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What do you think would happen to the Okinawan economy if all U.S. military personnel left?

31 Comments

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It would suffer more than the anti base groups are advertising. The only vacuum to fill the gap will be the Chinese and that wont be tolerated from not only the National government, but also locals. A prime example is Guam.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

According to the prefectural government, the bases make up around 5% of GDP while US personnel and their families make up about 1.5% of that 5%.

If they demolished the bases and built hotels and attractions, then I'm sure they could fill that gap... but realistically the Japanese government would probably just mothball the bases and land for decades. (I'm guessing A&W would also have to close, which would be a shame.)

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Tourism would boom.

Being able to drive across the island instead of having to make gimungous detours around runways and acres of lawns dotted with bungalows and BBQs would help commerce and distribution.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Look at Cebu in the Philippines, once the US military was out the island boomed.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Who knows? Not sure tourism would boom. Okinawa is not that great as holiday destination and expensive compared to other SE Asia options. Do forces consume a lot in the local economy? Does the US military buy local food and other supplies?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Tourism would boom.

Really -- from where?

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

If US forces left then the J-military would QUICKLY take over most of the bases, returning a few back

However if US forces depart Okinawa & the mainland I think it would be time to seriously consider doing the same, if the US left Japan to fend for itself & was no longer interested I cant see the Japanese govt being able to handle things on their own & succeed, failures however would likely increase even more

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The economy would falter.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Boom. Since more tourists would come.

Who are these tourists avoiding Okinawa because of the US military? And how is the current occupancy situation? If more hotels are made, would more tourists come or would Okinawa be left with just a bunch of empty hotel rooms?

Think of all the farmland that would become available for production.

Agriculture would bring in more money than the base economy?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Okinawa's economy has relied on the military and that situation has never changed. Money from the military and Tokyo's government has been one of the biggest industries next to tourism. If there was a return of the military the transformation, prosperity, and tourism to follow would not be as certain and it would be much more complicated. Whether redevelopment could fill the billion dollar hole left behind is questionable and it would be a long way to go before kicking free of its dependence on the military. Some might believe that they will gain far more than lose from the closure of bases. However if the change happens all at once the economic impact will be grave. Meanwhile they need to keep a good relationship with the military and should strive to have a dialogue about mutually beneficial things.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

the economy will fall in the short term 2-5 years, but then will recover with people (J and otherwise) discovering this as a tourist paradise and the land getting a chance to produce some tropical fruit not found elsewhere in Japan... I'm dreaming coconuts and pineapples

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If part of the over $4 billion that Japan pays directly and indirectly to support the US military in Japan were directed towards development and economic stimulation, it would more than cover the loss of 'money from the military'.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

but then will recover with people (J and otherwise) discovering this as a tourist paradise

Okinawa is already a well known tourist paradise in Japan and Asia in general. Is there any evidence that the presence of the military bases is preventing people from visiting?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Probably no big change in scale. US bases bring business and also workers, and both would leave at the same time. Empty vases would immediately refill. A few locals working at catering the bases would get back into local economy to fill positions left by relatives of servicemen.

Since more tourists would come.

Unlikely. Nobody was able to really launch the place as a destination... Many projects have failed due to lack of customers and not due to the bases. So entrepreneurs willing and able to do that won't appear miraculously.

a chance to produce some tropical fruit not found elsewhere in Japan... I'm dreaming coconuts and pineapples

Idem, The chance is already there and locals/mainlanders are not developping it. Friends worked on pineapple plantations for a season. They said the farmers were all in their 90's or older, desperate to find workers to employ and with no hope of seeing the farms last after they die. And TPP won't increase motivation to develop agriculture anywhere in Japan.

If part of the over $4 billion that Japan pays directly and indirectly to support the US military

If that budget was cut , the money would go to develop J-armies. Not that I think Japan is free to leave that deal.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Thrive.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It would tank....and it would serve the narrow-minded locals right.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If you drugged me and took me to Okinawa, I already would have trouble figuring that I was still in Japan, the standard of living there is so much lower than the mainland. Remove the bases? It would fall even further.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

The rare and protected Yanbaru unicorns would be pooping nonstop rainbows, from what i hear.

Seriously, it's like some of the people commenting have never been to Okinawa.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Okinawa is already considered a poor, backwater island by mainland Japanese, it is the Mississippi of Japan. If the US forces leave, the island will be quieter, but no less dangerous, the crime rate among US service members is one-fifth what it is among the locals. The numerous bars, shops, restaurants and other businesses which cater to US service members will close, and the main streets in Okinawa cities will look like the main streets in most (all?) other rural Japanese cities, dark, boarded-up buildings with old people living on the second floor.

But pride is more important than poverty.

Okinawa is already a well known tourist paradise in Japan and Asia in general. Is there any evidence that the presence of the military bases is preventing people from visiting?

There is not, the other resort areas around Japan have been in steady decline, in places like Atami you will find about 1/3 of shops out of business. If you go to Miyako-jima, and other places, you will find the same thing.

If part of the over $4 billion that Japan pays directly and indirectly to support the US military in Japan were directed towards development and economic stimulation, it would more than cover the loss of 'money from the military'.

Sorry, but if the US forces were not there, Japan would have to pay that $4 billion to enlarge it's own military to fill in the gap. As it is, not all of the current costs are shouldered by Japan, America pays much of it's own way. The cost to Japan to maintain it's own defence in the absence of America troops would likely be much more than $4 billion.

The US service members in Okinawa earn more than the locals do, and much of what they earn is spent in Okinawa. You need only look at the economic conditions of other towns which formerly hosted military bases. None that I know of have ever seen an improvement in the local economy after the bases were closed. Most lobbied aggressively to keep the bases open, but to no avail. Okinawa does not know what it is doing, but let them close the bases, and they will understand quickly enough.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Cleo is right!

There would be a boom in tourism.

Okinawa is the poorest prefecture still after 70 years of US military occupation.

Why is it still the poorest when it has the best facilities for tourism in the whole of Japan?

Because the US military bases are holding down the economy.

Without the bases, entrepreneurs would invest in Okinawa, jobs would be made, goods would be sold.

There would be a boom.

Kadena particularly is on prime land for tourist redevelopment.

Close Schwab and give up on Henoko to make Oura Bay a national park.

It's about time the land was returned to Okinawa.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Exactly BW. Okinawa would blossom with the bases gone.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Good news.

According to legal experts, Onaga has the right to cancel approval of new U.S military base construction.

At least that would be ONE LESS!

http://english.ryukyushimpo.jp/2015/05/14/18464/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Exactly BW. Okinawa would blossom with the bases gone.

I guess. Rather go to Hawaii & pump dollars into it. Hawaii never goes out of style. Know what I mean?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I notice that Hawaii doesn't want US bases either.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They were annexed, 50th State of the Union. Know what I mean?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The economy would fall into shambles. There is No way they could make up the difference.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

With talk of a new Universal Studios in Okinawa, looks like the American influence is there no matter what angle you take. Bases out, Universal Studios in!

Throw in a Disneyland and "Toys R' US", then you'd have the whole enchilada without Ospreys and damaged coral.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

At first it will decline. Then you will find saving on services. less Policing because the crime rate will fall. less of a load of infrastructure. This fall in crime and the absent of the American Military will boost tourism. The saving on these can be invested in tourism. like discounting airfares and ferry fees to the Inland.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

An absolute collapse without question.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The standard would fall, but perhaps despite this most Okinawans (not some of the land owners getting rents) would be happier.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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