Saturday, April 7, 2007

Why we're opposed: our new blog!

This is a collectively written, collectively edited blog for the ASIJ Campaign Against Cluster Munitions. We are a coalition of former alumni of the American School in Japan who are concerned about the school's accepting an offer of floodlights for the football field, valued between USD$500,000 and $1 million (exact figures are hard to come by, as the Board is not forthcoming), from alum Jin Roy Ryu (ASIJ '77). The money is specifically earmarked for lights for the football field and for nothing else, I repeat, for nothing else. It has been intimated that the lights are to be manufactured by a subsidiary of Mr Ryu's company, the Poongsan Corporation. The Board has unfortunately not been cooperative with verifying this last fact; we are still awaiting confirmation.

Jin Roy Ryu is the CEO of Poongsan Corporation, a company operating out of South Korea which manufactures cluster munitions. Cluster munitions are packages of 1000-2000 mines: after they are dropped from the air, the packages disintegrate and the mines inside are scattered over an area the size of two or three football fields. The problem with cluster munitions is that, unlike smart bombs, they don't have specific targets. They target whole areas, often in cities, and the subsequent damage kills many, many more civilians than military personnel. Up to 98% of the casualties from cluster munitions registered with Handicap International have been civilians [site]. There is good reason to believe that these bombs are manufactured to specifically target civilians and destroy their livelihoods. In Iraq, the US military is currently using cluster munitions and they have been a large cause of death of both American soldiers and Iraqi children who believe they are toys. Mr Ryu's corporation in particular, Poongsan Corporation, has been blacklisted by the Norwegian government for his manufacturing of cluster munitions [site/site].

As alumni of the American School, we believe an opportunity has been thrown into our laps to make the world a more decent place to live. The warm, politically committed response that we have seen and felt already, amongst a broad swath alumni of the school, is only a testament to how effective our school's motto has been: developing compassionate, inquisitve learners prepared for global repsonsibility. We are looking forward to working together with Mr Ryu and the Board of the American School to ensure a moral future for our children.

What can you do?
Please sign our petition, located at As of this writing we have about a hundred signatures.

Please write an individual letter to the Board of Directors detailing, in no uncertain terms, your opposition to Mr Ryu's donation.

Tell everyone you know about cluster munitions. A lot of this campaign is about organizing and uniting people in radically different geographic locations and life stations in a common cause; and more than anything we want to spread the word about how awful and cruel cluster munitions are. We want to have a discussion about the role of ethics in the communities in which we live and are a part of.

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