Japanfs freedom is built on the pain and suffering of the Okinawa people
gThe dangers of the past are soon forgottenh goes the old saying, but I donft want that to happen this time. I started a blog, called the Okinawa Scrapbook, so that I can speak my mind about the U.S. military bases. You can view the blog at the following address: http://scrapbook.way-nifty.com/book/. Wefve got to do something this time! When I discovered that your university, which was the victim of the accident, started a U.S. helicopter crash information site, I was inspired all the more. Please keep your anger alive, and do what you can to open the eyes of the many Japanese people who have been stupefied by the peace they enjoy. Please remind them, gJapanfs freedom is built on the pain and suffering of the Okinawa people!h
[name withheld by request] Okinawa
Demand the Return of Futenma Base
I was hoping to enter your university through the Admissions Office and was just about to send off the application materials when I heard the news about the U.S. military helicopter crash. I had assumed that even if the base could not be returned immediately, something could be done to make coexistence possible. The Japanese government, however, doesnft seem to be taking the accident very seriously, and many of us living in other prefectures donft seem to think that the incident concerns us. I strongly feel that things have to change, and that we should demand the early return of the base. Not only those in Okinawa but all people in Japan need to consider this problem. I hope that you will consider collecting signatures on the Internet and providing a petition that people throughout Japan can download and use in their own signature-collecting campaigns. Even though I live far away, I hope there is something I can do to help so that this type of accident never happens again.
Megumi August 30, 2004
From the Point of View of a Parent
On the day of the accident, we were paying our respects at the family grave when we received a phone call from our child, a student at OIU, informing us that a helicopter had crashed on campus. We could hear the voices of firefighters and police officers in the background, and in the picture we were sent by cel phone, smoke was rising up behind a university building. As if having a bad dream, we thanked our ancestors for keeping our child safe. Rather frustratingly, the subsequent television reports focused entirely on the Olympics, and we had to get the details from the Internet. Itfs horrible that mainland Japanese are so apathetic. But to be honest, I might have been the same way if my child wasnft living in Okinawa and attending Okinawa International University. Having deeply examined my conscience, I hope to participate in the upcoming protest on September 5, and upon my return, I would like to convey the ghopes of Okinawah to my family, friends, and colleagues.
September 2, 2004 Parent of an OIU student Fukuoka, Japan
Get the Cooperation of the Media
Ifm an Okinawa native living abroad, and Ifm writing in the hope that there might be some small thing that I can do to help. Living far away, I tend to only remember the good things about my hometown, such as the blue skies and the blue ocean. But when I heard about the recent accident, I recalled the real Okinawa, the one that hasnft changed at all since I lived there. Sad to say, the Japanese government and media have done little to help since the accident. That is truly regrettable. Each and every one of us who desire peace must immediately join forces and persist in pressing our case, or no one will stop to help us this time either. So that this incident does not fade away, and so that mainland Japanese cannot look on indifferently, I hope that you get the most out of the media in continuing to loudly plead your case about the heavy burden that Okinawa must carry. Without the media, itfs difficult to convey the message beyond the oceans. Itfs not that people outside Okinawa arenft interested; itfs only that they have not been informed. Finally, even though I live overseas, I would like to get involved, so please tell me if I can help by getting signatures for a petition or in some other way. This is no longer only a problem just for people living in Okinawa.
September 2, 2004 AK
A Small Favor
Until now, I never understood the seriousness of the problem, or experienced it first hand. Ifm sure I would have made more of a fuss had the accident happened where I live. Even so, I feel depressed, anxious, and angry. How much longer will Okinawans be forced to endure a life of constant anxiety? I was extremely upset when I read in the newspaper the words of a U.S. marine who said that since nobody died, he couldnft see what all the fuss was about. One person cannot do much, but if many of us pool our resources, there is nothing that we cannot do. As a resident of Okinawa, I ask only for peace and the removal of the base.
Shally September 5, 2004
No Line Must be Drawn
In his article, "Line being drawn in East Asia's waters (The Japan Times: 9/4/2004)," Richard Halloran argues about the importance of U.S. bases on Okinawa, citing a military commander's reasoning for it. However, his views are outdated and full of anachronism. Even if "Naha (Okinawa's capital) is closer to Manila and Shanghai than to Tokyo, and closer to Hanoi than to Hokkaido," invisible terrorists may infiltrate into the heart of America with ease, totally ignoring those fortified U.S. garrisons on Okinawa and elsewhere. What Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, commander of U.S. Marines in the Pacific, calls "tyranny of distance" may mean nothing to the terrorists.
Halloran must realize that we live in an age of completely different wars than 19th or 20th century theater wars, and that those military bases as well as conventional forces and strategies are obsolete in fighting against the terrorists. In fact, they are all but white elephants as bulwarks against terrorism in today's terror-stricken world.
Take the U.S. Seventh Fleet based in Yokosuka, for instance. Washington has propagandized that they guard the safety of the so-called sea lane through which oil flows from the Middle East to Japan. But just think about this: What country would dare blockade the sea lane and destroy Japan's economy when it would immediately backfire, adversely affecting that country's economy? The world's economy is so tightly intertwined now that no nation can destroy another economy without a calamity coming home to roost.
Every once in a while there's piratical incidents on the sea lane in spite of high-profile military exercises of "allied" naval forces spearheaded by the mighty U.S. Seventh Fleet. This clearly shows that the U.S. military presence in this region is of no help in maintaining peace and security in the face of pirates and invisible terrorists. So what's the benefit of the "tyranny of distance" Okinawa offers?
There is a common line of thinking underlying the Halloran article, the Nye report that former Secretary of Defense William Perry, a great grandson of Com. Matthew C. Perry, ordered his assistant deputy secretary to compile in 1995 and Com. Perry's own proposal to President Fillmore that Okinawa be occupied and made a beachhead for U.S. advance to Asia. Colonialism is a thing of the past which has no place in today's world.
Yoshio Shimoji Naha, Okinawa
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the essays in this section are those of writer of each essay and do not necessarily represent the views of No Fly Zone or the Okinawa International University Helicopter Crash Information Network.