LIHUE – The public had a lot to say at Wednesday’s Kauai County Council meeting, after a resolution was introduced urging the United States to conduct diplomatic talks with North Korea with the goal of signing a peace treaty.
The request for introduction of the resolution, said Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura, was made by a group of citizens who are concerned about the possibility of a nuclear attack.
“I hope we can pass this and make it a collective expression for a peaceful path to our future of our world,” Yukimura said.
Once the resolution was introduced, Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa asked Yukimura if she thought the United States government is already trying to do this.
“When we take a stand, it can make a difference and it can inspire others to take a stand and a lot of voices together can make a difference,” Yukimura said.
Kagawa said he didn’t see the purpose of having this resolution when efforts are already being made at a higher level than the Kauai County Council.
“I think it’s trying to rile up something for no reason. I think the president, the defense minister/secretary, already knows this is really what is wanted, what is needed. However, when you’re dealing with Kim Jong Un, it’s not as simple as that,” Kagawa said.
The council, Kagawa said, doesn’t deal with getting peace moving between the United States and other governments. He said he thought this resolution was an insult to Hawaii’s representatives and senators.
“I feel like passing this resolution is telling them, you’re not putting enough in this area and frankly, I feel like they are.”
He said there are other ways to promote peace from Kauai, and the County Council should be working with the Congressional delegation.
As those who are elected to represent the county, Yukimura said that speaking as a legislative body, they are doing their best to represent the people.
“I think it’s an important message to send to the state and the federal government,” she said.
The public speaks
Thanking Yukimura for bringing the resolution forward, Ken Taylor, during a public comment session on the matter, said he believes everyone should be supporting this resolution.
“In the old days, wars were fought on battlegrounds — that the people who suffered were the ones on the battlegrounds. But with nuclear war, the potential for widespread devastation is unbelievable, and we saw some of that at the end of World War II, which was really unfortunate because as I understand it, the Japanese — two days before the bombs were dropped — were ready to surrender and the military went ahead and made the decision to drop the bombs anyway,” Taylor said.
Looking back on history, Taylor said that since World War I to the present, we have been misrepresented as to why we were going into each war we have participated in.
“I think this is the kind of thing that needs to be more publicized and this resolution is strictly asking for people to use common sense and let’s negotiate peace and work it out,” Taylor said.
Taylor said there shouldn’t be roadblocks put in the way of negotiating peace.
“It’s a simple, simple thing to pass and move forward with,” he said, “and it’s important for the well-being of all of us, because even if he gets one of those things in the air with an atomic head on it and we shoot it down, it’s still going to be a terrible disaster.”
Commending Yukimura for the resolution, Alice Parker said the administration needs to hear from the people. “We are the people. It’s not just one person up there negotiating with North Korea,” she said. “We’re very vulnerable here. We need all the peace we can get.”
Parker implored the council to follow Yukimura’s recommendation to pass the resolution.
Lonnie Sykos said he is in favor of the resolution, but doesn’t want there to be a long discussion about it.
“We pay lobbyists to be in Washington D.C. to solicit money for us. We have people that we pay to go get highway funds, housing funds, this and that. So since we constantly lobby the federal government, why shouldn’t we with an issue like this,” Sykos said. “What better represents the culture of Hawaii than peace?”
The people of America, said Bruce Hart, have the right to speak out on matters such as this. He said he was surprised to see this issue on the agenda for the county council meeting, but he welcomes this kind of discussion about these kinds of issues.
“I think we should all be cautious. I’m not at this time for the government of North Korea, but I am for the people. I’m not for the government of Iran, but I’m for the people. I’m for the people all over this world,” Hart said.
Hart said he would support the resolution if it’s not used as a platform for vitriol against our elected representatives.
Joan Heller said the threat of a nuclear blast is an important issue, and to her, every other issue pales. Heller said the County Council on the Big Island passed this resolution last October unanimously.
The resolution, said Sandra Herndon, would establish the long-delayed peace treaty, according to the terms of the Armistice Agreement, that’s 65 years overdue.
“We need to remember that ‘aloha,’ is more than just a word adopted by the HTA. It’s a way of life that’s based on compassion, mercy, respect and heart centered. It’s how most of us live on Kauai. We need to make a statement on behalf of our county, recommending the principle’s of aloha, set the tone for negotiations with the Koreans.”
Reading a statement on behalf of Koohan Paik, Heller said, “This is the kind of proactive, grassroots organizing it takes to save us from doomsday, community by community.”
Councilmember Derek Kawakami said the resolution sends a message to where Kauai is coming from as a community and that we should all strive for peace, stating National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman should be added to the list of people who would recieve copies of the bill, due to his friendship with Kim Jong Un.
Yukimura said she didn’t have a problem adding Rodman to the resolution because sports is a common ground.
The council voted unanimously to adopt the resolution. A copy of the resolution will be forwarded to Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Gov. David Ige, Hawaii’s two senators, the U.S. Secretary of State, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, President Donald J. Trump and Dennis Rodman.