Thursday, February 21, 2008

Okinawa in the Spotlight

So, in case you are not aware, our pleasant little island has been in the international news quite a bit this week, and not for it's lovely scenery. A 38 year-old marine is accused of raping a 14 year-old Okinawan girl. As you can imagine, the Japanese are quite upset about this, and calling for the higher ups to control their boys. They are also calling for apologies from pretty much everyone, save G. Dub. In response, the head of all American forces in Japan has issued an order that no military personnel is allowed to go anywhere but home or to the base. The order applies to all military dependents too, on threat of deportation. So, basically, simply because John and I are not yet married, I have slipped through the legal loophole, and am the only American in sight that can still go to the grocery store or walk my dog (if I had a dog). The order is indefinite, meaning, it could be a WHILE before John can accompany me to Sushi Zen.

Unfortunately, the people who will suffer around here are our great neighborhood eateries. We have gotten friendly with several restauranteurs in our little town, and they will be forced to shut their doors (indefinitely) because a large portion of their business comes from Americans.

This island has over 50,000 Military members. That does not include spouses and children. That is a whopping lot of people and their are bound to be bad seeds. Especially when these guys are plucked from their small towns at the green age of 18 and sent to a foreign country. Thank god I didn't have a commanding officer at the age of 18. Doubt he/she would have given me leave for wednesday nights in Tijuana. Not to compare my youthful indiscretions with this guy, I mean, I don't know why anyone would do this.

Anyway, I guess my point is, it's really a shame that the Americans who are here are getting this bad rap in the international media. It's a shame that our japanese friends in town will have to close their restaurants for a while. It's a shame that John can't walk a block to the beach with me (seriously, he can't.)

We'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

Josh said...

I realize this post is old news, but I just discovered your blog (from a comment you left on so I'm playing catch-up. I thought you might be interested in the actual numbers of SOFA people on Okinawa. I'd been wondering what the truth was (having heard varying figures) ever since we got here last year & it only took an international incident to get it cleared up. So this article breaks down all SOFA people in Japan by mainland vs Okinawa as well as dwelling on bases vs off:

I saw an article (or 3) that broke down personnel on Okinawa by active duty vs civilians/dependents, but I can't find it now. It was something like 23,000 active duty (roughly half the total) which is in line with all the news articles that say roughly half of the 40-50,000 total troops in Japan (most likely the source of "50,000" which I've heard & you mentioned) are stationed in Okinawa.