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Life at “Club Med” Full of Restrictions

Date Posted: 2001-01-12

I don’t expect this to be printed because I know by the material in your paper that if an article doesn’t make the U.S. or American military look bad it’s not printed. I’m writing in order to reply to this confused unsponsored person that doesn’t have a military friend.

I’ve been on the Island “ Club Med” eleven months and have twenty-five to go. I’ve never been to Okinawa in the 18 years of my military service. Prior to the move I was overwhelmed by all the restrictions that welcomed me. I was limited on my household goods and I wasn’t allowed to bring my automobiles which were just the tip of the iceberg.

My first week on Okinawa I realized that the restrictions placed on service members were not military related but economically generated for the benefit of Okinawans. I had to buy a car from a local dealer, pay to change the title, purchase insurance which was not for my protection, purchase road tax, and learn that JCI could cost me $500-$1000 depending on the honesty of the mechanic. Finding an apartment I had to use a local housing agency whose finder’s fee was half the rent in cash. The first question I was always asked was “What rank are you” because every one had a sliding scale because they wanted the maximum payment. My government furniture that I had to have because I wasn’t authorized to bring all of mine was delivered by Okinawans that, yes, worked on the base. The men that came to fix the mechanical problems with my appliances were, yes, Okinawans that worked on the base. I’ve visited many work areas, seen maintenance crews, and to my surprise the guards at many of the gates are, yes, Okinawans.

JUSCO, Hamby Town and the 100 Yen shops wouldn’t appreciate competing with the PX, and Commissary, more than they already do. I guess that’s why everything new being constructed has an American theme, In fact, most grocery stores have English signs and accept US dollars. The prices and quality are inviting to everyone. I’ve only seen one establishment that didn’t welcome Americans which is the “Pyramid” not a family oriented establishment but its restrictions on customers has done the military patrons a favor. The majority of other business will not restrict or select customers because they’re smart.

Since the G8, the military has placed self-restrictions on liberty out in town. My troops didn’t complain as much as the local business establishments have.

The Okinawans that feel that “it is a slap in the face” that service members can freely window

shop, eat off base, or attend festivals out in town need to wake up. I’ve meet several former service members, American church missionaries who serve a majority of military that do not have the access Okinawans do or can get on the bases. Everywhere you go on any base an Okinawan can be found working in every area, enjoying the food courts and clubs. I’ve never seen a base in the US have such easy access by local non-military. I’ve met the most unlikely Okinawan people that have said that one time or another they have been on one of the bases. The same jobs Okinawans fill on the bases are filled with military personnel in the US, so don’t fool yourself and think the military wouldn’t have a economic impact if it departed, go visit the Philippines.

To people like Dominic who do not have a military friend who trusts him enough to sponsor him, go back to where you’re from. The Okinawan’s are doing fine drawing the military off the base for business and the Okinawans that have made it on the “Holy Land” have found out they aren’t missing out. By the way the military is still the military which has a mission and purpose in Okinawa. Disney Land still has open access.

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