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Maehara Social Street

In the summer of 2002, I was in Okinawa prefecture, Japan. When I was taking a bus, I saw impressive scene. Low glide militarily plane was flew over the dense populated residential area of Ginowan city. It's nearby Futenma US air base.
Coincidentally, I found the gate which was written "Maehara Social Street" when I look out through the window. I pressed the stop request button without any moment. I was so attracted by the name of "Social Street"

When I walked back to the gate where I had just passed by, a man talked to me.
"Hey, wata ya doin' with hangin' the camera, uh? You'll have a trouble with taking picture in such place. You wanna photo a woman? You come here for photographing a woman, uh?"
I couldn't hear it well. Because air plane was flying over making loud noise. But I heard something like that.
"Ah ... well ... I think so"
I responded to him although I could not make sense what he was saying exactly.

However I understood what he had said when I went thorough the gate of Maehara Social Street. It's a red light (prostituting) area. The scenery of the street was quite impressive to me. Side of the street was long flat house which was divided into the compartments. Each compartment has a woman. They sat on the stool crossing their legs. They looked out the street smoking cigarette. It's hot and sticky afternoon of Okinawa. Day light of summer was still left on the street. Then I looked up the sky. I saw the gigantic figure of military plane every couple of minutes.

The scenery looked like the very old days. Of course, I didn't know the post WWII period. But the scenery of Maehara, some how, made me imagine that it must be like this.
To be honest, I got shock for seeing the street. I thought I had seen those kind of red light districts all over the world so far. But I was surprised with existing such area in today's Japan. Mehara looked like even resisting the passage of time.

Days passed by. Few years ago, I read the article about Maehara on news paper. It said " Okinawa's dishonored heritage Maehara Social Street , which has grown with US military base after WWII, was strictly inspected for illegal prostitution by the police dept. of Okinawa" Maybe the quarter has been changed now.
However I think the cross of "Dishonored Heritage" was too heavy for the people's lives in such a tiny quarter. Okinawa has a much bigger dishonored heritage. Apparently, It's US military bases which occupies 20% of Okinawa main Island.

Now, the one of dishonored heritages which is nearby the Maehara Social Street, Futenma, is moving out. But Japanese government cannot get agreement for acceptance from any proposed community. Of course, everyone knows the reason.

May 2010

Today's piece
" Low gliding military plane " Ginowan city, Okinawa Japan 2002

Far above the Straits of Hormuz
Post Script

Okinawa is again in turmoil on the US military issues, such as disposition of new US military aircraft "Osprey", criminal to the citizen by the soldier and a military helicopter crush during training.

Generally, Japanese media are on Okinawa's side where 80% of US military facilities are gathered. Whenever an incident happen, the media present their opinion what Okinawa's burden should be more lighten. "Of course, so do the Okinawan people themselves" I believed so.
However It doesn't seem all the people agree to the Okinawa with No Base. There are many people who make their living by the military related job. If you say the base is one of the biggest piece of the balanced block in Okinawan economy, you need big courage to withdrawing the large piece. It's a same situation to the community who rely on the nuc. plant.

In the end, Okinawa is so conservative, for good or bad. Well conserved Okinawan culture must be the good aspect while bad habit, low wage and the excessive dependent on milit. industry for example.
When I visited Tohoku, tsunami disaster area, I felt the Tokyo government was so faraway. On the Contrary, in Okinawa, Tokyo is such noisy close. Geographically, Okinawa should be the most free from Tokyo. But Okinawa doesn't try to find their own way against Tokyo. Means Okinawan people is so quiet and loves living peacefully. But in bad aspect again, they hardly break through for the change.

If Okinawan people really want to be the island without bases, it can better talk to the US directly than talking to Japanese government. Apparently the US military base physically or mentally harmed resident with 24/7 jet noise. It can be violation of human rights.
It's the nation points out even other country's human right violation. If you talk to them logically, they would give you a clear answer. I don't know whether it's Yes or No. But it could be decided under their standard, just one standard not double standards. That's America's way, and which have kept their pride on it. To assist that it must be also needed appealing the Okinawa's situation by the US media.

Okinawa has a geographical advantage in Asian market although it's isolated island. Me myself want to see Okinawa without base. Compare to the mainland which has no bright future by radioactive contamination and bad politics, I believe Okinawa's exit is clearly pointed out just down there.

Aug. 2013

fumikatz osada photographie