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Anti-Military Feud About Hate & Discrimination

Date Posted: 2001-01-26

This letter is in response to the person or persons who wrote the “Why not allow Okinawans access to bases” letter in the January 5th issue. First off, I would like to ask you if you have forgotten that you are the reason we are over here. No, we are not here for a club med vacation as you put it. My husband is active duty and he is prepared to lay down his life if need be to protect your life, that of your families and to defend your rights. You were right in saying we take advantage of all that Okinawa has to offer but this is a beautiful island, why wouldn’t we? We have gone to several places on island where we have felt very welcome and somewhere we were obviously not wanted. We have even been refused service because we are American. Have times regressed over here so far that we are going to be discriminated against because of our nationality? Maybe the person who refused us service did not know that my family was moved 2000 miles away from all of our relatives and our friends so that we can defend his rights. My husband leaves us for 6 weeks at a time and I have to sit and endure the heart breaking cries of our two small children because their Daddy is not home. We as a family made a commitment to go through these pains because of the simple belief that by being here we are somehow making a difference. One of the things I have learned to appreciate and realize now that I took advantage of before is that Americans have realized hate and discrimination gets you nowhere. That is what this Okinawa/Military feud boils down to over here, hate and discrimination. Yes, a few military personnel have foolishly made grave misjudgments in their behavior and done some awful things to members of the local population. I know that when I heard about those incidents my heart went out to the victims and the victim’s family. I don’t believe that there is one American on island that did not feel the same way. I am not looking to make an excuse for those men, what they did is inexcusable and if found guilty they should be punished according to Japanese law. My point here is, I have also heard of several incidents where Okinawans have done awful things to military or SOFA personnel. These incidents seem to be a lot less publicly known (they are not printed on the front page of the newspaper), but when I do hear of them I do not condemn all Okinawans for one person’s misbehavior. That would just be silly of me wouldn’t it? I also found the statement you made “if Okinawans are not permitted free access to the bases, than why should the military be allowed to freely leave the base whenever they like” a slap in the face. I would never expect free roam of your house, your property or your government’s buildings and that is what you are asking us for. Perhaps you have not noticed that locals are permitted access on base, every Friday and Saturday there is a long line of them doing just that to get into the clubs. Military bases also employ numerous members of the local population who seem to have no problem with entry. However, the gate guards are not going to let people on just so they can roam aimlessly, would you let me come into your house just so I could look around? The other thing you had suggested is not letting us off base. What would happen to the local economy if that were implemented? Numerous businesses here that cater to military personnel would have to close their doors and it would affect a wide group beyond just them. We pay road tax, JCI and sales tax on items we purchase off base. To make up for those losses your rates would have to be increased and the local economy would suffer greatly. We are not here on vacation and do not get a “free pass” to do as we please. We are hard working adults just trying to make it in today’s world. I do not drive down the road looking at different cars license plates just so I can distinguish who is my nationality and who is not. Instead, I get to drive down the road to my destination and be uncertain if I will even be welcome once I get there.

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