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Mainland communities view military personnel from different standpoint

Date Posted: 2006-03-17

Interaction between American GI’s in the southern Japanese city of Iwakuni are a bit different than on Okinawa.

The troops-basing issue aside, relationships between local residents and military personnel stationed at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station are simply different. Incidents do occur in the community, but reaction is slightly different. In two recent cases, the Base public affairs officer was pro-active and took the culprits to the City Office to apologize for their actions. “They said in Japanese ‘Sumimasendeshita’ and bowed deeply for a long time,” he said. It’s called very good manners. He questioned whether Marines stationed on Okinawa have the same good manners.

Another difference is the proximity of Iwakuni City and the base. On the mainland, the base is far from the city itself, making the midnite~5am period much more quiet as Marines must make their way home earlier.

The Public Affairs Officer at Iwakuni says “We have built up the relationship with local citizens, and our friendship is very strong. We understand each other,” he adds, saying “we don’t have conflicts between the citizens and the military. We can live together, and we always discuss things before training operations.”

An Iwakuni-based Marine says “when we go downtown, citizens are kind, and accept us very well when we have good manners.” Several Okinawa Marines question the acceptance, and suggest “Okinawans don’t welcome us. It looks like they don’t like us.” One added “I wish we could understand each other and live a happy life like our brothers at Iwakuni.”

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