Don’t cry for Okinawa’s economy

Regarding the July 11 article “Okinawans explore secession option“: Many people, especially among U.S. service members, like to speculate what would happen to Okinawa’s economy if the United States withdrew its troops from the island. Even Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. secretary of state, did so when there was a prefecture-wide protest against the excessive U.S. military presence.

According to an Okinawa Prefectural Government document, Okinawa’s gross domestic income for 2009 was nearly $4 billion. Military base revenue is said to have accounted for 5.2 percent of that income. That’s down from 15.5 percent in 1972.

Of that 5.2 percent, 1.5 percentage points were the contribution by U.S. service members and their dependents for patronizing local bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. The rest (3.7 percentage points) was mainly in the form of salaries to base workers and land rent, which is still borne by Japanese taxpayers — Okinawans included, of course — in the name of “host nation support.”

So, when anyone wants to say anything about Okinawa, he or she should not express opinions based solely on hearsay or what Washington’s spin doctors try to sell. Besides, what business is it of theirs to worry about what would happen to Okinawa’s economy if American troops withdrew completely?

yoshio shimoji
naha, okinawa

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • ff

    I am curious of what readers here think.. vote this up if you think the US forces should stay in Okinawa, vote down if you think they should go.

  • Desk Pilot

    I find it funny how many continue to try to proclaim that the US presence doesn’t provide much financial impact and Okinawa is fine without it, but then turn around and complain that because of the curfews, US servicemembers aren’t spending money in town and businesses are suffering and having to close. Would you guys like to regroup and get your story straight?