Movie The Omoiyari questions rational of sympathy budget for US Forces in Japan

Movie The Omoiyari questions rational of sympathy budget for US Forces in Japan

Director Leland Buckley of the movie The Omoiyari, in Minato, Tokyo.

December 18, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

A movie titled The Omoiyari challenges the question of the periodic payment by Japan to the US military for bearing the cost of stationing US Forces there, popularly referred to as the omoiyari yosan, or “sympathy budget” in English. This film was recently completed. The American director, Leland Buckley, lives under an air route used by aircraft coming and going from Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture. Buckley brought to attention how backwards the omoiyari yosan is, saying that amid costs of the Great East Japan earthquake and Japan’s economic difficulties, expenses of the US Forces, even their leisure activities, are coming from taxation in Japan. Buckley wonders why Japan must be so sympathetic to the US military.

The movie explained the situation of the omoiyari yosan, that it does not only cover US Forces, Japan (USFJ) members’ residences and schools, but also golf courses, fast food restaurants, and other facilities for leisure. Buckley requests that people from all over the world, whoever they are and wherever they are from, express their thoughts about the current circumstances in Japan.

In the film, an Ishinomaki natural disaster victim living in temporary housing in Okinawa was shown footage of USFJ residential housing. Upon seeing housing equipped with several quality kitchens and bathrooms, this survivor said with a sigh, “We are living in places with little space and walls thin enough to hear the neighbors sneeze.”

The film introduces Yoko Yamaguchi’s efforts to have some of the omoiyari yosan used to support disaster victims, and an explanation of the enormous budget for construction of a new base at Henoko.

In the 16 years that Buckley has lived near Atsugi base, he has personally experienced the roar of aircraft become so startling as to make one jump out of bed in the middle of the night. Shocked by the indiscriminate killing of civilians by the US military in Iraq, he wonders why Japan continued to pay for the presence of US bases.

Buckley said that the US bases are profitable for both Japanese and American politicians and businesses, so it is clear those benefiting will not let the bases go. He mentioned that with this film he wants to ask the people of Japan if the current situation is really agreeable.

There has been a screening of the film in areas around Tokyo already, but starting in January next year there are plans for the film to be screened sequentially in more places.

For further details, call 090-4135-2563.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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