I found Jon Mitchell’s Dec. 27 Timeout article, “Koza remembered,” rather one-sided. I had the pleasure of being in Okinawa on many occasions between 1962 and 1969 as a young U.S. Air Force noncommissioned officer. I was struck more by the anti-Japan sentiment of the Ryukyuan natives than by any prejudice shown toward American GI’s stationed there. Granted there were troublemakers among those on R&R (a short vacation) from Vietnam, but a lot more of the Americans stationed there respected and understood Okinawa and the Okinawan people. A number of Americans were assaulted and robbed while on a drunken spree in Koza or Sakurazaki.
Many Okinawan business owners got rich off the American dollar and often overlooked the offenses of drunken military personnel. By the same token, U.S. administrators and base senior officers often transferred offending personnel in the dead of night. If you dig deep enough, you can find fault on either side.
Historically Okinawa is a bit of an enigma. If you go back far enough, many Chinese and “Asian Pirates” were there before the marriage between a Japanese prince and an Okinawan princess. In spite of it all, Okinawa remains a beautiful island inhabited by friendly people. For me it holds many fond memories of friends and strangers who were never hostile or rude.
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