Time to Set Okinawa Free

Okinawans protest child rape by U.S. Marine

Okinawans protest child rape by U.S. Marine

It’s way past time for the U.S. to get the hell out of Okinawa—and, for that matter, to take its Tokyo good buddies with it. Before Japanese warlords annexed the Ryuku islands in 1879, Okinawans enjoyed more freedom than they do today. Every liberty-loving American ought to be shouting: “Okinawa for the Okinawans!”

Right now, this Los Angeles-sized Pacific gem of 454-sq.-miles is Pentagon Tropical Paradise No. 1. It’s a land of martinis-and-honey where our 25,000 military personnel and their 23,000 dependents can live in high-rise splendor with housing allowances approaching $1,000 or more a month (plus cost-of-living perks), enjoy PX shopping as good as it gets, and tan on the exotic beaches as Kin Red and Kin Blue.

This comes at a price, though — paid for by U.S. taxpayers and 1.3 million long-suffering Okinawans. The Pentagon has studded their island paradise with airfields, barracks, artillery and bombing ranges, ammunition depots, toxic chemical, depleted uranium (and nuclear bomb) storage dumps — everything a demented mind could wish for to threaten modern civilization. These lethal chazzerei take up 20% of Okinawa’s acreage, swindled from its hapless owners by Uncle Sam without benefit of cash payment the same way Joe Stalin collectivized Soviet Russia’s farms.

What particularly galls the locals (85% of Okinawans polled want the Yanks o-u-t) is not just the presence of U.S. troops, mostly Marines, occupying their homeland, but the hundreds of ensuing rapes and sexual violations of their daughters, some as young as twelve. These have spurred vast anti-American demonstrations. The incidence of rape on Okinawa is twice that of the States and the Dayton Daily News reported the military has freed hundreds of U.S. sex offenders despite their court-martial convictions.

Last March, Okinawans rallied in a baseball stadium to protest the latest child rape and, according to the Associated Press, “banners demanding the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops ringed the makeshift stage.” The AP noted that “problems with base-related accidents, crowding and crime are endemic.”

Okinawans can do little to stop this lawlessness: “When U.S. servicemen and their families commit crimes, they shall be detained by U.S. authorities until Japanese law enforcement agencies file complaints with the prosecutors’ office,” the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement(SOFA) states — and by then the perps could be back in Hahira, Georgia.

Although the New York Times editorial page claimed “American military behavior in Japan has generally been good since the occupation in 1945,” between 1972 and 1995 U.S. service personnel were implicated in 4,716 crimes. At one point up to a third of the Third Marine Division was infected with venereal disease, prompting author Chalmers Johnson in “Blowback”(Henry Holt) to crack “one has to ask what the New York Times might consider bad behavior.” What’s more, Newsweek noted that when Okinawa poet Ben Takara surveyed girls at Futenma senior high, one-third to one-half of them said they had “scary experiences with U.S. soldiers on their way to school or back home.”

Approximately 75% of all U.S. forces in Japan (why, fellow taxpayers, do we keep any forces in Japan, why?) are concentrated on Okinawa, having less than one percent of Japan’s total land area, which “amounts to a permanent collusion of the United States and Japan against Okinawa,” Chalmers observes. The answer is found in Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes”(Anchor Books), who recalls Okinawa was “a crucial staging ground for the bombing of Vietnam and a storehouse of American nuclear weapons.” Weiner notes that when opposition politicians in 1968 “threatened to force the United States off the island” the CIA funneled big bucks into Japan to defeat them at the polls.

In short, Japan can conveniently dump the military burden of its U.S. defense pact on the backs of their captive Okinawans, with 14 military bases jammed onto its 70-mile-long expanse. (Japan itself has just eight U.S. bases.) This saddles Okinawa with the constant hullabaloo of jet warplane noise. (The Futenma base alone has 52,000 takeoffs and landings a year.)

[ad#write-better-468x60]

Yoshida Kensei, former professor at Obirin University in Japan, and Asian Studies Lecturer Rumi Sakamoto of Auckland University, New Zealand, write that Okinawa is nothing more than a U.S. “military colony.” They want to rid the island of all “war cooperation” and reallocate its land to “agriculture, fisheries, and trade,” high tech, medicine and tourism. And they wouldn’t mind seeing Okinawans make some real cash by converting the U.S. bases into remunerative housing areas, commercial and industrial properties, and educational or research parks.

Author Johnson quotes editor Koji Taira of the Ryukyuanist as writing, “the incomes generated directly or indirectly by the bases are only 5 percent of the gross domestic product of Okinawa. This is far too small a contribution for an establishment sitting on 20 percent of Okinawa’s land…In effect, the U.S. and Japan are forcing on Okinawa’s economy a deadweight loss of 15 percent of its GDP every year.”

sherwood-ross.jpgAs Johnson concludes, “Okinawa is still essentially a military colony of the Pentagon’s, a huge safe house where Green Berets and the Defense Intelligence Agency, not to mention the air force and Marine Corps, can do things they would not dare do in the United States.”

World War Two has been over for 60 years: Okinawans need to be free of the Pentagon and free of Japan.

Sherwood Ross

Sherwood Ross is a veteran reporter and public relations consultant. He formerly worked for the City News Bureau of Chicago, the Chicago Daily News, and as a columnist for wire services.sherwoodr1@yahoo.com)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. Sherwood Ross says

    Dear Marie, yes, you are right that “USA politics are based on a big constant FEAR” except that the military industrial complex doesn’t have much to be afraid of, except maybe the wrath of the public once folks find out how much they are spending and what they are spending it on, such as $50 billion for biological warfare in the absence of an enemy threatening us from that quarter. And if you aren’t aware of the Okinawa situation likely a lot of other Americans aren’t aware of it, either, or that the Pentagon has ringed the world with 700 or more military bases. We would be far safer, and the world far better off, if we switched the budgets and personnel numbers of the Peace Corps and the Defense Department. Sherwood

  2. marie vogel says

    Thank you for bringing this big unjust situation out to the public. I am sure many Americans are not aware of this still going-on USA politics.
    And still we wonder why we receive so much hate and aggression from the Muslim world who wants to prevent or get rid of USA invasion in their area.
    It seems like USA politics are based on a big constant FEAR that they have to set-out power-colonies all over the globe to be able to attack any country that threatens to harm USA.
    The amount of trash our new president has inherited from former bad politics, is so overwhelming that I don’t see a soon-change in this Okinawa-situation.
    Still please keep on reminding the US-government and the American-people about this wrong. Even if we don’t dare yet to withdraw our “colony” from that area, the military-behavior in Okinawa needs immediate attention and change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *