The #UnitedStates has more than 50,000 #troops in #Japan as well as a very large contingent of #ships and #aircraft. Seventy percent of the #US #bases in Japan are on #Okinawa island. Almost everyone in Okinawa wants the US #military to go. Rape by #American #soldiers – including of young children – has long angered the #Okinawans. Terrible #environmental #pollution – including the harsh noise from US military #aircraft – rankles people. It was not difficult for Tamaki to run on an anti-US-base platform. It is the most basic demand of his constituents.#antiwar #antimilitary #anti-war #peace #propeace #pacifist #CloseTheBases #pacifism
But the #Japanese #government does not accept the #democratic views of the #Okinawan people. #Discrimination against the Okinawans plays a role here, but more fundamentally there is a lack of regard for the wishes of ordinary people when it comes to a US military base.
For decades now, Okinawans have complained about the creation of enclaves of their #island that operate as places for the recreation of American soldiers. Photographer Mao Ishikawa has portrayed these places, the segregated bars where only US soldiers are allowed to go and meet Okinawan women (her book Red Flower: The Women of Okinawa collects many of these pictures from the 1970s).
There have been at least 120 reported rapes since 1972, the “tip of the iceberg,” says Takazato. Every year there is at least one incident that captures the imagination of the people – a terrible act of #violence, a rape or a murder.
What the people want is for the #bases to close, since they see the bases as the reason for these acts of violence. It is not enough to call for #justice after the incidents; it is necessary, they say, to remove the cause of the incidents.
The US military has a staggering 883 military bases in 183 countries. In contrast, Russia has 10 such bases – eight of them in the former USSR. China has one overseas military base. There is no country with a military footprint that replicates that of the United States. The bases in Japan are only a small part of the massive infrastructure that allows the US military to be hours away from armed action against any part of the planet.
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