“U.S. Military Base Issues in Okinawa” refers to the issues and problems
caused by the presence of U.S. Military bases in Okinawa. People living in
Okinawa have been tormented by accidents and incidents caused by the U.S.
Army. The U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement has prevented inhabitants
as well as national and local governments from taking effective action to solve
the problems caused by the U.S. Army. This article reports how the regional
newspaper“ Ryukyu Shimpo” has grappled with such issues and problems.
Right before the outbreak of the Pacific War, the then-Japanese government
forced “Ryukyu Shimpo” to be integrated with other papers into “Okinawa
Shimpo” as the single regional newspaper published in Okinawa. After
the integration, the newspaper cooperated with the government to fight the
war and played the part to raise the fighting sprits of inhabitants. The lesson
that people working for the newspaper learned from the experience during the
war was that “we must not write to help the government wage a war again.”
With this principle in mind, the journalists working for“ Ryukyu Shimpo” tackle
the issues concerning the presence of the U.S. Military bases. On the other
hand, the national government of Japan apparently learned how to successfully
control public opinion from its experience during the war period.
The suffering caused by the stationing of the U.S. Army began at the
moment when the Japanese government abandoned Okinawa and provided the
United States with the most southern prefecture in Japan as a military base in
exchange for the restoration of the sovereignty of mainland Japan. The message
issued by the Japanese emperor regarding the Okinawa War confirmed
that Okinawa was sacrificed for the restoration of Japan’s sovereignty. Even
after the U.S. government handed over Okinawa to the administration of Japan,the Japanese government requested that the U.S. government maintain their
military bases and that the U.S. keep them in Okinawa. This is why people in
Okinawa have been tormented by the problems that the U.S. Army causes.
“Ryukyu Shimpo” has repeatedly reported the issues and problems concerning
the U.S. bases. It constantly reports the unfairness and unjustness of
the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement and campaigns for its revision. The
national news media, however, are not so eager to report the issues in Okinawa
caused by the U.S. Military bases.
The current Abe Cabinet put the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated
Secrets into force, which is argued to have the consequences of shrinking
the activities of journalists. In Okinawa, journalists were exposed to pressure
from the national government. A notable incident occurred in which journalists
were detained at the site of their coverage of the Okinawa U.S. bases. While the
spirit of the Japanese Constitution that stipulates the renouncement of war is
faltering, the raison d’être of journalists are called into question.
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