Voices | COMMUNITY CHEST

Readers split over issue of U.S. military presence in Okinawa

Some emails and online comments in response to last week’s The Foreign Element column by Jon Mitchell, “Injuries to Okinawa anti-base protesters ‘laughable,’ says U.S. military spokesman“:

Destroying a place of beauty

Capt. Caleb Eames’ remarks [suggesting anti-base protesters are faking their injuries] are appalling. They are distressingly typical of the arrogance and ignorance displayed by the U.S. military empire all around the world, and especially in Okinawa.

In fact, the protesters at Henoko have been ardently but peaceably protesting U.S.-Japanese plans to destroy the last coral reef ecosystem in Japan! It is a place of great beauty, as well as ecological and cultural importance. As coral reefs are perishing elsewhere, from the Caribbean to the Great Barrier Reef, this glorious Oura Bay ecosystem at Henoko has become especially valuable.

I suggest that Capt. Eames visit Oura Bay to see for himself the thousands of species of fish, the hundreds of species of corals, shellfish, seagrasses, marine algae, etc., that construction of the U.S. Marine base will tragically destroy! New species, undescribed species, endangered species, “useful” species — all will be irreversibly lost if the destruction is allowed to proceed. Perhaps he will retract his shameful remarks upon seeing its beauty and importance, and be able to sympathise with the protesters, who are so justifiably angered by the destructive activities of the military-industrial complex in Okinawa, now and during many previous decades.

KATHERINE MUZIK
Marine biologist
Kauai, Hawaii

Maybe you should actually go grab a tank and go dive the site — I have. It looks absolutely nothing like you describe, but hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of your anti-base rhetoric!

By the way, what is the Okinawa prefectural government doing to halt the massive red soil runoff that occurs after each and every rainfall, smothering whatever is left of the corals around Okinawa, or to control the massive “land reclamation” projects (also know as indiscriminately filling-in of the shallow coastal region with soil to encourage more land development) occurring all around the island?

Let’s start with a discussion of the land reclamation project that filled in the Awase tidal flats in Nakagasuku, a project for which the Okinawa prefectural government advocated. The wetlands adjacent to Awase on the Awase Communication Station is all that’s left of valuable tidally-influenced habitat in that area, and that is being protected from further development by the U.S. Navy.

Oops, it doesn’t support the rhetoric, so by definition it must not be true.

WE’REALMOSTCYPRUS

Fair and objective reporting

Thank you, Jon Mitchell and The Japan Times, for continuing to inform us and document the actions of the two governments and the residents fairly and objectively.

It is already clear who is on the side of violence and who is on the side of peace; who is violating the rights of the people and Earth, and whose rights are being violated. But many readers don’t know the time of day. They need to be told more than once because they’re being inundated with the propaganda of two states as well as by the military weapons manufacturers, subcontractors and others in the international military-industrial complex who stand to profit from further war preparations on the lands of the Ryukyuans.

JOSEPH ESSERTIER
Nagoya

Getting the balance wrong

Sadly, The Japan Times is not reporting this on a balanced basis. I lived in Okinawa for over 15 years prior to moving to the U.S. last year and I must say that Capt. Eames is accurate in his comments. I have also had profanities screamed at my family and I by “peaceful” protestors around both Camp Schwab and Futenma. I have witnessed — both in person and on video — those same “peaceful” protesters reaching in open windows, attempting to grab Americans, and jumping on private vehicles.

Frankly, if one was to observe these protesters with a clear eye, one would realize that they are engaging in classic confrontational tactics while overreacting to the inevitable demand by law enforcement to follow Japanese laws.

I see comments about how the bases would be used to “kill people,” but the author ignores the clear fact that U.S. military bases in Japan have been used to support humanitarian missions throughout Asia — including in Japan after 3/11 — and have saved countless lives.

I do wish that The Japan Times would do a better job at reporting the facts in this case rather than engage in an obvious attempt to sway public opinion.

ERIC GRAY

I couldn’t agree more, but The Japan Times is now fully controlled and manipulated by anti-U.S. [forces] and any shellacking against what they don’t [want] others to know is removed. The revenge will be in living long enough as the U.S. pulls out one day and China takes over. Good luck with that, JT.

BOB

Remarks hurt his cause

I don’t know if Capt. Eames was telling the truth or not, but even if he was, his comments probably did his cause more damage than good. It shows an attitude of indifference to the local nationals that has made the marines so unwelcome in Okinawa.

ERNEST SCHAAL

I don’t know the entire story, but I agree that he should have handled the situation differently. As an officer in charge of forces overseas, he should know better than to make such comments.

It’s foolish remarks like his that cause other countries to look unfavorably upon the United States. It’s truly unfortunate, because some people don’t realize that the actions of the few don’t represent the entirety of a nation.

CRIMSONTEARS

Costs versus benefits

Most of the expenditure of the U.S. military in Okinawa comes from Japanese taxpayers’ money — the so-called sympathy budget or “host nation support.” That is why U.S. Marines and other divisions want to stay in Japan: Because it is a lot cheaper. This is especially true for the Marine Corps, which has been shrunk by the U.S. government: Okinawa is the only place to stay. If they have to leave, they would just lose jobs. The marines might be absorbed into the ground forces because these days there is no need for such a function.

As for new construction in Henoko, it is estimated to cost ¥1 trillion ($80 billion), and after completion, the maintenance cost is ¥20 billion ($200 million) [a year], but who will take care of the maintenance budget is yet to be decided.

MASAGATA

I agree the U.S. should just leave the islands, and when the PRC comes to take the Senkakus, let them keep on trucking through Okinawa. We’ll stop them when they try to claim Hawaii as sacred Chinese lands. Though by then Okinawa will probably be begging for Chinese occupation to stimulate the economy, because God knows they get more than a few yen in revenue from those bases being there.

In all seriousness, I’m sure the strategic advantage is important. Otherwise why would anyone deal with the drama around the base? As for the jarhead who so eloquently spoke out of turn, he should (and probably will) be relieved of whatever command he was in.

FORSETIBOSTON

In cases where a location is not included below the author’s credit, comments have been taken from the JT website. Have your say: community@japantimes.co.jp

Coronavirus banner