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Futenma commander defends Marine base

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"It blocks potentially lucrative development, they say."Here it is in one sentence.This is what its really all about,"MONEY".The question we now have to ask ,is WHO will get the most out of this "POTENTIONALLY LUCRATIVE DEVOLMENT"not my words,the words written in this article.

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"Over the years, tens of thousands of protesters have regularly hit the streets of Okinawa to demand the base’s closure"

If two or three times a year means regularly. Then OK.

If "tens of thousands" means 2-3 thousand Okinawans. Then OK.

Yusho Yamanaha, a 75-year-old retiree who has a small onion and carrot farm inside the base’s fences, said he would happily give up his plot if the base were moved.

Then added, "It will not be a problem because my lazy ass son does not want to come on base a plant carrots that he can buy for a 100 yen a COOP".

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Col Dale Smith reflects the characteristic arrogant insensitivity and a sense of perogative that has contributed to the idea of 'The Ugly American". Futenma has to go - - - along with US military presence in Japam..

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SemperFi,

Your anti-American views are evident in all your posts. This is clearly about money and the land Futenma occupies, vice the "safety" for the Okinawan people. Those greedy landowners/developers could care less about the "noisy base", they just want the land to develop the property. It would be hilarious if Futenma were to close, and be reinhabited by the JSDF, while flying joint missions with the US. Too Funny. I really think these people do not understand what they're asking for. Close all bases in Okinawa....an insane statement and that would lead to the utter demise for the economy on the island. If they hate the military so much there, then don't take their money at off base establishments, and don't work on the base. Require all US military personnel and their families to only live on base, and you will see the droves of Okinawans crying for the economy. Hey, it already happened when there was a curfew established a few years ago for all military and civilian personnel in Okinawa. The businesses were screaming that they were dying without these customers. Remember, these people built homes around the base, the base wasn't built around the homes.

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fussagaijin "SemperFi,

Your anti-American views are evident in all your posts"

NO. I am not anti-American. The USA has been the beacon of hope and the symbol and haven of 'freedom / human rights' for many nations and peoples. I am ANTI AMERICAN IMPERIALISM . . .

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Japan can easily defend itself against its enemies, which it seems to have very few of. America needs to back off and let the Japanese control Japan.

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sem,

Here, I'll help you a bit:

"Imperialism, defined by The Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural and territorial relationship, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination."

Please tell me where the IMPERIALISM exists regarding Okinawa?

economic - There is no restriction or bias regarding the economic stance of the military in Okinawa. In fact, the military personnel are robbed off base as their rent fluctuates from tenant to tenant as it's based on rank vice property type, as you better believe there is a trusty US military housing pay chart on all real estate agents desks in Okinawa.

cultural - Well Japan is another country, and regardless of where you are in the world, cultural differences will occur in the region, if you are not from that region therefore, these issues occurs regardless of occupation globally, and is not only isolated to a "US military" presence.

territorial relationship - The only thing that has to happen is Japan has to ask the US to leave. That's all. This will not happen, as it will cost the Japanese far more to provide for their own defense, than have the US presence. And remember, the US didn't simply come to the shores of Okinawa and storm the island at random. There was a little something called WWII that was occuring, and the IMPERIALISM you may be referring to is most probablu better suited to examples such as Nan-King by the IJA.

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I lean towards keeping the base somewhere on Okinawa but am sensitive to local opinion. However, I just don't see "arrogant insensitivity" by Col. Smith in this article. In fact, the opposite.

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paulinusa,

I completely agree...

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I am a Marine who has lived on Okinawa for some 68 years and I am a member of a Okinawan family having married a Okinawan some 42 years ago and I ave never had any problems with the Ryukyuan people - Most troubles come from the Japanese and or the Japanese Corporate groups who are actually rtrying to get a airstrip built in the Henoko are to service the Japanese Summer Homes in the Arume area.Every Okinawan I know is vary happy with the Marines - only the Japanese are making the noise about us. Remember the Secret Deals done by the Japanese and reported by Nishiyama

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The Colonel forgets he is not in America. He is not sensitive to the desires of the Okinawa people. The longer this goes on convinces me more and more of NO bases on Okinawa. I started off desiring only the removal of MCAS Futenma. The SDF can defend as against China. Would rather be poor than under the continued thumb of the Americans. Would rather have the self defense force here. They at least will have the full time mission of defending Japan.

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Everyone agrees the base on southern Japan’s Okinawa Island should be shut down and moved.

Well obviously not everyone, or this story wouldn't be here.

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Hatoyama and his government is just terrible. Having said so, Japanese people have cold feet to return to LDP. In the long run, it will be a good thing the government changes occasionally. America has to be patient.

The colonel is a good soldier and no more than that. Futenma must be closed. Noises are unbearable and scary and insulting to the people of Okinawa to let live under such awful conditions.

If I add one thing to it, all the bases in mainland Japan and Okinawa were far from the residential areas when they were built. People came to live closer to the bases afterwards.

Will U.S. bases move out of Okinawa and Japan? No. They can use the land free and Japanese employees free as well. It is a lot cheaper than they keep them in the states.

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The Marion, Semper Fi Marine, I was with 3rd recon at Schwab before going to Nam, but that was before Nixon returned the island. Hope they get this Futenma mess sorted out and life can get back to normal for you (and everyone there). Wasn't there long enough, I guess, but sure have great memories as Okinawa is my first experience of living far from home.

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Japan and Philippines obviously not the same situation. Philippines' own army can't seem to defeat a guerilla force in a small portion of their country, and they still need the American military for support.

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Things would have attracted serious attention had these Okinawans taken a 'nationalistic' posture as opposed to an undignified NIMBY approach.

Shows how Ryukyuan independence is but a fleeting memory to these people who suckle on Japanese taxpayers everyday.

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Har, the Philippines haven't left a legacy of ill will with all their neighbors. Thus their defense needs are a lot less than Japan's.

So semperfi and YuriOtani, just how is Japan going to afford going it alone in a hostile region? Is it finally going to come clean on its history to pacify the Chinese, Koreans, etc., to reduce tensions? Or allow a huge increase in immigration and do the other difficult but necessary acts to reform its perma-flat economy, so as to pay for its own bona-fide military?

Until then, it'll need the US around somewhere. No getting around that. Maybe not Futenma, but somewhere. I mean, who else will Japan find to watch its back until (if ever) Japan can look after itself?

Of course, the US has its own desires, as far as force projection in the region goes, so Japan will eventually have to play ball to some extent. In the meantime, the DPJ can look like it's sticking up to Uncle Sam, at least until the next election. Then expect a new deal, probably not too much different from the current one.

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Is it finally going to come clean on its history to pacify the Chinese, Koreans, etc., to reduce tensions?

Not likely.

And until they do, they will continue to complain about the military that has protected them for 65 years and allowed them to grow soft.

At least unless the US finally wises up and realizes that if we don't need to defend Japan from its own diplomatic autism, we don't really need those bases after all.

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Sorry Americans! I apologize for our stupid leader Hatoyama, the incompent government and irresponsible voters. But, it is the LDP most to blame which could not prevent the land slide victory for DPJ. Toward the end of their ruling, LDP was in a mess changing leaders every year who were as dumb as Hatoyama.

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Har, the Philippines haven't left a legacy of ill will with all their neighbors. Thus their defense needs are a lot less than Japan's. So semperfi and YuriOtani, just how is Japan going to afford going it alone in a hostile region? Is it finally going to come clean on its history to pacify the Chinese, Koreans, etc., to reduce tensions? Or allow a huge increase in immigration and do the other difficult but necessary acts to reform its perma-flat economy, so as to pay for its own bona-fide military? Until then, it'll need the US around somewhere. No getting around that. Maybe not Futenma, but somewhere. I mean, who else will Japan find to watch its back until (if ever) Japan can look after itself? Of course, the US has its own desires, as far as force projection in the region goes, so Japan will eventually have to play ball to some extent. In the meantime, the DPJ can look like it's sticking up to Uncle Sam, at least until the next election. Then expect a new deal, probably not too much different from the current one.

If this 'ill will' is what Japan has sowed, we must be prepared to reap it ourselves. Same goes for Okinawa, if it wishes to ramin in Union with Japan for the moolah, it must also be prepared to endure along with Japan, just as it endured the Battle of Okinawa.

I don't know about others but I will be excited when the day comes when Japan does face the wrath of Asia, for I beg to see what my nation can do in the face of adversity rather than waste away in the climate of content that is now.

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While i can understand someone wanting to develop the land where the old base is, have you considered that all closed US military bases around the world have turned out to be major hazardous material sites. The land will prove to be unusable and the cost of clean up beyond any value you can get in development. Meanwhile you lose the money that everyone is making off the base. So you get rid of the base and end up with a desert to dangerous to develop. Are you sure you want to close down one of the biggest businesses on your Island, just to get unusable land. The United States will not clean up the mess it leaves behind, it has not done so anywhere else in the world.

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ChristopherBlackwell, you post "All closed US military bases around the world have turned out to be major hazardous material sites." Will you be so kind as to post a link to verify this statement?

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"a classic 'not in my back-yard' issue"

Well, then, don't BUILD your backyard around something that is already there! The city around the base would not be what it is at all if the base had never been there, and if/when the Americans go (to another place in Okinawa), the city will lose a MAJOR source of revenue and heaps of jobs.

I think what this is largely about is the following: "It blocks potentially lucrative development, they say."

Anyway, the only disgusting attitude about this whole issue is that of the Hatoyama cabinet, who AGAIN pulled out the 'Trust me' just the other day (Hirano, this time) when talking to the Americans on the issue. Clearly this government doesn't know what the word 'trust' means, nor what a promise entails.

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The U.S. can just move the Marines to Guam, which is U.S. territory. That would settle the dilemma - and still allow for US presence in the Pacific. . . . . . The problem is the cost of moving the Marines, building installations, housing and infrastructures — I read, projected at around $10.6 billion would have to be carried by U.S. taxpayers.

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There is a lot of lies in this article. I have lived close to Futema and in Tokyo. First Only mainlanders are against the base. Okinawans in general don't care if it is there. Next the planes that make all the noise are the Harrier Jump jets. They have to come in at a hover. It also takes WAY longer than 2 minutes for them to land. And if you you are on the phone or trying to talk to some one 1 foot away from you it is impossible. Third, the Americans LIBERATED Okinawa from the Japanese. The Japanese were responsible for horrible war crimes during the time they had Okinawa.

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The Marine Base at Futenma was there first and the surrounding towns came later with full understasnding of noise and potential accidents. Why complain now!

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First Only mainlanders are against the base. Okinawans in general don't care if it is there.

helly, you must know VERY few Okinawans

"The poll, conducted Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, also found that some 70 percent of respondents believe the Hatoyama administration should negotiate with the United States to have the base relocated outside the prefecture"

http://community.apan.org/map/tng/b/northeast_asia_daily_news/archive/2009/11/03/mainichi-poll-70-percent-of-okinawans-want-futenma-moved-out-of-prefecture-japan.aspx

Do you have to study to be so ignorant of FACTS, or does it come naturally?

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Comments from smithinjapan really make me laugh, as his assessment is about as logical as Col. Dale Smith. Classic "Not in my back yard" and we are operating here at Futenma just fine, and Ginowan city will suffer financially when the military base is closed...What comic books do you people read and subscribe to?

First for those who can't measure the distance from Futenma to the ocean on both west and east, but only know where the best bars are, let me enlighten you. The US Military put Okinawans who ownd and lived and farmed in Ginowan Oyama and Futenma behind barbed wire for up to 2 years following WWII, while the US Military "Saved the Okinawans" from the Japanese; in the process of saving us, You took our lands, bulldozed our tombs, fields, homes and put up a barbed wire fence to keep the former residents out, then built a military base there where there was not one before.

When families were released from their barbed wire encampments and returned to Ginowan and the surrounding area, they found their back yards and front yards and land had been stolen by the US Military. So where else could we move to? Texas? you people have the brains of a gnat. We own our land that you have stolen then tell us to move.

Now you puff your chests, try to chase us out and then tell us that this is a classic "not in my back yard" but you have it backwards as usual, it is our yards, front and back. The US Military took our yards and land and turned it into a base then accuse us of complaining because we want our property back.

We will get along just fine without this base being there, the grafitti markings on the peace Memorial above the base by US Marines is dispicable, the crimes by the Marines is deplorable, and you have military officers acting like the ignorant people that they are making statements that when you get a replacement facility as good as what you have your not going to move. I say, move it to the USA and put it in YOUR home town back yard, along with your Walmarts, KMarts, Starbucks and put some money back in your own faltering economy. The Yen is still more valuable than your USD and that should be more of a concern to you than this issue.

Get a clue, read a book on history and make sure you know what your talking about before you come to Okinawa and tell us that we need to move away from the Futenma Air Station. We Were There First. Is that simple enough for Simple people to understand??? Pluse take a look at the East side near the north end of the Futenma Air Station at the Hazardous Waste Material Building. Don't wast our time defending your stance on Us being in your back yard, you are in our country, we are not in yours: there is no validity to these stupid statement defending Futenma Air Station.

Moderator: Please tone down your rhetoric and do not post inflammatory comments.

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The Futenma Base issue may become moot very soon when creditors address the derivitives.

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Correction:

"derivatives".

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Talk about a biased news article...I know LOTS of residents who don't want Futenma shut down...So I am justified in saying that residents do not want Futenma shut down...What a load of carp this article is...

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"while the US Military "Saved the Okinawans" from the Japanese;"

Yeah... I suppose you guys should have kept listening to the Japanese call for a war of attrition, sending the little girls from Himeyuri No To out to die on their behalf, and let the people commit mass suicide by jumping off the Itoman cliffs. Nah... nobody was 'saved from the Japanese', were they? :)

Again, don't build your backyard around a place and depend on it economically if you are going to complain about it later.

Conway presented his arguments in a very calm, factual manner: when a base is complete and all the facilities up to par, the US can leave the current Marine base. Until then, as Conway said, where they are is just fine.

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sharky1: "Talk about a biased news article...I know LOTS of residents who don't want Futenma shut down...So I am justified in saying that residents do not want Futenma shut down...What a load of carp this article is..."

Agreed. The government's going to have to answer for the many, many jobless and the suffering economy of the area if/when the Americans decide to leave of their own volition.

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KinuyeOshiro...nice comments. My thoughts as well.

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Japan is a faithless, inconstant and unreliable ally. It's time to end the alliance. It no longer serves American interests to defend a wealthy technologically advanced and populous country.

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I have one issue to point out and one note of congratulations:

The Japanese govt. and the US Govt. in 1996 agreed to relocate Futenma to Schwab. The US Govt. is not inclined to revisit agreements already made just becuase of the political winds of change in the host nation. If Cuba had gone democratic at any point in the past 50 years, and and made a point of getting Gitmo back, it would have happend already I think. To the PM, his allies, and all the anit-US Base protestors: Thank you for making this an issue that both liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democratics can finally agree upon: Move Futenma operations where you agreed to move them, or in Futenma they will stay. Otherwise, kick us out and let the US-South Korea become the "most important bi-lateral relationship, bar none". The J-gov will probably not find too many allies Stateside, either on the left or the right, when it comes to this issue. The only criticism I have for the US Military on the Okinawa basing issue is something that has been going on for years: The subtle and at the same time active promotion of Okinawa being a separate entity from Japan. It was strongly encouraged during the Ryukyu Administration era, and to a certain extent, persists today. Those who know what I'm talking about know what I'm talking about.

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APEC is here in Japan this year, so it is really convenient to hear what is occurring in Japan as well as the US Base Controversy in Okinawa. I wish to know more.

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Well, the US has given back the Awase golf course area, and the plan is to build Okinawa's biggest JUSCO (which there is one 4 miles away in one direction and 3 miles in another direction). That is a lovely use for the land (sarcasm intended), and Kitanakagusuku will get the tax money.

However, more low paying service industry jobs that don't support anything. If the Japanese (not Okinawans) were smart, they would invest in the island and put some manufacturing jobs here and have work that can sustain the economy.

And for Oshirosan: So if your stance is no US bases, then what will fill the void once gone? It's not like the 9,000 Okinawans, all construction contracts, the extortion paid in rentals will just magically fall from the sky. You know as well as everyone else that the bases keep money flowing from the J-Government. That will dry up too.

So Okinawa should be pitched as a vacation destination for Japanese, but with exorbitant hotel rates, nothing other than scuba diving and beaches, what is there here to attract people? Hell, even JTB recognizes that the Mihama area is a critical tourist area. Or would you feel better if Okinawa went back to being a place of subsistence farmers? Just a thought that with any action, there will be consequences.

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I'm not Okinawan, but I can very well understand that any Okinawan feels highly offended by such comments that are uninformed, disrespectful and often plainly wrong. They display exactly the kind of arrogance and the inability to empathize with Okinawans that has created and is fueling the anti-base sentiment in Okinawa. Though I very much respect Okinawans for the fact that this doesn't lead to an undifferentiated anti-americanism that goes against americans on a human level.

And being treated as 'second grade citizens' during the time under United States administration from 1945 to 1972 for Okinawans was such an demoting experience that they rather chose to get back to a Japan, that obviously had mistreated them so badly, then to endure the arrogance and lack of understanding of a 'we liberated you and now be thankful that you are surviving due to our courtesy' US stance.

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I lived in Okinawa for six years. I believe the press has more to do with fanning the fires of the anti base issues. Land that was returned to GOJ control so it could be returned to the original owners is still sitting with out being returned to the owners. The losers are the Okinawan people. Winners are mainland Japanese companies.

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@KOshiro-Being born with Okinawa blood, I agree with you comments on the issue. Some points were a little harsh, however I do feel your anger at the situation. As for me, I also see it as an issue of the Okinawan people getting tired of 'outsiders' making all the desisions that affect them, as well as for them. It's not that most Okinawans oppose the U.S. military presence, it's that Okinawa is forced to deal with a majority of the bases in Japan. If the Okinawans ask for some of the bases to be relocated to mainland Japan, the JGov declines these requests and offers money to keep the bases here. Unless the U.S. and Japanese Government officials grew up here, it's very difficult to understand and make decisions for the Okinawan people.

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First I apologize for my retoric being abrasive as it is upsetting to see the illogical comments made by a few that are inflamitory but in a less obvious manner. The main issue is not only Col. Dale Smith's comments which seem to be typical of Military Officers who should be more enlightened about the sensitivity of this issue but choose to speak their personal opinions. Okinawan People including my family are not anti-military and understand the need for some bases, but when we were in the USA we saw News Reporters talking about this issue based on US Military Press Releases that reported a third of what military is acutally on Okinawa and report there are only 8 military bases. How I wish that were true. Prior to Col Smith, a former commander named Blackwood, made similiar comments stating that Okinawans were partially to blame for accidents around the base by encroaching so close to the base itself. We questioned him as to where he thought the people could possible move, as Okinawa was such a small island to begin with. He refused to respond. We still ask and know the answer, as to why this base is not moved to the main islands of Japan as some of the bases could well do. The Japanese Govt does not want US Military, or limits the US Military, on the Home Islands. This reeks of the same retoric the Empire of Japan made at the end of WWII, "resist to the last human being", and not allow the US Military to set foot on Japanese soil. Okinawa, in Japanese eyes, is not truly Japanese. We are the country cousins that are better left on Okinawa and the US Military suffers the same effect. Leave the Military as much as possible off of Japanese Soil, this refers to the Home Islands of Japan. I am Okinawan I am proud to be Okinawan and will die Okinawan, I am only Japanese because Japan says so. Most older Okinawans enjoy involvement with US Military, but Futenma and Henoko is a hot topic and rightfully so. We do not need this base. The US Military does not need this base and until this issue is resolved, it will continue to be a lightning rod of emotions for the Okinawan People, whether they admit it or not. One thing that most Americans do not understand is that if Okinawans are receiving Aid in any form from the Japanese Government and complain about the Military Base Issues, they will have problems receiving their income and will suffer financially so many Okinawans prefer to suffer in silence. It is like having the IRS calling you in to audit your tax returns. I believe in the United States there is a saying that you cannot fight City Hall. It is no difference in Japan.

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P.S. the Technical University in Henoko was built with Japanese Dollars as bait for the residents of Henoko, Nago to accept the proposal to let this base be built in Oura Bay and the Henoko Peninsula. Gurukun is correct in his/her assessment and is right on in the comments. Again I apologize, I regret my comments being harsh. sumimasen deshita.

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Daijobu Oshirosan. You had stated that you were anti-base, so I responded as such. No harm, no foul 大ジョブ 

I understand your points, and do think there is too much military here. A reduction is what would happen with the move of the air station, but off the island is not a bad option either as long as it makes sense militarily for both countries.

And the 5% issue that some people throw out there as the only impact. You obviously were not here when all Americans that have an ID card here were confined to their place of residence. The towns and cities were screaming about this, as the income lost was huge. hell, they even kicked some Americans off island because they couldn't go without Starbuck's (they deserved it, as it was a punitive order)..... My point is the GOJ is not helping the people of Okinawa, wether it be putting manufacturing jobs here or moving bases. It does not matter if it is LDP or DPJ or Communists.

Military commanders are only here for 2-3 years. They get their ticket punched and move on. Talks of this nature should be done by senior state department people, not local commanders.

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Okinawa, in Japanese eyes, is not truly Japanese. We are the country cousins that are better left on Okinawa and the US Military suffers the same effect. Leave the Military as much as possible off of Japanese Soil, this refers to the Home Islands of Japan. I am Okinawan I am proud to be Okinawan and will die Okinawan, I am only Japanese because Japan says so.

Beutiful way to put it. And no need for apologies. Like I said, I feel your anger. I just wish that all the Govt officials making the decisions could feel and understand whole heartily , your, mine, and so many Okinawans out there, feelings on this issue.

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Most Americans who've been long time residents here in Japan, whether that be on the mainland or on Okinawa empathize with Oshiro-san's plight and Okinawans in general (from the conservative text books white washing what IPJ actually did... to having 10% of available land in Okinawa used by the US which accounts of 75% of the land used in all of Japan, more than half of all military personnel stationed there & yet only be .6% of Japan's actual land mass is quite unfair...)

However from the military perspective, the COs are "fighting the battle with the resources they have been given" they need to train and prepare... they have no control over where they do it but are told to do it and are held accountable when they don't even more so when they lose men in women in battle because they weren't properly trained.

Unfortunately for all most of the bases ended up in Okinawa since it was under US control until 1971...it is easier to set up bases when you control the government. Every side approaches this problem with what is in their best interest. However Americans are at least more realistic, than the empty promises of Hatoyama who is making it harder for all sides, raising false hopes when he all he really doing is trying to gain political capital by standing up to the US, when all the experts know it is not within his ability to really change much in the realignment only delay the and tweak the inevitable. The longer he stalls the more difficult he is going to make it for any party to get anything which they are after. As focused as the US is on their view, the US does recognizes the need to move as the sensitivities controls of restricted flight hours established out of concerns of the local public hinders overall operations. The native Okinawas want what was once there land as Oshiro-san passionately pointed out. And Japan wants the US security protection with as little burden to the "true" Japan as possible...Oshiro-san is very right and in part I feel some of the anger that comes across as anti-American is maybe meant to be directed the central government. It has had racist policies that effectively treats its minorities as 2nd class citizens (If US had given Okinawa back when it ended its occupation of the mainland, Okinawans might have been suffering the same plight as the thousands of 3rd and 4th generation of ethinic Koreans and Chinese born and raise here in Japan that still don't even have voting rights. The point is if the Okinawans don't make a big stink with the US who, as bad as we may be in some respects, we are much better at listening to local concerns than the central government. If the Okinawans don't protest against the Americans then the issue will be buried in the Japanese press, people's pensions will be held up and mayors will be bought off. So please let's be real...Americans may not share the same exact goals as Okinawans but we sure aren't your enemy.

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Or at least the ones who have lived here for awhile....

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I understand the "danger of Futenma" have been reiterated by the local people many, many times. However, there are airfields/airports all over the world, that are located adjacent to populated areas. I'm sure safety is probably the base commander's top priority. I'm sure they have made changes in their flight patterns and possiblity their operational procuedures to ensure safety of the local people as well as his crew. He, just as the local people, wouldn't want another accident.

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