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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 May 9 - 15  > Okinawa appears to be still governed by US military even 46 years after the end of US occupation
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2018 May 9 - 15 [POLITICS]

Okinawa appears to be still governed by US military even 46 years after the end of US occupation

May 15, 2018

May 15 marks the 46th anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. Even now, however, various and numerous accidents and crimes involving the U.S. military in Okinawa are posing threats to the lives and properties of local residents.

Between the end of the war in 1945 and the reversion in 1972, Okinawa was governed by the U.S. military, and Okinawans suffered various hardships. From the outset, the U.S. forcibly seized public and private land to construct military facilities.

The U.S. military did not leave Okinawa even after its reversion to Japan and continued to commit crimes, cause accidents, and create incidents in the prefecture. In the last two years alone, a local woman was murdered by a former U.S. marine in April 2016; a U.S. Osprey crashed in a coastal area in December the same year; and a U.S. helicopter dropped a window frame onto the premises of an elementary school in December 2017. The area occupied by the U.S. bases in Okinawa makes up 70% of the total area of U.S. military base facilities in Japan.

It is pointed out that Okinawa’s child poverty problem has its roots in the inadequate welfare measures taken under the 27-year-long U.S. military occupation. Yamauchi Yuko, who previously was the head of the Okinawa central welfare center for children, said that when Okinawa was controlled by the U.S. military, child welfare was neglected as shown by the fact that there were no children’s centers in the prefecture. She went on to say that after Okinawa’s reversion, the prefectural government worked to set up facilities necessary for children’s well-being, but it has yet to compensate for the 27 years without child welfare policy.

Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi issued a formal comment on the occasion of the Okinawa reversion day. Onaga in his comment said that in Okinawa today, while the tourist and information technology industries are prospering, many problems such as child poverty remain unsolved.

Onaga expressed fresh determination to tackle pending issues, including the U.S. base problem.

Past related articles:
> Okinawans’ solidarity 45 years after reversion to Japan, the power to stop new base construction [May 15, 2017]
> Serious crimes by US personnel occur more than once a month in Okinawa [May 26, 2016]
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