With the election of Denny Tamaki as governor of Okinawa, the people’s voices have been heard. The U.S. military bases have always been a contentious issue for all of us living in Okinawa. I am reminded of this each and every morning as another military flight takes off near my house or another vile act is committed by an American service member.
The continuous push by the U.S. government to accept the expansion of Camp Schwab is a slap in the face of every Okinawan citizen, as is the demand we continue to accept the large burden of hosting the majority of American military bases throughout Japan.
A new dawn has risen with Tamaki as he continues the charge of the previous governor, who clearly understood the bullying from the central government that Okinawa takes in the form of subsidies and other financial incentives. It wasn’t long ago when the naysayers from the pro-base movement thought Okinawa could never survive when each base closed; however, Okinawa is now the top tourist destination for Asians, surpassing Hawaii for the first time this year.
Others will make idle threats and claim the American bases are here to protect us from China, Russia or North Korea. These are the same fear-mongers who thought our tourism would never succeed. Removing all U.S. military bases from Okinawa is the first step in bringing peace and prosperity to Okinawa. Only then will our island be safe for future generations to come.
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.