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Kids travel; study U.S. military bases

Date Posted: 2010-04-15

A group of Urasoe City elementary school students have just completed a study trip around Okinawa by bicycle carts, learning about operations of U.S. military bases.

The seven youngsters from Minatogawa Elementary School spent four days and three nights visiting American military installations to learn what the bases do. The school trip, supported by the U.S. military, which granted them access to Kadena Air Base, Futenma Marine Corps Air Station and Camp Hansen, allowed the kids to walk around the bases to understand firsthand from military personnel the role of U.S. forces in Okinawa.

The school trips have been under way for 11 years, giving the older elementary school students opportunities to learn about Americans. Officials note that schools do not teach much about the U.S. bases, and the trips provide a chance for youngsters to get a feel for the bases and their missions. Children ask questions about why the Americans are in Okinawa, why the base at Henoko is needed, and the difficulties that Japanese workers on Americans would face if some installations were closed.

The kids also have opportunities to experience Okinawa’s beauty, being able to see parts of the island not normally part of their Urasoe City life. Some students expressed hopes new bases wouldn’t be build, because “the ocean outside Henoko has such beautiful nature.” The sentiment from the children was they didn’t want the military to construct new bases. As they traveled, their bicycle carts had tents, foods and other camping gear. They spent the three nights at campgrounds.

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