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Clashes Between American Servicemen And Okinawan Citizens

1966 words - 8 pages

Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous American philosopher once said, “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” For the people of Okinawa, United States military bases have been a problem since the American occupation of the islands in 1945. There have been violent clashes between American servicemen and Okinawan citizens, such as the Koza Riot in 1970, but violence hasn’t solved the problem. Recently, the United States Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, frequently referred to as the “world’s most dangerous air base”, has been in the spotlight as politicians try to work out disputes. Understanding all the sides to the issue regarding the problem at ...view middle of the document...

C. agreed to move Futenma airbase out of Ginowan City in 1996, they had been unable to move the negotiations forward for a span of seventeen years. However, on December 27th, 2013, Okinawan governor Hirokazu Nakaima approved the plan to move Futenma Air Station in the center of Ginowan City to a proposed landfill off the shores of Henoko Bay in the Nago region. On paper, this move seems to be a smart decision, as it would provide a boost economically, however it is excluding the considerations of the ways of life that will be disturbed by building an airfield in an environmentally rich region. The area for the proposed landfill air base is relatively unpopulated compared to the roughly 95,000 people living in the densely packed Ginowan City. This proposed area has a high unemployment rate and hopefully by moving the base, it would provide an economic boost for a region with a weak economy. A new base would provide jobs for the local residents, a new flow of money would emerge by those living and working at the base and financial assistance from the Japanese government are examples of the positive impact a new base would have on the region.

However, there are many obstacles that must be overcome before any relocation plans are put into action. To start off with, residents living near Futenma face many base-related crimes. Many living in Nago City have raised concerns that the rate of crime would increase if a new base were built. Incidents involving U.S. military personnel have brought controversy and helped fuel the anti-American military base movement. An incident that occurred in September 1995, when three U.S. servicemen abducted and raped an elementary school girl, is a notable example of this and one of the driving forces behind the push to move Futenma out of Ginowan City. Likewise, once a base is built, there is also a likelihood that military planes will fly over the heads of local residents, which will bring the same fear as those who live near Futnema face daily as mentioned before. In addition, because military jets will be repeating takeoffs and landings numerous times a day, there is a high possibility that way of life for humans and other living species will be affected due to pollution— whether it is noise pollution from the loud jets or water pollution from urban runoff, a result of water flowing off manmade surfaces into the unpolluted sea. Some Okinawan residents have fears that once an airbase has been built, there will be no way to prevent future expansions. In fact, in the Henoko region, a US heliport in 1996 has gone under expansion in 2010 to become a large two-runway airfield. This connects to the highly controversial issue that is regarding the environment, which has upset a large majority of the locals. Many analysts and local residents fear that the proposed landfill would harm the environment and ecosystem at Henoko Bay. The Okinawa dugong, a manatee-like mammal that is currently listed as an endangered species, is...

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