Women Power against Militarism
Women Power against Militarism
  • reported by Lee Jung-joo jena21@womennews.co.kr
  • 승인 2002.08.28 00:00
  • 수정 2013-07-12 16:27
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Women in the United States and Asian countries hosting US army bases have launched an active alliance in order to 'create a society without armed forces.' The conditions in each country may be different, but the cases and situations arising from the presence of American troops have made such an alliance possible.

An anti-army base movement led by women is in many ways different from the existing movement. In Japan, where the US has stationed its troops since 1945, the same year as Korea, the anti-base movement led by grassroots women groups has flourished for some time. 

The movement in Japan focuses on solving social problems arising from the stationing of US troops (such as crime, environmental degradation, accidents during army training, prostitution, and Amerasian children) and providing support to victims. 

Despite its long history, the anti-army base movement in Japan has yet to reach a fundamental solution. Nevertheless, the small and large achievements it has made so far provide a good precedent for its Korean counterpart, which is now in its initial stage. For example, the 'Women for Action Disallowing Armies and Army Bases' in Okinawa joined the residents suffering from explosion noise generated by the US army base to file and win a class suit against the US Army.

In Yuhuin, where a new army base was set up following the decision to disperse the Okinawa army base, a small women group called 'Sunflower" has taken up continuous monitoring to make sure that the military training takes place in the highlands as promised and that artillery and munitions are not over-deployed. "Sunflower" is also carrying out a regional currency union project to ensure the local community's economic independence from the army base.

Another good example of the anti-army base movement is the Philippine-US Coalition for environmental protection that took issue with the environmental destruction perpetrated by US army bases and exposed the misdeeds of American military personnel in charge of the environment at Clark Air Base and the navy base at Suvic Bay.

Such grassroots women groups managed to convince citizens, at first awed and discouraged by the seemingly invincible US Army using their lands, to start taking small actions in their everyday lives that finally led to great changes.

The anti-base movement in Korea has escalated with the recent accident where a US armored vehicle ran over and killed two Korean schoolgirls. The experiences of anti-base movements overseas are helping to set a new direction for the fledgling anti-base movement in Korea.

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