50 Years On: Okinawans Remain Exposed to Danger from U.S. Bases


Naha, Okinawa Pref., May 13 (Jiji Press)--People in Okinawa Prefecture, home to the bulk of U.S. bases in Japan, have long been exposed to danger from the U.S. military presence.

Fifty years have passed since Okinawa was returned to Japan in May 1972 from post-World War II U.S. occupation, but about 70 pct of the facilities and areas in Japan for exclusive use by the U.S. military are still in Okinawa.

Residents of Okinawa have to continue facing the risk of hosting U.S. military bases as the security situation in the Indo-Pacific region is increasingly severe.

A number of crimes have been committed by U.S. troops stationed in Okinawa, and there have been crashes of and other incidents involving U.S. military aircraft. Locals living near U.S. air bases have been tormented by loud noise from planes taking off and landing.

"There was a deafening noise, and then it happened in an instant," Hideko Iha, an 85-year-old resident of the city of Uruma in Okinawa, said, recalling the June 30, 1959, incident in which a U.S. fighter jet crashed into Miyamori Elementary School in the city after knocking down many nearby houses and burst into flames. "I had no idea what was going on," she added.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press