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Plan to move base highlights U.S. problem on Okinawa

36 Comments
By ERIC TALMADGE

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There is simply too much of a U.S. presence there for the island to have any chance to be like the other prefectures, much less the tropical island paradise it could be. People stationed there will never realize how much the U.S. military has negatively affected the lives of the locals unless they live in a place where the U.S. influence is less, such as Yokota or Sasebo. Transfer of significant U.S.forces from Okinawa won't happen overnight and sex crimes and the like will continue in the interim.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

The mayor of the city nearest Futenma said after the agreement was announced that he felt Tokyo was trying to force the decision down Okinawas throat

Agreed - before this issue can be resolved - all parties need to show some respect to each other - then standard "conflict resolution" skills can be applied. Japan has a terrific opportunity to create a "new Okinawa" full of hope for Japan, the US, and the world--and release Okinawa from the ghosts of the past.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

As a recent article stated, more and more tourists are coming to Japan. Many of them are coming to Okinawa. In Naha, you can see groups of Chinese, Taiwanese tourists, even American and Australian tourists.

The US bases sit on prime land, land that is needed for peaceful redevelopment. The huge military presence here makes Okinawa a potential target if there were an act of aggression. This makes Okinawa less than attractive for any investor. It also holds down the numbers of tourists.

With its beautiful scenery, mild climate and unique culture and food, Okinawa is an ideal place for tourist development. Land is also needed for residential areas, shops, schools, hospitals and so on. Many people are moving here from the Tohoku area and Tokyo. There are apartment buildings going up in many places, but space is limited.

The US bases are actively holding down the Okinawan economy. They used to provide a large income for Okinawans many, many years ago, but no longer do. Strangely though, the idea sticks and you often hear from people who never go outside the bases or who are not living in Okinawa that this economy would collapse without the bases.

This is totally untrue. The bases only provide some 5%. Income from tourism is much higher. Those few areas that have been handed back are making much more money than they were when they were used by US military forces. Shintoshin is providing 20% more income and Hamby Town 15%.

Okinawa has borne this burden for 70 years. It's time for the US to move on.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

@BertieWooster :

This makes Okinawa less than attractive for any investor.

Roots of evil are puppets of Uncle Sam from Japanese leadership. They treat Okinawans as servants.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

CrazyJoe, well said. It really cannot be overemphasized that the relocation of Futenma was negotiated between TOKYO and WASH DC, both very far away and neither of which would like the new base built in their own neighborhoods like the Exxon-Mobil CEO joining the suit against fracking near his property yet strongly supporting fracking elsewhere.

If an actually welcoming area cannot be found, then consolidate, downsize, and send the troops back to US territory. The occupation of Okinawa theoretically ended in 1972.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I wonder why everyone is discussing this purely a prefectural, parochial, economic or "feely-feely" perspective and not from a broad, regional, defense or geopolitic perspective?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

As soon as the bases leave the dollars leave with them. Will we see Japanese industry/development come in to fill the economic void? Will they come to invest in the poorest prefecture in Japan? Time will tell...

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

@Strychnine That's what the Tokyo government wants people to believe, but - no Okinawa does not need money from mainland Japan. I (and others) see a tremendous opportunity to create a balanced environmentally friendly and sustainable economy that the world will take note of. The people of Okinawa just need to be given the chance and encouragement.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Americans are no good for any country. They bring only trouble and pain for those where they site their satellites. Unfortunately Okinawans continue to be sold by Shinzo Abe and his predecessors to the Americans. Time for Okinawans to put their feet down and get rid of these trouble makers. One well-used military strategies: Use someone else's land as a front to fight your battles. Okinawa is one such American front for them to fight against China and Russia which are the two countries of concern who could match and surpass the Americans in their military power. Unfortunately for Japan, their opportunity came up with the re-emergence of Shinzo Abe; a willing tool with a personal agenda to whom the rest of the people in Japan are worth the sacrifice to meet his goals.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'd love nothing more than for all of the US forces to leave Japan and not got involved in Japan's issues with Korea, China, or Russia. Let Japan have a military and make it's own decisions and fight it's own battles. The Japanese don't want Americans there, and that's understandable. So, let them defend themselves.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Col. James Flynn, Futenma’s commanding officer, said Okinawa is crucial to American military planners. Marines there were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Flynn said that over the past decade they have been involved in 15 major operations, including the relief effort after the recent typhoon in the Philippines.

“The importance of this capability on Okinawa is that it is really a central point in the Pacific area,” he said.

My question is why should the people of Okinawa have to bear the burden of hosting bases that are not here for the defense of Japan but are here to fight wars in distant countries. Also why should we have to bear the burden of bases to protect countries like the Philippines who kicked the U.S. out. They don't want to host bases themselves but yet they expect the small island of Okinawa to host these massive bases to defend them. The same goes for countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia etc.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

As soon as the bases leave the dollars leave with them. Will we see Japanese industry/development come in to fill the economic void? Will they come to invest in the poorest prefecture in Japan? Time will tell...

Exactly, but the supporters of the move will want you believe otherwise.

That's what the Tokyo government wants people to believe, but - no Okinawa does not need money from mainland Japan. I (and others) see a tremendous opportunity to create a balanced environmentally friendly and sustainable economy that the world will take note of. The people of Okinawa just need to be given the chance and encouragement.

Spoken like a true environmentalist. Until the situation throughout Asia calms down, I just don't see it happening, realistically. I think some troops could be sent back, but a complete removal, I don't think so. Anything is possible, but I doubt it.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Just a thought, saying you want the US bases gone means you don't want the US soldiers' help or to die for Japan if a war breaks out right?

And if the US military leaves the bases then Japan would build up a military and probably place those troops at the former US bases, maybe. So, the military bases would still be there but occupied by Japanese forces, protecting their own homeland. A military presence will most likely still exist.Then would Okinawans complain about Tokyo's warmongers?

Is that a better scenario? Honestly asking what people think will happen if the US leaves. I can't imagine Okinawa's problems will disappear and become a thriving nature preserve.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I agree.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

move everything to Taiwan!!!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@harveypekar: When the Philippines kicked the U.S. out they were saying they don't want the U.S. soldiers help or to die for the Philippines if a war breaks out but the U.S. is still committed to defend the Philippines and the Okinawan people have to make the sacrifices and bear the hardships for their defense. Is that fair?

Again I am not one who wants all the bases gone but I am against the relocation to Henoko and I am against the Okinawan people having to bear the burden for providing bases for deadbeat countries who don't want to host bases themselves.

If JSDF forces took over the U.S. bases it would be better for the Okinawan people because they don't require as much land as the U.S. because they don't need Military Family Housing Areas, Dependent Schools, Golf Courses, Private Beaches, Softball Fields, Football Fields, Tennis Courts, Swimming pools, Bowling Centers. Clubs, Boat Marinas and other leisure facilities.

The present JSDF Air Base at Naha was a U.S. Air Base until shortly after reversion. It was also twice its present size. When the JSDF took over they were able to return over half the land to civilian use and it is now a large commercial and residential area. They were able to do that because they didn't need the massive Military Family Housing Area that was a major part of the U.S. base.

So the JSDF might be here but over half the land presently used by the U.S. would be returned for civilian use and the JSDF would spend a lot more money locally and they pay Japanese Taxes and come under the same laws as the Okinawan people.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nearly 20,000? That's an incredibly small number. They shouldn't be publishing that kind of tiny number while China is considering attacking, because that is nowhere near adequate to protect Okinawa, Japan, or the other allies in Asia. They had better not reduce from that miniscule, inadequate number while an enemy empire looms.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

atrueokinawan,

You make an excellent point.

The land used for the Kadena base is a good example of wasted space. It's laid out as if it was in California. Building - large expanse of green - another building, and so on.

It's an insult to Okinawans.

If they took it over, the JSDF would not use one tenth of this space.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Above article, comprehended situation extremely well''

That touched off a nearly 20-year standoff. Okinawan leaders demanded the new facility be built somewhere else. Tokyo balked, because no other Japanese communities — whose votes are more important to national leaders — wanted to take it on.

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

So, people in mainland do not want US bases either.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nearly 20,000? That's an incredibly small number. They shouldn't be publishing that kind of tiny number while China is considering attacking, because that is nowhere near adequate to protect Okinawa, Japan, or the other allies in Asia. They had better not reduce from that miniscule, inadequate number while an enemy empire looms.

I couldn't agree more.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Only 20,000 marines? Are you sure they can protect Japan in case Chinese attacks Tokyo and Osaka? UchinaChin (Okinwa) culture has inluence of China. Gusuku Castle, etc. But even China does not attack Tokyo, more likely these only 20,000 marines will be sent to middle east to protect USA there in middle east.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yeah, believe me, I don't want the new base to be built either. But what I'm saying is it's quite clear Abe wants to rebuild or build up his military capabilities. Which is fine. He wants Japan to be seen as that superpower again.

So, those small JSDF forces won't be classified as just a self defense force any longer and the size will grow, thus a larger base will be needed and if the US leaves, the bases will remain bases, planes and their noise will still be around, and the natural areas will still be affected.

Just swapping soldiers. But now it'll be Tokyo's.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

harvey pekar,

No. Kadena will be reduced to one tenth of its size and the rest will be used for peaceful redevelopment. Kadena particularly wastes space. The arrangement of buildings and land would make sense in a sparsely populated area like Nevada, but not in crowded Okinawa.

The JSDF would also not go on drunken rampages, get into fights, rapes etc.

They don't, or hadn't you noticed?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

No. Kadena will be reduced to one tenth of its size and the rest will be used for peaceful redevelopment.

So what are the major plans as to how Okinawa be redeveloped? What industry are we talking about? And, how will the JSDF defend the country against someone like China? What and how they ward any foreign aggression?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Hey Bertie, How are you?

Just curious, have you been included in on Abe's thinking or planning? You seem to have a very detailed insight on Abe's plan for military buildup. I am not saying I do, but a country that's said it's intentions are to build up it's military would want to use existing bases, like those in Okinawa. If you are in the know, may I ask what it is you do? You state your opinions as facts. Seems a bit much to me.

And I'm sure once the US leaves Okinawa, drunkenness and rapes will drop to zero. Japanese men I dont think have ever committed such crimes.

Let's just see what happens. I really do hope you're right and that Tokyo won't see a strategic importance to having military in Okinawa and won't place their forces there.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Read another article next to this article, USJ to build new amusement parks in Kyushu, Okinawa. Universal Studip Japan do not spend a couple billion dollars to nowehre. I am suspicious some USA entertainment companies have some plan to expand to Okinawa?. From my area in USA, three companies created Macao, Hong Kong, and Singapore resort areas to lure Chinese millionaires and billionaires. They love hot place. Not as hot as Miami but ,,,

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hey Toshiko! Nice to meet you.

Actually USJ is run and operated by a Japanese company, USJ Company, Ltd.. An American investment group owns the most shares, but the decisions are made by the USJ board members. Like Tokyo Disney, USJ pays for the license fees to use the characters, etc. But Tokyo Disney is not actually run by Disney and USJ is not actually operated by NBCUniversal.

So, it's not all USA entertainment companies that wish to expand in Okinawa. But I do agree, I'd hate Okinawa to lose it's history and charm for a massive sprawling theme park, though I do secretly love them and their roller coasters!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If the American military is creating crime, noise or environmental pollution or if the Japanese military creates crime, noise or environmental pollution, it's still crime, noise or environmental pollution to me and all should be held accountable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If the American military is creating crime, noise or environmental pollution or if the Japanese military creates crime, noise or environmental pollution, it's still crime, noise or environmental pollution to me and all should be held accountable.

Yes, but it's more galling when it's the invaders who are doing it, than when it's the locals doing it. That's human nature.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hey Stranger,

For example, I live in a small Japanese town about 20min from a JSDF base and there are always trucks, copters, and cannon fire. Even in the middle of the night. No one complains. But if it's the US doing it, I can imagine some would voice concerns.

You're right, people will complain less if it's your own country creating the same issues and not THE INVADERS!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@harvey: Nice to meet you, too and Thank you for info. These three expanded to S EAsia, they,are not operated by LV companies/ Even in USA, their division in other states operate independently. I am suspicious they have some info for USA comapnies ' plan to expand to Okinawa? It is not secret that LV Sands owner Adelspn has been working on expanding to Japan for Oh, too lomg, more than 10 years?

It is all secret about base situation now. Kennedy visited. ignored the Governor but listened to Mayor of Nago. We haven;t heard what she reported to DC.

@Bertie: NV base (Nellis) is not Marine base. IAir Force base. Near Atomic Bomb Museum. A bom was tesed around there 8n 1945, I heard.

r

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The discussion here does not seem to have perspective.

US has 33 bases with total 231 km^2 in area in Okinawa. Futenma is just 1 base with 5 km^2. US has enough land without Futenma. http://www.mod.go.jp/j/approach/zaibeigun/us_sisetsu/sennyousisetuitirann.html

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

@Harvey: USA originated corporation in Japan does not opwerate like Japan Inc in USA. USJ and Universal are not strangers. 2 + billion dollars planning, American headquarters finance. And they just don;t make branch in Okinawa whave ithout developments in neighborhood. Too many example so I will write about Anaheim. It was just farm area near Santa Ana. Disney decided to create amusement park because close to LA where Hollywood was located. Knots Burry Farm was already there. With these, Gene Autry decided baseball field. Anaheim Angels (Later renamed Calif. Angels and now Los Anggeles Angels). Like wise, USJ maybe first but there will be more later. Don;t think USJ has deaf ears and blind eyes. They sure know what going around in S E Asia, too. Who knows? Japanese Govt might have to listens to Okinawan people and Yankee Go Home movement in order to accomodate growing business.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@CH3CHO: Thank you! That is what I have been saying but unfortunately a discussion about the future of MCAS Futenma turns into an all the bases must go or all the bases must stay debate. At this time all the Okinawan people are saying is they don't want MCAS Futenma moved to Henoko but there seems to be a bias against the Okinawan people and just because they are against the relocation to Henoko they are portrayed as these whiny, ungrateful people who deserve to be enslaved by China.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

atrueokinawan,

Good post. Thank you. And thanks also to CH3CH0 for an excellent link.

You write:

they are portrayed as these whiny, ungrateful people who deserve to be enslaved by China

This line annoys me too.

To really understand the "Okinawa Problem," it is necessary to look at a little history:

Up to fairly recently, Okinawa was an independent country - the Ryukyu Kingdom. It's interesting that, in Taipei airport, "Okinawa" is written as "Ryukyu." It was annexed by Japan, its people forced to speak Japanese and ridiculed for using their own language. During WWII, Japanese soldiers forced Okinawan families to commit suicide so that they would not become American spies. They pushed the Okinawan women and children who were hiding in the caves out into US gun fire. These are things that Abe would like to shove under the carpet, of course.

Then after WWII, Okinawa was administered by the U.S.A. Okinawans were forced out of their houses and whole villages were bulldozed to construct the US bases. The US did with Okinawa just as they wanted to. Fights and rapes were common until things came to a head when a 12 year old girl was raped by three US servicemen. There were massive riots and the US bases came very near to closing.

That is what has been going on.

I think that the Okinawans have been very stoic about all this and have made surprisingly little fuss or trouble.

But, enough is enough.

They need to move OUT OF Okinawa. First Futenma and then the rest.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maybe it's time we pull out. And time to bring back jobs we have to Japan back here for our people.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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