Pupils of Futenma No. 2 Elementary School express their anxiety about U.S. military bases in an essay collection, Sotetsu
July 13, 2012 Yoshiya Hokama of Ryukyu Shimpo
The U.S. Marine Corps’ plan for the deployment of the MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off and landing transport aircraft to Futenma Air Station in August has caused anxiety among pupils who go to the Futenma No. 2 Elementary School which is adjacent to Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City. One pupil says, “I am very worried that the Osprey deployment may cause serious accidents.” In the 2011 edition of Sotetsu, a collection of essays and poems written by pupils that the school publishes every year, pupils expressed a range of feelings from everyday life including their anxiety about the Osprey deployment and accidents related to the military.
Naoto Maenaka, who was in the sixth grade in 2011, wrote about the anxiety he felt when he had to cover his ears during class each time there was an ear-splitting noise from military aircraft and his worry when he watched news about the Osprey deployment.
After a helicopter crashed onto the Okinawa International University, Maenaka started to take the his school’s annual evacuation drills much more seriously. He concluded his essay by writing, “I really hope that the Futenma Air Station will be moved out of Okinawa.”
Miu Watanabe, in the sixth grade at that time, recalled seven years ago when she entered Futenma No. 2 Kindergarten and for the first time saw an airplane that flew right above her. She wrote, “I was so scared because it seemed to be flying right at me.” However, in the last seven years she has become accustomed to such abnormal things happening every day. She says, “You cannot live your life unless you get used to it, but I hope that we can remove that problem as soon as possible. I want to have a quieter environment.” With regard to the Osprey deployment, she cautions not to become accustomed to it, stating that it would be more dangerous if we just get used to it, and forget the risk it poses. I am terrified that an airplane crash might happen.”
In addition, there were many poems and writings that address military issues and hope for peace. There were comments such as “I hope the military base issue will be resolved soon,” “I hope the noise of airplanes will go away,” and “I want a peaceful planet without wars.”
School principal at that time Harumi Chinen says, “There are pupils who become really frightened by an aircraft overhead. If they did not fly here, the children would not write these essays and poems. They sense the danger and are aware of the problem.”
(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)
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