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An Open Letter to US Marines

Ospreys Over Okinawa

by KAMADOU GWA NO TSUDOI

To our Brothers and Sisters in the US Marines,

When you joined the Marines, maybe you thought you could help propagate, or protect, democracy in the world.

Now is a good time to think about democracy in Okinawa.

On the question of whether to bring the Osprey to Okinawa, do we Okinawans have a right to participate in that decision?  After all, this is our island, and the sky over it, which the Osprey will be flying through, also belongs to us.  Is it democratic for the US and Japan to decide to bring it in, ignoring the Okinawans?

Of course not.

We Okinawans have expressed our opposition in every peaceful way possible.  On September 9, 100,000 people gathered at an anti-Osprey rally (out of a population of 1,400,000).  The conservative Governor of the prefecture is against it.  The Prefectural Assembly is against it.  The conservative Mayors of both Naha City and Ginowan City [where the Ospreys are to be based] are against it.  The local government of every other city, town, and village in Okinawa is against it.  Both local newspapers are against it.  Even the PTA is against it.  To ignore all this and bring it in anyway is to insult the Okinawan people in a way that will never be forgotten.

Why do we oppose it?  Because it is dangerous.  It crashes too often.  It has killed far too many Marines.  Everybody knows this; Osprey is notoriously a flawed aircraft.  It was not we who named it Widow Maker.  Yes, it is sometimes an airplane and sometimes a helicopter.  That’s very clever.  But sometimes it is neither.  Then it becomes a big blob of metal in the sky, which can only fall to the ground.  Not clever at all.  We don’t want it falling on us, and we don’t want it falling with you in it.

As for the danger of the Osprey, we suppose you know all about that.  And we think, perhaps, on this issue we can join forces.  And so we ask you, in the name of democracy, in the name of our dignity and yours, in the name of our safety and yours: join us in opposing the Osprey.  Don’t get in it, don’t fly it, don’t service it, don’t go near it.  Treat it like the death trap that it is.

When you joined the Marines, you probably wanted to do something for democracy and for the dignity of human life.

Now’s your chance.