On June 22, 2022, 20 civic groups held a “No RIMPAC!” press conference in front of the Jeju Naval Base in Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, South Korea. Beginning with the words “Aloha ʻĀina,” the press conference expressed solidarity with the people and all living beings in and off Hawai’i and southern California. It also demanded “peace practice, not war drills” and closure of the Jeju Naval Base. In Hawaiian, “Aloha ʻĀina” means love and care of the land and sea. Many friends from Hawai’i have visited Gangjeong in solidarity for peace during the last few years. One of them was Pua’ena, who urgently appealed to people in Jeju not to let the warships in Jeju head for Hawai’i during the current RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) exercises, the biggest U.S.-led multinational maritime war drill, which is held every two years.
Last month, two Canadian warships, HMCS Vancouver and Winnipeg departed Esquimalt naval base heading for San Diego and then Hawai’i to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war maneuvers scheduled from June 29 to August 4. Just as the Canadian warships were departing Esquimalt, activists in Hawai’i gathered at Kailua near the Marine Corps Air Station on Kaneohe Bay to protest the impending visit of the RIMPAC warships, including Canada’s. According to the US Pacific Fleet, this year’s RIMPAC war rehearsals began on June 30 and will continue until August 4. It will be the largest maritime war exercise in the world with “26 nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, more than 30 unmanned systems, approximately 170 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel participating.”
Many citizens of the 26 RIMPAC countries do not agree with their country’s participation in the RIMPAC war games, calling them provocative and dangerous for the region. The Pacific Peace Network, with members from countries/islands across the Pacific including Guåhan, Jeju Island, South Korea, Okinawa, Japan, Philippines, Northern Mariana Islands, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, Hawai’i and the United States, demand that RIMPAC be cancelled, calling the naval armada “dangerous, provocative and destructive.” The Network’s petition for cancellation of RIMPAC states that “RIMPAC dramatically contributes to the destruction of the ecology system and aggravation of the climate crisis in the Pacific region.
During the pandemic the U.S. military is running the largest maritime military maneuvers in the world, with Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) coming to the waters off Hawaii Aug. 17-31, bringing 26 nations, 25,000 military personnel, up to 50 ships and submarines and hundreds of aircraft. Hawaii hasstringent measures to combat the spread of Covid-19, with a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all persons arriving in the state; returning residents as well as visitors. This quarantine is required until at least June 30, 2020. The U.S. Army is also pursuing a 6,000-person war game in Poland, June 5-19, with a Polish airborne operation and a U.S.-Polish division-size river crossing.