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Student Opinion and Commentary
 I Want All of Japan to Know How I Felt

   In the Battle of Okinawa, my father-in-law saw his sister die before his eyes, and my mother-in-law lost her brothers. This time, I nearly lost a valued former teacher and  friend. When I heard the news of the helicopter crash that day, I immediately called my former teacher. At the time, I didnft know whether there were any casualties, but I knew it was a major disaster, so I was anxious about his safety. Ifll never forget the intense anxiety and the throbbing of my heart. I called, but began to tremble when his phone just kept ringing. When I finally got through and heard his voice, and finally knew that he was safe, tears ran down my cheeks.
   When I watched the NHK 7 ofclock news that evening, I was shocked. The top story was about the retirement of the owner of the Tokyo Giants baseball team. Following stories on the Athens Olympics and traffic jams resulting from the Obon holidays, the report on the helicopter crash was so brief that it easily could have been overlooked. The next day, no one at my place of work knew anything about it. In the newspaper, too, my alma materfs tragedy was a minor story. Recently, the Japanese governmentfs response to the U.S. has begun to be seen as a problem, but immediately following the crash, Giants owner Nabetsunefs resignation received far more publicity.
   With such inadequate reporting, itfs important that we make our voices heard here on the mainland. In order to make people a little more aware of the situation in Okinawa, I plan on participating in the Nagoya protest, which will take place on the same day as the protest rally in Ginowan. I never want to feel the way that I did on that horrible day.

September 1, 2004
Ai Tanaka

 The Indifference of Japanese Mainlanders

   Itfs summer vacation, but I see Okinawa International University everyday on television and in the newspapers. Ifve seen little, however, on the national television networks.
Even the prime minister seems more interested in the Olympics than coming to Okinawa to inspect the accident site. Ifve become keenly aware of how coldly people react to something that hasnft happened in their own backyard. Shortly after the news reports about the helicopter crashing at the university, I received numerous calls from family, friends, and relatives who were worried about me.
   Is it impossible for people living outside of Okinawa to imagine what itfs like to live with the fear of not knowing when youfre friends are going to die. I hope that through pictures and videos of the crash site, we can convey to people living on the Japanese mainland some sense of how it feels to live near a military base.
   Ifm a sophomore now, and I hope to create some pleasant memories during my two remaining years.

September 2, 2004
Sophomore
Department of Commerce
Okinawa International University
[name withheld by request]

 This is Our University

   After witnessing the helicopter crash, I needed a couple of hours to suppress my fear before going to the accident site. The area in front of the Administration Building had been cordoned off with yellow tape, and the U.S. military, Okinawa prefectural police, and riot police were preventing anyone from entering—in order to protect someone from who knows what. This is our university—not theirs. Okinawa suffered plenty during World War II, and Ifm sick and tired of paying the price of maintaining friendly U.S.-Japanese relations. I want to tell the Prime Minister to come and see the crash site with his own eyes. Itfs fine if he wants to call Olympic athletes, but I wish hefd get on the phone with the U.S. President, too, and hurry up and make our university safe again.

September 1, 2004
Student [name withheld by request]
Department of British and American Language and Culture
Okinawa International University

Disclaimer:  The views and opinions expressed in the essays in this section are those of each essayfs writer and do not necessarily represent the views of No Fly Zone or the Okinawa International University Helicopter Crash Information Network.

 

 

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