Ask an Okinawan

Posted by admin on October 5, 2013

In order to find some answers to my many questions, I conducted a small research experiment using questionnaires. The sample group consists of 20 people (protesters, university students, middle aged people met at diners etc). Here’s my main finding.

1.  Do you feel any uneasiness related to the presence of the U.S bases?

Yes (83,3%)            No (16,7%)

For those who answered “Yes” the following question was asked:

In relation to the U.S bases in Okinawa, what issues concerns you the most?

Here are the top 5

  1. Crimes caused by U.S service personnel (40%)
  2. The danger of plane/helicopter crash (20%)
  3. Noise caused by airplanes/helicopters (17%)
  4. A symbol of that the voice of Okinawa is ignored (13%)
  5. The very presence of the bases themselves brings back memories of the war (10%)

The crimes and plane crashes ranking high should come as no surprise, but here I’d like to take a moment to comment upon airplane/helicopter noise and its rank as no. 3.

First of all, in Okinawa flight exercises are carried out regardless of the hour. This is remarkable considering that the same kind of U.S airbases in e.g. Italy keep strict policies that do not allow flying in the evening at all. You would think that the U.S military would keep one policy for all its bases around the world, yet here’s a clear example of how the sleep of Japanese is not valued as high as the sleep of the Italians, or perhaps more correctly, America has more authority (which it abuses) in the relationship with the Japanese government than it has with the Italian one.

However, this kind of noise has a far more lethal potential than just disturbing the concentration of students at school and people trying to sleep. In fact, continuous exposure to such low frequency sound has also been confirmed to be a leading factor contributing to behavioral aberration among infants, low-weight births and impaired hearing. Moreover, with the wrong timing, the extreme low frequency reverberation of for example an Osprey, can prove fateful for those with a weak heart.