Many people question the US presence in Okinawa, which originated after World War II for a way to prevent Japan from forming a sound military. Alternatively, the US government promises to defend Japan in times of danger by placing military stations in Japan, specifically Okinawa because of its acceptance of the US military after the war. However, despite their initial acceptance, the US and Okinawa have developed a tense relationship due to the high crime rate of US soldiers in Okinawa, which, according to the Guardian, “has grown steadily from 42% in 2009 to 68% in 2012, according to DOD figures, ” which is why an Okinawan Times poll shows that over 85% of Okinawans oppose the US presence. This article, however, will focus on the long-term effects of the environment because of the US military bases.
Kaori Sungawa from JCA net states that “because construction of a new base requires a huge undeveloped area, these construction projects have destroyed the natural environment and degraded the invaluable biodiversity including, but not limited to, endangered species among the subtropical islands of Okinawa.” For instance, during training, live bombing can send radiation into the environment, and the maintenance of military and aircraft vehicles has contaminated the soil, air, and groundwater which is why, according to Jon Mitchell from the Japan Times, “Okinawa may be to blame for the recent contamination of local drinking water sources.” These environmental effects not only affect the landscape of Okinawa, but it also provides a direct threat to the Okinawans themselves. Hideki Yoshikawa in her book “Militarization and Environment Rights in Okinawa,” mentions that because of “the proximity between US bases and our life, in most cases just separated by a fence, these environmental problems are immediate threats to the people of Okinawa.” In fact, a lower biodiversity, caused by the US troops, can result in a decrease in food sources for the Okinawans. Furthermore, US presence in Okinawa also “heavily impacts Okinawa’s environment through their structural effects on the island’s peculiar political economy such as increasing economic dependence on construction and public works and the damming of all of the island’s rivers,” according
to Jonathan Taylor from the Geographical Bulletin. The troop bases often take up agricultural land, which forces the Okinawan economy to sustain itself on funding from the Japanese government. Often times this funding encourages development projects that are disastrous for the environment.
Through these sources, the US presence in Okinawa has caused a stir among the people, with thousands protesting on April 29, 2017 to commemorate the death of a young woman by a US marine. This tension can only be resolved if the US takes action, despite their belief that US presence deters foreign intervention and?stimulates the Okinawan economy.
Kenny Um Flintridge Prep 11th Grade
<Kenny Um Flintridge Prep 11th