(LinkAsia: May 18, 2012)
Okinawa has been at the heart of Japan-US relations for decades. It was under US administration after the end of World War Two until it was handed back to Japan on May 15, 1972. But even now, American military bases still take up large parts of the main island. Residents and leaders recently came together to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the handover.
NHK World NEWSLINE
Airdate: May 15, 2012
About 1,200 people attended the ceremony at the Okinawa Convention Center. Among them, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, US Ambassador to Japan John Roos, and local representatives. Noda used his speech to stress his government's efforts to strengthen Okinawa's economy and said he's committed to change.
Yoshihiko Noda, Japanese Prime Minister:
I'm fully aware of the heavy burden US military facilities are imposing on people in Okinawa. I reiterate my determination to reduce the burden on the prefecture quickly, visibly, and specifically, while maintaining the deterrence.
The remarks by US Ambassador to Japan John Roos touched on the impact the American military presence has had on Okinawa.
John Roos, US Ambassador to Japan:
As it has been in the past, our alliance continues to be indispensable to our future, and we, as Americans, recognize the sacrifices the people of Okinawa have made to keep this critical alliance strong.
For many islanders, the return of Okinawa offered the promise of stability and basic human rights under the Japanese constitution. However, some also say it marked the beginning of another age of hardship.