Following the Battle of Okinawa, the U.S. occupied Okinawa, and Okinawa become a U.S. territory until control of Okinawa was reverted to Japan in 1972. Many U.S. bases remained in Okinawa (“Okinawa Japan,” n.d.).
Today, Okinawa, accounting for less than one percent of Japan’s land, hosts two-thirds of the 40,000. American bases in Japan. U.S. bases in occupy 18 % of the available land on Okinawa’s main island. (“Okinawa prefecture,” 2010).
Sumida (2009) reports “A large segment of the [Okinawan] population believes the U.S. took their land at the end of World War II at the point of ‘bayonets and bulldozers,’ costing many families their homes and farms” and “[w]hen the prefecture was returned to Japan in 1972, many Okinawans felt betrayed because many U.S. military bases remained, and the Japan Self-Defense Forces took other bases given up by the Americans. Some Okinawan critics continue to argue that they bear an unfair burden by hosting 75 percent of the land solely used for U.S. bases in all of Japan.”
Brook (2005) also explains “Okinawa’s trauma over what happened after 545,000 U.S. troops attacked this small archipelago is still deep. People on Japan’s southernmost islands want more recognition from Japanese society for their sufferings.”
In 2006, the U.S. and Japan agreed to move Futenma base to another part of Okinawa. The decision was made in reaction to Okinawan outrage at the rape of a 12 year-old Okinawan girl by three U.S. soldiers. Stressing the importance of reducing “the burden of Okinawa residents”, Japan’s new Prime Minister Hatoyama, has been trying to move the Futenma base outside of the prefecture. But, the Hatoyama administration is caught between the pressure to maintain the U.S.-Japan agreement of 2006, and also Okinawans’ wishes to reduce the U.S. military presence in Okinawa.
Following are further materials regarding the Okinawa matter. Please review them and post your comments.
You can also explore Okinawa (geography and airbase spaces), using Google earth or Google map satellite functions. Possible keywords/location to search may be “Marine Corp Air Station Futnnma”、“Kadena Air Base,” and “キャンプシュワーブ (Camp Schwab).”
• Okinawa: Japanese protest against US base 08 November 2009 (A Japanese news report (dubbed in English) regarding the Okinawa/Futenma issue).
• Brook, J. (2005, June 21). 1945 suicide order still a trauma in Okinawa. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/20/world/asia/20iht-oki.html
• Hatoyama: Futenma decision inching closer. (2009, December, 9). Japan times. Retrieved from http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091209a6.html
• Okinawa Japan (n.d.). Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved from http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/okinawa.htm
• Okinawa Prefecture. (2010). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved March 12, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okinawa_Prefecture
• Sumida, C. (2009, November 27). Futenma questions and Answers. Starts and Strips.
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