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Base employees say ‘no’ to American troop cutbacks

Date Posted: 2005-11-19

Lost in the shuffle of the new security treaty being developed between Japan and the US are the voices of nearly 9,000 individuals who work for the US forces in Okinawa.

They’re the ones facing losses of jobs if the agreement goes through, and 7,000 Marines are removed from Okinawa. Bases realignment would strip many of the positions, placing Okinawans out of work at a time when the economy is lagging. The Japanese government currently pays the local nationals working on U.S. bases, and employees know they’ll not have jobs if the Americans pull out.

“Don’t tell the military to go home,” says one base worker. Another speaks out “The Americans are here for our safety. Let’s keep them.” Still another tells politicians to “please understand” the workers need their jobs.

Positions on the American bases are lucrative, well paying, and offer significant bonuses and benefits. More than 20,000 applicants vie for the 200~300 new positions each year.

The base workers say they’re afraid they’ll be hearing the dreaded “You’re fired” soon. Normally it is difficult to fire anyone working on the bases, because their union representation is strong. But with troop reductions and III Marine Expeditionary Force moving from Okinawa, there won’t be any protection.

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