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Junior Chamber of Commerce seeks to solve problem of U.S. military presence

Date Posted: 2003-02-08

The presence of American military bases on Okinawa is presenting a problem for Okinawa The Okinawa District of Japan’s Junior Chamber of Commerce is trying to determine how to respond to the highly political issue, according to Okinawa J.C. President Shigenobu Asato.

“We have kind of avoided this problem so far, but we intend to bring this to the national level when J.C. Japan Chairman Yasuna Yuhara visits Okinawa in April,” Asato says. He also said that the Okinawa District is planning to send a delegation to Germany and South Korea to study the public’s attitude towards American bases there.

“We are going to prepare a study on this problem from our perspective and then organize a forum in September to have a public discussion about the impact of the bases,” Asato stated. “The presence of American bases is too heavy for Okinawan people to carry alone. This should be made a nation-wide agenda, not one that concerns only Okinawa,” Asato added.

Asato said the decision to generate a nationwide discussion was made after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York severely impacted Okinawa’s tourism business. “We decided that we cannot be quiet about this kind of problems any more, and want to bring wider national attention to the question of the heavy presence of American military bases in Okinawa,” he said. Asato believes that “Up to now we have relied on the government to take care of this, but government is slow. Maybe we can help speed things up a little.”

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