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Seeing military in action bad for students

Date Posted: 1998-05-09

Along Highway 23, between Kadena AB Gates 3 and 4, is a small hill known locally as the "Hill of SACO." Each year, more than 160,000 students and other tourists, largely mainland Japanese groups, travel to Okinawa and stand on the hill to view Kadena Air Base and it's flightline. A stop oon the hill is a part of many tour operator's routine schedule.

The popular course, offered at a number of high schools in Japan, has recently come under attack by the Osaka Board of Education, which has asked one of Osaka's junior high schools to stop offering the course.

Teachers argue they are teaching the students that war is not an answer, and that peace is important and should be strived for. The board, however, would prefer that students learn about cultures and friendship not the military, war, and politics. "A more neutral view should be taught and students should form their own political views," the board stated.

According to polls, almost 70% of mainland students would like to travel to Okinawa to see the military in action, among other reasons. One school in Osaka has agreed to stop offering this particular course, but are trying to implement another sightseeing course that will bring teens to Okinawa.

The decision by the Osaka junior high school and the school board has caused other schools to consider canceling their planned trips to the hill, which is the main reason many schools bring students to the island.

The Okinawa Kanko Convention Bureau is watching the situation closely. "Every year, so many students and tourists come to Okinawa. If they do not come, it would affect the economic situation in the area. We would not like to reduce the numbers of those who visit the area," said the head of the convention bureau. "We are worried that if the course is changed, other schools may also change their minds and not come to Okinawa to study peace. We would like to change that and also encourage schools to continue their travels to Okinawa," he said.

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