Thursday, May 08, 2008

Article 9 Conference a HUGE success!


The Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War was held on May 4th and 5th at Makuari Messe International Conference Center. All of us here in Japan had been hearing very little about this conference in the mainstream media and the organizers were worried that the event would not get anywhere close to capacity. They need not have worried! It turned out that more than 12,000 people tried to get into the 7,000 capacity hall for the opening ceremony and keynote speeches. (I am told that the total number of attendees over the three days of the event was close to 22,000!)

On the first day, I was one of 3000 people who were turned away from the main hall, but I had two booths at the event, one for the Tokyo Peace Film Festival, the other for JUMP (Japan United for Ministry of Peace) so I spent all day at the many different booths where all the other peace NGOs were hanging out. I had a great time there and I was so happy there were so many people at the conference. This may have been a record breaker in Japan's NGO history. To have so many attendees with almost no coverage (assistance!) from the mainstream media in my mind is truly an amazing (record breaking) grass roots achievement...

To me this means that we have now become the MEDIA ourselves!

We gathered this enormous number of people by word of mouth, the internet and handing out flyers and so on.

Isn't that something?!

I met so many of my friends but there were new faces, especially those of people in their 20s and 30s. I was very moved to see so many young people there.

On the 2nd day (May 5th) I spoke at the Article 9 Cinema. I showed excerpts from the film 'What I've Learned About US Foreign Policy' in a room that too was overcapacity. I knew I would have some people in my audience but had not expected that many people as there were other interesting symposiums and workshops happening at the same time. It was amazing! People were queuing up to get in long before my session was to start.

会場の JPG

View of the crowd during my session at the Article 9 Cinema

I had only one hour, so I couldn't show the whole film nor did I have enough time to talk about it in detail. The excerpts I chose were The School of the Americas, Panama Deception and Ramsey Clark's talk. After my show all the DVDs that I had brought were sold out in a flash!!

That evening I invited Yuri Morita, who is active in the children's abuse and domestic violence issue, to stay at my home. We had a great time together. We peace workers need to have quality time with like minded people from time to time, otherwise we can get burned out...

I was so happy about the success of Global Article 9 Conference but at the same time, right now wars are going on in many areas of the world. I should mention that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force still remains in Iraq and continues to support the US forces. We are helping with the transportation of the servicemen and women as well as weapons. On each day of the conference we Japanese were actually involved in the fighting of a war. I hope you now realize that Article 9 is in great danger!

The success of the Global Article 9 Conference was just the first of many steps we need to take to regain the power that Article 9 has lost in recent years. Each one of us must keep working to strengthen Article 9 so that it becomes a powerful beacon of hope for all of humanity, so that one day Peace May Prevail On Earth!

It is up to each one of us to make Article 9 the shining light it should be.

Check out this performance of Imagine from the conference. A higher quality version of the movie can be seen here.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Exploring the Connections Between Music and Peace

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Global Article 9 Conference Workshop!

My dear friend Aska will be playing on Monday May 5th at the Global Article 9 Conference Workshop (details below). I will be there as one of audience.

After the concert, I will be speaking at Article 9 Cinema, which will be at Conference Room 302 on the 3rd floor of Makuhari Messe between the screening of What I've Learned about US Foreign Policy: War Against the 3rd World (screening will be starting at 2:40). Out of 10 documentaries from that movie, 3 will be shown on May 5.

Hope to see you all there!


Date/Time: Monday, May 5th (National Holiday) 12:20 – 13:50
Place: Makuhari Messe, Chiba (International Conference Hall 3F, Room 304)
Organizer: Peace Not War Japan (
Event URL (includes flyer):

Please join us for a live show featuring a lineup of several internationally acclaimed musicians. The artists will then be asked to share their views and personal experiences regarding the contribution of music as both a political and a spiritual tool toward the goal of encouraging peace, and to consider the role that music can play to help protect Japan's Constitutional Article 9. The discussion will be emceed by radio personality Peter Barakan, who has a deeply nuanced understanding of music and peace-related issues, as well as the convergence thereof.

Aska Kaneko (Multi-genre violinist and vocalist)
Ben Kemp & Uminari (Polynesian and Japanese acoustic fusion ensemble)
Likkle Mai & The K (Reggae vocalist/ guitarist)

Peter Barakan (broadcaster)

Fees for the Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War:

May 4th (Plenary & Live Concert): ¥1500 (\1000 with advance purchase)
May 5th (Symposium & Workshops): same as above (Conference is free for junior high school students and younger.)

Advance tickets may be purchased at Lawson's convenience stores,
or by postal transfer (see for details in Japanese).

For more info and full conference schedule, see the official website:

Route to venue:
Map of venue:

Artist Profiles

Aska Kaneko
Born in Tokyo, Aska Kaneko began playing the violin at age four, and started to perform professionally while attending the Tokyo University of the Arts. She has played in countless numbers of music sessions spanning numerous genres, and has released a total of 17 albums. She continues to receive accolades for her outstanding technique, rich musical expression, and playfully elegant style. Aska's most recent album is Ave (2007), a multi-lingual collaboration where she explores themes of peace along with several international guest artists. She also regularly facilitates children's workshops, and produces music for use in energy work. Her personal pursuits include researching the Mayan calendar, bodywork such as yoga and Tai Chi, and organic cooking. She lives with her husband, who is from the U.S., and their fifth-grade, Hawaiian-born son. Website:

Ben Kemp & Uminari
Signed to independent Japanese label Suzuki Records, Ben Kemp & Uminari are creating a unique musical fusion as they forge new territory both musically and culturally. With their adventurous instrumentation that includes vocals, guitar, electric flute, cajón and fretless bass, the group features Ben's Polynesian-inspired ethereal voice and poetic lyrics, combined with Uminari's Japanese-inspired arrangements. The overall effect is a soulful, acoustic sound that is both soothing and haunting. The group has released three albums, and has toured twice in New Zealand, Australia and Japan. Website:

Likkle Mai & The K
Accomplished reggae vocalist Likkle Mai, who runs her own record label "MK MuziK", continues to bring audiences her strong message of peace and love. Her second album "MW" received praise from various music magazines following its release in 2007, and a 7-inch single track "My Woman/Home, Sweet Home was released in January 2008 from the same album. Likkle Mai is presently working on a collaboration project with several other artists, as well as her own third album. Website:

Peter Barakan (broadcaster)
Born in London, Peter Barakan has lived in Tokyo since 1974 and has worked in broadcasting since 1980. His work has placed particular emphasis on introducing a wide variety of music from different parts of the world to a public that is often force-fed only what is commercially convenient for large corporations. His present radio programs are the "Barakan Beat" show at online, which features a variety of world music; and "Weekend Sunshine," a weekly free form radio programme on NHK-FM. He also hosts the Japanese broadcast of the US news magazine show "60 Minutes" and the weekly talk show "Begin Japanology "for NHK World.