Johan Galtung, ‘the father of peace studies’, says prime minister misused the term “proactive peace”

Johan Galtung, ‘the father of peace studies’, says prime minister misused the term “proactive peace”

Johan Galtung proposes the creation of an “umbrella of peace” in Northeast Asia starting at Tedako Hall in Urasoe in on August 22.

August 23, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On August 22, Johan Galtung, world-renowned as ‘the father of peace studies’, came to Okinawa to speak at a symposium at Urasoe’s Tedako Hall, hosted by the Ryukyu Shimpo and New Diplomacy Initiative, titled, “70 Years After World War II, Galtung Speaks on Proactive Peace and Okinawa.” Prior to the symposium, Galtung visited Henoko, Nago, where the construction of a new military base is in progress. There, he criticized the Japanese government’s stance, saying, “Prime Minister Abe has misappropriated the term ‘proactive peace.’ What he’s trying to do is exactly the opposite of what I intended the concept to mean.” During his presentation at the symposium, he called the exercise of collective self-defense currently under deliberation in the national Diet an “anachronistic form of national security,” and declared that it goes against the mood of the times. He further argued that Okinawa should proactively advance the idea of an umbrella of peace encompassing all of Northeast Asia.

Galtung pronounced that the world is heading toward a new “order of peace” in which military bases will gradually disappear. He predicts that by 2020, Northeast Asia will move toward the development of a regional community following in the footsteps of the European Union and the Association of South East Asian Nations.

He stated that within Northeast Asia, a region comprising Japan, Russia, South Korea, North Korea, China, and Taiwan, Okinawa’s location is geopolitically very significant. He pointed out that aside from Taiwan, Japan has a less than positive relationship with all of its other neighbors due to territorial disputes surrounding the Senkaku Islands, Takeshima, and the Northern Territories. However, he emphasized that rather than a “nuclear umbrella,” what needs to be built is an “umbrella of peace.” He proposed that Okinawa develop a spirit of independence, perhaps acquiring special prefecture status, invite international institutions, and quickly announce its candidacy as the headquarters of a new regional community.

Galtung further expressed his understanding that Okinawa has been continuously treated as a colony of the United States and Japan. He said that in order to overcome that, Okinawa must work proactively for peace in Northeast Asia, rather than simply declaring opposition to the bases in Okinawa. He suggested inviting NGOs from neighboring countries to Okinawa to engage in discussions about how to solve the problems faced in Okinawa and in the region.

A panel discussion followed Galtung’s presentation, with panelists including Okinawa International University professor emeritus Masaie Ishihara, Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence co-representative Suzuyo Takazato, and University of the Ryukyus professor Masaaki Gabe. An audience of around 700 listened attentively.

(Translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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