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Anniversary of Okinawa's Reversion to Japan Marked Amid Increased U.S. Military Activities

Main image to the post Anniversary of Okinawa's Reversion to Japan Marked Amid Increased U.S. Military Activities

Okinawa recently commemorated the 52nd anniversary of its reversion to Japan from U.S. rule, a significant event marked amid growing concerns over heightened U.S. military activities in the region. Despite efforts by the administration of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to address the excessive burden faced by Okinawa in hosting U.S. military bases, recent developments such as the 'southwest shift' have exacerbated the challenges faced by the local population.

Mayor Hiroshi Toyama of Kadena, a town in Okinawa Prefecture, expressed concerns about the increasing security risks and intensifying base operations in the region, particularly with the deployment of noisy F-35 fighter jets and other military assets. The relocation of military units and ongoing parachute training exercises at Kadena Air Base have sparked protests from local government authorities and residents, highlighting the ongoing tensions surrounding U.S. military presence in Okinawa.

Despite some land being returned to Japan since the 1972 reversion, Okinawa still hosts a significant portion of U.S. military facilities in Japan, leading to persistent issues such as noise pollution, land reclamation for base relocation, and territorial disputes. While efforts like opening the Lower Plaza Housing Area to the public have been seen as steps towards addressing the base burden, concrete plans for further base reductions remain uncertain, fueling frustrations among Okinawans. Additionally, the deployment of new Self-Defense Force units within the prefecture, alongside joint training exercises with the U.S., adds another layer of complexity to the military dynamics in the region.

Meanwhile, Okinawa's economy is showing signs of recovery after facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with an increase in tourism and job opportunities. However, despite these positive trends, the prefecture's per capita income remains below the national average, and residents are feeling the impact of rising commodity prices and fuel costs, highlighting the ongoing socio-economic challenges faced by the local population.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09