U.S. bases in Okinawa: Quick facts

 

Geography/Demographics
•Okinawa = 0,6% of the total Japanese land area, yet carries 75% of the burden of U.S. bases in Japan.
•Bases occupy 18% of the main island (the most productive parts!).
•Home to approx. 21,000 U.S. military personnel.
•1,4 mill. Okinawans.
 
Alleged Pros
•Guarantees Japan’s national security (in relation to China/North-Korea).
•The bases provide much needed job opportunities for Okinawans (Which is misleading when considering the amount of jobs that would have been available was the same land area spent on developing local industries).
•The rent for base-occupied-land contributes to the local economy (5% of the total economy), (Again, had the same land been used for local business development the percentage would likely be far higher).
 
Cons
Crimes by U.S. servicemen:
•1945-51: 278 incidents of rape recorded.
•1972-2012 : 139 reported and documented incidents of violence against Okinawan Women (rape, murder, sexual and common assault).
…yet during those same 40 years only 7 U.S. servicemen were charged with rape charges
•Total number of 5,584 major and minor criminal cases in the same period
Annual rate of 160 serious crimes (assaults, armed robberies).
 
Incidents and accidents related to military exercises
•1972-2008: 1,434 (487 airplane related).
For instance: 
•1959: A fighter jet crashes into Miyamorielementary  school and its adjacent residental area. 11 children and 6 adults lost their futures.
•1965: A misdropped parachuted trailer lands on an 11-year old girl.
•2004: A U.S. military helicopter crashed into Okinawa International University and burst into flames. Luckily, there were no civillian casulities.

Economic burden on Japan
•“The Japanese government pays approximately $100,000 per year for each member of the U.S. military stationed in Japan.”
•“It pays for electricity on the bases, and highway tolls for U.S. military personnel.”
•“Japanese tax money supports shopping centers, schools, libraries, and churches on the bases”
•“More than 70% of the total cost of U.S. bases in Japan is borne by Japan.”
 
Other negative effects of U.S bases
•Some 7,000 Filipinas work as prostitutes for U.S. servicemen.
•Loss of valuable land area to the U.S bases has made Okinawa the poorest prefecture in all of Japan.
•Internal conflict between fellow Okinawans. (between those who benefit from the bases and those who don’t).

NOTE: For more extensive background information and details regarding U.S bases in Okinawa, I strongly recommend checking out the following website: http://closethebase.org/. This is a comprehensive guide on the whole base issue and without a doubt a valuable asset in understanding the issue in a broader context.