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Burden of American Bases in Okinawa, Japan

Artist: Akimi Bale


l would like to share the burden of American bases that Okinawa continue to bear. After world war ll, Okinawa was occupied by america for 27 years. Now 70% of all US military facilities in Japan are located there taking up over 10% of all land in Okinawa, even though the prefecture makes up only 0.6% of Japan's total land area.

Okinawa is located at the southwestern tip of Japan and has 160 islands. Currently over 1.4 million people live there. Okinawa used to be a kingdom called Ryukyu (1868-1912), with it's own language, customs, and culture. It became Okinawa Prefecture, a part of Japan, in 1912, and could be compared to the island of Hawaii being a part of the U.S. even though it has its own separate language and culture.
Near the end of World War ll the main island of Okinawa became a battlefield. This battle lasted for 3 months and claimed the lives of around 150,000 Okinawans, (estimates of about a third to half of the pre-war population), and 50,000 American lives. Okinawa and the surrounding islands were the only place in Japan where US soldiers invaded, becoming a sacrifice for the rest of Japan as many Japanese at that time looked at Okinawa as a lower class and easily expendable territory.

Tokyo’s central government and the U.S have been building a new base (relocating) in Henoko with much disapproval by Okinawa authorities and local people. Many Okinawa residents associate the bases with crime, pollution, devastating environmental impacts, and accidents.

My portrayal shows how the new base will destroy local marine life, pollute natural resources, and put residents in danger. Even more disturbingly, it reflects the long-term violation of Okinawan's right.
The cross represents the remains of dead coral.

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