American Bases in Okinawa: Remove, Not Remove?
On 19 June 2016, an estimated 65,000 people mourned the death of Rina Shimabukuro (1996-2016) at a stadium in Naha, Okinawa’s prefectural capital. Rina’s body was found in bushes beside a road in Central Okinawa, three weeks after she had disappeared while taking a walk. The only suspect in her rape and murder, Kenneth Franklin Gadson (1980-), a former American marine, led police to this remote spot after he was arrested in April. A letter from Rina’s father urged Okinawans to unite and demanded that American soldiers leave. The protest in June over the most recent rape victim was the latest in a long line of anti-American demonstrations. The largest came in 1995, when 85,000 Okinawans took to the streets following the gang-rape of a 12-year-old girl by three American soldiers.
The United States currently has 85 military facilities scattered across Japan. Three quarters of the territory occupied is on the string of islands making up Okinawa, even though Okinawa accounts for just 0.6% of Japan’s land mass. The American bases occupy 18% of Okinawa’s land area; 28,000 of America’s 49,000 forces in Japan are stationed there. The cost of American bases in Japan were mostly shouldered by the Japanese. Based on a report published by the U.S. Department of Defense, the Japanese government provided direct and indirect support of $4.38billionin 2004, offsetting as much as 74.5% of the total cost. America has more overseas military bases than any other nation: nearly 800 spread through more than 70 countries. Of the roughly 150,000 troops stationed abroad, 49,000 are in Japan, 28,000 in South Korea, and 38,000 in ____. After the protests in 1995 in Okinawa, America and Japan agreed to close Futenma, the marine air base in the overcrowded city of Ginowan, and to build a new facility in Henoko, a fishing village. In reality, the construction of the Henoko base has been continuously halted due to fierce local opposition. A recent survey found that 84% of Okinawans oppose the planned Henoko base—after all, it still leaves Okinawa hosting far more American troops than any other part of the country. Okinawans are enraged by the crimes committed by American servicemen and their families, as well as the accidents and disruption caused by artillery practices. Anti-base politicians led by Takeshi Onaga, Okinawa’s governor, won control of the prefectural assembly in local elections in June 2016. On the other hand, Okinawa’s military importance has been boosted by a militant North Korea and an increasingly assertive China. Okinawa is situated in a pivotal geographical spot: 1) in the “first island chain” between China and the open ocean; 2) within reach of the Taiwan Strait; and 3) within reach of the Korean peninsula. North Korea has been plopping missiles in the Sea of Japan since 1993, and China is in the middle of territorial dispute with Japan over the Senkaku (Diaoyu) islands in the East China Sea.
|Team C (remove)||Team D (not remove)|
|Jason Lee, Doyoung Ahn, Lusine Keshishyan||Jenna Becerra, Jaemoy Grey, Tyler McConway|