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Ear to the Ground

Okinawans March Against U.S. Base

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Posted on Apr 25, 2010
U.S. Navy / MC3 Joshua Cassatt

The U.S. supercarrier George Washington pulls into its new operating base at Yokosuka, Japan. Tokyo picks up 40 percent of the costs of American bases, including those on Okinawa.

Tens of thousands of Okinawans joined a rally on Sunday, demanding that a U.S. Marine air base be moved off Okinawa. The protest comes amid speculation that the U.S. government is ready to accept an alternative plan to relocate the base to another part of the Japanese island.

The Washington Post:

Okinawans have long complained of the burden of hosting most of 47,000 American troops in Japan under a security pact. Okinawa was under U.S. occupation until 1972 and many residents resent the U.S. military presence as legacy of Japan’s World War II defeat.

Tokyo and Washington agreed in 2006 to move sprawling Futenma Marine Corps air field to a less crowded part of Okinawa and to move 8,000 of its Marines to Guam. But when Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama took power last September he said he would not honor the deal struck by his political rivals and promised to find a site off Okinawa for the troops.

“We will not allow the base to stay here,” Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima told the cheering crowd. “We want the Hatoyama government to keep its promise.”

Hatoyama has delayed a decision in the face of rejection by potential relocation sites.

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By patin reno, April 26, 2010 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment
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Close ALL the bases.They don’t want us there anymore Bring these people home. Then bring home our troops from Iraq & Afganistan get them medical care and send them home for good. The troops who have been at bases in Germany, Turkey, Britian,South Korea, Okinawa,Phillippines & etc. Put them along the Mexico/US border. Keep the drugs & illegals out. This will save us 50 billion dollars a year which is what we spend keeping these foreign bases open. It would be a win/win situation.

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By Daniel, April 26, 2010 at 10:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is not just Okinawa.  The US has 500 bases around the world!  What??  Close all the bases.  That alone would go along way to balancing the budget.

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By John Huston, April 25, 2010 at 10:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Until the late 1800s Okinawa was a separate nation. It has its own language, culture, history, and so forth. It was the first country to be gobbled up by Imperial Japan and the Okinawans are still considered “country bumpkins” and second-class citizens. The Japanese never wanted American forces on the home islands, so they foisted most of them off on Okinawa where they still hold a whopping 25% of the land. How would Americans like it if some foreign country occupied a quarter of their land with no end sight? And this is supposed to go on forever or what?

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By Erica, April 25, 2010 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

It would be useful if the Washington Post mentioned any of the particular activities the 47,000 American troops have been engaged in for the past 60 years. Then our informed citizens could evaluate whether or not it’s worth the expense (in money and in negative opinions of the Okinawans) for us to remain on the island.
  My guess is that we could house the 47,000 troops at less expense within our own borders, without losing any effectiveness.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, April 25, 2010 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

We have outstayed our welcome.  Best tke all the money we spend “over there” and spend it here in the USA.

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By DoctorSerizawa, April 25, 2010 at 3:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s not just Japan and the U.S. in this dispute.  Taiwan, S.Korea, Thailand, even
Vietnam are watching the situation, and believe it or not, they like the idea of a
U.S. base on Okinawa keeping China in check. 

Of course, none of this would have been an issue had the U.S. Military been a
good neighbor to the Okinawans.  Instead, troops with behavioral problems are
often swept away to lowly positions in far-flung bases like Okinawa, in the same
way the vatican swept away its problem priests.  The military has been heartless
and arrogant in refusing for years to change landing patterns, keeping choppers
and planes coming in for landing right above the rooftops.

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By NYC_GUY, April 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Didn’t the U.S. win WW2? We could have kept the island altogether but didn’t. Isn’t this part of a treaty both sides signed?
That said, if we have to pull out of Okinawa, then we also must pull out of all of Japan and not one red cent should go to that country.

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By moemeyers, April 25, 2010 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

It certainly time to get those troops out
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