Friday, April 3, 2015

Support Nan Hui!

April, 1, 2015 -- Eclipse Rising member Kei went to Sacramento today (actually close by) for Nan Hui Jo's sentence hearing. It was extended to April 28, since a new trial lawyer took her case. He is supposed to be one of the best criminal lawyers in the country and we're hoping he might be able to contest the jury's decision to find Jo guilty. The sad thing is that she'll have to be detained at the Yolo County jail until then.
Today's experience hit many of those who attended, hard. We had a short debrief afterward. It was shocking to see Jo, herself, looking so small in a striped green jumpsuit and shackles. It was even more shocking to see the father of Jo's child in person at the hearing. This is the man who admitted in court he abused her "once," was described by the DA as a "victim" since he claimed Jo kidnapped his child, and now has full custody of their daughter. I was told by the campaign organizers that unfortunately there are too many cases similar to Jo's where the abused is punished.
Despite all the struggles, there are 4 things you can do to support! I wanted to encourage you all to take part in one way or another and please share this with your networks. The following, I wrote for my students. You may want to check out their facebook pageand official campaign page for up-to-date info and background info.
1.) The organizers of her campaign are asking folks to write her letters in the mean time. If you can write in Korean, great, but if not, English should be fine, since she'll hopefully receive help translating. She's also a photographer and an artist, so if you want to draw her pictures, I'm sure she'd love that! She is finding a lot of comfort in these letters. Please read the following guidelines for letters at this link:
2.) The new trial lawyer costs a lot of money, so the campaign needs help fundraising! If you are part of an organization, or would like to organize a fundraiser, please do so! Here's the link to the online fundraising page:
3.) No matter what happens with her criminal case, Jo is still at high risk of being deported to Korea and never seeing her child again. The little girl has already been cut off from calling and speaking to her grandparents in Korea. She only speaks Korean and is cut off from any communication with family members who she really knows and speak the language. You can still call, email, or tweet ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and demand they drop the deportation hold on Jo. Click on the following link to see the ways you can contact ICE and CBP:
4.) Follow the case on social media ( or (@STANDWITHNANHUI on Twitter) and stay tuned for details about the new sentence hearing court date: April 28. We need to pack the court room this time and can use as many bodies to show support!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Critical Voices From "Japan" is presenting 4 films in February & March in the Bay Area. Thank you to those who came to the screening of "Our School" and "Sayama"! 
Here's our next film!!!

My Heart is not Broken Yet (2007, dir. Ahn Hae Ryun: English subtitles)

Presented by Eclipse Rising
Co-sponsored by Asian Women United and SFSU Asian American Studies Department
Opening introduction by Professor Grace J. Yoo, Asian American Studies
Tuesday, March 3, 6:30 pm
J. Paul Leonard Library, Room 121
San Francisco State University (mapdirectionsparking​)
Suggested donation: $3-15 (no one turned away for lack of funds)

Ms. Shindo Song is the only Korean resident who has sued Japanese government for the human rights violation she experienced as a “comfort woman.” Born in 1922, Ms. Song was forced into sexual slavery for Japanese imperial army in China at age 16. In 1993, nearly half a century after the war ended, Ms. Song sued Japanese government, demanding an “official apology.” Even after losing the 10-year-long courtroom battle in 2003, Ms. Song wasn’t defeated and stayed strong as she told her supporters, “Although I lost the case, my heart is not broken.”The documentary was made possible with the donations of 670 individuals who have built a loving and trusting relationship with Ms. Song, and it portrays her as someone who’s more than just a “former comfort woman,” but a super witty, talented, kind and caring human being.
Trailor (Japanese):

For questions, e-mail Kei Fischer at:
Also save the date for our last film showing from Critical Voices from "Japan" series!! 
For details, please visit our FB event page!!!
  • March 10: Iitate Village: Investigates the challenges of a farming village in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster@ New Parkway, Oakland 7p
P.S. Eclipse Rising is leading the global petition to stop Abe regime of Japan to deny Japan's imperial past and miseducate youth using revisionist history textbooks! Please sign and spread the word!!
Say NO to ‘Revisionist History’ that glorifies Japan’s WWII aggression and war crimes! 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Eclipse Rising presents "Critical Voices from 'Japan'" Film Series (Feb & March 2015)!!!!!

2015 is a very important year for Zainichi Koreans as it marks:
  • the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II; 
  • the 50th anniversary of the (re)establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Republic of Korea (South Korea);
  • the 4th anniversary of the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters that hit the greater Tohoku region.
In commemoration of these historical "endings" and "new beginnings" that have continued to shape our lives in Japan and beyond, Eclipse Rising is thrilled to present a social justice film series in collaboration with other progressive organizations!!!

Save the dates for Critical Voices from "Japan"!!
(film descriptions at the end)
- Feb 17: Our School: Depicts every day life of Korean school in Japan @ New Parkway Theater, $8
Opening remarks by the award-winning filmmaker, Deann Borshay Liem

- Feb 24: Sayama: Follows an untouchable buraku couple's life after unjust conviction and decades of incarceration of the husband, Mr. Kazuo Ishikawa
@ New Parkway Theater, $10
Discussion with Asian Prisoner Support Committee & East Point Peace Academy 

- March 3: My Heart Is Not Broken Yet: Humanizes a former Korean "comfort woman" residing in Japan, co-sponsored by Asian Women United
J. Paul Leonard Library Room 121, San Francisco State University, $3-15 suggested donation (No one turned away for lack of fund)

- March 10: Iitate Village: Investigates the challenges of a farming village in Fukushima after the nuclear disaster, co-sponsored by No Nukes Action
@ New Parkway Theater, $10
Poetry reading by Suzy Huerta

Check out our Facebook event page for updates!

------------------------------ film descriptions --------------------------

FEB 17
OUR SCHOOL (2006, Dir. KIM Myung Joon: English subtitles)
Our School depicts the every day life of Koreans in Japan or "Zainichi Koreans," particularly, the "North Korean" school and 3rd generation Korean students. It illuminates an invisible aspect of North Korea through the history of the diaspora of Korean people who believed in one unified and liberated Korea. It offers a poignant counter-narrative to the popular representation of "North Korea" as seen in The Interview or any other media in the West or in Japan. Through Our School, a narrative put together by South Korean director, Kim Myung Joon, we witness a very small but misunderstood community of Zainichi Koreans who dream of a unified Korea that transcends the Cold War and negotiate complicated systems of nationality, identity, and belonging as Koreans in Japan.

FEB 24
(2013: Dir KIM Soung Woong)
Sayama follows everyday life of Mr. Kazuo Ishikawa and Ms. Sachiko Ishikawa in their struggle for justice. Kazuo, a descendant of buraku --Japan’s outcast group-- was wrongly convicted of rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Sayama-city in 1963 (known as the “Sayama Case”) and imprisoned for more than 30 years until he was conditionally released in 1994. At age 74, Kazuo and Sachiko still continue their weekly demonstration at the Tokyo High Court to demand retrial and seek justice, in addition to touring all over Japan to meet their supporters and raise awareness around the case. Although one tends to see Kazuo and Sachiko simply as “freedom fighters,” the film does a beautiful job humanizing the tireless warriors by showing the “back-stages” where they get to do “ordinary” things such as doing house chores, having haircuts and going on a vacation. Director Kim invites all of us to join the movement and be part of Kazuo’s dream of getting back to school after retrial.
Official website:
English Trailer:

My Heart is Not Broken Yet
(2007: Dir. AHN Hae Ryung)
Ms. Shindo Song is the only Korean resident who has sued Japanese government for the human rights violation she experienced as a “comfort woman.” Born in 1922, Ms. Song was forced into sexual slavery for Japanese imperial army in China at age 16. In 1993, nearly half a century after the war ended, Ms. Song sued Japanese government, demanding “official apology.” Even after losing the 10-year-long courtroom battle in 2003, Ms. Song wasn’t defeated and stayed strong as she told her supporters, “Although I lost the case, my heart is not broken.” The documentary was made possible with the donations of 670 individuals who have built loving and trusting relationship with Ms. Song, and it portrays her as someone who’s more than just a “former comfort woman,” but a super witty, talented, kind and caring human being.
Official website:

Iitate Village
(2012: Dir. DOI Toshikuni)
“Iitate Village” follows 2 families and several villagers in the rural farming town of Iitate in the Soma District of Fukushima, Japan during the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 Tohoku Tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Famous for its beef, most residents depend on cattle breeding, yet due to radiation contamination, we witness the families having to throw out fresh milk, sell off their cows, and slowly shut down the very farming facilities their families have depended on for generations as a way of life. Within a month, the town is forced to evacuate its residents and we observe the nuanced challenges that result from family separation and what was once a tight-knit community quickly dissipates. Doi interviews these family farmers in their most vulnerable and intimate moments when they are forced to let go of all they know: their families, their farms, their livestock, their way of living, and most importantly, the town of Iitate, a place that Minori Takahashi, a young mother, called, "A place you come home to, where you're comfortable, you belong."
Official Website:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Reclaiming the Cherry: Questioning what it means to be from "Japan"

Note: I was moved to share this piece as a way to convey my deeply personal motivation for supporting the global petition campaign currently under way to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to stop the whitewashing of Japan's wartime history in history textbooks in Japan. In order to contribute to peace in the region, and peaceful Japan that reflects our values, I believe we must reclaim what it means to be from Japan on our own terms, rather than assume what it has come to represent in the minds of the far-right revisionists in power in Japan today. Only then, there is a potential for a perspective that is wholly Nikkei and also sides with the victims and not the aggressors, shielded from the characterization of the historical revisionist issue as a matter of geopolitical maneuvering by China and Korea vying to squeeze Japan out of the evolving sphere of influence in the region.

Join our social media photo campaign and use‪#‎TruthTodayPeaceTomorrow‬ and sign the online petition at today!

I've had the privilege of getting to know the members of a small Native American Tribe up in Shasta the last decade. Despite unimaginable violations and assault by settler government(s) and corporations that seeks to obliterate them "from the map," they continue to carry out their traditional ways of life and fight for their right to exist as a unique nation of peoples. It was at one of their ceremonies, an elder said to me, "we always say 'you must know where you come from in order to know who you are, and also, where you're going, and supposed to go.'"

This elder, actually is by blood, a Nikkei, Japanese American. And she's also a proud Tribal elder and fierce advocate for social justice and human rights. She sighed upon learning about Japanese government's attempt to deny its own history of aggression and wartime atrocities. She later posted on Facebook:

From Meiji times, Japan has deliberately embraced American white supremacy attitudes, making white supremacy policies and stand in the world in order to build an empire. White supremacy, violence, hate go hand in hand with what destroyed Japan from the inside out.

She also said to me: "When Japan lost their clan ways, they lost their path." This surprised me.  The reason for the surprise, is that from my experience, very few people know of any Japan other than one that these revisionists refer to, such as the Japan that actually was full of hundreds of 'clans,' such as Emishi, Satsuma, Kumaso and Izumo, and oh so many more, that flourished with their respective distinct cultures and ways, even languages. One needed an interpreter travelling from Kyushu to Honshu. I doubt she knew, but after I thought about it, I came to a realization, that she spoke universal truth not just about Japan but human souls, as well as nations. She didn't need to know that Japan actually really had 'clans' prior to 'Contact.'

Nikkeis must reclaim our indigenous roots in the land that Abe now calls "Japan" on our own terms in order to transcend the failed historic legacy of White Supremacist ideology-influenced Imperial ideology and the worldview Abe is trying so hard to revive with his administration as a vessel to resurrect the Empire to its past glory.

Our ancestors in Japan less than two centuries ago may not have identified as "Japanese" the way Abe defines "Japan" today. In fact, they may not have identified as Japanese over Korean. For example, Izumo had long historic relationship with the Shilla Dynasty, and their religious worldviews are more similar than that of Izumo and Yamato to the north, both part of what is now "Japan." Asuka era left us with many historic shrines still frequented by the faithfuls in Kyoto and beyond -- and it's recognized as fact, that Asuka began when fallen princes from warring states in what is now the Korean peninsula fled and settled there. When you see a map of the Far Eastern Archipelago (I just made this up but it suits the worldview I choose to have for that region much better than Japan/Korea binaries) as a mediterranean without any regard to today's modern nation-state boundaries, you might be surprised how we've managed to come so far with this unquestioned, deeply imbedded assumption, that the Far East is divided into territories neatly divided into three: China, Korea, and Japan. There are literally thousands of islands splattered all over the fringe of the continent. Of course cultures and civilizations mixed every which way for tens of centuries.

In that context, in retracing our 'roots,' how helpful is it, if at all, to use today's definition of "Japan" as unit of analysis and reflection? Really, is "Japan" even relevant to our hidden story of where we REALLY come from?

What if, by accepting "Japan" to be however it is defined by the Abe regime, we are inadvertently internalizing the impact of an explicit strategy of conquest Meiji leaders exercised for the sake of national cohesion? Local 'kami' worshipping practices and rites were made illegal (while only State Shintoism was recognized 'Japan's official' religion); language was homogenized ; US creators of public education system (designed to support settler expansion) were recruited to Japan to appropriate indigenous controlled territories (Hence, first university is Hokkaido, Ainu territory)... and the list goes on.

And so, I feel quite easefully, the elder made a very astute -- observation. Indeed, "Japan" had implemented a line of strategies designed for conquest of what was truly a diverse, multiethnic, multicultural archipelago, as gleamed from the US vis-a-vis mostly Native Americans. The clan roots would give this truth away. God forbid that we relcaim any roots other than one Abe would like us to believe is ours.

Therefore, I'm willing to bet, the "Japan" that is a victim of racist bullying by the international community, is not referring to the Japan that most of our ancestors would have identified with. Abe's grandfather (first post-war Prime Minister Kishi) was in a leadership position for the Imperial Japanese government, which unleashed unspeakable tyrannic rule over the Japanese people -- our ancestors -- and fiercely repressed and exploited farmers and rural peasants throughout Japan to fuel its empire-building effort. Japan's war capacity was built on the backs of our farmer and merchant ancestors, women, elders and children. Life was so incredibly difficult, so many chose to jump on a boat destined for some faraway distant land (like the United States) they knew nothing about. Nikkeis around the world share this history. Massive emigration from Japan in early 20th century is interestingly timed with the succession of popular riots and rebellion throughout the country for excessive taxation and other exploitative government practices. many of our ancestors stood up to protest the Japanese government - run by people Abe strongly identifies with, ideologically, and politically.  He fashions himself a self-appointed 'heir' to THIS throne.

Only in the "clan ways" we can trace the courageous legacy of our great-grandparents standing up to power, scaling the walls of the kura to liberate rice for the children, organizing and founding Japan's first national farmers cooperative, or the socialist party, or the Suiheisha, organization led by the bold and brave Burakumin which published modern Japan's first human rights declaration in history....

When we lose our "clan ways" we simply are left with "Japan" and it is unidimensional. We are simply consuming the Japan that is served up by the Abe regime and are fine with that because in absence of it, there is only emptiness. But if we choose to heed the message of the elder, then we just may come to discover, that our roots and the roots of Abe's are not only quite distinct, but at odds....

When Imperial Japanese Army occupied new territory, they planted cherry trees on the school grounds as they did so throughout schools in Japan. Public education was a means through which to instill imperial ideology and cultivate absolute, unconditional loyalty and surrender to the Emperor. As the cherry flower petals fluttered away with the slightest of a breeze at the height of its blooming beauty, as the Emperor once stated, "see, that, is the most virtuous way of life..." to give up one's life at the height of his youth. This, is how Kamikaze fighter spirit was born. Becuase the value of one's life is "lighter than goose feather." Yes, he was speaking about your life, and those of our ancestors. But probably not Abe and his ancestors.

In the course of its Empire-building effort, the Imperial Japanese Army appropriated cherries for its symbol precisely due to its sacred standing among the Japanese. The planting and harvesting of rice, our lifeblood, was informed by the timing of wild cherry blossoms in the mountains. Without cherry flowers, our ancestors would not have existed at least in the way we understand today. We can either reclaim our cherry flowers as source of life as our ancestors surely did, or as signifying the disposable nature of human life in absolute, unconditional service to the holy Emperor and his country, as the fascist leaders of WWII Japan (and Abe now carrying their torch) would have liked us to embrace with joy and gratitude.

Looking inward and backward is like looking into a hologram. It's never what it seems, and it's all of what it seems, all at the same time. It's hard to see past the distorted images or collages of pieces of images... but the important thing to note, is that you take that first step, acknowledging, but not engaging, all that illusion. All the path lead to the same place at the end of the day, as the elder would say. As long as you continue to seek the truth. When you do, you will know, to distinguish illusion from what is real.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Co-sponsored by Eclipse Rising!
1/20/14 Report In Berkeley  from Fukushima by Chieko Shiina

Tuesday! Jan 20, 2015 at 7 pm
BFF Fellowship Hall
1924 Cedar Street, Berkeley, CA 94709

Wheel-chair accessible via the ramp on Bonita Avenue.
(At Bonita Ave, one block east of MLK Way & three blocks west of Shattuck Ave)
This location is wheelchair accessible via the ramp on the Bonita Avenue side of the building.
Suggested Donation $5 - 10 No one turned away for lack of funds!

Chieko Shiina, an anti-nuclear  activist from Fukushima, Japan will be visiting California in January and will be speaking in Berkeley about the present situation for the children and people of Fukushima as well as the growing repression of anti-nuclear activists and rise of militarization including the introduction of the Abe administration of secrecy laws.
The contamination of the people of Fukushima and Japan continues. Children and families are getting sick. There is a growing epidemic of thyroid cysts and surgeries. The statistics are being covered up by the Japanese government. Additionally, Shunichi Tanaka, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority is preparing to release thousands of tons of contaminated radioactive water into the Pacific ocean.
This will be lethal to life in the oceans! It will reach California and the entire Pacific rim. The Abe government in power is continuing to tell the Japanese people that they can "overcome" radiation, and that they can de-contaminate Fukushima. Chieko Shiina is an anti-nuclear activist in Fukushima who has been fighting to get emergency healthcare to the residents. They are organizing against the restart of Japan's remaining 50 nuclear plants, which the Abe government wants to restart.

The SF Bay Area “No Nukes Action Committee” has been campaigning to protect the people of Fukushima and Japan, and to keep other Japanese nuclear plants closed. The Committee also opposes all nuclear plants, including the PG&E operated Diablo Canyon nuclear plant on the Pacific coast over earthquake faults and near San Louis Obispo. They have monthly rallies to speak-out  at the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco on the 11th of every month at 3:00 pm. The consulate is located at 275 Battery St/California St., San Francisco, near the Embarcadero BART Station. Next action is on Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 3:00 PM.

Sponsored by No Nuke Action Committee
Co-Sponsored by
BFFU Social Justice Committee
For more information call 510-495-5952

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Eclipse Rising is co-sponsoring the following event next week in San Francisco. Please consider attending or helping to spread the word, thank you!

Don't miss this event coming up next month, to hear the Voices of people's movements in the Philippines, Korea and Okinawa and how they are resisting US Militarism and the Asia-Pacific Pivot. 


Tuesday, December 9th
Doors: 6 pm
Program: 6:30 pm
518 Valencia St., SF

Food, drinks, and childcare will be provided. Donations welcome.

Ko You Kyoung (International Women’s Network Against Militarism, South Korea)

Raymond Palatino (BAYAN, Philippines)

Yoko Fukumura (Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, Women for Genuine Security)

Sponsored by the Center for Political Education, Women for Genuine Security, BAYAN- USA, Anakbayan, Eclipse Rising, Veterans for Peace, Asian Americans for Peace and Justice, and the Asia Pacific Islands Peoples’ Solidarity (Bay Area).
People’s resistance to militarism in the Asia-Pacific region is growing as the U.S. military increases its presence under the auspices of the so-called “Pivot to Asia.” At the same time, communities in the U.S. increasingly face a rapidly militarized and violent police force in our neighborhoods, streets, and schools.
The Center for Political Education, Women for Genuine Security, and the Asia Pacific Islands Peoples’ Solidarity (Bay Area) is excited to host an evening of story sharing with an international roundtable featuring activists from the Asia-Pacific region.
Ko YouKyoung (International Women’s Network Against Militarism, South Korea) is a longtime peace activist in South Korea as the former director of the National Campaign for Eradication of Crimes by U.S. Troops in Korea. She

is also a member of the Korean Women’s Network Against Militarism, SAFE-Korea, and the Pyeongtaek Peace Center.
Raymond Palatino (BAYAN, Philippines) is an activist and writer in the Philippines. He’s the Southeast Asia Editor in the Global Voices, an online citizens’ media network, and contributor to the ASEAN Beat of the Diplomat magazine. He’s also the chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Metro Manila.
Yoko Fukumura (Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, Women for Genuine Security)
Moderator: Rhonda Ramiro (BAYAN USA)
Sponsors: Center for Political Education, Women for Genuine Security, BAYAN-USA, Anakbayan, Eclipse Rising, Veterans For Peace, Asian Americans for Peace and Justice, the Asian Pacific Islands Peoples Solidarity (Bay Area)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

[Reportage - part 1] A couple living without nationality -One Zainichi Korean filed a lawsuit to renounce his South Korean nationality, was denied and is still trying

One Zainichi Korean filed a lawsuit to renounce his South Korean nationality, was denied and is still trying

By Park Hyun-jung, Hankyoreh 21 staff reporter His father had turned his back on the world. It all happened quite suddenly. Then, on his way to file a death notice for that father, the twelve-year-old boy found himself facing a situation he never saw coming: he didn’t officially exist. There were no documents at all to certify his parents’ marriage, or his own birth. Where did his roots lie? His grandfather was born over a century ago in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. He traveled to Jiandao, Primorsky Krai, and Sakhalin in search of work, before finally heading over to Hokkaido. His long journey ended when he settled down in Japan’s Shimane Prefecture. There, around 90 years ago, the father was born. The boy’s mother was also a Korean, having made the voyage to Japan at a very young age. At the time, Koreans were considered Japanese subjects. It was after World War II that the country stripped the Koreans and Taiwanese living within its boundaries of their Japanese citizenship. When filling out foreigner registration documents, the father gave his nationality as “Chosun,” or “Korean.” In the meantime, two governments, in South and North, were established on the Korean Peninsula.
In 1965, the military government in Seoul normalized relations with Tokyo. The boy turned eight that year. His father, now working for the Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan), began listing his nationality as “South Korean.”
It‘s impossible to raise a son without documents. It took two years, but the mother finally got the documents in order. The three characters of the boy’s name were spelled out on the father’s family register: “Ko Kang-ho.” The boy then had South Korean nationality. He hadn’t wanted the change; he hadn’t wanted to become Japanese either. When the family decided to naturalize as Japanese citizens, he was the one who held them back. Like other Koreans living in foreign lands, he suffered from identity confusion. He thought that identity was something he recognized in himself, not something he looked for from a country, be it the Republic of Korea or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Nationality was just a “symbol.” Fifty-four years old. Now middle-aged, the son still felt the same. He decided to speak out about the thoughts he’d had over the years. His mother was gone by then. In 2011, Kang-ho filed with the Ministry of Justice to renounce his citizenship. He was forfeiting all rights and responsibilities as a South Korean. But the government would not accept the request. By the terms of the Nationality Act, the only people who can renounce South Korean citizenship are people who have multiple nationalities or have gained foreign citizenship. An attached explanation said it was part of an effort to reduce the number of stateless individuals. Kang-ho currently lives in Japan as a “Special Permanent Resident”, as a Zainichi Korean according to the terms of San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951. If he gave up his South Korean citizenship, he would not be a citizen of any country. But he was a man who would not back down. He filed suit with Seoul Administrative Court, asking for the rejection to be overturned. He argued that it was a violation of basic rights to allow only people with multiple nationalities to renounce citizenship. The lawsuit was completely without precedent. In March 2012, the court in the first trial rejected it, ruling that a person had a right to a nationality, but not to become stateless. The appeals court reached the same conclusion. Attorney Lee Seok-tae, who filed the suit on Ko’s behalf, continued to appeal to the Supreme Court, calling the measures “a restriction on the freedom to abandon nationality without any consideration of concrete circumstances, at a time when various basic rights are being recognized in other countries without regard for citizenship, such as freedom to relocate.” According to the European Convention on Nationality, which went into effect in 2001, people are allowed to renounce citizenship when “there is a lack of a genuine link between the State Party and a national habitually residing abroad (Article 7)”. Ko Kang-ho’s case is similar. But in late 2012, the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal. He had taken the fight to court and lost. “Laws reflect the values of that society,” he said. “I didn’t really expect to win the case.” Why, then? He had questions he wanted to pose to the Republic of Korea: How did it treat Zainchi Koreans in Japan? What kind of country is South Korea today? What is its dream for unification?  [“Both the North and South Korean governments claim Zainichi Koreans as their own nationals, but it’s only recently that they’ve been pushing that policy seriously. When you consider that both have long taken an approach of neglecting their own people, there’s no reason a Zainichi Korean should belong to either system.” - from a statement by Ko Kang-ho]  In the heart of Kyoto, Japan’s capital for a thousand years, many traditional homes can still be found in the narrow alleys around Nijo Castle, a World Heritage Site where Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa is believed to have stayed. The house, bearing a nameplate reading “Ko Kang-ho/Lee Mi-o,” was built about 90 years ago. On Feb. 11, a Hankyoreh reporter pushed against the wooden slat gate. It let out a knocking sound as it moved to the side. Beyond the roughly two-meter-wide doorway, a third-story roof that had not been visible outside suddenly hove into view. Sunlight shone down on the kitchen through a square hole at its top: fermented soybean paste, green tea, safflower. On the refrigerator and the wall by the sink were various pasted memos in Korean and Japanese. The doorway to the left of the kitchen led up to another door. In a bookcase next to the kitchen table was a complete collection of all sixteen volumes in South Korean novelist Pak Kyung-ni’s “Land” series. Familiar items, in an unfamiliar setting. “Welcome.” The voice that rang out was high and gentle. This was Kang-ho’s wife Ri Mi-oh, 55. A doctor of respiratory medicine, she treats patients with terminal cancer at a hospital in Kobe, a city in nearby Hyogo Prefecture. The date of the visit happened to be a national holiday: National Foundation Day, commemorating the accession of Japan’s first emperor Jimmu. Other holidays include Showa Day, which honors the birthday of the late emperor Hirohito, and the Emperor’s Birthday, for current emperor Akihito. Kang-ho, who has run a dental clinic for over two decades in Otsu, a city in Shiga Prefecture, did not take the day off for holidays connected with the Japanese imperial family. Similar round faces, similar friendly smiles - the couple even had similar jobs. They almost looked like brother and sister. About ten years ago, a swollen-faced Ri was recommended to Kang-ho’s clinic by a friend after a bad tooth diagnosis. The treatment was good, but he didn’t seem to know much about making money. He didn’t recommend expensive treatments like implants that aren’t covered by insurance. He didn’t accept payment from fellow Koreans, and he offered patients some of his own homegrown vegetables. On Jan. 1 2000, just three months after they met, they were married. It was a wedding between two foreigners living in Japan. Ko Kang-ho knows hardly any Korean. His father hadn’t wanted to send him to one of the Chosun Korean schools operated by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (pro-North Korea Chongryon). But the boy with the Korean name didn’t spend much time with Japanese friends either. Mostly, he just read books and newspapers. He considered going to university in his father’s country, but the household wasn’t well-off financially. In 1976, he enrolled in an engineering college to study ship-making. His plan was to get a job at a South Korean shipyard after graduating and join the organized labor movement. But caring for his widowed mother and younger siblings left him unable to study for the six years after he enrolled. He wondered if there was anything he could do for the Zainichi Korean community. Finally, he changed course and went to dental school. Mi-oh does speak Korean well, as she attended a Chosun school. Her father was a Korean from Jeju, while her mother was Japanese. Her mother had been resolute enough to leave home where her father insisted, “women don’t need to go to university.” Her fateful encounter happened one day while she was studying at the house of her brother, an exchange student in Tokyo. In the yard of a friend’s house, she saw a shabby clapboard home, barely fit for a dog. Inside lived a poor Korean teenager. This was the young man who would become Mi-oh’s father. The grandfather objected, but Mi-oh’s mother went ahead with the wedding. Since they were of two different nationalities, they decided to give their first child Japanese nationality and their second Chosun nationality. Mi-oh was the second daughter. Proud and assertive, she had hopes of leaving Japan someday to live elsewhere. If she left the land where she was born and raised, maybe, she imagined, she could be free. Was there something she could do that would let her become self-sufficient right away, something she could do outside of Japan? A job where she could help others. She finally settled on becoming a doctor. “Chosun” isn’t a recognized nationality. Mi-oh has no passport, and people without passports have a difficult time traveling from one country to another. One substitute for a passport is a document from the Japanese Ministry of Justice permitting “reentry,” which serves as the necessary identification for border crossing. Any overseas travel requires at least two or three months to prepare the necessary documents. But it’s a process that has allowed her to visit the US and the United Kingdom, although she was unable to travel to Ireland. Traveling to South Korea is also a tall order. She has to receive a “travel certificate,” a temporary passport issued by the South Korean government. It was not until 1996, during the administration of President Kim Young-sam, that she was able to set foot in the country. The authorities had permitted her visit after she explained that she wanted to visit her father’s grave in Jeju Island. After he passed away in 1991, it had taken four years for his remains to make their way home. Under the brutal military dictatorship, it was inconceivable for her relatives in Jeju to try to contact the family. Her father was once a member of Chongryon, though she claims he was forced out. In 2010, with the Lee Myung-bak administration in office in South Korea, Mi-oh and a friend paid a visit to the Toji (“Land” as referred to in Pak Kyung-ni’s series) Foundation of Culture in Wonju, Gangwon Province. Stopping in a restaurant during her trip, she saw the Vancouver Winter Olympics being broadcast on TV. “Kim Yu-na’s performance was so beautiful,” she recalled. It was her last memory in South Korea. While Kim Yu-na was going for a second Olympics gold earlier this year, Mi-oh was being prevented from making another trip. She made two consulate visits for the necessary procedures, but her efforts were in vain. “The employee at the consulate told me, ‘You’ve been there ten times now. If you’ve seen what a good country South Korea is, why don’t you change your citizenship? All it takes it one procedure and you won’t have to come here every time anymore,’” she recalled. “And I said, ‘I’m willing to come to the consulate twenty or thirty times if it means I can go to South Korea.‘” Her plight is shared by around 30,000 other people with Chosun nationality in Japan. Her husband Kang-ho decided that he could not sit by in silence any longer. It was one of the reasons he gave for wanting to renounce his South Korean nationality.   Please direct questions or comments to []

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Help us fundraise $1000 this summer!!!!

Dear Eclipse Rising supporters!

Our core members  have made a pledge to raise $1000 this summer for the Japan Multicultural Relief Fund, co-founded by Eclipse Rising and Japan Pacific Resource Network, as a commitment to a diverse and just Japan!

Please consider donating here, today.

It's now been over 2 years since the Tsunami/Earthquake disaster struck the Northeast region of Japan, but the most vulnerable people are still impacted. So far we've supported several communities including immigrants, foreign-residents like Zainichi Koreans, single mothers, the elderly, and the disabled. Projects have included a multilingual hotline, emergency transportation, distribution of food and supplies, reopening schools, securing shelters, and launching a multicultural community center.

These projects are unique in that they are not only about temporary relief, but also building power among victims and building a thriving multicultural community in the region.

Any contribution will help! If 10 of our friends donate $20 today, we are $200 closer to reaching our goal. Our members have already personally donated to inspire you!

Please see our fund website (but remember donate at link below) to read about the impact we have had already.

Please DONATE at our Go Fund Me site, in order to help us keep track of our efforts to reach $1000 this summer.

Also, as the fund is almost entirely supported by volunteers, we are always looking for more volunteers! If you are interested in helping, even a few hours this summer, it can go a long way. Please contact me directly.


Peace, Love, Solidarity,
Kei Fischer
Co-coordinator, co-founder, Eclipse Rising

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Photo campaign from Memory of a Forgetten War screening

Check out the tumblr page!

About the Blog

The Korean War (1950-1953) was devastating. It pitted military forces from the United States, South Korea, and 16 other countries against North Korean and Chinese combatants. Three years of fighting took a horrific human toll – the deaths of 3 million civilians and nearly 1.5 million combatants. It decimated Korea’s natural and social infrastructure and left 10 million Koreans separated from family members for over half a century. The hostilities from this war persist today because the fighting ended in an armistice agreement, not a peace treaty. A legacy of this 6 decades of unremitting animosity prevents the reunion of tens of thousands Korean Americans separated from relatives in North Korea and keeps the United States and especially North Korea perpetually at the brink of war.

The new film, Memory of Forgotten War ( brings these concerns to light and asks audiences to stand for an end to the Korean War and reconciliation among the warring parties.The mosaic of faces in this Peace in Korea blog is evidence of the expanding call for the United States to commit to ending the armistice agreement and bringing to a close America’s longest, modern war.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eclipse Rising Stands for Peace on the Korean Peninsula!

On this 60th anniversary year of the signing of the 1953 Armistice Agreement that only temporarily halted the Korean War, Eclipse Rising stands up in solidarity with Koreans and peace advocates worldwide to call an actual end to the war and instead bring about real peace on the peninsula.

We agree with a statement released by the Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements, that "Sanctions against North Korea and annual U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises are clear signs that the Korean War—a war that left over four million dead and one in three Korean families divided—is not over. 

Today we participated in the "I Stand for Peace" photo campaign to gather at least 200 supporters in the U.S. (1000 in Korea) to take a photo with a message for peace and to post that photo on social media sites. 

The Eclipse Rising collective was able to collect close to 20 images of people (and animals) standing for peace and an end to the war games and sanction. These images will be a part of a mosaic to be used at press events in South Korea!

To enjoy our full collection, please visit the Eclipse Rising Facebook page at:

End the War in Korea! 

Peace and Reunification in Korea!