The Chibana Project

A blog where I post my research on a certain Okinawan named Chibana Choshin.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

An Extended Delay

For those of you who have been following the news, a series of unfortunate events has occurred here in Okinawa that have become a significant detriment to my project. Two weeks ago, a US Marine allegedly raped a 14 year-old middle school girl. One week ago, a US Marine while in drunken stupor allegedly broke into the home of a Nago resident and passed out on her couch. That same weekend, another US Marine was stopped by authorities for allegedly driving under the influence. The culmination of these events and the political backlash (criticism from Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda) compelled the highest ranking military commander on-island, Okinawa Area Coordinator Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Richard Zilmer, to restrict all status of forces agreement (SOFA) personnel to military facilities - all those who reside off-post are restricted to their off-post residences. The intent of this restriction is to limit US military contact with the local Okinawan populace. This restriction, euphamistically referred to as a "Period of Reflection", is indefinite. In 1995, following the gang-rape of a 12 year-old girl by three US servicemen, a similar restriction stood for 6 months.

As a person with SOFA status, this means that I cannot leave base except to go directly home, and that I cannot leave home except to directly go to a military base. This bodes ill for a project that requires obvious travel to off-base facilities. With 6 months as the baseline for a restriction of this kind, I cannot help but feel pessimistic. Thus, there will be an extended delay on any research that is accomplished outside of document translation. I apologize to any regular visitors pining for updates on anything I have found. As infrequent as updates have been due to my hectic work schedule, they will probably become more artificially infrequent due to this recent restriction on my movement.

As I keep my fingers crossed that this limitation is short term (measured in weeks as opposed to months), I express sorrow and sympathy for those locals who have been victimized and solidarity with my fellow sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen as we wait out this "grounding." We are truly blessed and fortunate to live on this beautiful island hosted by a long-time, staunch, forgiving, and strategically significant ally. Let us hope the ignorant actions of the few does not permanently damn the many.