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Donít Cause Further Community Animosity

Date Posted: 2001-01-12

In response to "Dominic" (go figure no last name?), may I begin by saying that you are entitled to your opinion regarding access for Okinawans. But may I say a few things....I have lived in Okinawa for 3 years and I have 3 months left before returning to the U.S. and I have local friends that I'll miss. In other words, I'm not anti-Okinawan!!! To allow free access to anyone that would like to enter the bases would in fact be very detrimental to the safety of everyone around, not just the Americans, but the locals also. I am well aware that American culture is favored by many Okinawans, as too Okinawan culture is favored by Americans.

1) You stated that military personnel have the pleasure of window shopping and movies off base. Yes, they window shop because many Americans can not afford to shop off base. Okinawans like shopping on base because it's extremely cheap in comparison to their stores. Movies at Mihama...not too many military can afford to pay almost $10 a ticket, then to purchase refreshments, sorry not me. And for those who live off base, it is usually for one of a couple reasons: A) no housing available on base (and no the housing pay does not cover all the expenses), or B) the person maybe married to a Okinawan. Very few can honestly afford to live off base of their free accord.

2) As far as shopping off base being a slap in the face of Okinawans, I honestly don't think so. Many stores and restaurants have signs forbidding foreigners to enter, and they have that right to refuse access. We can respect that, as do the non anti-American military Okinawans not being allowed on base. I don't recall the last time I went to the Japanese Defense base to go shopping or just to browse.

3) Military facilities are for the support of the military, definitely not to make a profit. The facilities have a hard enough time keeping certain items in stock, so if we allowed everyone in, what would be left for the military?

4) The bases are very much local community oriented. The next time you enter a base, look around and see how many Okinawans are employed there and compare that to the amount of family members that are "lucky" enough to have a job working along side them making a 1/4 of what is paid to the local workers. They have a union, so if they don't like something at work, you better bet that heads will roll.

5) As far as letting American teenagers drive off base, they are the same age as the local's that are allowed to drive, but because they're American they're considered "professional" drivers. Quite honestly, many parents don't want their children driving off base because "God" forbid they get into an accident.

6) We are sponsored to leave base, that's what the SOFA agreement is for, and we are labeled when we drive around by our "Y" tags.

7) Very important!!! If you think when a person joins the military they expect it to be Club Med, you're way off. To say Okinawa is considered that way? Yes, because of the wonderful culture, diving, and other activities I agree, but it's not so when many military are very limited on where, when, how, why and if they are allowed to travel off base.

In closing, the American government fall all over themselves to keep their host country happy. So I don't honestly believe that not allowing free access to the bases is a fact of causing great governmental downfall. We have many activities that the local communities are invited to come to on base, as well, there are activities that American troops participate in to assist local communities. Please do not give the few Okinawans that don't want us here, the ability to cause any more animosity between the community.

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