Monday, September 13, 2004

How much longer will US troops remain in Japan? It seems like every few months or so there is a popular outrage at some act committed by US troops. Granted, this has been going on for decades, but it seems like we are approaching a point where the presence of US troops will become unapalatable:

For years, Okinawans have tolerated the deafening thud-thud of United States Marine Corps cargo helicopters over schools, playing fields and apartment buildings near the fence of one of the busiest military airfields of the Western Pacific.

Some shrugged when one helicopter spiraled from the sky on Aug. 13, banging into a university building, its rotor gouging a concrete wall, its fuselage exploding into an orange fireball. Miraculously for this congested city of 90,000, no one was killed, and the only people injured were the three American crew members.

But what really galvanized residents of this sultry tropical island were images of young American marines closing the crash site to Japanese police detectives, local political leaders and diplomats from Tokyo, but waving through pizza-delivery motorcycles.

One month after the crash, that fast-food delivery image - part truth, part urban myth - was strong enough to help to draw about 30,000 people on Sunday for the biggest anti-base protest in Okinawa since those a decade ago protesting the rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by three American servicemen.


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