Map of Okinawa Courtesy of the University of Texas at Austin

Okinawan Life and Culture

U.S. military forces have had a dramatic impact on Okinawan life and history. Although over 55 years have passed since the end of World War II, Okinawa, which accounts for only 0.6 percent of Japan’s total land area, still hosts vast military bases, which represent approximately 74.7 percent of all facilities exclusively used by U.S. military forces in Japan. Many Okinawan people strongly desire the reduction and realignment of U.S. military bases due to the extent of their presence on Okinawa and their impact on development, the environment, and the lives of Okinawan residents. U.S. military bases account for roughly 10.4 percent of the total land area of Okinawa, and 18.8 percent of the main island of Okinawa, where most of the population and industries are concentrated. For a basic overview of Okinawan history and culture since World War II, click on the following link to a pamphlet entitled “U.S. Military Issues in Okinawa.”  Okinawan pamphlet.

Photos of Okinawa and some of the effects of the U.S. Military occupation Okinawa Photos.

A historical and cultural background of the women of Okinawa, composed by a project team member can be found here.

Ryan Masaaki Yokot, a member of the Okinawa Peace Network of Los Angeles (OPN-LA), has written an introduction to the history of the Uchinanchu (Okinawans). To read his work-in-progress on the Okinawa Peace Network of Los Angeles site, click here.

Okinawa Prefecture

Email: okinawa@pref.okinawa.lg.jp

Website: http://www.pref.okinawa.jp/english (English) or http://www.pref.okinawa.jp/ (Japanese)

The official website of the Okinawa Prefecture.  Includes news and a link to U.S. military issues, as well as peace activities.

Okinawa Peace Prize

Phone: 098-866-2333

Email okinawa@pref.okinawa.lg.jp

Website: http://www3.pref.okinawa.jp/site/view/contview.jsp?cateid=11&id=16202&page=1

The Okinawa Peace Prize was established in 2001 and aimed at recognizing efforts of individuals and organizations contributing to the promotion of peace in the Asian Pacific region geographically and historically related to Okinawa.

During the Pacific War, Okinawa experienced a desperate land battle, in which over 200,000 precious lives were lost. The Okinawan people have also suffered over decadess of U.S. military administration and are determined not to duplicate the tragedies that war brings. This is why profound respect for peace is felt so strongly in Okinawa (retrieved June 15, 2009, http://www3.pref.okinawa.jp/site/view/contview.jsp?cateid=11&id=3134&page=1).

The U.S. Military in Okinawa

Contact Information for the U.S. Military in Okinawa
U.S. Forces, Japan/Public Affairs (J021)
Unit 5087
APO AP 96328

Local Address:
Building 714
Yokota Air Base
Fussa-shi, Tokyo 197-0001
Phone: 001 81-311-755-4148 /4295

Website: http://www.usfj.mil/

The official website of U.S. Forces in Japan, which has its headquarters at Yokota Air Base.

Overview of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa
Website: http://www3.pref.okinawa.jp/site/view/contview.jsp?cateid=14&id=592&page=1

Includes a list of U.S. military bases in Okinawa, as well as brief discussion of the impact that the U.S. military has had on local development, the lives of Okinawan people, and the local economy.  There is no discussion on this site of U.S. military violence against girls and women.  However, the website offers some useful data on the numbers and types of U.S. military bases and facilities and raises concerns about other safety and environmental issues.

Petition Concerning Futenma Air Station, Okinawa, Submitted to the United States Government by Mayor Yoichi Iha and the City of Ginowan, Okinawa, Japan, July 2005

Articles

Being Okinawan in Japan: The Diaspora Experience, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 12, No 2, March 19, 2012,  Steve Rabson

The Futenma Base and the U.S.-Japan Controversy: An Okinawan Perspective, The Asia-Pacific Journal, 18-5-10, May 3, 2010, Yoshio Shimoji

U.S. Court Rules in the “Okinawa Dugong” Case: Implications for U.S. Military Bases Overseas, Critical Asian Studies, 40:3 (2008), Miyume Tanji

Sex Crimes and Prostitution, TNI, March 1, 2007
Analysis of the interconnections between militarism, violence against women, and prostitution. Specific information about the U.S. military in Okinawa, as well as examples from other bases around the world.

Outposts of Violence: Sixty Years of Women’s Activism Against U.S. Military Bases, PeaceWork Magazine, February 2007
An article by Suzuyo Takazato, co-founder of the activist group Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence, about the sexual crimes of U.S. soldiers stationed in Okinawa

The Human Right of Children and Women Under the US Military Administration: Raped Lives, TNI, July 18, 2005
An overview of the crimes and incidents that have occured in Okinawa since the occupation by the U.S. Military.

The Rape of Okinawa, Prism, November 1995
An article by Rebecca Levy about the 1995 rape case and the Okinawans growing resentment of the U.S. military.

Three Rapes: The Status of Forces Agreement and Okinawa
by Chalmers Johnson
JPRI Working Paper
No. 97, January 2004

“America’s 703 officially acknowledged foreign military enclaves (as of September 30, 2002), although structurally, legally, and conceptually different from colonies, are themselves something like microcolonies in that they are completely beyond the jurisdiction of the occupied nation. The United States virtually always negotiates a “status of forces agreement” (SOFA) with the ostensibly independent “host” nation, including countries whose legal systems are every bit (and perhaps more) sophisticated than our own.”

To read the full report at the Japan Policy Research Institute (JPRI) click here.

News Reports

In Japan, Shovels Take on the Jets
By John M. Glionna
The Los Angeles Times

September 10, 2009

In their decades-old protest against an air base, farmers have a key weapon: the soil.

To read the full story in The Los Angeles Times click here.

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Tokyo Calling: A Quick Word to Obama

By Hamish McDonald
The Sydney Morning Herald

September 4, 2009

Japan’s incoming prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has vowed that relations with Washington will remain at the centre of the nation’s foreign policy, after his first talks with the US President, Barack Obama.

To read the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald click here.

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South Korea’s Wartime Sex Slaves: Hoping for Closure at the End of Their Lives
John M. Glionna
The Los Angeles Times

April 30, 2009

The ‘comfort women’ forced into slavery by Japanese soldiers have struggled for years to persuade the world to acknowledge their ordeal. They’re growing tired now, but not giving up.

To read the full story in The Los Angeles Times click here.

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US Troops to Move to Guam
The Straits Times
February 19, 2009

Hoping to give new momentum to a plan to rework the deployment of US troops in the Pacific, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton signed an agreement Tuesday with Japan that will move 8,000 Marines off the southern Japanese island of Okinawa to the US territory of Guam.

To read the full story in The Straits Times click here.

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Rice Says Sorry for US Troop Behaviour on Okinawa as Crimes Shake Alliance with Japan
Reported by Justin McCurry in Okinawa
The Guardian
February 28, 2008

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, apologized yesterday for a string of crimes involving American troops based in Japan, amid warnings that failure to improve discipline risked damaging relations between Washington and one of its closest allies. Resentment towards the US military presence erupted this month following the arrest of a marine for the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl on the island of Okinawa, home to more than half of the 50,000 US troops in Japan.

To read the full story in The Guardian click here.

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Okinawa Rape Accuser Denies Consent
CNN
Oct. 9, 2001

A 20-year-old -woman, whose name was withheld and who testified by video link-up, testified that she was raped by U.S. Air Force Sergeant Timothy Woodland, stating that on June 29, 2001, she was in the parking lot of a nightclub located on the Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.  Although the sergeant admitted to having sex with the woman, he claimed there was “mutual consent.”  During the hearing, the woman stressed the fact that she resisted and did not consent.  If convicted, Woodland will serve a minimum of two years in prison.

To read the full story at CNN click here.

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Japan Charges U.S. Airman with Rape
CNN
July 19, 2001

Sergeant Timothy Woodland was formally charged with the rape of a 20-year-old woman in a parking lot on the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan.  This incident caused more tension between the U.S. and Japan, especially among the Okinawan people, many of whom have called for the removal of all U.S. military bases from the prefecture.  Wooodland was finally turned over to Japanese investigators before being turned over to U.S. authorities.  The controversy over the incident and the delay in his detainment by Japanese authorities sparked debate about the need to revise the US-Japanese Security of Forces Agreement.

To read the full story at CNN click here.

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Rape Suspect Gets Break from Japanese Food
By Rebecca McKinnon
CNN

July 18, 2001

There was a four-day delay by U.S. officials in handing over Sergeant Timothy Woodland, accused of the rape of an Okinawa woman, to Japanese authorities.  At his arraignment, Woodland’s attorney requested bail for his client.  “Members of Japan’s House of Representatives have recently called for a ‘radical review’ of the U.S. Japan Status of Forces agreement, to prevent future delays in the handover of U.S. service people suspected of rape or murder,” although Prime Minister Koizumi has taken a more moderate tone.  Woodland complained about the Japanese food he had to eat during his confinement.

To read the full story at CNN click here.

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Accused U.S. Rapist to Ask for Japanese House Arrest.
CNN
July 17, 2001

Sergeant Timothy Woodland was arrested for the rape of an Okinawa woman on June 29, 2001.  His attorney requested he released on bail and house arrest until his trial. According to the Status of Forces Agreement with Japan, U.S. military members do not have to be handed over to Japanese authorities unless they have been indicted.  However, a clause added after the 1995 rape of a girl by three U.S. servicemen allows for a member of the U.S. military to be taken into custody ahead of indictment in cases involving a heinous crime.

To read the full story at CNN click here.

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