Okinawa and the US military

NY Times:

Okinawa Murder Case Heightens Outcry Over U.S. Military’s Presence

Okinawans have long complained of violence, noise and other problems associated with American bases. Now the bases’ very existence is drawing a backlash.
Okinawa was the only part of Japan the US actually invaded near the end of World War II.   When confronted with the invasion many Okinawans committed suicide.  There has been some dispute over whether they were ordered to do so by the Japanese military, but it seems clear that large numbers of them did so without compulsion.

I spent some time on Okinawa on my way to Vietnam and generally liked it although there were some cultural surprises.  I still recall taking a shower at the BOQ when in walked several Okinawa young women.  It turned out they were there to clean the shower and I quickly finished and left.

When I left the base and went into the nearby market, I did not sense any hostility.  The people were like the merchants I have run into in foreign market around the world.  They were eager to do business.  I did not spend any time in the bars where some Marines engaged in more intimate meetings with local women.

On the rare occasions when there was some criminal act by an American, it did seem the Okinawans were much more sensitive to it than they were to criminal acts by locals.  I got the feeling there may have been a racist component in that sensitivity.  That still appears to be the case in the current controversy.

The military base on Okinawa is now more important for the defense of Japan.  The Japanese government general supports the US presence at the bases.


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