Have you ever heard of an ‘Amerasian?’ An Amerasian is a person born in Asia, to a U.S. father and an Asian mother. Several countries have significant populations of Amerasians, including the islands in Pacific Ocean such as Japan (Okinawa), Thailand, South Korea, and most notably, the Philippines, where the largest U.S. air and naval bases outside the U.S. mainland used to be situated (Since the U.S. bases situated in the Philippines were evacuated in 1992, the one in Japan has been the largest U.S. military base in Asia).
In the case of the Philippines, after the evacuation of the U.S. military, the Amerasians and their mothers left behind had suffered from discrimination and poverty without financial support from the government or the U.S. military. As for Japan, before the census registration law changed in 1984, they were treated even as nonnationals (Japanese nationality used to be assigned only based on the father’s lineage), and thus, they could not get support from the Japanese government that general Japanese could get. Now that the law has changed, but still, some other problems have remained. For example, some Amerasians are educated in-base when the both parents are fine in Japan, but when the father and the mother break apart, for example by divorce or when the father’s military survice is accomplished, the Amerasian children sometimes have to be educated out-base. For children who are educated in-base, living life out-base is so difficult because of the language difference and sometimes they get bullied by the other children. For children facing such problems, Amerasians School In Okinawa (AASO) was established in 1998. However, the problem here is that they do not get educational support from the Japanese government, and because of that, they are in short of educational materials.
In Okinawa, several problematic things that most Japanese do not even know are happening; Amerasians example that I just mentioned above can be one of them. Can we be so selfish as enforcing Okinawa to take the majority of all risks that Japan has to take for its national defense, ignoring the problems that Okinawa has because of that? If we settle down on the present solution that we place the U.S. military base in Okinawa, we should at least fully understand what are going on in Okinawa.
by Koji Arai