Okinawa – Time to Pull the Troops Out?

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There are 32 U.S. military bases located on Okinawa. These bases occupy approximately 25% of the island’s area. The bases primarily exist to serve Japanese and U.S. strategic interests, but are unpopular with many local residents.
In 2012, an agreement was struck between the United States and Japan to reduce the number of U.S. military personnel on the island, moving 9,000 personnel to other locations and moving bases out of heavily populated Greater Naha, but 10,000 marines will remain on the island, along with other U.S. military units.

The United States Seventh Fleet is based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force (3 MEF) is based in Okinawa. 130 USAF fighters are stationed in the Misawa Air Base and Kadena Air Base.

There are also Japanese military bases on the island. Some of the local Okinawans also view Japanese as colonizers. 
My bellicose opinion is essentially that the local Okinawans don’t matter. I could care less what they want, their personal or collective aspirations. But that’s just me. Our business is more with the Japanese government (which wants US troops there) and which runs Okinawa. Should the US leave, it needs to destroy all of the infrastructure that it put into place (metaphorically sewing the ground with salt).
The Japanese are concerned about China’s moves to annex huge segments of the Pacific Ocean, which have been ruled illegal by the UN. They encourage more US participation in their defense and they pay for a huge segment of US participation (often unacknowledged in the press).
Okinawa is a useful staging area for us moves in Asia (North Korea, Taiwan, supporting our allies in SE Asia, etc. So long as the Japanese want us there, I think that we should remain. It’s their territory. When we leave one day, we scorch the earth behind us. Something that the Okinawans should consider is that a Chinese master would not be preferable to a Japanese master. And no matter what, the island is strategic and SOMEBODY other than locals will ultimately call the shots.

15 thoughts on “Okinawa – Time to Pull the Troops Out?

  1. The Okinawans were unhappy when the Japanese invaded them and turned the women into pleasure girls for the Emperor's troops. Who wouldn't be. Then they were unhappy when we liberated the place. And we bulldozed what we wanted and built bases. They didn't like that. We have black soldiers there and they really didn't like the social mixing (to put it politely). As you say, sucks to be them. Nobody is giving up the strategic high ground for them.

  2. I've met a few veterans that fought there and it doesn't seem right that we should hand it all over to the Chinamen. But that's just me.

  3. I'm pretty sure that Sitting Bull was perturbed that all of these pale faces started putting in roads, bridges and Taco Bells everywhere that the deer and antelope used to roam. And we all know what the consensus opinion at the time of Sitting Bull's concerns were (something like 'it must suck to be you').

    Or, as Stalin once asked about the Pope, 'how many divisions does the pope have?'

  4. I've always thought that we should have made Okinawa a US Territory the way that we did with Guam and Saipan, but that didn't happen. The Japanese are willing allies with a resurgent China, intent on pushing outward, so the present arrangement works.

  5. Taco Bell's are racist. If you eat there, you're racially appropriating Mexican cuisine. If you get diarrhea, it's Montezuma, reminding you of your racial appropriation.

    Stalin couldn't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. He never heard of egg beaters in the paper (politically correct) carton, purchased from the dairy case.

    Sitting Bull, Gernonmo, and Quannah Parker didn't start casinos. If they had, they'd have been a lot happier with the outcome of having the other stuff taken away. Maybe Okinawans need to set up blackjack tables to assuage their feelings?

  6. I can understand the annoyance with the Marines, and with a good bit of the Air Force personnel. I haven't kept up as well as I maybe should have; but I agree that we should keep our bases there.
    I know we have fond memories of our time there.

  7. I flew out of there in 1974, and worked over there off and on from 2003-2015. All of the 'older' native Okinawans I worked with were EXTREMELY happy to have a US presence. They told me it did TWO things, keep the Chinese out, and kept the Japanese gov't from cracking down on them. I personally never saw a protest against us or the bases I worked on, or down at Naha Port.

  8. Hubby and I were there TDY in the mid to late 70s and on and off in the 80s. We were stationed there in the 90s. There were a couple of times the base was closed because of protesters, and there were always Okinawan police with helmets and body length riot shields in front of them. I only recall maybe one time that any rioters were arrested.

    Mostly as you say, they seemed glad to have us there.

  9. LindaG, a lot of clandestine money is flowing into Okinawa from China to destabilize things there in the hopes that local discontent, manifesting in part from China's secret service efforts, will force both Japan and the US to abandon their bases there.

    Times have changed since Old NFO, you and I hung out in that place. China is far more resurgent and they have an agenda that is in keeping with their desires to expand through the Pacific.

  10. The US invested a lot in the past to end the WWII. Why not learn from the past and keep positions you know matters and make a difference if history happen to repeat itself.

  11. Thank you for that information, LL. I had not known that.
    Not good. We need to fight that money, for sure.

  12. I recall locking Kadena down in 1981 when the japanese red army faction stole a 50K liter propane tanker and had desires to run it thru the SAC flight line and light things up. the threat was considered credible. the Okinawan police found it near the east end of the base and some people were sent to jail for attitude readjustments. word was never underestimate the grey mice…
    we stood up the awacs systems there in '79 and had great fun listening to the "spy plane" comments at the local eateries. we were told to have caution wearing our unit patches off base, a little difficult while living off base. My downstairs neighbor Fen was Yakuza judging from the tiger tats. when my car was stolen and stripped while i was tdy, Fen said not to worry, he knew someone who would put it right and not to call the local cops. talked with OSI who said wait and see if it showed back up. it did, like new.
    interesting three years of sixteen hour days. like the EOD and sewer contractor discovering the jr officers family quarters was built on a buried WWII bomb dump. it was a very interesting assignment.

  13. When we leave one day, we scorch the earth behind us.
    That was a popular opinion when I was stationed in the Philippines in the late '80s. Mt. Pinatubo mostly took care of that for us, at least at Clark. Don't know how extensive the damage was down at Subic, but the typhoon that immediately followed soaked that ash and collapsed any roofs that hadn't already failed. My married friends eventually received a shipment of ruined, ash-encrusted, mildewed household goods that they had to store for months until military insurance adjusters got around to examining everything. Single airmen got to go back to Clark to recover all that stuff (after salvaging military gear, mostly all ruined, too). I had PCS'd a few months earlier, so had missed all the festivities.

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