Okinawa: Fighting a long battle against American military bases

By Eddy Montilla

People’s wounds may take weeks to heal, but the mental or emotional pain caused by a war will remain forever. When a plane flies through the sky from the American military bases in Okinawa, its sound evokes unhappy memories of a bloody battle for many elderly Okinawans. More than 200,000 Japanese people died there during the Second World War, according to a report submitted in 1976 by the Division of support for Welfare Department in Okinawa Prefecture. Almost everybody lost at least a relative in the island. Is not this enough suffering to avoid rekindling the past with the presence of planes and the military near the city?

     Futenma US air base has always been a controversial issue. According to the locals, the base near Naha city is dangerous and noisy and they don’t want it there. Besides, their anger is fuelled by occasional bad behaviour and criminality by U.S. personnel, including sexual assault allegations. The U.S. military bases in Okinawa are similar to platonic love: Doomed from the start. And when did it start? In 1951, when the U.S. and Japan signed the Japan-America Security Alliance, which made the U.S. responsible for the defense of Japan, and in return, Japan offered millions of dollars and part of its territory in Okinawa for the military bases. This situation makes Japan look like a defenseless child. It is a political mistake, since today any country should be prepared not to attack, but to protect itself without paying money to another country to be defended.

     It seems that the Futenma base will not be moved before 2021. Okinawans’ hopes to see the Futenma base removed from the island as soon as possible have vanished and lost their green color. It’s hard to understand why the American military bases have stayed so long in Okinawa, despite being this island one of the places badly hit during the Second World War. Japan and US should do more to relocate not only the Futenma base, but all of them, so that Okinawans don’t have to bear alone the distressing burden that they cause.

     People, and the military is no exception, want to live and work as comfortable as possible, and that’s why I am skeptical of the US military bases relocation from Okinawa before or after 2021. This island has the highest life expectancy in the world, so many Okinawans who saw the ravages of the Second World War will still be alive by 2021. Under these circumstances, I can’t say who suffered most, those who died during the war or those who have spent their life with horrifying memories of planes, bombs, soldiers and fear of a war that, in their minds, has not come to an end.

This article was reproduced from the website WORLD AND OPINION with Eddy Montilla

Copyright 2013 All rights reserved.


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