, Japan and China have not agreed upon how many chemical weapons are left in China. Understandably, the Japanese government has been reluctant to shoulder the burden, trying to underestimate the weapon's number. A more serious and critical issue that needs to be addressed soon is that Japan has refused to pay compensation and give every possible aid to Chinese victims of the chemical weapons. The weapons are still potentially dangerous--even after 60 or 70 years since their production for example, when people living there accidentally dig them up. The number of Chinese who suffer from these weapons is gradually growing with no help delivered from the Japanese government.

2. Japanese anti-nuclear movements: Some recent achievements

An overview of Japanese anti-nukes movements

As is also the case in the European countries, major anti-nuclear movements began in Japan in the mid-1950s, prompted by a series of nuclear tests. One particular event that drove many Japanese citizens to take part in the movements was the tragedy of the Fukuryu-Maru No. 5 (the so-called "Lucky Dragon"in English). It is the name of a tuna fishing boat exposed to radiation near the Marshall Islands because of a 15-megaton hydrogen bomb test conducted by the US in March 1954.

The movements in the 1960s, albeit strong ones, were plagued with conflicts among themselves over the evaluation of nuclear tests by Communist countries. Some advocated the tests for a "peaceful" nature, while other refused to accept the existence of all nuclear bombs.

After a worldwide interregnum of peace movements in the 1970s, the next decade saw a resurgence of anti-nuclear movementsin Japan. Until then, Japanese labour movements were always at the centre of anti-nuclear movements. But the power of labour had lost ground gradually. The decline however, was partly set off by the growth of various non-partisan citizens' groups.

What is more notable is that the Japanese anti-nuclear movements, or peace movements in broader terms, have progressively ceased to be "Japan-centric" movements. Now let's look at a few examples of non-Japan-centric movements.

The proposal of a North-East Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NEA-NWFZ)

From the 1990s on, some security experts have proposed to establish a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in North-East Asia. The prospect for end of the Cold War not only in Europe but also in North-East Asia stimulated this move. The "Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" between North and South Korea in 1991 and the "Agreed Framework Decision" between the US and North Korea in 1994 were especially facilitating in raising people's expectations for peace in the region.

One of the most plausible proposal has been made by a Japanese security analyst and peace activist Hiromichi Umebayashi--a "Three plus Three Model" (on this, see [English page]). The first three are comprised of regional non-nuclear weapons states (NNWS), namely Japan and North and South Korea. These three countries are prohibited to conduct research on, develop, test, manufacture, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, deploy or use any nuclear explosive device. The second three are neighboringnuclear weapons states (NWS), namely the US, Russia and China. The major obligation of these NWSs is to give negative security assurance (NSA) to the three NNWSs.

The thrust of this model from a realistic point of view is that the NWFZ can be set up, built on existing political frameworks in the region. North and South Korea have declared the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, even though the North has withdrawn from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and admitted that the country is developing its own nuclear weapons. As I mentioned earlier, Japan has the "Three Non-Nuclear Principles" though not codified yet.

What we need to do is to raise public awareness and muster support for this proposal in respective countries.

Overseas A-bomb survivors

It was not only Japanese citizens who were living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when atomic bombs were dropped on the two cities in August 1945. A large number of Koreans who had been brought to Japanese islands forcefully and a small number of prisoners of war from the Allied Powers also experienced the tragic event.

Some Koreans went back to their home country after the end of the WWII. But, until recently, the Japanese government hadstubbornly denied compensation or support to A-bomb survivors (hibakushas) living overseas except for some piecemeal measures. By contrast, Japanese hibakushas can enjoy rather favourable benefits though not sufficient to sustain their lives. This is an intolerably discriminatory measure. Infuriated by this situation, some overseas hibakushas, mainly from South Korea, and Japanese supporters began in the 1990s to reaccelerate their effort to urge the Japanese government to give them support comparable to that given to Japanese survivors. Their principal strategy is to file a series of lawsuits against the Japanese national government and the local authorities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in search of official support for overseas survivors such as health allowances.

After the Japanese government lost a lawsuit in an Appeal Court at the end of 2002, the government decided to give health benefit to overseas survivors. Although this is a welcome achievement, the government still sets an unreasonable requirement that those who want the benefit should come to Japan initially to get entitled to it. It is because the overseas hibakushas are very unhealthy that they want the health benefit. So how can they come visit Japan, enduring a long journey? Thus the fight of the overseas hibakushas and their Japanese supporters are still going on.

The fact is worth noting here that this movement, especially on the side of Japanese supporters, is based on the critical reflection of the distorted historical relationship between Japan and Korea, namely, the Japanese imperialistic colonization of Korea and the Japan's failure to address this problem sincerely in the postwar era.

3. What is our agenda?

In dealing with the WMD issues in North-East Asia, it is neither sufficient nor desirable to do so in isolation from other military issues. Two examples I raised in the last section correspond with two wider social situations in this region.

First, the genuine settlement of crimes by Imperial Japan has not been finished. In that sense, what Japan did in the past is not merely a matter of the past, but a matter of the present. The "genuine settlement" for me means not necessarily to give compensation in monetary form or to apologize only as a lip-service (as many Japanese misunderstand), but to endeavorto stop Japan from militarizing again. Therefore, to establish a NEA-NWFZ, fight against the introduction of missile defense system, oppose the dispatching of Japanese military forces to Iraq, and to stop arms export from Japanare key problems through the resolution of which Japanese citizens can rectify the distorted relations with their Asian neighbors.

Second, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are intertwined along US military strategies. A US attempt to distract our attention away from its huge nuclear arsenal to North Korea's much less powerful armaments is closely related to the changing nature of US military doctrine--from deterrent to preemptive attack--and the realignment of US bases in North-East Asia. Especially, I'd like to put a greater emphasis on the problem of US bases. The closure of military bases and withdrawal of US forces from our land will create a favorableenvironment in which both North and South Korea can demilitarize their respective societies and feel less reluctant to accept the concept of a NEA-NWFZ. Therefore, cooperation between Asian peoples in fighting against the US bases and forces is crucial to making a WMD-free North-East Asia.

The problem of CO in the Republic of Korea and the present condition of the movement

Yongwook Jung

It has been about 4 years since conscientious objection to military service was brought onto the agenda in Korean society. Prior to that time, conscientious objection to military service was dismissed mostly as the antisocial behavior of Jehovah's Witnesses'and so escaped the attention of the general public. However, in the last 4 years there has been asharp increase in understanding of the matter, and it is standing out as one of hot issues in Korea society. During that process, some civic organizations brought up the issue of conscientious objectors' human rights in earnest and a new movement of conscientious objection to military service has emerged.

In fact, I feel as if the movement for conscientious objection to military service in Korea seems to have started late. Conscientious objection to military service as a social movement is one of most positive actions of resisting the violence of nation. However, in the history of Korean social movements, which were so intense and rebellious, conscientious objection to military service couldn't be discussed because movement society wasn't completely free from Korean political, social and cultural specificity, where military security represented national identity and the national security system operated as a means of discipline and of controlling an individual's body.

In the 1980's, there was certainly resistance. For example activist students struggled against the military regime by objecting to their enlistment at a military outpost. Conscripting them in this way was intended to destroy their struggle. Also, a fault in the military was revealed at this time namely, the inspection of a civilian's conscience by a soldier. However, it is true that the question of the legitimacy of military service itself was not raised even once. In the Korean case, the issue of conscientious objection to military service could not be tackled until the outside issue of political democratization had been settled and people were talking about human rights as a common problem. Then only could the process of looking to the interior commence.

Generally, conscientious objection to military service can be placed in the same historical context as the development of the conscription system and civil rights, which arose from the process of building up a modern state, on the point of objection to nation system. Therefore, the history of conscientious objection to military service can be considered as an old process of establishing the relation between nations and individuals. The movement for conscientious objection to military service, which is happening on different levels all over the world, is now coming out in various forms: from the side of human rights such as freedom of religion and conscience, to civil obedience against war, military and militarism. For that reason, the movement can be seen as taking in both sides:rationalization of the nation system and breaking it up at same time.

The movement for conscientious objection to military service in Korea has so far been raised mainly asan issue of human rights. But as a result of the current movement and due to the impact of the new domestic and foreign situation, other approaches are slowly being sought. In the short 3 year period after the reality of the situation for conscientious objectors' was introduced, there was, for the first time, a very speedy and compressed chain of processes linking a soldier's declaration of conscientious objection to secular conscientious objectors' concerns. From now on, I'll view the present position and future problems regarding the domestic movement for conscientious objection to military service, which was developed fast, by checking out issues and changes that have appeared in process of building a Korean movement for conscientious objection to military service.

A human rights approach to the movement for conscientious objection to military service

The movement for conscientious objection to military servicein Korea is progressing on the human rights level as a movement oriented toward victims, mainly Jehovah's Witnesses. Actually, this movement started when the real situation of Jehovah's Witnesses was reported in the press. The movement became more concrete after about 50 domestic activists held a closed workshop. The main approach at that time was to look at foreign examples with a perspective on human rights or to understand resolutions of the UN Commission on Human Rights. In fact, at that time, people's attention was concentrated more on the shocking fact that about 600 Jehovah's Witnesses were going to jail {every year?} because of their objection to taking up arms, than onthe military or conscription system itself. Therefore, activists approached this problem from the perspective of the human rights of Jehovah's Witnesses, and limited the solution to groping for military alternatives, which had already been carried out in the West.

Certainly, it was very radical to bring up the concept of "military alternatives"in Korea. Indeed, police investigated websites that were critical of the conscription system and summoned system operators shortly after the closed seminar. It was clear at the time that the state intended to take an overbearing attitude to any approach which differed in its views on the military.

In 2002, just as activists were holding discussions regarding the lack of progress they were making in the light of situations like the above, the movement experienced a turning point: a Buddhist, Taeyang Oh, declared his objection to military service. In Feb 2002, Korea Solidarity for Conscientious Objection (KSCO), a coalition of about 30 civil organizations, was launched and went to work in earnest with the task of reforming the law and the conscription system. They tried to establish an alternative to the military system, based on foreign, especially Taiwanese and German examples, for domestic conscientious objectorsto military service. A revised bill of the military service law was prepared by several human rights organizations, professors of laws and lawyers. Then, in July 2002, 'the public hearing on legislation for military alternatives' was held in the National Assembly. Moreover, KSCO members tried to spread the word about the actual conditions of victims and to promote the right to objection to military service by bring issues of Korean objection to military service to the UN Commission on Human Rights and so on.

Finally, in Sep. 2004, a revised bill for the military service law, in which alternatives to the military werethe main focus, was presented to the National Assembly by a proposal of 21 members of the Government party. The revised bill included the stipulation that the examination of the conscience of people claiming to be conscientious objectors to military service be taken out of military jurisdiction and put in the hands of the Office of Military Manpower Administration, and that people who are permittedto perform alternative service should work in social welfare facilities, belonging to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In addition, it provides that they must live together in groups and serve 1.5 times the period that soldiers serve. Besides, in Nov. 2004, another congressman proposed a revised bill for the military service law which provided that objectors who are soldiers or in the reserve forces be eligible for alternatives. So, as you can see, legalization of the alternative system is becoming more visible.

Conscientious objection to military service as an antimilitarism movement

There were two aspects to the movement for conscientious objection to military service in Korea: on the practical level there was a push for a revision of the military service law and legislation for an alternative service; however, on the theoretical level, the discussion centered around raising the problem of militarism, which was based on a feminist approach. The feminist approach criticizes the logic of the exclusion of women based on gender hierarchy in order to carry out forced conscription. It also criticizes the military culture derived from the conscription system and the military attempting to talk about it from a feminism standpoint. It can also mean analysisand criticism of operating as an ideology discriminating against women while a macho ideology used in military or a hierarchy with culture of command and obedience are continued in society.

The biggest benefit of this approach is to reveal the relationship between military and society. It can help us to understand the problem of military service as a problem in everyday life. Therefore, it can contribute to the identification of conscientious objection to military service as a movement of importance to the general public and to the expansion of the movement as an aspect of the Korean way of life. Moreover, it represents not only an attempt to change the direction of social culture, but also an attempt at the formation of alternative main bodies. In other words, self-reflection of the main bodies in this movement and of internal democracy in the movement itself can create a movement that suggests alternatives for itself as opposed to a movement that criticizes or asks something of a nation. In reverse, this also means the production of main bodies, which will take responsibility for a new alternative society.

Discussions about antimilitarism such as the above take shape whilst the movement for conscientious objection to military service progresses and domestic and foreign actions against US hegemony and peace movement actions against war are sharply developed. First of all, the main bodies in the movement for conscientious objection to military service have changed. In the early period, mainly human rights organizations and lawyers, who are experts in this field, were keystones of the movement, but now, secular objectors who appeared after KSCO was formed and university students who declared pre-objection are becoming the new hub. The grounds these present for objection to military service are not only freedom of conscience on the human rights side, but also objection to war, militarism, and structural violence culture. Moreover, they are focusing more on their faith in objection to military service than on the actual conditions of objectors as victims.

This movement was further strengthened by the formation of 'World Without War', an organization of conscientious objectors to military service, on May 15, 2003. WWW has reinforced solidarity with the antimilitarism campaign and international organizations as well as the existing antiwar peace movement. In Nov. 2003, Korean soldier Chulmin Gang, objected to the planned dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq and started a sit-in. This case highlighted for the first time, the problem of so-called "selective objection" to military service. In particular, his sit-in resulted in the discovery of a new kind of solidarity which differed from the general movement method, since individuals who voluntarily participated used their initiative to lead the whole process of the sit-in period.

Subject of the movement for conscientious objection to military service.

For secular or pacifist objectors, the purpose of the movement for conscientious objection to military service hasslowly expanded from the right to objection to the reason for objection, and the movement is developing new methods to reflect this new purpose. Therefore, there is an increased necessity to extend this movement from protection of human rights for a minority through securing the right to objection to military service to more active resistance. However, the reality of the human rights situation is that about 700 objectors are imprisoned every year so the fundamental right to freedom is limited. Whilst this fact illustrates the importance of the movement and its present goal, it is also clear that there are limitations to the effectiveness of the movement.

It is therefore necessary to look at some of the problems regarding the process of the movement for conscientious objection to military service so that we don't merely introduce alternatives to military service, but we also develop in a positive manner since these problems have the power to potentially become serious obstacles to growth of the movement.

First of all, the problem is with how to minimize the compromise necessary with government and how to reject unsuitable government proposals in the legalization of alternatives to military service. It is possible to become trapped by compromises with government which restrict the range of the movement and can result in numerous unnecessary victims. We are already aware from the Greek situation focus of this year's International CO Day - that institutions for human rights can work as a gadget for depressing human rights. Besides, these problems should be checked more seriously, otherwise the movement could end up being led by a small number of people in the group or by theoretical experts.

I also worry about an insistence on reform of the military system as an end in itself, an issue which is being raised within the movement, in order to win over opponents to objection to military service (in the same context as above). If the present unreasonable military system a 'military system on all the poor', as it is often regarded - is reformed, we will be able to break down the theory of national security over individual sacrifice, which is deeply engrained in Korea society. In this way, we will also be able to put an end the relative deprivation felt by conscripts as well as ending the structure of discriminating against objectors to military service or social minors. However, we should be cautious that this insistence rather makes military power refined and modernized.

Secondly, I think we need to consider how the movement for conscientious objection to military service relates to other domestic peace movements. Although objection to military service has been centered around the peace movement in world history, in the Korean case, objection to military service is not well known yet and has only just obtained the support of peace movement. Therefore, I think we need to strive to make the original meaning of conscientious objection to military service, that is, conscientious 'objection' as civil obedience, a focal point in Korea.

In addition, effort is needed to extend human rights with an individual character to social rights, i.e., we need to get the concept of civil rights, which have been recognized as legal and formal rights granted by the nation, extended to the concept of collective and relational rights, which overcome structural violence and aim at active peace. I think we can determine the joining point structurally between a goal for antimilitarism and a goal for human rights, which the movement for conscientious objection to military service has, and expand the range of solidarity with other movement groups in different fields as well.

The above-mentioned problems are not definitive even within the movement and might be missing many important things.Besides, we cannot be sure of what actual changes will come when the alternative system is brought in. Those things can be specified on later. The important thing is that the movement for conscientious objection to military service is able to create real social change and that the reform of institutions on the human rights level, a goal of the present Korean movement, should be considered because people require rights without fear, even regarding the process of themselves making their rights a reality, i.e., grass roots democracy.

The current movement for conscientious objection to military service in Korea should be thought of as a new resistance in the context of older historical movements to protect individuals' consciences and thoughts, and as a means of reclaiming as social rights those decision making rights which have been monopolized by a few. Therefore, the Korean security situation doesn't make objection to military service impossible, rather it is the reason for the existence of objection to military service and so it will have to be continued as long as this security politics is continued. I think the biggest challenge will be overcoming worries about how to share together the burdens of objectors though the burdens are from their decision, and how to give a voice to potential objectors. Now, the Korean movement for conscientious objection to military service must prove itself as a subject-centered and grassroots peace strategy.

Globalising Nonviolence

War Resisters' International Conference

Schloss Eringerfeld * Paderborn, Germany * 23-27 July 2006

  • Are you interested in both nonviolence and globalisation?
  • Are you campaigning against war?
  • Are you involved in nonviolent direct action or curious to learn more?

The War Resisters' International conference Globalising Nonviolence will be a great opportunity to meet activists from all over the world, to get to know what makes them tick, and to see how you can help each make another world possible. Around the world, a movement of movements is converging. This movement seeks to counterpose the perspective and values of people's power to those of global financial institutions, transnational corporations or governments. This is a movement of globalisation from below.

WRI believes that this movement of movements has a major role to play in this globalisation from below. Hence the theme of our upcoming international conference - Globalising Nonviolence.

Conference discussions will:

  • Analyse the contemporary situation of economic, cultural and political globalisation. How are capitalist globalisation and militarism related?
  • Develop strategies for nonviolent resistance towards the unjust aspects of globalisation. How do we create nonviolent social change?
  • Bring together people from the globalisation critical movement and WRI's network of pacifists and anti-militarists for mutual exchange of ideas on nonviolent opportunities for resistance.

Strengthen networks and create new links between activists from all over the world.

Conference structure

Each day of the conference will begin with a short plenary session on the day's major topic. Then participants will divide into theme and activity groups, where the same people will meet every day during the conference to discuss a specific theme in depth. The afternoons will include one-time workshops and plenary sessions.

Day Topics

1. Globalising Nonviolence

We aim to make this a highly participatory conference and that will begin with the opening session.

2. Militarism and globalisation

The morning plenary will ask: How do economic globalisation, militarism and war relate? The evening plenary will address issues arising from the "privatisation" of war, by the increase in "outsourcing" to private companies.

3. Learning from globalisation from below

Investigating nonviolent actions already taking place against the negative aspects of globalisation, the morning plenary will focus on how German and East African groups have worked together against the trade/traffic in small arms. The evening plenary will concentrate on the strategies pursued by the movements involved in globalisation from below to support citizens' peace processes in Palestine as a specific case study.

4. For a nonviolent strategic framework

What does a nonviolent strategy have to contribute to the movement for globalisation from below? What does involvement in the movement for globalisation from below have to contribute to a nonviolent antimilitarist strategy?

5. From protest to social change

Discussing alliances and goals, and reviewing the plans and ideas developed during the conference.

Theme and Activity Groups

Militarism in a global economy

Military industry tends to be privatised, diversified, and globalised, and yet still - compared to other industries - privileged. This group will analyse the strategy and the practice of the global military-industrial complex.

Military presence

The military has a profound impact on society and culture through processes of militarisation. It occupies space, both physical and cultural. This group will examine possible nonviolent strategies for demilitarising society.

Nonviolent citizens' interventions

Nonviolent citizens' intervention is a practical example of globalisation from below, making links globally and supporting peace building and resistance to oppression in other parts of the world.

Nonviolent strategy and globalisation

What are the strategies and objectives of globalisation-critical movement and the place of nonviolence within these? How do the activities of the international anti-war movements fit with this?

The right to refuse to kill

Themes for discussion will include conscientious objection, war tax resistance, deserters, and/or war resistance without conscription. "The Right to Refuse to Kill" is one of WRI's major programmes.

War profiteers

This theme group will name some of the biggest transnational corporations that make a profit through war, and seek ways to direct nonviolent actions against these companies.

Nonviolence training for beginners

Through games, role plays, exercises and discussions, the participants in this group will be introduced to various aspects of the field of nonviolence.

Video activism

This group is both about practical introduction to the technical aspects of video and about how to use video as a political tool. The conference!

Programmes & Projects
Other publications

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